Living and Working Abroad: British Family Moves to Spain and Opens an Adventure Travel Company
5. Please talk to us about Rio-Frio, the adventure holiday company that you founded. When did you start it?
We founded Rio Frio Holidays in the summer of 2004, with the intention of offering activity holidays and holiday accommodation specifically tailored to the requirements of our guests, whether they are individual travellers, families or groups.
6. What does your company offer? How is it different from other adventure holiday operations? What type of people vacation with your company?
We offer holiday accommodation, activity holidays and training camps for families, single travelers, corporate groups and groups of sports people. Mel is the main guide/coordinator for hiking, mountain biking, road cycling and running; other activities, such as canoeing, rock climbing, abseiling and archery and provided by local Spanish companies.
We have had visits from keen cyclists and runners, as well as families wanting a multi-activity break and people who wanted to do nothing more than relax in the garden between visits to Granada, Seville and other sightseeing highlights.
7. What was it like opening a business in Spain? What processes did you have to go through?
Our first step was to hire a good accountant (“Gestoria”) who took us through the process of registering with the Spanish authorities as self-employed and helped us with the bureaucracy of registering the business with the local tourist authorities. He also handles our regular tax returns and ensures that we comply with all of the relevant tax and other legislation.
8. Please tell us how the first year has gone for you with your new business. What has been your biggest challenge of operating a business in a new country? What have been your greatest rewards of operating this business?
The first year has been fantastic! We have had nothing but positive feedback from all of our guests and their comments, to their friends and in our online guestbook, have been our best form of advertising.
The biggest challenge has been identifying where to spend our marketing budget. We are constantly receiving calls from sales reps trying to sell us advertising space and it is very difficult to tell which publications are likely to have the greatest impact. We are still learning!
The greatest reward is the thanks of the guests and knowing that we have helped someone to have a great holiday or helped to put them on track to achieving their health or fitness goals.
9. How good was your knowledge of Spanish when you moved there? How has it improved since then?
We barely spoke a word of Spanish between us – and even less Andaluz (the local dialect!) However, after many hours of hard work, we are all well on the way to learning the language now.
10. Please tell us about your interaction with the locals. How much contact do you have with local people? What about the cultural adjustment process, adjusting to Spanish culture, coming from England for yourselves and your children?
The children went straight into the local Spanish secondary school. Unfortunately, the recent influx of British children has left the school struggling to cope.
Outside of school, things are much better. Our Spanish neighbours and friends are terrific; there is a real sense of community in our village and, through Mel’s membership of the local cycling club, we have developed a wide network of Spanish friends.
Until you relax and accept that the Spanish – especially the bureaucrats – do not work to deadlines in the same way that the British do, life in Spain can be quite stressful for the average Brit. However, there is little about the way of life that doesn’t come out favourably in comparison with British culture.
11. What advice would give you someone who would like to relocate to Spain and start a business there?
Do it! And please feel free to drop us a line if you have any specific questions.
Thanks, Mel and Marie, for sharing with us how you achieved your dream of living in the South of Spain and good luck with your business. It’s great to hear that you were able to fit in in your new environment so quickly and have managed such a smooth transition. It’s true, sometimes you just gotta do it….