Business Aviation in Spain: Planning for Hotels, Ground Transport, Visas, and Local Culture
This is a post by author Gonzalo Barona. Gonzalo is Managing Director for Universal Aviation Spain, which has aircraft ground handling facilities in Madrid, and Gerona. Gonzalo is an expert on business aircraft operations in Spain and can be contacted at email@example.com.
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating in Spain and continues from our last article: “Business Aviation in Spain: Security Considerations.”
A business-aviation trip to Spain can be a great experience for both passengers and crew. The Spanish people are among the most hospitable in the world, cuisine and wines are superb, and hotel options are excellent. There are still some things you need to be aware of before your visit. Here are some tips to help you navigate hotels, transportation, visas, and the local culture for the next time you plan a mission to Spain:
1. Hotel availability in Spain is very good
Spain offers many excellent hotel options, both close to airports and in town. In addition to international chain hotels, there are very good European chain hotels available, including 4- and 5-star properties. While it’s recommended that crew book 4- and 5-star hotels, 3-star hotel options in Spain may be acceptable for your operation.
2. Hotel price and cancellation policies need to be considered
A cancellation policy in Spain is normally 24 hours prior to arrival without any cancellation fees; however, in cases of large events, or during high season, the policy may be extended, and there may be a charge to cancel a reservation. Expect to pay $150 – 200 a night for 4-star hotel and $200 – 250 a night for 5-star properties. Prices increase during high season, particularly along the Mediterranean.
3. Preferred hotels may be more difficult to book during special event periods
During certain sporting events, trade shows, and tourism fairs, hotel options will be more limited for those making last minute reservations. During large events, including Formula 1 races in Barcelona and Valencia, you may have to drive farther out to find an available hotel, but your ground handler will be able to source adequate accommodations further outside of town. On Mediterranean islands, particularly Ibiza, hotel options are limited and may fill up during summer high season.
4. Work with your ground handler on short notice requests
Your ground handler can recommend preferred hotels in all price categories. Ground handlers have agreements and special rates with local hotels and large hotel chains. In some cases, your ground handler may be able to arrange an early check-in or late check-out at no additional cost. If you have a preferred hotel in mind, but the property is sold out, your ground handler will offer alternative options and provide availability and pricing. In most cases, crew choose to pay hotels directly, but, if desired, your ground handler can provide credit for all hotel bookings in Spain.
5. Consider local transportation options
Once an aircraft lands, the ground handler will assist passengers and crews through security and police (if arriving from outside Schengen area). It’s recommended that you have transportation standing by to avoid delay in getting to hotels. For this reason, make arrangements prior to the aircraft’s arrival.
6. Rental vehicles may not be the best option
Rental vehicles are available at all airports in Spain, but be aware that traffic can be heavy and fast in major cities. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, it’s best not to rent a vehicle. You’ll require a passport, driver’s license, and a credit card to book a rental vehicle. Vehicle parking in major cities is usually not problematic. Be aware that many, if not most, rental vehicles in Spain have standard shift transmissions.
7. Know documentation requirements
In most cases, crew, including pilots, flight mechanics, and flight attendants do not require visas for Spain as long as they have a valid passport and crew ID. Passengers, depending upon nationality, may require visas. Some foreign nationals may obtain visas on arrival, while others must have visas issued in advance. In some cases, passengers who are staying no more than 24 hours in Spain will be issued a pass in place of the required visa. Always check with your ground handler or 3rd-party provider prior to arrival on passenger and crew visa requirements, and 24-hour pass options in the case of passengers. There are certain situations, depending upon nationality of the aircraft, where police may be present plane-side to confirm documentation of all crew and passengers on arrival. Although this is not the norm, it can happen from time to time.
8. Understand agricultural restrictions
By regulation, many agricultural items, including items restricted in the EU, are not permitted into Spain. Best practice is to check with your ground handler or 3rd-party provider in advance on restricted items and items that may be kept at the airport under the care of your ground handler until your departure.
9. Enjoy the Spanish culture
The people in Spain are generally easygoing and helpful to visitors. For business meetings, dress code is usually formal, and it’s normal to spend a few minutes talking about general items before starting a business meeting. Off airport, petty crime, such as pickpocketing, may occur in downtown areas and at night throughout the city, but the situation is no worse than other major cities in Europe. Particularly if this is your first trip to Spain, take the time to enjoy the local cuisine and culture. Spaniards eat a lot of seafood, such as lobsters, clams, and shrimp, and Spanish wines are some of the best in the world. Each city and region of Spain is unique, and opportunities to visit historic town centers, museums, and assorted castles should not be missed.
We recommend you work with your ground handler or 3rd-party provider to pre-arrange all local services and requirements. Spain has many excellent hotels and hotel chains, and your ground handler can advise on the best options. Prices for 4- and 5-star hotels can be more reasonable here than in other parts of Europe, and local Spanish hotel chains are equivalent to large international chain options. Be mindful of documentation requirements and local security considerations, but be sure to take the time to experience and enjoy the unique Spanish culture.
If you have any questions about this article, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.