TRAVEL GUIDE: Marina d'Or
Take eight friends and throw in a generous serving of sun, sea, sangria and fits of laughter and that just about sums up my last weekend.
The event was my friend’s 40th birthday and the venue was the Marina d'Or complex on Spain's Costa Azahar.
Marketed as a ‘holiday city', Marina d'Or is situated about an hour from Valencia beside the village of Oropesa Del Mar.
While it could be perceived as a bit of a concrete jungle, this place has a lot going for it. It boasts a small theme park, golf course, man-made but spotless stretch of sandy beach, lots of beautifully landscaped gardens and amazing Gaudi-influenced architecture.
The central road is covered by a fabulous archway of lights and during high season there's always plenty of entertainment both indoors and outdoors.
My two hidden gems came in the form of Il Peccato, a lovely beach front Italian restaurant, and the neighbouring village of Oropesa - or to be more precise, the shops in Oropesa. The menu in Il Peccato suited all palates in our party — which was no mean feat when they had me to contend with.
I don't eat fish, seafood or game so I was more than happy with my Caprese salad followed by lasagne while the rest of the clan feasted on seafood platters and steaks.
The food was good and the staff were friendly, efficient and damn good fun.
They didn't mind when five very off-key friends burst into a rendition of ‘I am Woman'. Nor indeed did it bother them in any way — and believe me they would have had every right to be bothered — when the three men in our company gave Beyonce a run for her money with an absolutely hysterical version of ‘If You Liked It Then You Should Have Put a Ring on It’.
In fact, so impressed were the staff that they decided to join the lads for an encore. All in all Il Peccato was the perfect place to party.