What facilities etc should I look for when booking? Apartments
at Vera Playa vary from the very basic to the fairly luxurious.
They also vary from tiny to large. Studios are like hotel rooms
- the bedroom and living room are combined and you may have to make
up a convertible sofa each night before you can go to bed. Studios
have a kitchenette (sometimes in the main room) and a shower/bathroom
Apartments have separate bedrooms. Some have separate kitchens,
but many have the kitchens in the living/dining rooms.
There are some duplex apartments (apartments with rooms on more
than one floor) - some have only one toilet whilst others have one
on each floor.
The right-hand column has a list of the main
facilities etc which are of importance when selecting an apartment.
Before you book an apartment make sure it has all the facilities
that are of importance to you. If you book direct with an owner
they will obviously be able to tell you precisely what facilities
their apartment has or has not got - but you need to ask - owners
are not likely to volunteer information which may not help them
let it !
If you are booking through an agency be careful to check whether
you are booking a particular apartment (and if so get the urbanizacion
name and block and apartment numbers), or whether you will just
be allocated to whatever apartment happens to be available when
Orientation: Probably the most
important thing of all is to get an apartment which has good orientation
to the sun. In summer it doesn't matter as much because you will
often want to escape the sun, but nevertheless it is nice to be
able to sunbathe on your own patio/terrace/garden.
In autumn, winter and spring orientation is crucial. North facing
apartments are an absolute no-no in winter and will get no sun whatsoever
- and, as a result, will also be cold inside. South facing is best
in winter - both for sun-bathing and for warming the apartment.
East-facing is nice in the morning and west facing in the afternoon
- but make sure they have some south aspect to their garden/terrace
otherwise you will have to go elsewhere to sunbathe.
Location: The only urbanizacions
which are front-line to the beach are Natsun, Marina Natura, Natura
World and Vera Natura. Each individual urbanizacion is, of course,
quite large, so only a few apartments are actually front-line to
Front-line (and some other) apartments have nice sea views - but
are likely to be more exposed to breezes/wind (fine in high summer,
not so good otherwise). They are also likely to be east orientated,
so get morning sun and may be in shade in the afternoons/evenings.
Apartments which are far back from the beach (e.g. in Torremar Natura)
may get road noise from the main coastal road, and, of course, have
a longer walk to the beach (the developed strip in the naturist
zone is about half a kilometre deep)
Swimming Pools: Outdoor pools
are fine from late April until late October provided you are fairly
hardy. If you feel the cold June to September may be closer to the
mark. In late autumn, winter and spring a heated/enclosed pool is
essential. Some hardy souls swim in the sea in winter (me included)
but just about no-one swims in outdoor pools between November and
March. The only urbanizacions that have indoor/covered and heated
swimming pools are Bahia de Vera, Torremar Natura and Vera Natura.
Upstairs or downstairs? Ground
floor apartments are easiest for access and are often more sheltered
than apartments on upper floors. They also often have their own
Apartments on upper floors have stairs to climb, but some have nice
terraces and views of the sea or mountains (Remember that, at Vera
Playa, the sea is to the east, Mojacar is to the south, there are
mountains to the south, west and north - though some distance away).
Upper floor apartments tend to catch more breeze, which can be nice
when it is very hot but not so good in autumn, winter and spring,
when it isn't.
Terraces, gardens, balconies: The
whole point of being at Vera Playa is being out in the sun and warm
air. From late Spring to Autumn you'll probably be living and dining
outdoors, so you need a reasonably spacious space to do so. Check
before you book as to whether your apartment has its own terrace
and/or garden or does it just have a balcony? And how big are they?
(Anything less than 10 sq.metres is very small, 10 to 30 sq. metres
is better, more than 30 sq.metres is spacious).
Beds: Standard size Spanish
beds are small compared to their British equivalents - for instance
Spanish double beds are often 1.3m wide x 1.8m long - that's about
3 inches narrower and shorter. If you are tall, there's nothing
worse than spending a fortnight sleeping on a bed which is too small
- especially too short - so check out bed sizes before you book!
Some apartments have British size beds or larger Spanish beds -
often described as King size or even "Super-King-size".
Check with the owner what size the beds actually are (king size
& super-king-size should be at least 1.5m wide and 1.8m wide
and 1.9 long - either size is going to be comfortable compared with
a 1.3m x 1.8m bed!
Air conditioning: Only a very
small minority of apartments at Vera Playa have air conditioning.
It is of limited benefit - only July, August and early September
are hot enough to need air conditioning. It is most useful to have
in the bedroom(s). In summer you will be living/dining outside on
your terrace so air conditioning in the living room will be of limited
value (To get any benefit from the air conditioning you will have
to close all the windows, which is not very pleasant to do when
the weather is good). Many people find that air conditioning in
the bedroom is very drying and affects their throats and breathing.
Fresh air is probably more important and some air movement for cooling.
Finally, of course, air conditioning is expensive to install and
run and you will certainly be paying a substantial amount extra
for it - at least £50 a week probably.
Fans/ventilation: Every apartment
should have floor or ceiling mounted fans (not all do!). These are
essential in the hot months when you are indoors and at night.
Make sure that the apartment you book has them in the living/dining
rooms and all bedrooms.
Mosquito/insect screens: There
does seem to be an increasing mosquito problem at Vera Playa (as
there is everywhere on the Mediterranean coasts), though it varies
very much from month to month and year to year. Most of the urbanizacions
spray regularly to try and control the numbers of mosquitoes, as
does the Council.
If you want to be able
to sleep with the windows open, even slightly, mosquito screens
are absolutely essential (unfortunately mosquitos
can and do easily get in through the louvres in wooden shutters
or the air slots in roller shutters). The alternative is to sleep
with the windows completely closed which is both hot and claustrophobic
in the hotter months. Many apartments at Vera Playa have not yet
got mosquito screens fitted - be sure that the one you are booking
Cooking facilities: Some apartments
(e.g. most at Vera Natura) have only very limited cooking facilities
(e.g. 2 ring hobs and no ovens). If you are going to eat out all
the time this is no problem but if you want to cook make sure what
cooking facilities are available in the apartment you are booking
before you book.
Washing machines: The better
equipped apartments have automatic washing machines.
Microwave cookers: Some apartments
have microwave cookers, but probably only a small minority.
Kettles, teapots, toasters, coffee makers:
It is unusual for Spanish owned apartments to have electric
kettles and/or teapots. Some English owned ones do have them. Toasters
are more common. Filter coffee machines or percolators are probably
unusual to find.
Heating: If you are staying
at Vera Playa between about November and March you are likely to
need some supplemental heating in the evenings at least (more in
north facing apartments, less in south-facing). Some apartments
with air-conditioning also have combined heating. Otherwise electric
heaters (fan or convection or halogen radiant heaters) are commonplace.
But a surprising number of apartments have no heating of any sort
provided, so make sure before you book! Some rental terms wil require
you to pay separately for electricity for heating etc.
rental apartments have a television, but most receive only Spanish
and other continental channels. BBC World is commonly available
on the distribution systems the various urbanizacions use. As with
the UK. Spainis converting to digital television and analogue transmissions
have already been turned off for the main Spanish channels. So you
are likely to find a digital box similar to a freeview box which
will give you access to a similar number of channels. Some apartments
offer full satellite systems giving you all the normal UK channels,
but the rental will reflect this as they are quite expensive to
install and maintain. Some apartments have small hi-fi systems incorporating
radio, cd and cassette players. Please remember to be considerate
of neighbours - noise from TV/radio and hi-fi does travel from apartment
to apartment all too easily - partly due to Spanish construction
Noise: A survey carried out
a year or two ago concluded that the Spanish are one of the noisiest
nations in Europe (closely followed by several other mediterranean
countries). This national characteristic has been compounded by
building methods which give practically zero noise insulation between
dwellings, so people are used to living with the noises of all sorts
made by neighbours. Noise in apartment buildings has been said to
be one of the main causes of stress for Spanish people. It is only
very recently that the Spanish government has introduced any noise
insulation standards at all for new buildings and older buildings
(and certainly all those built at Vera Playa) have no noise insulation.
Spanish people have, out of necessity, learnt to live with this
and are probably both less aware of neighbour noise and, maybe,
a bit more considerate and tolerant of neighbour noise than are
northern Europeans. In the busy summer period (second half of July
and all August) life is lived outside and mainly when the sun is
not out and it is not quite so hot, so people dine very late and
stay outside until well into the early hours (3 or 4 am), sometimes
partying, sometimes sitting outside and watching the tv inside.
Children and teenagers congregate and run and play and make noise
until the early hours. So this is not a good time of year for Brits
who like to get to bed before midnight and have a peaceful night's
sleep (and it is also seriously hot and everywhere is extremely
busy, lots of traffic etc). So plenty of reasons for leaving Vera
Playa to the Spanish in the height of summer unless you are really
determined to experience and enjoy this medierranean summer lifestyle.
Except in the winter, you will sometimes want (and need) some
shade. The orientation of the apartment and shadows from neighbouring
apartments are likely to give you some shade at particular parts
of the day, but you will also want to be able to make your own shade,
especially in the summer months. An adjustable sun-blind fixed to
the building is probably the best answer (and lots of Vera Playa
apartments do have these), but a large sun-umbrella may be nearly
as good. Be sure what your apartment offers before you book!
Car parking: Some urbanizacions
have plenty of free car parking within their grounds. Others, such
as Vera Natura, do not and you will either have to pay for parking
or leave your car outside on the road which carries some risk of
theft or damage. There is a significant parking problem around the
Vera Natura urbanizacion because of lack of on site parking. The
later urbanizacions have been required to provide enough parking
on site. Free parking is generally not under cover. Arguably, with
rental cars, it doesn't matter if it is in the sun because the air
conditioning will soon cool it down when you want to use it. Some
apartments have covered parking - if this is important to you, check
before you book.
Lifts: There are virtually
no lifts at Vera Playa. Most apartment blocks are two or three storey
walk-up blocks. The Brisamar building at Bahia de Vera has one lift
(this is a four storey block). If you find stairs difficult or impossible
select a ground floor apartment but make sure before booking as
to whether there are any steps - some ground floor apartment do
have some steps.
Security: By comparison with
most towns and holiday resorts Vera Playa is a pretty safe place
to be in terms of personal safety. Recent burglaries and robberies
from vehicles/damage to vehicles and one or two muggings have, unfortunately,
shown that the real world is catching up with it as the quantity
of development increases. Most apartments have limited security,
but provided roller shutters are fully dropped and windows closed
and locked and doors locked whenever the apartment is left, they
are unlikely to be burgled. It is likely that more and more apartments
will fit 'rejas' or fixed bars/concertina security gates to windows
etc and this will improve night security as well, because many apartments
can only have night-time ventilation at the cost of some insecurity.
If the apartment has hinged or roller blinds/shutters these should
be fully closed at night, but (with roller shutters) leaving the
small air gaps between the shutters open to allow ventilation -
though this will not keep mosquitoes out if the apartment does not
have mosquito screens.