Updated: Feb 20, 2019
My name is Sandra McLean and along with my husband Ian, have lived on Hacienda since October 2004. We bought our villa on Phase 1, off plan in 2002 and eventually completed in September 2004.
At the time when we were brought to the site, there was absolutely nothing here, no houses, no golf course, nothing except some pegs in the ground which, we were told, was where some of the different golf course holes would be and some scaffolding where we were informed the hotel was going! It was difficult to imagine though how it was going to look, even though we did have a brochure with a map in it. Now, we have lived here longer than anyone!
We have a Timeshare at La Manga Club and whilst there in 2002, I just happened to pick up some brochures from an estate agents, so, we came to look. The rest as they say, is history! We did look at other resorts as well, but felt Hacienda had more to offer, with the space, style and colours of the villas, all the different things which were promised, like, a second golf course, horse riding, another tennis area, shops, restaurants, bars, etc., so many. Most of these, certainly at the moment, have not materialised as yet, but who knows.
Ian was a shareholder of the Golf Club. This meant we were allowed access to the VIP Lounge in the Club House plus a few other perks! It cost us a lot of money at the time and then a few years back, the shareholders were dissolved! Amazingly some of the shareholders never even played golf and one of those, actually had two shares!
We have always been heavily involved with Hacienda, as, for the first three years here, Ian was Vice President of the Resort, so we used to have regular meetings with the one of the developers, who was the President as well as our then Director of Golf Billy Sim. We helped with a lot of the decisions about the running of the resort, events, the different golf competitions etc.
A number of times in the early days we were asked to be interviewed for various travel and home magazines. Sometimes we had our photos in them and others were just verbally. Ian was also asked for an interview on the radio one time as well.
In those days there were not many of us living here, but we all soon became firm friends. We didn’t have a proper restaurant or bar, but, we had what we called ‘The White House’ which was a portacabin at the back of what is now, Los Olivos, but the apartments were not there then. We had some wonderful evenings, meals, golf presentations etc., there and it was so cheap! The last time I saw it, it was being used for storage of leaflets, brochures etc. I do not know if it even still exists now!
We did not have the Golf Club House until 2008, so we used to use the cafeteria at the Academy for ‘after golf’ and had some fantastic ‘sessions’ there, all through the year and in some awful weather. It was so cold down there at times, but, eventually we did get the curtains, which helped tremendously. Once the Hacienda Restaurant opened in the square behind The Spaniard Inn, we had at last somewhere to have a really nice meal and it became the only 3 fork restaurant in the Murcia region. It was wonderful. At that time the Spanish Golfer Miguel Ángel Jimenez was our travelling Pro and because Ian was Vice President he was often invited to a meal there with Miguel, the developers, the Director of Golf and the course designer Dave Thomas. Once I was even invited too!!!
Ian started running a ‘roll up’ golf competition probably around 2005 and this has certainly grown immensely over the years. He kept a track of every single person who ever played in it. It started off with probably around a dozen players and now some weeks it’s as many as 60! Unfortunately it is no longer a proper roll up though, as people now have to pre book their names onto a computerised sheet. Whereas before, everyone turned up at the same time and Ian put them into groups. It was a great way of meeting and playing with different people, but now, everyone seems to play each week with the same people, so, in a way it’s lost its camaraderie and the purpose of a roll up.
I used to help Billy Sim’s wife Gina, with the decorations at Christmas, mainly in the Club House, once that was built, but before that in the IT Bar and all the other celebrations like Halloween and Valentines, as well as helping to organise the Halloween party and Easter Egg hunt for the children. We had the first Halloween party in the IT Bar and children from Fuente Alamo came along as well. One year we even hired a train to take the children around the resort for their ‘Trick or Treating’!
We have watched the resort grow and have been through some rough times with the recession coming at a bad time, the developers being bought out and new companies taking over a few times over.
We have seen the good and the bad and now, we think, the good again. Along the way, we have made some amazing friends, some of whom unfortunately have now passed away, or, moved back to their country, but, they will never be forgotten. Now with the new airport, this should certainly help Hacienda. It’s a shame though that the Paramount Theme Park venture was cancelled as that would have been good for us too and we were right in the middle of the two!
In 2012 after having been to a few International Ladies Day outings with the ladies of Fuente Alamo and realising they were all a part of the different Ladies Associations of the Fuente Alamo Region, but, having had such good days out, Laurence Perrier and myself decided to start our own Ladies Association. Because Ian was Vice President, we had a very large database of email addresses on our computer and, in my head, I had around 100 ladies names. We decided to email them all and see if they would be interested in becoming part of the HDA Ladies Association. We had a lot of replies and the vast majority of them positive. Therefore we became an official organisation and we now have an amazing 401 members! We meet every Wednesday at 10:00 in the Club House for a coffee morning and go on trips throughout the year. We are always welcoming new members as more and more people are buying here. Obviously, not all our ladies live here, for most it is a holiday home for them. We never force anyone to do anything though, some of our ladies have never been to coffee morning or on any trips with us, but, they receive our emails telling them what’s going on. We charge a one off fee of 5€ to join. Once you have paid the 5€ then you start getting the emails. It’s a great way of meeting other ladies. We have even been told that some ladies have bought here because of the Ladies Association, especially ladies on their own!
Because the Ladies Association has such a large database of email addresses, we are often asked to send things out or to give information to everyone. If it is for the good of the resort we don’t mind doing this. We have gone on to still decorate the Club House for different occasions, because, it all helps create a good impression for the resort. We have a group of ladies who continually offer their services for decorating and taking them down again. We are very lucky. We have seen some wonderful friendships formed over the years because of the ladies association which always makes us feel so proud. There are a lot of ladies living here on their own and they all know that if ever they need company they can come to coffee morning and meet some other ladies. Most Wednesday’s we get around 20 ladies come. They are all a mind of information too! It’s amazing how so few seem to know so much! If anyone out there would like to join the association, please contact me, or, come along to a coffee morning.
In 2017 the Town Hall of Fuente Alamo asked the Ladies Association to organise the first ever Fiesta for Hacienda. Earlier that year, we had become a plenary of Fuente Alamo and we had a flag raising ceremony attended by the Mayor of Fuente Alamo and a number of other dignitaries. Because we had at last been recognised as a plenary, it meant that we were now entitled to the same as the other villages and we were told we would have a ‘Hacienda Day’, from 2018, which the Town Hall suggested as 9th June, as that is a National Holiday in Spain, so it was decided to have the fiesta over the weekend which included that date and it will be the same each year now. The fiesta was a huge success and this year is being held over three days, which are, 8th, 9th and 10th of June, so hopefully will be bigger and better and in the years to come should be improved on year on year.
There are a tremendous number of different nationalities on Hacienda. We are a very cosmopolitan resort, which is so good to see. There seems to be new ones added all the time as well. We are actually doing a survey at the moment asking for peoples nationality, year of birth, male or female, their postcode in the country they originally lived in before coming here, why they came to Hacienda, which airport they fly from/into, what else they would like to see here and whether it is their main or second home. This has been asked for by DNG, the new Sales people, but it has been really interesting to see and we are collating the information for our own information and for DNG. We will not be giving any personal details like name or email address, purely just the answers we are asking for. It is another way we have been asked to help. If anyone reading this and hasn’t already given this information, but would like to, then, you can always contact me or the ladies association. We will probably publish the results to the people who took the time to do the survey only, so, another incentive to do it! In fact, a lot of the things residents have asked that they would like to see here, are in fact some of the things we were promised in the beginning!
From day one, we have loved being here and still do. It is an incredibly friendly resort and we welcome anyone, no discriminations. Of course, there are things we are not happy about and would like improved or changed, but, on the whole, it’s wonderful. I never get bored, there are so many places to visit, not that we have time for visiting other areas just now as there is always something else to do, but, some day........