My name is Gerry. I currently live between southern Spain and northern England with my wife Kirsty. Originally I’m from a town called Warrington in the north-west of England. In 1981 I went to Lancaster University and graduated in Economics.
After some time travelling in Australia I went to Bristol University and obtained a postgraduate teacher training certificate in Economics and Business Studies which allowed me to move to Spain and take up my first post as an Economics teacher at Queens College in Palma de Mallorca.
In 1991 I became head of Economics at Kings College in Madrid where I met Kirsty. She was the computer teacher.
Birth of Spanish Fiestas
In September 1994 the travel bug was too strong and we left London Gatwick for Kathmandu at the beginning of a year travelling around the world. It was during this year that the idea of Spanish Fiestas arose. More precisely it was on a tourist bus in northern Queensland where my ‘eureka moment’ convinced me that I could start arranging for British football fans to come to Madrid to see Real Madrid matches at the Bernabeu stadium when I got back to Spain.
Back in Spain a year later we set up an English language teaching business in the village of Miraflores de la Sierra near Madrid which Kirsty ran while I got a job in the Business Studies department of San Pablo CEU University in Moncloa.
After much preparation in a pre-internet world our first customers arrived in 1996 when we began offering our football weekends in Madrid. This soon expanded to include FC Barcelona after I met a young entrepreneur from Barcelona who we’ve continued to work with to this day.
For the next five years we slowly expanded our city breaks and began offering small group tours which included visits to the great Moorish cities of Andalucia … Granada, Seville and Cordoba.
Spanish Fiestas Goes Full Time
In June 2001 we decided that it was time for me to work full time with Spanish Fiestas as there simply wasn’t enough time in a day to balance a part-time travel business with a full-time teaching job.
The website was starting to attract significant visitor numbers and the internet was fast becoming a way of life for doing business. We moved away from Madrid to Almuñécar on the coast of Granada where Kirsty took a teaching job in the local international school whilst I worked on developing the website and expanding the services we were offering. I recall my first week of working full-time on the site only too well as she called me from the school on September 11th to tell me to switch on the TV and watch the news!Within three years Kirsty was able to join me full time as I could no longer cope with all the tasks associated with the enormous volume of traffic the website was now attracting. Over the following years Spanish Fiestas grew to offer a wide range of travel services all over Spain, developing valuable partnerships with reliable providers along the way.
Many years of travelling around Spain have provided us with invaluable knowledge of our destinations. We are constantly adding new information to our website which currently has almost 1000 pages of valuable content including great recommendations on where to go, what to do, where to stay and where to eat. In May 2012 after six months of revisions we relaunched a new high-tech (all singing, all dancing) version of the website. We also started making inroads into the new world of social media that has exploded in recent times with new pages on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
The Beauty of Working in Cyberspace
Most of the time we’ve spent building Spanish Fiestas has been sat at computers in Spain, however, we started to wonder how easy it would be to spend extended periods of time outside Spain whilst still keeping on top of the work. So in November 2005, our quietest period of the year, we travelled to Asia for 6 weeks travelling in Vietnam, Laos and Hong Kong. The following year over the same period we went to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. As a result of this we created a website with useful information about South East Asia which is now live at Vietnam Travel Guide.The travel bug had been fed but it wanted more so we started talking about maybe spending an extended period of time in Australia. After explaining our plans to the Australian Embassy (and successfully passing a verbal test about the Brisbane Broncos rugby league team) we were granted a 12 month visa and headed there via New Zealand in November 2007.
Equipped with a new laptop we then travelled around Australia in our Ford Falcon station wagon for much of the year stopping off for extended periods in apartments with wireless internet connections to ensure that we were always on top of our website work. Since returning Kirsty has been working on yet another website which will prove a useful travel guide for visitors to Australia and especially Queensland. You can take a look at Brisbane and Beyond.
After Australia we returned to a part of Spain that was clearly suffering the worldwide recession. In 2010 with considerable regret we decided that running a small business in the ailing Spanish economy was no longer a good idea so we re-registered the business as ‘GKS Guides Limited’ in the UK where enterprise is to some extent encouraged (unlike in Spain). Today we travel between Spain, the UK and anywhere else we can get to.
Join Our Community
We’ve built Spanish Fiestas as a very personable business rather than being focused excessively on financial goals. As such we’ve had the pleasure of meeting many great people from around the world in person and have created a friendly online community of people who share a common love of Spain. Please join us in the following ways: