Madrid is an urban lover’s dream. sophisticated, affluent, and cultured, it is Spain’s economic center and one of the most important cities in the European Union. And according to Â¡esMADRID! (www.esmadrid .com), which promotes the city’s tourism and business potential to visitors and companies, roughly 15% of Madrid’s workforce is comprised of foreign nationals. Clifton Chestnut, a former education reporter for The Oregonian in Portland, Oregon, is one of them.
Chestnut, who teaches English to corporate executives and employees for global firms such as Ernst & Young, KPMG, and Aon Corp., visited Madrid during his vacation four years ago. “I instantly felt like I fit in. I wanted to experience living in a different culture, and it seemed like the place to be.”
Tourism is a key element of this Iberian city’s financial health, as Spain is the second most visited country in the world. This year’s massive expansion of Madrid Barajas Airport — which doubled its flight capacity and added a new terminal — further cements this fast-growing city’s role as a global transportation hub.
Once they learn the political and cultural landscape, entrepreneurs can thrive if they “come up with a fresh idea, something that doesn’t exist here,” says Chestnut, who until recently co-owned a cafÃ© near Plaza de EspaÃ±a. He plans to launch a language consulting business. “There’s no end to the demand because everyone wants to learn English.” Here, Chestnut schools us on the finer side of this thriving metropolis.
AROUND TOWN : MADRID, SPAIN
- Hotel Occidental Miguel Angel & Urban Spa (29-31 C/Miguel Angel, www.miguelangelhotel.com) is a five-star property just south of Madrid’s main business district. It houses famed Catalan chef Sergi Arola’s two-star Michelin restaurant La Broche. “Very important business types stay there. It’s a solid business hotel that gets consistent ratings.”
- Urban Hotel Madrid (Carrera de San JerÃ³nimo 34, www.derbyhotels.es) is an art deco-inspired property. “It’s part of the Derby chain, which owns some equally swank hotels in Barcelona. Highlights are the rooftop terrace bar with shallow dipping pool, original African art pieces throughout the hotel, and the ultra-cool glass bar on the main floor.”
- Hotel Villa Magna, a Park Hyatt Hotel (Paseo de la Castellana 22, www.villamagna.park.hyatt.com) stands in the heart of Salamanca, the city’s financial and cultural district. The stylish hotel is also walking distance from museums and upscale shopping. “It’s connected to El Corte Ingles (Spain’s oldest department store) and has pretty grand suites.”
- Restaurante MementÃ¶ (Calle Caracas 1, www.restau rantememento.com) is a minimalist new spot owned by American chef Karen Bell. The cuisine is Californian/Continental. “[Bell] took this place over and did some exciting things with the menu. It’s a very slick Sex and the City-type place.”
- La Bardemcilla (Augusto Figueroa 47; www.labarde mcilla.com) is an in-crowd favorite owned by the Bardem family, known for their roles in Spanish films. “[This tapas eatery] serves excellent beef and lamb dishes. It’s very, very lively on the weekends.”
- Ananda (Avenida Ciudad de Barcelona). This Indian-themed open-air terrace nightclub attracts eclectic personalities such as British soccer star David Beckham. “Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights