Andalucia.com Blog Home page |   | Andalucia.com Website | Andalucia.com Forum | Bookmark this site |

20 years of Andalucia.com

April 27, 2016 – 1:31 pm
Treasure hunt between Estepona and Casares Photo (C) Michelle Chaplow

Treasure hunt between Estepona and Casares

Back in 1996, in the early days of the internet – when WIFI, twitter and touch-screen smart phones were but a far-off futuristic dream – a tech-savvy young British engineer living in southern Spain had an idea: to register the domain andalucia.com. Chris Chaplow, along with his wife Michelle, an award-winning photographer who had already taken thousands of images of Andalucia, made a decision which was as forward-thinking as it was simple. Using Michelle’s ample photo library, at first on slide and later digital, and information garnered during weekend trips around the region, on 17 April 1996 the Chaplows started what was to become Spain’s premier English-language website.

Twenty years on, after the dotcom boom-and-bust of the early 2000s, followed by a major economic recession which has hit Spain particularly hard, Andalucia.com has consolidated its position, continues to thrive, and indeed goes from strength to strength.

Visitor figures hit an all-time high in March – 419,117 in a month – and the site has over 10,000 pages which are constantly being edited, updated and added to. The website prides itself on being the most-visited website about Southern Spain.

To celebrate this double-decade milestone, the Chaplows organised a media excursion for a select group of guests last week, on the website’s 20th birthday – 17 April 2016. Around 50 Brits, Americans, Italians, and Spaniards – from Andalucia and beyond – enjoyed a memorable day out of treasure hunts, story-telling and delicious tapas.

With unusually British weather for the coast – sharp rain showers, grey clouds, and intervals of intense sunshine – we climbed up to hilltop castles, hunted down clues, and tweeted selfies.

Searching for clues in the old town of Estepona Photo (C) Joaquin Alarcon

Searching for clues in the old town of Estepona

After a treasure hunt through the pretty streets of Estepona old town, in teams of three themed around colours, we took a bus to the hidden-away Necropolis Prehistorica de Corominasin Estepona, where we saw the contents of five dolmens discovered when the AP7 motorway was being built, with reproductions of the skeletons arranged exactly how they were found, along with arrowheads and ornaments.

In this historic setting, Andalucia.com Founder and MD Chris recounted the past, present and future of Andalucia.com, from right through fromn 1996 to 2016. He started with the background about when the site was founded all those years ago, using painfully slow, now-antiquated technology, and took us through the major milestones along the way – including yours truly coming on board as Chief Blogger and Contributing Editor in 2010. Lots of interesting insights into how the business was built, and how it has come through good times as well as more challenging ones, plus Chris’ vision for the future.

Necropolis Prehistorica de Corominas in Estepona. Photo (C) Joaquin Alarcon

Necropolis Prehistorica de Corominas in Estepona

After Chris’ presentation, followed by a team photo at the Necropolis entrance, we were taken up to the spectacular hilltop town of Casares, for another treasure hunt, climbing the steep streets past flower-filled gardens and terraces, to the castle. The teams had to look for various dates and names, and have a photo taken with two girls in flamenco dresses (the feria season has just started in Andalucia, with the Feria de Abril in Seville). The weather was dramatic, with short rain showers and  much laughter as we sheltered under trees, then made our way back down through the town.

Next stop, treasure hunt in  Casares. Photo (C) Joaquin Alarcon

Next stop, treasure hunt in Casares

Our final stop was for lunch in the beautifully-situated Venta Garcia, a gourmet restaurant in the countryside near Casares, which overlooks green hills through its high picture windows. When we arrived, it was time for a well-deserved drink on the pretty terrace, with its outdoor bar and fireplace. Juan Jesus Garcia, the owner and chef, put on an endless stream of delicious tapas to satisfy our considerable appetites, worked up by all that walking and hunting including duck with orange, grilled goat’s cheese, and prawn couscous. And, at the end, of course, a birthday cake and cava, to toast the continued success of the website!

Gourmet lunch at Venta Garcia, Casares. Photo (C) Joaquin Alarcon

Gourmet lunch at Venta Garcia, Casares

What a perfect way to celebrate this important anniversary in the history of Andalucia.com – exploring and enjoying this stunning part of southern Spain, with great company, visiting typically picturesque spots but also introducing us to less well-known places. The day ran smoothly, despite occasionally inclement weather, thanks to an excellent support team of Andalucia.com staff and volunteers.

Celebrations and prizes. Photo (C) Joaquin Alarcon

Gourmet lunch at Venta Garcia, Casares

Here’s to the next 20 years!

Click here for more media coverage of the event.

  1. 11 Responses to “20 years of Andalucia.com”

  2. Congratulations Chris and Michelle and the Andalucia.com team on your 20th Anniversary. You have built an incredibly informative and reliable service for many of us over those 20 years, expertly chartering it through some choppy waters along the way.
    Here’s to the next 20 years !

    By Steve Burke on Apr 27, 2016

  3. What a fantastic idea – this should be more than a 20 year event! The photos look amazing. I was looking for somewhere new to visit later in the year. This is an inspiration thanks

    By Heather on Apr 27, 2016

  4. It was a simply wonderful day from beginning to end. The treasure hunt in Estepona and Casares was a really entertaining way to learn more about such pretty places – I think we’ll all be more aware of the different colours of flower pots from now on! The day really showed what Andalucia and andalucia.com are all about and I think you should do it every year!

    By Annie Bennett on Apr 27, 2016

  5. Congrats on the 20 years! I’m sorry I wasn’t able to make it to your celebration, but I will try to get down to see you both at some point soon
    Here’s to the next 20 years! :)
    Michele

    By Michele Neylon on Apr 27, 2016

  6. Thanks again Chris and Michelle for a unique and memorable day to celebrate your outstanding achievement! Well done, look forward to our continued personal and business relationship for another 20 years! All the very best.

    By Alex Clover on Apr 28, 2016

  7. Amazing fun for the all guests, colleagues, organisers and everyone in between. A fantastic day to say the least!

    Such a substantial company that will permanently leave their mark on Andalucia, and everyone who’s had the pleasure of getting involved.

    Here’s to 20 more years! Salud!

    By Sophie on Apr 28, 2016

  8. A Day To Remember. !!
    Congratulations to Andalucia.com and we wish you every success for the future.
    We were pampered all day by Chris,Michelle and The Team , and the ‘Real Treasure’ was actually the day itself, just one Gem after another appearing in front of our eyes.
    Well Done to everyone concerned and a Big Thank You.!

    By Gordon & Pauline Holme on Apr 28, 2016

  9. Such great photos of the most wonderful day. Thank you for inviting me to be part of such a phenomenal event to mark such a historic milestone. Andalucia is the most spectacular part of the world and Andalucia.com makes it accessible to everyone. Long may you reign !

    By Annie B on Apr 28, 2016

  10. Maravilloso día del 20 aniversario de Andalucía.com, con un ambiente festivo, fresco y lleno de espontaneidad. Enhorabuena Michelle y Chris, lo habéis conseguido!!! Casi sois andaluces!!! Un abrazo enorme y os deseo lo mejor…os lo merecéis.

    By Joaquin on Apr 28, 2016

  11. Congratulations Michelle and Chris for the 20th anniversary of Andalucia.com The pictures look amazing and I am just so sorry I couldn’t be there in person. To many more fruitful years ahead!!! Let 17th of April be a memorable day every year!

    By Andreea on Apr 30, 2016

  12. What an acheivement to have reached 20 years!! I only hope another 20 are to come! Would have been lovely to celebrate with you on the day, looked great fun, I am so sorry I couldn’t make it. So happy I have become a member of Andalucia com, thank you to you both for letting me be part of it.

    By Saskia Mier on Apr 30, 2016

Post a Comment