AFTER a cold winter, probably the coldest since we moved to Spain eight years ago, there are starting to be signs of spring showing in Almerimar.
The overnight temperatures have now started to rise. So we are now using our heating less and considering removing one layer of bedding in the bedroom. At its lowest the overnight air temperature here was down to around 4 degrees. It is probably at least 5-6 degrees more than that now, thank goodness.
Hopefully the overnight temperatures will continue to rise in the next month or two and the summer growing grass on our golf course will start to flourish again. However, perhaps these are the only green shoots we will see this year.
The move from winter to spring also has an impact on the inhabitants of the town. Over the winter the majority of people who stay here are winter golfers or people parking up their yachts for the winter. The winter golfers are a mix of hotel guests, people taking long term lets (1-6 months) and people who own holiday homes here in Almerimar. As the weather improves in Almerimar it is also starting to improve elsewhere in Europe. So the exodus of the people from here will start soon. The long term winter residents will start moving north to Britain, Scandinavia and other parts of northern Europe.
Where does this leave Almerimar?
Sadly, not in a very good situation in my opinion. The area we live in is reliant on plasticulture and to a lesser extent tourism. However it is tourism in its various forms that Almerimar relies upon most.
The credit crunch and financial downturn has meant that the people who have been staying here in winter have been less willing to spend money in the town. Most of the hotel guests have been on at least half board and have not been venturing out much. This has led to a significant number of restaurants and other businesses closing in the town over the last winter.
Another one of the banks here has just announced that it is closing down and moving its staff 15-20 minutes inland to the branch in the town of El Ejido. I guess that this is a sign that there are not enough people looking to buy or retain property here.
So what will happen in the spring and summer?
Spring is always a quiet time here in terms of the number of people around and the amount of money being spent. I imagine that this year will probably be even more quiet than before.
The Almerimar Golf Hotel is being refurbished and is due to re-open as a 5-star hotel this coming summer. The challenge we have here is to try to create a 5 star environment for the guests at the hotel, in the clubhouse, on the golf course and in the town. We will have to see what the summer brings.
I know that I am naturally a glass half empty person so I will try to balance all of this with something more positive. I love Almerimar. It is a fantastic place to live and nearly all of the people here are lovely people. It is just that we, like almost everyone else in Europe and the world, are going through a difficult period. Lets hope that the spirit of the residents of and visitors to Almerimar will make it a good summer for all of us here.