The Development of Benidorm as a Tourist Resort 1865-2015
Stage 2: Involvement
There is a direct connection between the transatlantic mariners mentioned earlier and the start of the involvement stage in Benidorm tourism. In the 19th century it had been common for Benidorm’s sea captains to invest their earnings in agricultural land but by the 20th century they had began to notice the investment opportunities in tourism. The first proper hotel was the Bilbaíno founded by Pedro Cortés Barceló in 1926: it was named after the shipping company for which he worked, Navieras Bilbaínas.
Benidorm’s first hotel. The Bilbaino on Playa Levante: under construction in 1929 and pictured in 1950s. Below pictured in 2015.
The Hotel Marconi was built on the Poniente beach in 1934, named after the inventor of radio because it was built by D. Miguel Barceló Martínez, radiotelegraphist of the Compañía Trasatlántica Española. These foundations demonstrate the connection between the town’s mariners and the growth of tourism in Benidorm.
The Junta Local de Turismo was set up in the 1930s by a collection of local business interests promoting the town as a holiday destination for national tourism.
The Civil War put a stop to development.
New villas such as the one built by the international magician Fredo Marvelli (see blog article on Marvelli in Benidorm by Francisco Amillo on the Histobenidorm blog) began to bring a new generation of fashionable people to the town. Benidorm became a sought-after destination and a place for the rich to build second homes. The involvement stage of Benidorm’s tourism history takes us into the mid-1950s and the start of a new phase of large-scale development with the 1956 urban plan.