05 July 2013 by Jessica Boston
Meet the Owners: Casa Fuente Largo, Alicante, Spain
Percy and Jean Chattey are the proud owners of the beautiful Casa Fuente Largo in Alicante. They moved to the property 13 years ago when retirement presented the opportunity for a new adventure.
“We had never even been to mainland Spain before,” says Percy “But we saw an advert in the paper for a tour of new properties in Spain for prospective buyers and went along to see what was on offer.”
That particular visit didn’t result in a purchase as the properties were a bit small and the Chatteys wanted a larger, more rural plot. They returned soon after and spent five days viewing house after house with local estate agents,
“On the fifth day I’d just had enough” Percy recalls “We’d seen twenty eight houses and none of them were what we were looking for. The agent begged us to see just one more and when we looked up and saw Casa Fuente Largo on the hill above we knew straight away that this was the place for us. We’d have signed on the dotted line without even going inside!”
Purchase & immediate expansion
Percy and Jean moved in together with Jean’s mother and wasted no time in starting work to build an annexe in the extensive grounds of the main house.
“Originally it was to be a garden room sort of thing to go next to the new swimming pool, but somehow plans just grew as I added an en suite, kitchen and bedrooms and it became a little house in its own right.”
Percy’s previous career as an architectural designer has come in more than handy as he has transformed the property, extending the floor space of the main house by around 50% and adding not only the annexe property but also plenty of landscaping features that give the gardens a wonderful variety of sunny spots and shady nooks to relax in.
“I really enjoy designing and building new improvements to complement the property and add extra enjoyment for guests. My latest project was to improve the outdoor kitchen and BBQ area and it looks great! I’m banned from doing anything more for a while but Jean knows I’ve always got a few more ideas in mind!”
A change in circumstances
When Jean’s mother sadly died two years after they had moved to Spain, the Chatteys were left with a large house they no longer really needed and when someone enquired about renting the house for a holiday they fell into the holiday lettings business almost by accident.
“We moved into the annexe to leave the main house free for guests, it seemed like a great solution and the cosy annexe suited us better. We bought the house fully furnished even down to the knives and forks, it’s not really that unusual in Spain. It saved us a lot of money not having to ship our furniture all the way over here from Bristol, but the only thing was that it meant we didn’t really have a strong attachment to living in the place. And of course it does make a very special holiday home”.
Perfect accommodation for larger groups
Casa Fuente Largo sleeps up to nine guests in five bedrooms making it great for larger groups of family or friends. The quiet, secluded position and beautiful countryside offer the type of relaxing holiday experience that makes people return year after year.
“We’ve got a couple who’ve visited five times in the last 18 months! It’s almost a home from home for them. And lots of families come back year after year for summer holidays, so it’s lovely to be able to watch their children grow up. We’ve made plenty of new friends through renting our property and although we keep to ourselves, we’re on hand to help and although keen not to intrude, we often end up having a drink and a catch up with returning guests”.
The local community & other family
Jean and Percy are familiar faces in the local villages and towns now and are involved in the ex-pat community including the British Legion where Jean is the Treasurer. The local people are friendly and welcoming and there are plenty of English restaurants and a shop stocking only British brands so there is no need to feel homesick.
“We go back to the UK three or four times a year usually and always for Christmas to be with our family. We’ve got two children, seven grandchildren and a great grandchild! They love coming out to visit us to enjoy the sunny weather and splash about in the pool”.
When Percy is not dreaming up plans for the next renovation project he’s often immersed in writing and is a published author with works that include a number of fiction thrillers and an autobiography that starts with his life growing up in London’s East End at the outbreak of WW2.
Socialising & local entertainment
The couple love socialising and sometimes take a ‘pub crawl’ visiting the many local bars or visiting larger resorts such as nearby Benidorm where the Benidorm Palace offers spectacular stage shows sometimes featuring traditional Flamenco dancing. The fiestas and festivals that go on through the summer are also a chance to celebrate and enjoy the food, wine, music and dancing traditional to the area.
“In the summer months there’s a fiesta just about every week, there are parades and celebrations and singing long into the night, great fun”. Even the weekly shop is an enjoyable trip; Jean and Percy spend an hour or two each Sunday browsing the markets at Lemon Tree near Guaramar or Zoco near Quesada. “We’ve been going almost every week for about ten years and it’s never boring. There is just about everything you can think of on sale there and it’s great value too”.
“We’re really happy here and we’ll never move back to the UK now” Percy says “Everything suits us, it’s a great way to live. And whenever we’ve needed it we’ve found the healthcare to be brilliant, no messing about and delays like in the UK, we’d be mad to give this up!”.
Percy Chattey’s top tips when visiting Alicante
- Explore Palace Alhambra: This beautiful historic site in Granada dates back to the 800s and is a great day trip. The contrasting architecture includes towers, palaces and forts, fountain filled courtyards, squares and gardens with amazing Moorish decoration that is a wonder to behold. Not to be missed.
- Discover the local wines: Check out the local Bodegas, go along to taste and buy wines made from the vines grown here. Local wines are mostly full-bodied reds (one is called Bulls Blood!) and you’ll find that they can be quite strong, up to 17% proof, so be aware!
- Visit the Costa Blanca: Beautiful golden sandy beaches for miles and miles and resorts filled with bars, restaurants and entertainments – it’s a holiday paradise.