10 Feb, 2009 @ 10:58
1 min read

Torre earner


British writer makes small fortune listing Torremolinos as one of world’s most authentic places

ASKED to name the most authentic places on Earth, most people would have opted for somewhere in the South Seas, the Amazon rainforest or perhaps a village in the heart of Africa.

But for British journalist Mark Jones, the search for ‘authenticity’ – the latest travel buzzword – in mainland Spain ended with 1950s built Torremolinos on the Costa del Sol.

Now the seasoned writer has earnt 15,000 euros for picking the town to go on the list of The 50 Most Authentic Places in the World, published in British Airways High Life magazine.

So pleased was the town hall to be included in the list it is paying him some 306 euros a word for his claims that the town is highly “authentic”.

In justifying the claim, Jones wrote: “After 40 years of mass tourism, Torremolinos continues to evolve and, away from the coast, it’s a bustling Andalucian town. The high-rise 1950s and 1960s hotels are now admired by fashionable architects. The campaign to make it a Unesco World Heritage site begins here”.

Jones was last week awarded the annual Sol de Oro journalism prize by the mayor of Torremolinos town hall Pedro Fernandez Montes.

The official list included only one other place in Spain, Valldemossa in Mallorca.

It also included Leeds, Ludlow and Lewes in the UK, Paris, France and Greve in Italy. The whole list can be seen at High Life magazine.

One of the judges, Professor Harold Goodwin, director of the international centre for responsible tourism at Leeds Metropolitan University, admitted one traveller’s idea of “authentic” could be anathema to someone else.

Back streets

“Perhaps the best way of describing it would be to use words my father used. He always said that when travelling he wanted to get into the back streets ‘to see what it’s really like’.

“It also means that your destination is still part of a community with people going about their everyday business.

“Fewer and fewer British people are going on holiday just to lie in the sun. Travel is evolving, meaning that people want to have experiences and mix with local people. This might mean they are more inclined to book walking holidays or wildlife tours or visit small festivals.”

Jones, who compiled the list, said: “Authentic tourism is growing in popularity because it’s more inclusive, more liberating and maybe because it’s more open to personal interpretation.

“An authentic tourist is one who is changed by a place and doesn’t seek to change it.”


  1. Could it be the €306 per word he got paid that decided him – he has a Britana (Welsh) name but could his roots be Spanish – then al would make sense.

  2. Just to reassure Stuart (by the way – you weren’t once a teacher in Abingdon, were you?) I certainly didn’t write the article with the Sol de Oro , or any other prize, in mind.

    There was an important piece of information missed out in the original Olive Press article. My High Life piece appeared in November, the month of World Travel Market in London, and the Torremolinos stand was inundated with people carrying copies of the magazine. So I didn’t write much, but what I did write seems to have been pretty effective; that’s partly why the judges went for it.

    I think there are lots of different kinds of authenticity, not least in Andalusia – I’m sitting in one of them at the moment, actually, in my house in Comares. I was making a point about the ability of places like Torremolinos to co-exist with places like this: it’s the genius of the region. There are lots of battles to be fought to keep the developers at bay, and this newspaper does a good job fighting them. But Torremolinos has been around long and cheerfully enough to earn a bit of respect.

    Note: the writer was not paid a fee for this article.

  3. well said Mark… hurrah for Torre…I certainly did not expect it to be my cup of tea when I did a travel article on the town for the Daily Mail with my wife five years ago, but I actually found it really refreshing and so much more honest and genuine than somewhere awful like Puerto Banus…there is even a fabulous restaurant Med.

    and the fact that they have preserved some of the old spots like the Pez Espada hotel, where Sinatra used to croon, and the wizened old knife sharpener who has been doing the job for 30 year in Carihuela..

    Youll be commissioning me to do a well paid in depth feature on the town in High Life Magazine next month…

    and, as for comares… is that where you bought with your prize? I used to live there myself funnily enough… and while it certainly has a certain authenticity (particularly up at Masmullah)… some of the near neighbours we had were a bit more suited to Puerto Banus (or the BNP party). Hopefully you havent come across them.

    thanks for your comments on the paper. We´d love some articles if you find the time.


  4. “the ability of places like Torremolinos to co-exist with places like this [Comares]”

    The most stupid sentence ever written. How is Comares “coexisting” with Torremelinos exactly? I wouldn’t pay you 15 cents for this drivel – how did you fool those people? If Torremelinos is so authentic why are you not living there? Comares is isolated, albeit dramatic, and genuinely authentic. Don’t come down…

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