06 December 2016

 
Enjoy the tranquil grounds of La Escondida
El Tel opens a luxury hotel
Veteran football celebrity Terry Venables reveals the secrets of his new management job - running his own boutique Spanish hotel
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y wife Yvette and I fell in love with Spain when I managed Barcelona between 1984 and 1987. A decade later, after the Euro '96 football championships, I decided it was time for a new challenge. We'd heard about a rundown hotel, with 500 acres of olive and almond groves, that had come on the market. It consisted of a 19th Century former hunting lodge and a derelict manor house with a 13th Century chapel, in the Font Roja National Park in rural Alicante.

We both like places off the beaten track and La Escondida was certainly that - so we bought it. It was just a basic hostel but with a magical location among mountains and pine forests, tiny villages visible in the distance.
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Relax in rustic luxury at La Escondida
sound the distant bells of a goat herd. We occasionally have amazing storms and watch the thunder and lightning from the terrace like it's a football match. Guests love the tranquility. The quietness at night on the terrace is deafening! It's almost like meditation. We hired local craftsmen to restore old beams and strip back plaster to expose original stonework. The interiors have a rustic Spanish charm and all the furniture has been especially hand-made.

We have ten bedrooms and two wooden lodges just yards from the main hotel on the edge of the forest. The quality of food is vitally important to us. We interviewed many potential chefs but in the end chose one from a local restaurant on the coast - Michelin-star trained Darren Bunn. Our breads and pastries are freshly baked in our kitchen and cheeses and wines are local.

We grow most of our herbs and vegetables in our kitchen garden - we call it 'the allotment'. We're thinking of setting up a cookery school and plan to have a beehive to offer fresh honeycomb at breakfast. We have a jogging track and guests can ride beautiful horses in the forest. There's falconry and you can see wild boar, deer and golden eagles. Activities include great hiking and mountain biking, hot-air ballooning, shooting, golf and wonderful troutfishing. We also offer guests archery, but they'll have to be pretty good to beat Yvette - she's a natural.


Original article published in May 2015. All info and prices correct at time of publication.
Football management jobs kept delaying progress, but we finally opened as a luxury boutique hotel last October and chose the name La Escondida because I wanted something romantic and it's Spanish for 'hidden'. The mornings are beautiful - the only
"We both like places off the beaten track and La Escondida was certainly that."
 
 
 
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