Note: The hotel location in the map is for orientation.
Dave Bull and photographer Mark Welton visited one of the regions oldest, and prettiest, hotels, the Hotel Balneario in Fortuna and discovered that things haven’t always checked out well for the historic complex. Having been used by Romans and Moors as a spa, (not the supermarket…) Fortuna was left abandoned until 1860 when along came Juan Cascales Font with an idea to build a hotel on the site of the hot springs, the hotel was Hotel Balneario and it is much the same today, Victorian in its style and quality, as it was when it opened 150 years ago. The first building built on the site was just 16 metres x 50 metres and was situated on top of the thermal springs and which is now called the Gran Hotel. However in 1874 it went up in flames and particularly on the upper floor meaning two years’ worth of repairs before it could reopen and fourteen years later, in 1888, the Gran Hotel was extended and more buildings were added in modern designs (for the time) which included three hotels, the Hotel Balneario, Hotel Victoria and Hotel España and the Casino. All of the buildings were designed to complement one another, which you’ll see if you go along there, and the facade of the main hotel, painted pink, highlights the wide balconies and the main entrance with its very classical frontage. According to the owners own history on the place the restaurant, which was restored in 1910, was inspired by the restaurant of the Titanic (I wouldn’t ask for ice…)and a glass cabinet inside contains some of the curious objects from the Royal gallery including golden miniature crowns and precious stones of all the Royal Houses at its inauguration. ALONG CAME THE WAR Around the turn of the century road layouts were changed and access improved to turn the resort into one of the busiest and eye-catching of the time and things ticked along quite nicely, thank you until the civil war when the hotel was requisitioned by the republicans to serve as a field hospital. However, once the war was over the hotel fell into disrepair and one of the region’s most popular and beautiful resorts before the war began to slowly fall apart. The state of hotel, and how far it had fallen, was highlighted in the 1960’s when a movie was partly filmed there but it took another 30 years for the place to start getting a well-deserved revamp which began in the 1990’s when the Cascales family, the original owners, spent a small fortune restoring the place to its original glory and opening it up, once again, for people to enjoy its therapeutic waters and the host of other treatments available there now too. TREADING THE BOARDS The original theatre is there too, and performing artists still come to entertain on the stage. The Café Teatro has been restored using original and where necessary, matching materials to give visitors an idea of its ambience all those years ago. For the men, the original equipment used (projectors and stuff – that’s all I know…) are on display and you can even climb the stairs to enjoy a drink on the original upper balcony. Although Carol, the café manageress assures me that these days they won’t charge extra for sitting upstairs, but it really does give you a feel for how an evening at the theatre might have been in Victorian Spain (and how blooming short they must have been!). Anyway, to balance things up (the men have the projectors) for the ladies, the café does some of the most delicious looking cakes and goodies, and eating them out on the terrace overlooking the warm springs isn’t a bad way of piling on a few (necessary) pounds in time for winter… If you like old buildings, hot springs, a bit of history or just really want a decent cake it’s worth a trip out to the Hotel Leana complex, not only for the therapeutic springs or just to appreciate the quality of the Victorian architecture on display inside and out of all the buildings which are all still owned by the Cascales family. No…just go there with the idea of having a really nice cake and how better to justify it than chomping it down at a health spa?
Wanting to spend a week in a warmer climate than the Norwegian November I found this hotel boasting about its thermal baths, and a variety of SPA-treatments. Forty-something minutes by rental car from Alicante airport, northwest in the Murcia region of Spain, it was quite easy to locate. We had reserved a room with balcony, and were given one directly over the reception area. In a quiet village like this that caused none of the problems a busy town would have (party noise, smoking, taxis or buses loading or unloading etc.), and it even provided us with lots of sun hours during the day. The room had a decent king size bed, a large wardrobe including drawers and a small safe, but sadly no refrigerator or minibar that could have kept the beverages cold during the day. The bathroom was quite spacious but had the toilet strangely close to a sidewall, and the smallest shower cabinet I´ve ever encountered! It is most certainly roomy enough for any Milan fashion model size 0, but for the rest of us? Almost claustrophobically! The water from the taps is non-drinkable. Especially the first few second of it running it had a strange odour of sulphur, almost like sewage, a phenomena that could be related to the old plumbing system, combined with the high content of minerals in the water. Breakfast consisted of a rich selection of tea, coffee, some diluted canned fruit juices (in an area overgrown with orange, lemon and other citrus trees!), white bread, some sweet buns (pre packed), lame jam of red (maybe strawberry) or orange colour (could have been from oranges or peaches), ham and cheese. And that was it! Continental style, ok, but a bit boring after a few days. The reception left a lot to be desired. Firstly, most receptionists mastered Spanish, and Spanish only! Any attempt in English, German or French was met with an array of words in their native language. One had to call a workmate, another discovered a translation program on her PC, and were able to have some basic communication with us through that. Enter Seniorita Gonzales: Fluent in English she could recommend us restaurants, scenic routs, places to shop and so on. Wonderful! Please bring the rest of the reception staff up to her service- and knowledge level! As the only one we saw she also multitasked, keeping the line in front of the reception as short as possible. Sadly that was an issue with most others. They where on the phone, on the computer or engaged in a conversation regarding something with one guest at the time, making all others wait ¬– more or less patiently. The hotel however, is quiet, peaceful, located in a safe area, and definitely has its charm. And as guests of the hotel we had free access to the tranquillity of the outdoor thermal pool ninety steps down the street. Superb! Open from 10:00 to 23:00 it gave us the pleasure of a morning, midday and evening bath in Thermal spring water holding 36 degrees C (97 F) no matter the weather condition. Yes, we will definitely revisit the hotel, sometime soon!
I tried to get 2 twin-rooms, but the hotel was fully booked, so we took a daytour from Torrevieja (around 75 min drive each way). We did not stay at the hotel, but visited the thermal bath, Piscanes thermales de Leana. My "children" (18, 16 and 16) was not trilled about going on by car far in the mountains to this quiet place, but they loved it! It was so quiet and relaxing. The large pool was heated to 36 degrees celcius, and the other was "only" 30,5 degrees celcius. - Price €11 per person, and no discount for e.g. children, youths and retired persons. - Mandatory with a swim-cap. - Smart to arrive around 12-13 o'clock due to start of siesta, and there are almost no people left in the pool area.
We heard about it and took a while to find but it is amazing!!! You would get nothing like this in the UK for this price well worth a visit but it is not set up for the holiday makers or non Spanish speaking tho! But I will try and list what we did to help and take a Spanish phrase book too might help!? Ok we just went for a day to the Spa things not over night so can't say what the rooms are like? But I know there is a old style hotel and some modern looking parts as well but the whole place is very old! Go to the hotel receptions and book what u want to do ( check online first ) we wanted Roman Spa, some massages, lunch and out door pool for 6 people. The man spoke a little English so it helped and we booked all we wanted for under 400 € and we were told to go down to the Roman Spa I won't go into details but it was good! The girls down there don't speak English but keep u correct by hand gestures and pointing! Lol we had 90 min down there then we went out and up to the treatment area where we got massages in a modern area this again was very good and worth doing! I had a full massage for 40 min for 47 €. Then we went for lunch in main restaurant in the middle of the complex. Give your vouchers u get at booking when go in and then sit. We sat out side and as animal lovers there was kittens in the area which was obviously ok with the owners as then seemed very friendly and amusing but they will look for food so if u don't like cats be aware! With the voucher u get a choice of chicken, salmon , pork chop! We ordered and he come with our drinks and tuna salads for starters then the main u order which was served with a little bit of veg and French fries then u get coffee. It was all simple but very well done and tasty. We then finished off the day by going to the out door pools which one is very hot and the other is warm and ment to be healing kinda good for u water! But the whole day left u feeling very refreshed!!! With the out door pools which u could just pay at the door and just go to on its own u have to put on a swimming cap not sure why but u do! U can get there which cost just under 4€ each as we had to do but u can take your own and u don't get towels there so take your own and sunscreen as its outside but the Roman Spa u get towels. Hope that helps? Don't be put off as it will look like a funny hospital for old people for a start as many go to help with medical problems but we had a fantastic day there and will definitely be back!!!
We stayed here for four nights at the end of July. Having visited the thermal pools in the past we were curious to see what a hotel stay would be like and on the whole we were not disappointed. Entry to the pool usually costs 11 euros and you are not allowed to leave and come back in. When you stay at the hotel you have a hand stamp on request at reception so you can come and go to and from the pools all day long. There are two pools - one hot and one warm pool - and a quality cafe which sells excellent tapas and drinks. Apart from the pools there is very little in the surrounding area. This really is an oasis in the middle of the desert. If you're looking for retail therapy or nightlife this really isn't the holiday for you.The local town is a five minute drive away and has very little to offer. You are pretty much stuck at the hotel complex which has two expensive gift shops. The hotel restaurant looked unexciting but luckily the superb Theatre cafe serves up appetising meals at good prices and often has live music. The hotel itself was clean, airy and comfortable. The only downside was that none of the staff spoke English to any useful extent. Also I have to mention that the breakfasts were terrible. It felt more like being in a hospital than a hotel with two simultaneous trolleys going round serving juice and pitifully small jugs of coffee. We took our own fruit in one day as there was nothing remotely fresh on offer. Plonked on the plate as we arrived was an oversized dry white baton - which we had the option to queue and toast! - and a pre-packed magdalena cake. Having stayed in several European hotels, we were surprised that a hotel of this callibre considered such a miserable offering acceptable. We would go back there though. If you're looking for a few days of sun, relaxation, good Spanish food and spectacular desert surroundings, it would be hard to beat Balneario de Leana.
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