PAX Discovers the Best Secrets of Spain

PAX discovers the best secrets of Spain

From left: Tony Celio, manager, special sales, Air Canada; Cynthia Farrill, manager, sales development, Air Canada; Laura Pena Alberdi, embassy of Spain Tourism section; Ana Chacon, World Heritage Cities of Spain; Javier Fernandez, Canadian representative, Paradores

The Tourist Office of Spain, the Spain World Heritage Cities Network, Paradores of Spain (a family of hotels which has transformed a number of historical sites into world class hotels), as well as Air Canada teamed up last night (June 23) at the Storys Building in Toronto’s Entertainment District to showcase “the best hidden secrets of Spain.”

More than 70 tour operators and tour agents munched on tapas, such as tuna tartar in a nori cone and dates wrapped in prosciutto, before organizers highlighted what Canadians love most about Spain and how travellers can get more of what they want.

According to Laura Pena Alberdi of the Spanish Embassy’s Tourism Section, “seven out of ten Canadians chose Spain [as a destination] because of cultural elements.”

It’s not surprising considering Spain is home to 44 World Heritage Sites (most of them cultural) and 15 World Heritage Cities.

Following behind Spain’s cultural offerings, Canadians also enjoy the country’s cities, natural beauty, and its gastronomical delights (PAX got to enjoy some of the latter during a dinner of aged rib eye, baby potatoes, and honey mushroom).

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Savouring the flavour of Spain last night at Toronto’s Storys Building

To help agents deliver what Canadian travellers are looking for from their Spanish adventures, Ana Chacon of World Heritage Cities of Spain put a spotlight on several destinations.

While many people think of Ibiza as a beach and party town, Chacon drew attention to its “exceptional fortress over the Mediterranean” – Cuenca.

A city set in the mountains of east-central Spain, Cuenca is “a great place to learn Spanish” and has a mix of medieval, Roman, and gothic architecture.

Santiago de Compostela, the capital of northwest Spain’s Galicia region, is home to one of the most important pilgrimages of medieval times, which people still follow today. It’s “as much spiritual as physical,” Chacon said.

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More than 70 tour operators and tour agents attended last night’s event

While all this impressed the crowd, the loudest applause went to Javier Fernandez, the Canadian representative for the hotelier Paradores, which has won numerous awards from Conde Nast and TripAdvisor.

There are 95 Paradores properties in Spain and one in Portugal, ranging from three stars to five star “glam luxury.” Fifty-three percent of them are in converted historical buildings, such as castles, monasteries, and palaces. Notably, two people sitting at my table said they’ve stayed at a Paradores hotel, and said “they loved it.”

Fernandez said, “They give a feeling of travelling through time,” they are “a sensory adventure,” and that when they “repair a building that’s 1,000 years old, we want it to last another 1,000 years.”

To make a stay even more special, there are 44 unique rooms in their various properties “where kings and queens have slept,” Fernandez said.

With direct routes from Toronto and Montreal via Air Canada, Spain is a convenient destination for many Canadian travellers.

According to Tony Celio of Air Canada, daily seasonal flights from Toronto to Madrid will operate until approximately the end of September, with a reduced schedule continuing into early January.

Seasonal service from Toronto to Barcelona will also be available until early January, and from Montreal until the end of October.

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