Europe’s very top resort – that is quite a claim! If there is one holiday resort that can make such a declaration, it is Marbella, on Spain’s splendid Costa del Sol. It has all the attributes and attractions necessary, and it oozes glamour. Its climate and location are perfect; it has much to offer the discerning visitor or holiday-maker.
Costa del Sol
Marbella is located on the loveliest stretch of coastline in the Mediterranean: the Costa del Sol. It really is the sun-kissed coast, with guaranteed daily sunshine. Marbella lies half-way between Malaga and Gibraltar on Spain’s southern coast; it is in the province of Malaga in Andalusia. Although Andalusia suggests scorching heat, thanks to the protection of the surrounding Sierra Blanca mountains, Marbella enjoys a pleasant micro-climate that boasts mild, wet winters and long, dry, warm summers. Even in July and August Marbella is not oppressed by the torrid heat and humidity of inland Andalusia; average summer temperatures are around 33°C.
Sandy Beaches Marbella
This superb stretch of coastline boasts kilometres of fine sand and crystal clear water: there are twenty-three beautiful beaches around Marbella, at least seven with the coveted Blue-Flag award for excellence. Beach-lovers are spoilt for choice, and Marbella has a beach for every mood. Popular beaches closest to the town centre are Bounty Beach, Rio Real and Playa Fontanilla. The latter is ideal for families as it offers water-sports and a play area. Families also enjoy El Faro with its play area as well as Funny Beach which provides attractions and entertainment. Young people prefer the trendy Banana Beach or the popular Alcantara or Cortijo Blanco beaches. Not all Marbella beaches have golden sand. Much of the fine local sand, appropriately, has slightly darker, somewhat Moorish hues, the colours of Andalusia.
Beach Clubs Marbella
Marbella’s many exclusive Beach Clubs boost the city’s reputation as “a playground for the rich and famous”. The sophisticated Beach Clubs offer both swimming pools and beach, designer décor, international cuisine, intriguing cocktails, fine dining and dancing and a host of exclusive services. By day they provide suntans in maximum comfort, and the night is party time where the international jet-set, local socialites and VIP visitors enjoy themselves in a refined and exclusive atmosphere. Many Beach Clubs are world-renowned, such as Sala Beach (ex Buddha Beach) or Nikki Beach. Each club has its speciality: seafood at Mistral Beach, candle-lit dinners at La Cabane, avant-garde exclusivity at the Ocean Club or hammocks at Bora Bora.
Throughout its history Marbella has always welcomed nobility or famous and wealthy visitors in a discreet and princely manner and the town has developed its many exclusive hotels, services and attractions to accommodate just this type of clientèle. Due to its reputation as a millionaire’s holiday resort, it is not surprising that the majority of hotels are luxury class. Most of these high-class hotels are right on the beach, offering their guests splendid sea views. The “Golden Mile”, the exclusive area where many of the most luxurious hotels are located, is the stretch of coast between Marbella and Puerto Banus. The oldest and most famous luxury hotel is the Marbella Club which dates back to 1954. The Don Carlos Leisure Resort offers real luxury in various accommodation options. The Hotel Villa Padierna, just outside Marbella, shot to fame when Michelle Obama stayed there in 2010. The Puente Romano is on the Golden Mile and boasts nine restaurants and bars. These are just some of the exclusive luxury hotels in Marbella, and there are many more of a similar top-class standing.
Luxury and Beachfront Villas Marbella
A brilliant alternative to hotel accommodation is to rent a luxury villa. There are numerous beautiful villas available for the summer months in and around Marbella. Many of them are right on the beach, within the Golden Mile, offering superb sea views. For those in search of discreet tranquillity there are also classy holiday homes or grandiose villas in more rural settings. Renting a luxury villa is a holiday within a holiday: absolutely everything is taken care of. There are swimming pools, Jacuzzi, chauffeur service and many other options to satisfy your every whim. Luxury villas are generally king-sized, accommodating large groups of people, ideal for big families, groups of friends, special occasion celebrations, VIPs with entourage, or those who just need a lot of space. And in a luxury villa, it is all designer space. These elite villas are beautiful to behold and somewhat characterise the attraction of Marbella.
History: The Old Town Marbella
The grandiose villas, the clear sea and the fine beaches are the irresistible attractions in Marbella, but most visitors also take the opportunity to explore the town itself. To get an idea of the place as it once was, pay a visit to the older part of town and feel the history. The Casco Antiguo, the Old Town, is still partially surrounded by ancient Arab walls. The centre of the old quarter, Orange Square, or Plaza del Naranjo, has been there since 1485 and a sun-dial near the Town Hall, with perfectly legible inscriptions, dates from the same year. It was the year that the Christians re-took the town from the Moors. The first Christian mayor of Marbella erected a fountain nearby in 1504, which we can still admire today. Other historic buildings in the square are the Governor’s House (1552) and the Church of Saint Mary (1618).
In Andalusia there are many incredible places to visit and Marbella is a good starting point for a day trip. These can be either group coach excursions, private tours or self-drive excursions. However you get around Andalusia, you will see some fantastic sights. Visit Cordoba and explore its magnificent mosque-cathedral. Dance Sevillanas in Seville. Feast your eyes on the Alhambra and the Generalife Gardens in Granada. See the apes on the rock in Gibraltar. Admire the view from Tajo Gorge in Ronda. Enjoy sherry and dancing horses in Jerez, with a mini-cruise to Cadiz thrown in. Andalusia is rich in history and magnificence, and a day trip can give you a glimpse of it all. You will come away enriched, probably making plans to return.
Golf, sports, recreation Marbella
Marbella is perfect for water-sports and there are many opportunities for water-skiing and sailing. In town there are sports centres, tennis courts and fitness gyms; there are even boot-camps for losing weight. However, far and away the most popular sport in the area is golf. Indeed, the symbols epitomising Marbella seem to be the enormous archway leading into the town with “Marbella” written in cubic letters, and an imposing golfing statue. It seems appropriate: the rich man’s game in the rich man’s holiday resort. Indeed, there is such an abundance of golf courses around Marbella that golf enthusiasts are spoilt for choice. They are all elegant, beautifully designed golf courses, making a pleasurable game even more so in such splendid surroundings. There are breathe-taking mountain and sea views to accompany, or distract, the players, and the scented sea air and pleasantly warm weather practically all year round attract golf enthusiasts from all over the world in all seasons.
Marbella night-life flourishes along the Golden Mile and in Puerto Banus, the most elegant and fashionable areas. Numerous night clubs, bars and discos are clustered around the chic harbour of Puerto Banus. For those in search of suspense and excitement, the glamorous night-life of Puerto Banus also boasts a prestigious Casino. The choice of restaurants and bars in Marbella and Puerto Banus is vast: either open-air or inside and intimate, with soft live music or jumping jazz; there is something for everyone, including international wining and dining featuring haute cuisine from around the world. There are also late-night discos, night-clubs and piano bars. It is a night-life that goes full tilt all night long; there is no shortage of glamorous entertainment in Marbella.
Nikki Beach Marbella
This well-known Beach Club is equally famous for its elegant daytime beach lounging facilities and for its fabulous night-time party scene. Everything in Nikki Beach, day and night, is designer deluxe, super-top-notch, high-class luxury and it is pretty representative of most of the venues in Marbella. By day, the sea view, the palm trees and absolute comfort on softly padded lounge-chairs by the pool. By night, parties and events galore: champagne parties, Mojito parties, dinner and dance, fancy dress parties. There are DJs, musicians, dancers, entertainers, bands, and all it takes to keep the night jumping, all summer long.
Puerto Banus Marina
The elite and fashionable Puerto Banus Marina is a comparatively recent construction, although its fame is widespread. It is a very exclusive resort and yachting marina six kilometres south-west of Marbella. The local property developer, Jose Banus, was commissioned to construct the luxury yachting harbour and the sophisticated shopping complex around it in a modern avant-garde style. However, he re-designed the project, with optimal results. The final construction of the marina faithfully adopted the style of a typical Andalusian village, which gave it local colour, character and Moorish fascination. It was inaugurated in May 1970 with great fanfare and compliments from the participating VIPs. From the very start this lovely yacht-harbour was a favourite with the stars, dignitaries and famous people who attended the inauguration and this attraction persists to this day. The yachts in the port belong to wealthy industrialists, film stars, crowned heads and the like, including the king of Saudi Arabia. The shops around the harbour are all elegant fashion names, as Versace and Dior. The marina was named in honour of Jose Banus, who subsequently constructed many such resorts on the Costa del Sol, although none so fashionable and trend-setting as Puerto Banus.
Local Folklore and Festivals Marbella
The big summer event in Marbella is the San Bernabè Fair during the first two weeks in June, in honour of the patron saint of Marbella. The celebrations go on for a week and the whole town turns out to eat, drink and dance in the streets. The Fair kicks off with a fire-works display followed by a week of multiple events all over town. It is a good idea to visit the Tourist Office in Plaza del Naranjo and get the full programme. There are attractions, parades, flamenco performances, live music, concerts, folk dancing and more. The other big June celebration is the night of San Juan, the 23rd June, which corresponds to the summer solstice. Big bonfires are prepared on the beach and large dolls or effigies are burnt at midnight as revellers dance and make merry all along the shoreline. There is music and entertainment all night long, while the fires keep burning. It is considered lucky to jump over fires and go into the sea at midnight, and many do. The other big folkloric event that is celebrated all over Andalusia is, of course, the Holy Week at Easter, with the famous religious processions. The statue of the Virgin Mary is solemnly paraded through the streets, accompanied by hooded penitents and brass bands.
Film Festival Marbella
The Marbella Film Festival is celebrating its tenth birthday. It was launched in 2006 and has steadily grown over the years, attracting more and more attention internationally. Launched by the non-profit organisation “New World Trust” to help artists and film-makers, it now functions in collaboration with the Andalucia Film Commission and Marbella Town Hall. The festival takes place in September. The splendid Gala Awards Ceremony comes after five evenings of glamorous events where newly-arrived or firmly established actors, directors and film-makers meet to network and present their work to the public. It is becoming an important film festival to rival Cannes and Venice. Such cosmopolitan high-profile events contribute to boost Marbella’s status as the quintessential high-society resort.
Future holiday-makers who are searching for distinction, class and a touch of glamour in addition to their sun, sand and sangria, are destined to end up in Marbella. In the light of all the above, to state that Marbella is Europe’s future number one holiday resort seems a sure-fire prophecy!