The province that sits atop Portugal in the Iberian Peninsula is hardly the first region that comes to mind for foreign tourists when they think of destinations in Spain, although Galicia happens to be quite popular among vacationers from that country, by virtue of its thermal hot springs that have spawned a spa industry that dates back to Roman times. In our era, catering to the 21st century visitor is the OCA chain of hotels, one of the fastest growing hospitality groups in the country, and parent company of the boutique Oca Vila de Allariz Hotel & Spa.
The OCA chain comprises some 30 hotels, virtually all in Asturias and Galicia, where many boast comprehensive thermal bath facilities. Hotels in Galicia are patronized by tourists attracted by the province’s spas, majestic scenic beauty and unique white wines, and by trekkers who hike the Camino de Santiago, a network of pilgrimage routes to the city and cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Oca Villa de Allariz is located in the small city of Allariz, a medieval town located in just 15 minutes from the city of Ourense, the capital of the county of the same name. The hotel itself is in a pastoral setting, overlooking a small river, and it is just a leisurely seven-minute through a beautiful park to the center of town. The rooms on the ground floor have large patios that give out on an expansive lawn that extends to the park.
The corner suites are the same size as the rooms, but with wraparound balconies and tables outside, unlike the rooms with outdoor patios. Another Idiosyncrasy is that while all the units have bathrobes, slippers are provided only in the more expensive corner units, which also get a few more bathroom amenities,
All guest units have large flat screen smart TV’s, with Netflix and Amazon streaming buttons on the remote controls for viewing your own subscriptions. There are no international news channels — a phenomenon that appears to be widespread in Galicia; even the global chain Barcelo does not have CNN or BBC here.
On the other hand, there is a Grundig sound system with a USB port, for listening to music on your thumb drives. There are also minibars, with glasses chilling inside, but no facilities for making coffee or tea. Nor are there complimentary bottles of water.
Interestingly, in this mobile phone age, it is not possible to make outgoing calls using the telephone in your room. For those who do not have cellular access, there is a pay phone in the lobby.
The bathrooms have separate bathtubs and shower stalls, and are equipped with thick towels, the OCA chain’s own brand of toiletries and bidets.
As in so many properties in this part of Spain, the pool area is a central attraction. There is only an indoor pool, despite the long summer’s hot days; nor are there any facilities that take advantage of the region’s thermal waters.
The pool, filled with lukewarm water, is a virtual playground, with waterfalls, Individual cubicles, and semi-submerged beds. The adjacent area features dry and wet saunas, and a “tropical” shower. Both men and women must wear bathing caps to use the pool, and can enter the area only wearing flip-flops; reception staff will sell them to you if you don’t have them. Children are allowed, accompanied by adults, during limited hours on weekends. The pool is open only from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on weekdays, all day on weekends.
There is a small fitness room in the spa complex, open 24/7, but it must be unlocked each time by staff. The spa offers therapeutic and beauty treatments by appointment.
The on-site restaurant serves two meals a day, breakfast and dinner. The former is a buffet of mostly cold food; there are two hot dishes, and a microwave is available. The latter is served at 8:00 p.m., except on Sundays, when the restaurant is closed.
No. of rooms: 40, including 4 junior suites
Price: Starting from a very reasonable $58 per night. Compare rates at Expedia.
Text by Buzzy Gordon, who was a guest of Oca Vila de Allariz Hotel & Spa for purposes of review. Photos courtesy of Oca Vila de Allariz Hotel & Spa.