11 Replies Latest reply: Mar 21, 2013 8:53 PM by GemPrincess RSS

A Sense of Spain - 1

arkwright Platinum 2 Reviews
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A Sense of Spain

 

1

 

Caliphs, Catholicism, Columbus and Conquistadores

 

 

Frederico Garcia Lorca – great Spanish playright and poet murdered during the 1936-1939 Civil War – once wrote that “In Spain the dead are more alive than the dead in any other country. His point – that Spain's present is inextricably connected to its past – is one that no visitor to Spain can ignore.

 

 

To see how this came about, we first have to look – in brief, I promise – at Spain's history?

 

 

  • Spain wasn't always the unified state it is today: until the late 15th century it was a collection of independent “kingdoms” – Castille, Catalunya, Aragon, Valencia, Andalucia, Galicia, Extramadura and Navarre, to name a few . The legacy of this fragmented world can still be found today – in, for example, the difficulties the central government in Madrid has in imposing its will over the autonomous provinces (the Basque country and Catalunya, in particular), and the intense rivalry between soccer teams from different parts of Spain, notably, of course, Real Madrid and Barcelona – though, as we'll see later, their intense rivalry has even more to do with events during the 1936-1939 Civil War.
  • From around 750 AD much of Spain was under Islamic rule, governed by a Caliph based in Cordoba . At this time, it was probably the single, most tolerant region in Europe; Jews and Christians lived and worked together in Muslim Al Andalus – modern-day Andalusia. Today, visitors rightly gaze in awe at the beauty of the Mesquita in Cordoba, but behind it lay something even more wonderful - an awareness of art, architecture, mathematics (al-gebra, for example, was largely an Islamic creation) and medicine greatly superior to that of the rest of Europe.
  • All this came to an end with the culmination of the Reconquista. The marriage of the second-cousins (the degree of consanguinity obliged the Pope to give them a special dispensation!) Isabella I of Castille and Ferdinand II of Aragon in 1469 created a unified power dedicated to ridding Spain of Islam - and, by the 16th century, also those who converted to Christianity (the “conversos”), and Jews. The surrender of Granada – the last remaining Muslim enclave – in January 1492 was their crowning triumph; not for nothing were they given the title “Los Reyes Catolicos” by a grateful Pope. As in Nazi Germany, purity of blood became the watchword!
  • Against this “anti-Islam” background, Spanish Catholicism took on the very distinctive character – deeply conservative and monarchist – that, some would argue, it retains to this day: remember the Spanish Inquisition, or just watch some of the films of modern Spanish directors like Pedro Almodovar – La Mala Education, for example – to find evidence of this influence writ large! Not only did successive generations of Spanish “Bourbon” monarchs rely on the Church's support, but – come the 20th century – it was crucial in securing General Franco's victory in the Spanish Civil War.
  • 1492 was a very important year for another reason too: on 3rd August Christopher Columbus set sail from Cadiz on the voyage that eventually led to the discovery of the New World. The rise and fall of Spain's Empire ranks alongside Catholicism as the one of major themes in its history from the 16th  to the end of the 19th century.
  • Spain's may have been the first modern empire, but it was very different to those that followed. Its creation owed everything to a lust for gold and other precious metals, and nothing to the building of strategic, military or trading bases : Christian beliefs soon took a distant second-place too. All went well for a century or so; Spain dominated Europe and conquered swathes of Latin America, including what was to become California .This was the era of the Conquistadores from Extramadura - conversos-***-mercenaries-***-adventurers like Hernan Cortes and Francisco Pizarro who, between them, destroyed most of the Aztec and Incan Empires. But the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 foreshadowed three centuries of uninterrupted decline , culminating in 1898 – Spain's annus horribilis – with the traumatic military defeat by the USA and the loss of its last, major colonies – Cuba and the Phillipines.

 

This then is a sketch of the uniquely Spanish heritage that awaits visitors (and into which MI has involved itself - big-time).

 

 

 

Next, we will turn to Madrid; the first “port-of-call" for most visitors; today's capital city , but 500 years ago?

(For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

Location Brand Hotel
Spain
  • Re: A Sense of Spain - 1
    jerrycoin Alumni Steward Platinum 60 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    arkwright,

     

    Informative post!

     

     

    Never been to Spain, but have really heard nice things about the country.  Just hope Greece, Spain and Portugal can keep from loosing the Euro.

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: A Sense of Spain - 1
    chrisf Alumni Steward Platinum 20 Reviews
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    Arkwright

     

    A very interesting summary.  Spain also suffered from a lot of french/english conflict in the early 1800s which I believe had quite an impact.  I have found the cities in Spain to be fascinating but some of the coastal areas are pretty tacky.  We stayed at the MVCI Resort in Estepona on one occasion.  The Marriott Resort was very pleasant but the area around it was awful.  I look forward to reading your summary on Madrid.

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: A Sense of Spain - 1
    gm1 Gold 1 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    Arkwright,

     

    Excellent synopsis.  I especially like your title. 

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: A Sense of Spain - 1
    GemPrincess Alumni Steward Platinum 17 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    I love traveling in Spain, and have made many trips.

     

    My biggest concern is the lack of Marriott Hotels, and the difficulties in getting to them.

     

    My 1st trip, the only Marriott was in Marbella.  So when I flew into Madrid, I had to stay at a non-Marriott hotel.  I took the high speed train to Malaga, and then on to the last train stop going west, Torremolinos.  Had to lug my luggage up 3 flites of stairs to the street and flag down a taxi as it was still another 15 km away. Had quite the lively discussion with my taxi driver, but a hard time finding the hotel, as we call it Marriott and they call it Maro [with the accent on the o].  Took me a bit to figure this out, by then we had passed it, and we had to turn back.

     

    The hotel was incredible, but I no longer see it in the directory?  They gave us a fabulous 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom place over looking the ocean.  The restaurant was excellent as was the staff. We used it as a home base to explore Sevilla, Xerez, Gibralter, and Morroco before returnig to Toledo and Madrid.

     

    Recently I have made several trips to Barcelona, and there is only the AC properties in the directory.  After my problems with the Autograph collection, I was leary of using these properties, so instead stayed at a lovely local hotel with a view of the Gothic Cathedral where you can see the Sardana dancers from the balconey on Saturday nite and Sunday noon.  Another property you can sightsee from your room like County Hall in London. Only wish this was a Marriott property!

     

    I just checked the directory and noticed a Renaissance near Paseo Gracia, an area I would like to explore more, so on my next trip, I may try this.

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: A Sense of Spain - 1
      painedplatinum Platinum 2 Reviews
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      GP,

       

      I'm pretty sure the Autograph Collection and AC Hotels are two separate groups. I'm not sure as to the differences between the two.

       

      The ACs are the acquisition that has been transitioning to the Marriott system for a short while now. There are 66 in Spain, 10 in Italy, 2 in Portugal and 1 in France. I believe this was a stand alone chain prior to the acquisition.

       

      The Autograph Collection lists as 35 hotels..23 in the U.S., 6 in Spain, 2 in Italy, 1 in Hungary, 1 in the Czech Republic, 1 in Brazil and 1 in the British V.I.

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

      • Re: A Sense of Spain - 1
        GemPrincess Alumni Steward Platinum 17 Reviews
        Currently Being Moderated

        My concern is that these properties that are not real Marriotts can choose to honor our benefits or not so I have not been in a hurry to try them out given the bad experience I had at the Carlton.

         

        While a nice property, had I known that I would be able to get the type of upgrade I am use to, and points for my spending, I probably would not have stayed there.

         

        Wish this information was provided upfront so we could make an informed decision, e.g. in the directory say this is an affiliated Marriott and they let you spend points, let you earn point, both or neither, like the airlines do with their partners.  They are really partners not Marriotts.

        (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

        • Re: A Sense of Spain - 1
          arkwright Platinum 2 Reviews
          Currently Being Moderated

          Dear GemP and Pp,

           

          First, thanks for your comments on "Sense of Spain" I'll keep trying:-)

           

          Second, Yes - AC Hoteles was an independent Spain-owned chain of up-market, modern-in-style hotels targeted at the business market - a sector in which Marriott was conspicuously under-represented in Spain. The relationship is described as a "joint venture".

           

          Third, Yes - there have been "teething troubles" in assimilating the AC Hotels into Marriott practices. This has been, and in some places, still is a  particular problem in relation to "back-office, administrative systems (of which the MR set-up is one). This issue has been compounded by the difficulty in establishing exactly what entitlements are on offer at each hotel to the various categories of MR card holders. Without this, we cannot tell whether the hotel is at fault, or simply different. Clearly, Gem, you have suffered from this one. I too have noticed variations in, for example, the provision of complimentary breakfasts: the Hotel I am in now - Madrid Atocha - does not offer a comp breakfast, whereas the  AC in Bologna does (or at least did!) and the AC Valencia offered a free breakfast for one of the two nights I stayed. But, to be honest, I do not think that this problem is limited to the AC hotels; for example, for years the Marriott in Munich (one of Marriott's earliest European hotels) did not offer any of the following - an Executive Lounge, complimentary breakfasts early evening drinks and snacks. The good news is that the latter two are now available.

           

          Fourth, Gem, there might be some light at the end of your particular tunnel in that Marriott - being the very savvy organisation that it is - will clearly look to upgrade some of the AC Hotels where market demand warrants.This has already happened in Barcelona, for example, where the AC Diplomatic is now a Renaissance. If there is a logic to be deduced from this move, one might expect similar upgrades (in time) where the tourist market is strongest; in places where the market is mainly "business-oriented" upgraded hotels will be less likely.

           

          In summary,  MR might consider clarifying where (i.e. which web-site) a prospective "Elite" visitor can go to find out exactly what benefits s/he can expect to receive.


          Best wishes,

           

          A

          (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

          • Re: A Sense of Spain - 1
            GemPrincess Alumni Steward Platinum 17 Reviews
            Currently Being Moderated

            Dear A,

             

            Thank you for providing all your insights from first-hand experience.

             

            This is extremely valuable!

             

            Also, I was feeling like I was going crazy, as I was just in Barcelona in Feburary, and when I booked there was no Renaissance, yet when I looked at the listings to respond to your post in June there was one.  Had it been there in Feburary, I would have stayed there even though I love the Hotel Colon and had a great view of the Sardana dancing.

             

            I hope you are right, that Marriott will eventually absorb the good properties into their organization.  Case in point was AC Diplomat which was in a prime location in Barcelona, but I had no confidence in the services I would receive.

             

            I may actually become more experimental now that I have MI to get advice from on first hand experiences in these destinations and properties

             

            And A, don't worry about getting it right on your Spain commentaries.  One of my many degrees is in Latin American and Spanish history, politics, culture, etc, so I have had many years of reading and writing on the topic.  Now my interests are more to practical of going, doing, experiencing.  The information I am looking for is exactly the type in your response on actually experiences at the current properties, and where Marriott is headed in their Joint Venture relationships.

             


            (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: A Sense of Spain - 1
    painedplatinum Platinum 2 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    Nice work, Ark...very educational

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: A Sense of Spain - 1
      arkwright Platinum 2 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      PainedP...

       

      Many thanks. I know that this sort of stuff won't be everyone's "cup of tea", but it might to help to explain the distinctive characteristics of countries like Spain. I'm currently trying to write one about Madrid - but slightly less educational this time; the foundations have been laid:-)

       

      Sorry to read about your problems in Sydney; it must have been more than a little disruptive. I wonder if there isn't a lesson in your experience  that Andy might raise with MI. The same thing - albeit on a much less disruptive scale - happened to me in Hong Kong and Munich.

       

      I appreciate of course that the Marriott portfolio is always in the process of change - additions, deletions, upgradings, modifications etc - and this must always be the case. And I accept that there may well be legal/contractual reasons why some changes cannot be advertised far in advance. But it would be very helpful  if Marriott could look at the possibility of signaling - as early and as clearly as possible - those changes that a past US Secretary of Defence might have described as the "known knowns".

       

       

      Best wishes,

       

      A

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: A Sense of Spain - 1
    GemPrincess Alumni Steward Platinum 17 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    More Madrid links on MI

     

    A Sense of Spain

    A Sense of Spain - 1

    A Sense of Spain - 2: Madrid

    A Sense of Spain - 3: Valencia

    Never Been to Spain...

    Going on my first trip to Span  Barcelona then Madrid.  Suggestions as to accommodations

    Madrid

    Madrid, Spain

    Madrid, Spain - AC Recoletos

    Spain - where to stay

    Marriott in Spain

    Marriott Playa Andaluza - Spain

    Andalusia, Spain

    Valladolid, Spain or Somewhere Nearby?

    Penha Longa, Sintra - a truly magnificent hotel and team.

    AC Hotels - Spain

    AC Aitana- Stay away

    aphunter

    Do we get room recognition at AC hotels even though we don,t get points until the end of 2011?

    AC Hotels - join Marriott Rewards?

    My husband and I are planning a trip to Spain next year.  Any suggestions on the best hotels in Barcelona and Madrid accepting rewards points?

    Destination Suggestions for the NEWBIE Travelers ; Somewhere Exotic!

    where can I make a recommendation for a Marriott Location

    Spain - AC Hotels Deal

     

    Hotel Ritz Madrid                                        http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madrt

    AC Santo Mauro, Autograph Collection         http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madma

    AC Hotel Aitana                                          http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madai

    AC Hotel Aravaca                                        http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madac

    AC Hotel Arganda                                        http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madar

    AC Hotel Atocha                                         http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madat

    AC Hotel Avenida de America                      http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madav

    AC Hotel Carlton Madrid                              http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madca

    AC Hotel Coslada Aeropuerto                       http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madco

    AC Hotel Cuzco                                           http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madcu

    AC Hotel La Finca                                       http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madfi

    AC Hotel Los Vascos                                  http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madva

    AC Hotel Madrid Feria                                 http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madfe

    AC Hotel Monte Real                                   http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madmr

    AC Hotel Recoletos                                     http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madrc

    AC Hotel Rivas Vaciamadrid                         http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madri

    AC Hotel San Sebastian de los Reyes          http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madse

    AC Palacio Del Retiro, Autograph Collection  http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madre

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

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