Will I be the youngest? Will we get VIP treatment? What will the weather be like? These were some of the questions flitting through my mind before setting off on our Silver Travel Advisor assignment.
Roy and I were to visit two of the three Adorea housing complexes in Spain specially designed for over 55s who wish to enjoy an extensive range of hotel and healthcare services, offering them optimum well-being, security and independence.
At the age of 55, and recently retired, I just qualified: but was I ready to swap work for a ‘Senior Serviced Apartment’ or would a short break ease me into retirement and banish the winter blues?
Adorea is totally flexible providing short and long-stay or permanent accommodation with trial packages available. The basic cost of an apartment for a single person includes lots of optional extras available including laundry and cleaning. Meals are charged individually providing total flexibility. 24 hour security is always included, as are the services of a doctor and nurse who visit regularly. It’s therefore ideal for those recovering from an accident or operation. Personal and apartment alarms are provided, flooring is non slip, bathrooms have lots of handrails and you can be reminded to take your pills. There are lifts to all floors and ramps where required.
Whilst Adorea is designed for guests with relatively good mobility (including using walking aids), if greater levels of care are required, a SARquavitae nursing home is linked to each complex. Although Adorea is open for guests over 55, the average age is around 80 and there’s a good mix of men, women, couples and singles.
Whilst Adorea apartments are well furnished, long-stay guests are encouraged to bring their own belongings to make it their home. The most frequently brought items are their bed and TV which they’re familiar with operating. English language TV can be added on through a Sky package and pets are welcome. Garage and storage facilities are available.
The first complex we visited was on Spain’s Costa del Sol in a quiet residential area of Benalmadena. Having flown easyJet to Malaga, a short flat walk took us to the well-signed train station. Whilst waiting for bags, I rehearsed the phrase for two single tickets and was disappointed to be met by a machine! Despite not finding the English translation button, we easily managed to buy tickets and find the Fuengirola platform for the 20 minute journey to Benalmadena Arroyo de la Miel. On arrival, it was a 10 minute taxi ride to Adorea.
We were shown our apartment, one of 48, but perhaps because it was a Sunday or the manager, Helena Quintas, wasn’t around, our introduction was rather limited.
We decided to make the most of the sunny weather (around 15°C) and ventured out to explore, despite the lack of a local map. The area is mainly residential, but we stumbled upon Restaurante Pizzeria Tanur and sat outside. Pizza in the sun, T-shirts in February, things were looking up.
Back in our apartment, we found it was well appointed with a double bedroom, large kitchen and spacious bathroom all leading off the main lounge with extra wide doors, ideal for walking aids. The apartments, all off external corridors and over four floors, have a small terrace big enough for a couple of chairs and pot plants.
The communal areas are also appealing. A huge outside plant-covered patio with good views provided shade and sun, the garden was well-manicured and the swimming pool had easy access and a depth of 1.25m. Despite the sun on our face, it was too cool for swimming. A light, bright dining area was welcoming and the small communal area off it had a well-stocked library, comfortable seating, computer with free Wi-Fi and large TV.
Because of its Costa del Sol location, Adorea Benalmadena has an international feel: guests come from Scandinavia, Belgium, Mexico, and France and staff speak 13 languages. Two British ladies, Betty (84) and Yvonne (92) explained they had recently given up their large Costa homes and moved in permanently.
A simple breakfast (9am to 11am) comprised of tea/coffee, orange juice and toasts with spreads. Lunch, the main meal for many, was a leisurely three courses with a choice of two dishes and a drink with many residents, including us, indulging in a glass of wine or beer. Yvonne and Betty were more than happy to share a table and chat. A large Mercadona supermarket is a short walk for anyone wanting to cook or prepare snacks in their well equipped kitchens.
The following day, Helena suggested we join one of their thrice-weekly outings where guests choose where to go. We returned to the small town of Benalmadena Arroyo de la Miel with six others. Our driver, Juan Carlos, carefully helped everyone in and out of the mini-bus. Many guests returned with small purchases and had been to the bank or post office: we drank coffee in the sun and enjoyed complimentary tapas.
As well as outings there are a number of other activities designed to keep minds and bodies active.
We arrived in Seville by train from Malaga. The 2½ hour journey provided varied scenery: stunning mountains and gorges, olive and orange groves and agricultural fields. Adorea was a five minute walk from Santa Justa station.
Adorea Seville was similar but different to Benalmadena, in that it was larger with 108 apartments of varying types which the manager, David Venegas Lorenzo, showed us. He also thoughtfully provided us with an English information card. Adorea Seville feels more like a hotel with apartments over five floors. Ours, on the ground floor, had a small terrace leading into central communal gardens and an aviary.
The biggest difference between Seville and Benalmadena, is that here 99% of the guests are Spanish and David is currently the only member of staff who speaks English, so this is something to be considered if you don’t hable español.
Our apartment was well equipped with lounge, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom containing twin beds which David explained were 105cm wide compared to the usual Spanish narrow size of 95cm we’d experienced in Benalmadena. Whilst kitchens are small and without a washing machine, there is a central laundry area.
The communal dining room has an adjoining a la carte restaurant, Comer con Arte, which is open to the public and where David told us, many guests chose to have celebratory meals. For dinner on our first night, perhaps because of language issues or because we arrived late at 8pm, we were simply offered an ensalada and choice of carne or pescado rather than the á la carte menu. The shared large, prawn cocktail style salad was excellent as was the merluza fish grilled simply, like many Spanish dishes, with oil, garlic and chilli. Breakfast provided good strong coffee, freshly squeezed Seville orange juice and a simple, but typical, Andalusian tostada con tomate. A nearby El Corte Ingles, has an extensive supermarket for those wanting to cook.
There was a smart looking restaurant directly opposite the block, Manolo Vazquez, but its typical Spanish opening hours of 1.30pm to 5pm and 9pm didn’t fit with English tummy rumbles. Instead we walked 10 minutes to Bodega Miguel Angel, an informal cafe bar where we had excellent meals.
Although guests have their own TV, David said the communal TV lounge is used for big events like football matches. Two other large lounges were often in use for after-dinner cards and games or a sing song with a blind resident playing the piano.
A spacious, well-equipped gym was used extensively throughout the day for various exercise classes and early one evening we found residents dribbling plastic footballs up and down the corridor outside our apartment.
David encouraged us to explore Seville providing both a map and recommending sites of interest and restaurants. The historic centre was a 30-minute walk but buses and trams were available. On our first day we visited the Cathedral, Bullfighting Ring and Flamenco Museum and on the second,