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News 2009

Scroll down to see all the news items - the most recent ones are first
Monarch flights reductions will hit Vera Playa
   Visitors to Vera Playa from the Midlands area of England will have much reduced options for their flights in 2010. In 2009 Monarch were flying from Birmingham to Almeria 3 or 4 times per week and until very recently the airline was accepting bookings for 2010 on a similar frequency - now, however, the airline's website shows only one flight per week from April and no flights at all to Murcia from Birmingham. It is not clear whether people who have already booked on dates when the airline is no longer offering flights still have a flight or not but no notifications seem to have been sent yet to travellers who have made bookings. The airline's website shows 3 flights per week from Manchester to Almeria but, again, no flights at all to Murcia.
   The Chief Executive of Monarch Airlines was interviewed on the Radio 4 programme "Today" on 30 December in respect of a decision by a large bookmaking firm to lower the odds on Monarch being the next airline to go bust. Irish bookmaker Paddy Power cut the odds on the UK's largest charter airline becoming the next victim of the aviation downturn from 50-1 to 4-1 favourite after taking more than 100 bets over Christmas. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Chief Executive of Monarch denied the airline was in trouble and said it was very healthy financially.
   The reduction in travel options is bad news for Midlanders who will now either have to travel on a Thursday (if there are any seats left!) or fly to Alicante (to which there are daily flights) or, alternatively, they will have to travel to Manchester, Stansted or Gatwick in order to fly to Almeria - all of which probably means bad news for Vera Playa visitor numbers in 2010. - news - 31 December 2009
Car Rental rates down for just the winter?
After stratospheric car hire rates in summer 2009 it looks as if with careful shopping around you can find winter rates not far above what they were 12 months or even 2 years ago. €85 per week should get you a small car in January or February but prices in April to June look to be around twice this level. Try a price comparison website such as to save having to trawl round all the internet brokers' websites. See our newspage for a report on the causes of the car rental prices hike - click here. - news - 19 December 2009

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Smile, you might be on camera!  
You can now take a Virtual Tour of the Vera Playa naturist zone courtesy of Google's Street View. Use it in conjunction with our new Plan of the naturist zone and you can be thoroughly familiar with the zone before you go and you can remind yourself of how things are when you are back home again. If you can't see the map (your browser may be set to block active content) you can Click here to go to Google Street View - allow a few seconds for it to load. Initially you will see a satellite image of Vera Playa with street map superimposed, but that will soon change to the view from the roundabout by the beach end of Avenida Tortuga Boba and you can then navigate to wherever you wish. If you've not used Street View before it is worth going to Google and doing the tutorial - you can open the small window into a full screen view (double click on the icon in the top right of the Street View window) and you can either follow the white line around the streets by double-clicking ahead or you can go to the street map (select minus sign to come out of Street View into map view) and decide from what location you want to see the street view (just move the little man to that point on the map and hey presto - you're there!).
   Everyone is trying to work out exactly when the Street View camera car visited Vera Playa. Judging by the length of the shadows, the photos were certainly taken in the early morning (the Commercial Centre clock says just after 9:00 - but I've an idea that for a longish period this was the time it said all day and night!). The recollection of one of those who feature in this edition of Street View is that it was 6 May 2009 as it shows a group of friends congregating to go on their regular Wednesday morning golf session and there is mud on the street near the Sol y Luna from a heavy rainstorm - however, it looks to me as if it was much earlier in the year . Anyway, because it was early morning there's not a lot of people about - but maybe that's just as well! Apparently the camera car was seen again in the area in September 2009 and later in the day, so an updated version may be live soon - which could give the people at Google a bit of surprise if they ever look at their own photos! See our Forum for more - and a Poll on whether it's a good idea or not. - updated 20 December 2009
Our new Plan of the naturist zone - not quite so techno-whizz but pretty useful! Click here
New road open at last!
The extension of Calle Ciudad de Tarragona (from Parque Vera to upper Hotel Street, past the main entrance of Natura World) has been opened. It will now, once again, be possible to walk, cycle or even drive from the main residential areas of the naturist zone to the bars, cafes and restaurants etc in Hotel Street without having to take the detour up to the main Villaricos to Garrucha road (and on good pavements and well surfaced roadway - with street lighting!). The opening of this short stretch of road has been delayed for many months as a result, it is understood, of it being one of a number of disputed matters between the developers of Natura World and Vera Council. It will be interesting to see whether some or all of the other outstanding issues have now been resolved. If so habitation of more than just the first phase of Natura World may soon be allowed and also the completion of purchases by individual owners which the Notary has been unable to undertake due to outstanding legal issues. The opening of the new road comes too late for some of the businesses which have struggled for customers not only because of the Recession but also because of the barrier represented by the closed road - for those businesses which have managed to survive this past difficult year it could prove to be a lifeline in 2010. For more details see the news item contributed by "JMB" on our Forum - click here - news - 1 December 2009
Car Rental Price Hike & Lack of Cars - it's the Scrappage Schemes' Fault!
Our theories on the car rental market problems this year look to be on the right lines - an article by John Kerswill published in the latest edition of Holiday Villas & Cottages magazine puts, as we did, the problems down to the Credit Crunch (unwillingness of the banks to grant credit) and caution by the car rental companies about the economic situation and in the light of a sharp downturn in visitor numbers early in the year. The result - nowhere near as many new cars purchased by the rental companies and when the holiday visitor numbers were actually much higher than expected, a desperate shortage of cars which led to car rental rates quadrupling in the summer period. John Kerswill claims something we didn't know, which is that the Car Scrappage Schemes in many European countries were also partly to blame. Many car manufacturers closed their factories for several months in the early part of 2009, but the Car Scrappage schemes sponsored by various EU national governments caused a surge in demand by private buyers so the big discounts normally offered to the car rental fleet buyers were withdrawn compounding the car renters' decisions not to buy so many cars as usual in 2009. Apparently the problem of sky-rocketing rental rates and lack of availability was particularly acute in Spain and Mr Kerswill reckons that if repeated in 2009 it will do real harm to Spanish tourism. However there is some reason for optimism that with the imminent end of the Car Scrappage Schemes and many EU economies coming out of recession things may be back towards normal in 2010. - news - 26 November 2009
Read the article in full - click here
Bahia de Vera joins the fight back against letting to textiles
Parque Vera sign Nov 09 - photo copyright www.veraplaya.infoFor several years, some owners in some of the naturist urbanizacions have been defying the Rules of their Communities and have been letting apartments both long and short term to non-naturists (textiles). Inevitably this has changed the character of the naturist urbanizacions where this has happened and has made many naturists, and especially women, uncomfortable, as at least some of these textile renters have been perceived as voyeurs within the naturist communities. There have even been instances where non-naturists have purchased properties in naturist urbanizacions despite the fact that all buyers have to agree before the Notary that they will abide by the Community's Norms (Rules) - and all the naturist urbanizacions have a Rule that owners and anyone they let their property to are expected to live a naturist lifestyle.    
    Some urbanizacions, such as La Menara, have been small enough and have been fortunate enough to have a tough live-on-site President who has read the Riot Act to owners who have attempted to rent to textiles. In other, larger, urbanizacions and especially in Bahia de Vera and Torremar Natura, the Owners' Communities have simply failed to enforce their Rules and a significant number of apartments have been rented to non-naturists and some have even been sold to non-naturists.   
     Last year the Parque Vera urbanizacions started a fight-back which included clear notices on every entrance that apartments could only be rented by naturists. Now, the new Junta (Governing Body) of Bahia de Vera, which is energetically implementing many improvements to reverse several years of lax maintenance and decline, has followed suit and this week similar signs have appeared at all entrances to the urbanizacion. This will need to be followed by action against individual owners who ignore the naturist lifestyle rule and it is hoped that within a reasonable time all renting by non-naturists will be eliminated and that owners who are not naturists will have been required to sell their properties to naturists. - news - 19 November 2009
Vera Playa gears up for winter - but that includes sunbathing!
Though many Spanish people think it's too nippy to disrobe and sunbathe in the winter - and as for going into the sea! - Northern European residents at Vera Playa and visitors know that in fine weather in the winter (which is nearly but not quite every day) daily highs are in the low 20s°C, sometimes even warmer, and the sea starts the winter at 20°C and even at its coldest, in January/February is around 16°C - much like summer in the UK's seas. A typical winter night at Vera Playa has a minimum of around 8 to 10°C though exceptionally on just a handful of nights each year temperatures can drop to 3 or 4°C. The lowest temperature I have ever measured was -1°C but that was really exceptional, with even a few snowflakes to be seen but not the covering of snow on the beaches the same weather brought further north to La Manga and the Mar Menor (near Murcia San Javier airport). Anyway, the Council has taken up the boardwalks, the hotels and chiringuitos are all wrapped up until next season, but the superb sandy beach is still there and all the better for being - nearly - just your very own at this time of year. Though the sea is still swimmable, outdoor pools are now a bit too nippy except for the super-hardy and this is the time you are thankful for an indoor heated pool - Bahia de Vera's is 32°C- great!
   As winter approaches people living in the mountains inland from Vera Playa are stocking up on logs for winter warmth (it can get really cold, with occasional snow, above 1000m.. On this favoured coast even in mid-winter temperatures on fine days normally get into the low 20sor higher on sheltered terraces but evenings can be chilly - make sure if you are booking an apartment that it has good orientation to the sun, a sunny and sheltered terrace for sunbathing and sitting out and that the apartment has some heating as you'll need at least a little heat on winter evenings (December through till end of February) - many holiday apartments have no heating at all.
Bob, webmaster, - 25 November 2009
Credit Crunch,Recession, £ Exchange Rate - all impact Vera Playa
Visitors to Vera Playa in the winter months are used to finding not that much open as bars, cafes, shops & restaurants take their well earned holidays. This year there is a new dimension - the number of commercial enterprises which have closed for good. For example, in the small parade of bars and restaurants near to the main entrances of Torremar Natura and Bahia de Vera, one (Mayo 2004) is closed for holidays, the rest are closed for good. And in the Centro Hispania only supermarket Consum, the Chinese Wok and the Internet Cafe are open - the whole of the remainder of the 3 floors of this commercial centre (around 40 units) are closed or empty. And at the Puerto Rey Commercial Centre, there are no longer any lights switched on above the ground floor as there are no shops or other businesses operating on those floors. Many British owned businesses in the Almeria Levante/Almanzora Valley area have closed recently and their owners have returned to the UK seeking employment, leaving their houses unsold and up for rent, whilst pensioners living full time in the area have been badly hit by the more than 25% fall in the value of the £ and can no longer afford to eat out or patronise the shops, which have, as a result, closed. A full and vicious circle. - news - 20 November 2009
Flood? What flood?
It's only just over a month since an absolute deluge hit Almeria province and flooded many places, especially the Cabo de Gata area near Almeria city. Vera Playa was also badly hit with some streets being closed off by the police as impassable. The Hotel Mexico suffered damage estimated by a hotel spokesman at €2m when its basement level housing kitchens, function rooms and garaging was flooded to a depth of 2 metres. In the naturist zone also, properties with basements (in Vera Natura, Playa de Baria 1 and some individual villas) were the ones to suffer most damage, a nearby steep road cutting collapsed spewing many tonnes of mud down one of the main streets towards the sea and a large surface water drain which went nowhere burst and made a new river course into the sea. Now, just over a month later, the only visible signs of the flood are some dried mud on the landward side of the beach in a few places and similarly on some pavements and a small length of the promenade. Vera Playa can safely be said to be 99.9% back to normal - the only permanent legacy may prove to be the new river course alongside the Sol y Luna restaurant - this seems to have now been recognised by the authorities as necessary for the surface water drain to discharge into in case of any future extreme rainfall. - news - 1 November 2009
You couldn't make it up really, could you?
Extra drain sections being laid  5 Oct 2009, Vera Playa. Photo copyright MikeR October 2009Thanks to MikeR for his photo which may seem to be a bit of boring civil engineering but is actually remarkable confirmation of what some have said for a long time - i.e. that the huge surface water drain running down Avenida Ciudad de Castellon (the road from the roundabout down to what was the Buena Vista, between Vera Natura & Marina Natura) didn't actually go anywhere so that when there was a deluge there was no exit for all the water and the result was popping manhole covers and floods and mud. Which is exactly what happened 2 weeks ago, only this time it was compounded by the mud from the major landslip of the deep road cutting just west of the roundabout (on the new dual-carriageway to Pueblo Salinas etc).
    Anyway, what MikeR's photo shows is just a few days ago (5 October), contractors digging a trench through the beach and adding another 3 sections of drain so that it now at least reaches the beach but, somewhat significantly we think, not actually beyond the beach and into the sea. Is this (a) because they ran out of sections of drain? (b) want the next deluge to flood the beach rather than the road? or (c) because they aren't allowed to run the drain into the sea so running it into the beach is a thorough fudge? Answers on a muddy postcard please to Vera Council (or is it Codeur, the water company? Or the Coasts Authority?). - news - 11 October 2009. Photo copyright - MikeR
Two weeks on: VP more or less back to normal
Extreme rain causes flooding  at Vera Playa - September 2009. Photo by Ian. Copyright 2009 all rights reservedIt is now two weeks since the deluge which flooded parts of Vera Playa (and other areas in Almeria province) and set off a major landslip in a deep road cutting west of the naturist zone (Pueblo Salinas) the material from which was deposited throughout one of the main roads within the zone (Avenida Ciudad de Castellon) and on the beach. Individual urbanizacions are now more or less back to normal - the worst damage was in those such as Vera Natura which have basements to properties. What remains is some lagooning on the beach and in the areas of land between the beach and the developments and (now dried) mud on some of the streets. In the wider area the Hotel Mexico suffered severe flooding of its basement level and around 20 cars which were immersed in the nearly 2 metre depth of water have had to be written off as unrepairable - total damage to the hotel has been estimated at €2m..    
  If you are visitig Vera Playa in the next few weeks you are likely to find things in the Vera Playa Club hotel or the urbanizacion you stay in back to normal but it might be sensible to check with the hotel or owner of the apartment or company you booked with as even a few upper level apartments have suffered water damage from flooded terraces overflowing into apartments. If you go to the beach you may have to take some care on the way and maybe walk a little to find a stretch of the beach unaffected by the mud or lagooning - but there is over 2 kms of beach and so plenty to use!
   Property owners who are not in residence would be wise to check with the friends or neighbours who hold the keys of their apartment or the company which looks after their property in their absence to be sure there has been no water penetration of their property, especially if it has a basement or a large terrace with any drainage problems.
   The weather - you will be pleased to learn - is back to the normal Vera Playa wonderfulness!
    The photo above shows the bottom end of Avenida Ciudad de Castellon on Sunday 27 September where it meets the beach - temporarily transformed into a river rather than an avenue. Thanks to Ian for his kind permission for us to use his photo which is copyright - all rights reserved. - news - 5 October 2009
Credit crunch hits car rental customers
Visitors to Spain this summer are finding that hire cars are in short supply and much more expensive than usual - high summer prices of around £115 per week 12 months ago have become up to twice as much or sometimes even more this summer. It seems that the Credit Crunch has forced car rental companies to drastically cut their fleet sizes, so availability is at critical levels and prices have sky-rocketed. The answer may be to forget car hire this year and either use public transport to get from and to the airport (easy and cheap re Almeria airport) or to arrange a lift from friends or book a minibus transfer from the airport, which can be done at reasonable prices from/to Almeria and Murcia airports but is more expensive from/toAlicante. - 27 & 29 July 2009
10 days of wild fires threaten area
At least 10 properties have been destroyed by wild fires on the slopes of the Sierra Cabrera between the village of Mojacar, famous around the world for its artistic community and around 10 kms from Vera Playa, and the small town of Turre. The fires raged for 10 days and have only now been brought under control.
Fortunately there do not seem to have been any deaths or serious injuries from the fires in the Mojacar-Turre area, though elsewhere in Spain 6 firefighters have died whilst fighting similar wild fires. The village of Mojacar and parts of Turre were evacuated and residents have only just been allowed to return home. Some hotels and apartment complexes on the coastal strip of Mojacar Playa were also evacuated as the fires threatened areas such as La Parata. Even parts of Garrucha, 5 kms from Vera Playa have been at risk from the wild bush fires. Tinder dry conditions and temperatures in excess of 40°C and winds have combined to cause the biggest emergency situation the area has faced since significant developments started back in the 1960s. Vera Playa itself has, fortunately, not been directly threatened with fire but buildings and most noticeably, outdoor swimming pools, have been covered in ash from the fires (as have sunbathers! Fortunately that problem has now passed). The summer heat came unusually early to south-east Spain this year (in late June - see news item below) and now, of course, it is peak season for both heat and holidaymakers as Spanish owners and visitors spend their long summer holidays in the relative cool of the coast. Temperatures on the coasts very rarely exceed the mid to high 30s but even just a few kilometres inland the story can be very different - the whole area is near desert and only about 40 kms away there is the home of spaghetti westerns, the only officially designated desert in mainland Europe, at Tabernas. - news - 25 & 27 July 2009
August weather arrived in late June this year
   Locals are saying that the summer this year was already warmer in June than the norm in August - 25 June reached 37°C. The UK has been having a heat wave this week but the chances are that within a few days temperatures and weather there will be back to normal, whilst here at Vera Playa there is the near certain prospect of more than 3 months of practically unbroken sunshine and settled weather until the autumn. Even holiday visitors adapt to the weather here, mornings on the beach when it is relatively cool, long lunches and siestas in the shade or indoors with aircon, and back to the beach about 5 or 6pm until sunset - then long dinners and outside living until the early hours.
   Fortunately Vera's naturist zone benefits from sea breezes so never gets as hot as it does even a kilometre or two inland - temperatures inland can exceed 40 or even 45°C - at Vera Playa it is rare to exceed 35°C.
    Some local restaurants are complaining that the economic situation is hitting them badly this year, but there seems no shortage of naturists on Vera's beach, especially at weekends, when both locals and visitors in large numbers are taking full advantage of the superb beach and warm Mediterranean sea. - news - 2 July 2009
Fire-fighting seaplane uses sea at Vera Playa
Photo copyright - all rights reserved - 2009
Sunbathers on Vera Playa's naturist beach had an unexpected spectacle to divert their attention early evening on 27 June as a Fire Service seaplane made repeated sorties to scoop water up from the sea to help fight a large bush fire in the campo, in the area of the Karst and Yesos Natural Park, between the E15 motorway and the village of Sorbas, around 35 kms inland from Vera Playa. Occupiers of some 190 fincas and cortijos in the countryside had to leave their homes and traffic was halted for a while on the motorway. The huge column of smoke climbing thousands of feet into the sky could be seen from the beach. After 7 sorties to Vera Playa the fire plane diverted to pick up further loads of water from Carboneras during the evening, possibly because the sea at Vera Playa had become quite choppy. Helicopters were also used to help in the fire-fighting effort. It is understood that there were two or more seats to the fire. The area concerned is close to mainland Europe's only official desert of Tabernas and the countryside was, no doubt, tinder dry. - news - 28 & 30 June 2009
Photo copyright - all rights reserved - 2009 Photo copyright - all rights reserved - 2009
New facilities for naturist zone
Residents & visitors who prefer not to don clothes will be pleased to know that the small supermarket to the left of the Vera Natura reception building has now repened and sells a wide range of foodstuffs including fresh bread - opening hours are 08:00 to 24:00hrs - much longer than used to be the case when this mini-supermarket was last in operation, which will be very handy for newly arriving visitors. Also, a new cafe/bar, the Trinidad, just to the right hand side of the Vera Natura reception building is now open. The Buena Vista (previously called Sol y Luna) has now reopened as the "Restaurante Vera Natura" and is offering "Menu €12". The Pirate chiringuito (on the beach) has been much improved with decking and tables and chairs. - news - 28 June & 3 July 2009
New Association seeks to improve beach facilities
At the initiative of the owner of the Puntonat kiosk (next to Vera Natura) who is a seasoned campaigner for naturist rights and a veteran of naked naturist marches in Madrid, a series of metings of local residents and property owners has brought into existence a new association which will seek to organise events and campaign for improvements in communal facilities in the naturist zone and on the naturist beach. The first meeting appointed officers of the new association and action has already been taken to register it with the provincial government in Almeria so it has legal status and may also be eligible for government grant etc. The first requests for improvements have already gone to Vera Council and include seeking permission for a beach barbeque and bonfire at San Juan (23 June), a request for dog poo bins to be sited on the beach and promenade and for the derelict ice cream kiosk to be removed. Council workers have been busy clearing away various items of detritus on the beach and re-erecting the toppled lifeguard look-out post and the ice cream kiosk has been reassembled and put ready for use. - news - 26 June 2009
The Beach: Contrary to one or two postings on our Forum, the naturist beach has NOT disappeared at any point along its length nor is there any likelihood of it doing so. So why did a few posters on our forum think there was a serious problem? Well, after a bad storm last October high seas did shift a lot of sand and the profile of the beach was changed but within a few days, as is usual after storms, the beach was back to its normal profile and depth.
    There is - and probably always has been for countless millenia - a gradual movement of the beach from north to south. In 2007 large quantities of sand were moved northwards from Garrucha, where there was an excess of sand and a new marina being built, and two new breakwaters were constructed by the Coasts Authority with EU financial aid to interrupt the south moving tendency, not least because the beach immediately in front of the Vera Playa Club hotel had practically disappeared. Without doubt the hotel was built in the 1980s much too close to the sea - it is around 60m or so closer to the sea than the approved building line and for that reason it appears on a national list of buildings on the coasts proposed for demolition because they have been built where they shouldn't have been - not that there is any real likelihood of the hotel being demolished, especially now the new breakwaters have given it a superb 60m+ depth of beach. Now even at its narrowest point, near the new Natura World urbanisation, the beach is more than 40m deep and over most of its 2.5 kms length the naturist beach is 60 to 100m in depth. The new breakwaters have created an additional 300m of very deep beach north of the southernmost breakwater near the Vera Playa Club Hotel, so overall, a gain, and certainly not a loss!
    In a few years time, no doubt, the Coasts Authority will shift a few more hundred lorry loads of sand from south to north and maybe even build some more breakwaters, though this would be a shame as it would spoil the vast and wonderful uninterrupted 5 kms sweep of this superb sandy beach from Vera Playa's 'El Playazo' right down to Garrucha's new marina. The fact is that every tide changes the shape of the beach a bit, as those of us who like to walk or run the beach soon learn - it is never exactly the same from one day to the next. But is there any risk that there will be no naturist beach for you to sunbathe on, swim from, walk, run or play on when you arrive? Unless the earth is hit by an asteroid (which could wreck all our holiday plans), no there is no chance whatsoever. - news - 8 February 2009 2009

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