Completion Visit - Februrary 2006

Just returned from Costa Esuri, having Completed on our Apartment in Bloque 8. Thought others may be interested in our experience.


We had originally been given December 2005 as the expected Completion Date, and Fadesa called us in December/January to encourage us to Complete, but we resisted until we were happier that more of the Infrastructure would be complete, and the Services available. We booked flights last summer, to go out between Feb 11th to 18th 2006. As the time approached, we became more concerned that Completion would be delayed (and the Apartment not ready), so we booked to stay at another Isla Canela Apartment for our week. Thank goodness we did.


Having chased our Lawyer for Completion, it finally went through on the Monday prior to our Saturday arrival. We collected the keys on the Saturday in Ayamonte, and headed off for Costa Esuri, having been told that the water and electricity was on, but no gas yet. When we arrived at the Apartment, guess what? No water, No electricity, No snagging done, and No cleaning done! It was off to the shed to see Fadesa.


We were told (correctly) that we needed to turn on the water ourselves from the communal area at the Apartment entrance. We were promised that electricity would be sorted. We were told that we would be put down as ‘priority’ for snagging, but couldn’t be given a day/date when, and that cleaning had been done! (obviously different standards apply in Spain).


Thank goodness we had somewhere warm and clean to return to that evening. We decided that there was nothing for it, but to head off to the local supermarket, and return to Costa Esuri in our scruff on the Sunday, armed with mops, brushes, and every cleaning material known to man.


We duly arrived back on the Sunday Morning, found the communal water taps, turned ours on, and had water! yippee. Up to the Apartment, throw a switch – still no electricity. Fortunately, lots of natural light when the windows and shutters are thrown open. Spent several hours brushing, mopping, and wiping every square foot (meter?). Back to the shed that evening, to be assured electricity would be on for Monday.


Monday morning it was off to Ikea in Seville, to buy the major furnishings. We had two of our daughters and their partners with us, so had hired a Ford Transit Minibus, which proved very useful in carting those ‘flat packs’ back. We decided to go around Ikea in two trips, the first to finalise our choice of the major items, but to collect and pay for the smaller items, (and those we could fit in the van), the second trip to order and pay for the major items, and arrange delivery (you can’t get a three and two seater settee, and four beds, even into a minibus). No problem on the first round, paid with my Bank Santander card (I had transferred sufficient funds into the account in Euros a couple of weeks before). Got to the checkout on the second round, only for my Bank Santander Card to be refused! Subsequently found out that even though it operates as a Debit Card, there is a daily limit of approx € 1200. No problem think I, here is my Co-Operative Gold Card (flashy Ey!). Again – refused! (Daughter from home rings a couple of hours later to tell me that the Co-op Bank have been on the phone to home, asking me to ring them cause someone in Spain is trying to draw on my card – I know – its me !). Thank goodness for American Express, which did nicely (shades of Pamela Stephenson, for those old enough to remember the sketch from ‘Not the Nine O’clock News’). However, I wait with trepidation to see what exchange rates I have been charged for all the subsequent transactions on my UK Credit Cards (the Santander Bank Card refused to work for the rest of the week, despite assurance from the Bank that the problem had been resolved). The moral of this part of the tale is to inform your Bank BEFORE you go that you may just want to get at some of your own money whilst there.


On the way back from Ikea, we called into the Apartment, to drop of our purchase and check that the electricity was now on – ha! Back to the shed, to be told it would definitely be put on that evening.


Tuesday, we went to Carrefour at Cartaya (about 20 minutes by road), as we had been told that this was the best place for the white goods. We chose the Fridge/Freezer, Washing Machine and Dishwasher we wanted, found a very helpful young lady who didn’t speak English (but we somehow managed to communicate), who went away to check, and returned to say that none of the items were in stock, and would need ordering. Decided that we could wait for the latter two items until our next visit, but the Fridge/Freezer would be a must (if the electricity ever came on) to keep the beer cold.  Our Young Lady found the ones in stock, and we chose the best one to meet our needs. Found another Sales Assistant chappie who spoke better English than my Spanish (not difficult), and arranged for delivery on Wednesday. Bought lots of small kitchen items (Kettle, Toaster etc.) and left Carrefour very impressed with their staff, who couldn’t have been more helpful to the mad English couple.


It was on the way back from Carrefour, when boasting to my wife about giving Ikea my mobile phone number in Spanish, that I realized I had given them one digit wrong. The way delivery works, is that Ikea (and Carrefour) call you an hour before they arrive. I remembered from Ikea that delivery to Ayamonte was Wednesdays and Saturdays. As we were due to fly out at 10.30 Saturday morning, had visions of beds/sofas left to rot in Ikea warehouse somewhere. Found Ikea phone number, called them to listen to a multi choice Answer phone message in Spanish. Realised that Pulse in Spanish means Press in English, and after spending a fortune in repeated phone calls, worked out the numbers I needed to press to get Ikea Seville Transport Delivery dept. on the phone. By that time they had all gone home for the night.


Feeling a bit dejected, went to the Apartment to drop of more bits, and, wonder of wonders, the electricity works! It amazing how a cuppa can lift the spirits, and we left that night, ready to wait all day if necessary on the Wednesday for our deliveries.


Back on the phone the next morning to Ikea (several times to work out the right numbers to ‘pulse’ for the Delivery Dept.) to finally get through and the relief of speaking to someone who spoke English. Gave them my correct phone number, with their assurance that they would call the Delivery Van driver. Sure enough, a couple of hours later the phone goes, and a voice starts babbling to me in Spanish. We have started taking Spanish lessons this year at night school, and so far, the lessons have managed to convince me of how much I don’t know. However, one lesson I remember is how to say my address. Now those of us who have been to Costa Esuri know that we don’t have street names yet, just Apartment Bloque, Portal, Floor and Letters. I realized my Spanish wasn’t up to this, so with a ‘uno momento’ dashed outside to see if I could find anyone. The only person in sight was a Fadesa Security Guard in a 4x4. With shouts of ‘mi direccion, mi direccion’ thrust the phone into his hands. Anyway he babbled on for a few minutes, gave me the phone back with a thumbs up, and roared off. A few minutes later, he drives back, escorting one Delivery Van right to our front door . One up to Fadesa!  We unload beds, settee’s etc., and just as the Ikea van is about to leave, we get another phone call from the Carrefour Van driver. Knowing what to do by this stage, I thrust the phone into the Ikea man’s hands, and he directs his Carrefour compatriot to our door.  So by the end of the day, we had received all the deliveries we had expected.


Decided to have a day off on Thursday, so Paul the Bandit (Daughter’s partner), took me to the cleaners on Isla Canela golf course. As I didn’t expect to get in much golf this trip, we just took our shoes from home, and hired clubs for the day. Cost of round was € 40 Euros, and the hire of clubs and trolley € 15 Euros, which I thought was reasonable. Wife and Daughters went shopping for bedding/towels etc. in Ayamonte.


Friday morning we headed of the Villa Real in Portugal, thinking it was a small, one horse town, for a bit of a look around. Amazed to find it was much bigger than our expectations, and great value for towels, linen etc. Really enjoyed our walk around, lunch in the sunshine, and purchases. We will definitely visit there lots more times in the future. Headed back to the Apartment in the afternoon to do lots of small jobs (fitting light in kitchen and lounge etc.), before locking up until our next visit, and a final visit to the shed to give new snagging list which we hope will be completed before our next visit in April. I wasn’t too upset at the fact that the snagging had not been done, as most of it is minor in our case, but it is something I would suggest others should ensure is done before Completion. We never did get the gas on, hope it will be working for next visit.


So are we disappointed? – Not a bit of it, we can’t wait to get out there again. O.K., it would have been nice if everything had been ready and worked, but we all know that life’s not like that, and in the end, it turned into a bit of an adventure. The nice thing about having another place to retire to in the evenings in Isla Canela was that we had lots of opportunity to eat (and drink!) out at the Outback, La Bretagne etc. We could just close the door on the mess we left in our own Apartment each night, ready to tackle it again the next day. Although we didn’t stay overnight in our own Apartment this time, we now have the basics setup to do this from day one on our next visit. We are now busy making plans for the next ‘round’ in April, getting a Washing Machine, arranging the Air Conditioning, Bath/Shower screens etc. Judging by the lack of people around the Apartments during the day, we must be one of the first couples to have Completed, but we expect to see a lot more Apartments occupied in April.


I only took a few photos this time, of the workforce (less me), as the Apartment itself had not changed much since those I took in October 2005. It is nice to see the Infrastructure improving, but I reckon we have to resign ourselves to living on a building site for at least the rest of the year. Fadesa gave me the following target dates for the major developments:


Golf 1               September / October 2006

Hotel 1             Spring 2007

Shopping 1       Spring 2007

Golf 2               Late 2007


However, on past performance, I will believe it when I see it!