Arrival Experience: The Spanish parador system, a boutique hotel grouping supported by the Spanish government, is one of the country’s best kept secrets for travelers. Of the nearly 100 locations across the country, all boast unique architectural or monumental presences that make them a suitable alternative to the standard hotel chain option. The new Parador de Lorca, which opened in 2012, sits atop a hill overlooking the quaint Murcian town of Lorca. This city is one of Spain’s largest in terms of physical size (not population) and attracts a good deal of tourists for its coastal town ambiance coupled with historic ruins as a cultural draw. It is built on the grounds of the Castle of Lorca (a historic monument) where three cultures convened in ancient times: Christian, Muslim, and Jewish. Its historic importance draws tourists from near and far, but the parador’s solid meeting facilities coupled with a full-service spa are bringing incentive and business groups to town, as well. Archeological tours of the ruins are part and parcel of any stay here. Reception is adept and friendly in English, happy to assist guests from all corners of the world. The network of paradors specializes in this type of international focus and welcomes guests from across the U.S., Europe, and a growing number of Asian visitors. Guests will be surprised to discover the modern interior with clever chandeliers and furnishings. The look is minimalist, similar to that of a design hotel, but with the historic surroundings, the combination of the two styles is quite special.
Dining: Perhaps what is so special here is how the archeological remains are integrated into the modern resort. This is no better demonstrated than in the restaurant where windows peer out over the town below the hill or the various ruins carefully placed on display and viewed through large glass panels. The parador system is known as much for its gastronomy as it is for its quality of lodging. The breakfast buffet on offer here includes fine vintages of cava and even red wine. Options include any type of cooked-to-order egg dish, a plethora of breads and pastries (including locally made specialties of Murcia and the national breakfast staple, pan con tomate or bread with chopped fresh tomato and olive oil). Fresh fruit, cereals, yogurt, and a half dozen choices of cured meats round out the selection. Lunch and dinner, often included in many room rates, include local delicacies Caldero Murciano (local rice stew with seafood) and zarangollo (scrambled eggs with zucchini and potato). Spanish dishes dominate the menu, and particular favorites include the hearty portion of salmorejo (a creamy, chilled soup consisting of day-old bread and gazpacho ingredients) and arroz servings (similar to paella, but with more flavorful sauce that has not evaporated from the rice).
Rooms: Guest rooms are surprisingly modern with tiled floors, firm beds with soft blankets and bedside power outlets, and views of the surrounding town beneath the hill. Flat-screen cable TVs, speedy wireless high speed Internet (complimentary), and minibars are surprising extras. A full-length mirror compliments the excellent bathroom lighting and makeup mirror. Most of the rooms feature double beds, which can be combined together to create a king. Nine suites add spacious living areas and deep soaking tubs in baths in addition to powerful showers. The rooms are exceptionally comfortable, but be sure to ask for a second key so that you can place it in the power socket when gone (most travelers these days are charging devices, and the energy-saving outlets are a hindrance not a benefit).
Conclusion: This parador is exceptionally known for its ample meeting space, which hosts regional groups with regularity and a growing number of national and international conferences. Numerous meeting rooms, including an outdoor terrace for breakout space or receptions, and free wireless Internet make this a favorite for meeting planners. The spa is spacious and plentiful with a sizeable indoor swimming pool with sun deck and natural light; an interior spa water circuit that is ideal for jetlagged visitors; and an impressive menu of massage and beauty treatments. Sensation showers, steam rooms, a sauna are all part of the experience. This boutique hotel ticks all the right boxes since it accommodates leisure and business travelers simultaneously. The only thing missing is a fitness center, but this conference-focused property is one of Lorca’s best draws for meetings and tourists alike.