Marbella is the little fishing village with a population of 900, which was discovered by the European Jet-Set in the late 1950’.
To be more precise, German Prince Maximilian de Hohenlohe-Langenburg and his son, Alfonso, found Marbella when they were scouting for a Winter destination for the international Play Boys, the British Upper Classes and European Aristocracy, who needed a playground in Continental Europe where they could continue their carefree easy going life style enjoyed the whole summer in Nice, Cannes and Saint Tropez on the French Riviera.
Come October, the weather on the French Riviera turns cold and rainy, so no more beach parties here, but where to go?
With 320 sunny days a year, and winter temperatures averaging 20 degrees, Alfonso liked the place, so he bought some land, built a house, and sold land to his Rothschild friends. His own residence, Finca Santa Margarita, became so popular with his visitors that he turned it into the Marbella Club in 1954, the Costa del Sol’s first luxury hotel.
Ava Gardner, Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly, John Wayne, Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant and Laurence Olivier used to stay here with the other play boys and members of the European aristocracy.
And, voila, the Costa del Sol as a holiday destination was born.
Marbella is today a lively Spanish town with apx 100,000 people calling it home, but the population triples between June to September.
Through the stretch of coastal road known as The Golden Mile, Marbella is closely connected to the Luxury Marina “Puerto Banús”.
But let’s stay with Marbella town for now. The two most interesting areas are the Old Town and the Paseo Marítimo, the Seafront Promenade.
In the Old Town, you will find the atmosphere of a 17th Century Spanish village, with narrow streets, beautiful squares and impressive architecture such as the Town Hall in the Centre of town on The Orange Square.
The Old Town is full of Tapas Bars, traditional Spanish restaurants and an array of small shops and boutiques offering stylish shoes and clothing, and pretty much everything you can imagine for sale. A very relaxed atmosphere, and a very pleasant place to be, both by day and by night.
Walk across the main street, Avenida de Ricardo Soriano, pass through the green Oasis that is the Parque de Alameda, with sub-tropical flowers and trees, marble flooring and cooling water features, and you will reach the Seafront Promenade.
Likened to the world famous Venice Beach in Los Angeles, you have a promenade with the Med on the one side, and numerous bars, shops, Ice Cream Bars, Tapas Bars and restaurants on the other side.
Skaters, grannies with prams, young couples in love, children playing, businessmen in sharp suits and tourists galore, they all meet on the Paseo, day and night, to enjoy the sun, the beach, the food and drink on offer, and to be part of something truly vibrant and energetic, what a place to be!
The Golden Mile
As mentioned earlier, this is the birthplace of the Costa del Sol, as a tourist destination, with the inauguration of the world famous Marbella Club Hotel back in the 1950´. This stretch of road received its name as it is connecting Marbella Town to the Puerto Banús Marina. It is quite a long mile though, probably more like five miles.
On the Golden Mile, time is standing still, not much has happened since the early days, and this is good. There is a sense of Old World charm and “High Society”. Within a very small space you have the iconic Luxury Hotels Marbella Club and the Puente Romano, where one of Spain’s most famous young Michelin Star Chef´s, Danny García run the exclusive Bibo restaurant.
Several other 5 star luxury hotels can be found here, but the Palace of the Saudi Royal family is by far the most outrages building. Built in the finest marble and gold as an exact replica of the White House in Washington, it is the summer holiday residence of the Saudi Royalty. With a permanent staff of 400 every wish of the holiday makers can be fulfilled, and no guest will have to wait long for Room Service.
Behind the Palace you will find one of the areas for the “Uber Rich”, the Sierra Blanca. This location enjoys an elevated position on the slopes of the mountains behind Marbella, so practically all the luxury villas has breathtaking views along the coast down to Gibraltar and further across to Africa and Morocco.
In this privileged location, the most outrageously expensive and exclusive property development ever in Marbella will be built soon. Watch out for “The World Marbella”.
This is the epicentre of Glitz and Glam.
Private Yachts the size of a ferry, with a chauffeured Rolls Royce, or a Ferrari waiting on land available 24 hours a day, if the tycoon or Arab Prince fancies a drive up the coast, more luxury cars than you will see at a car show, all the designer label boutiques, expensive restaurants and champagne bars, welcome to Puerto Banús.
In the day time people are busy shopping, enjoying a stroll, watching the boats go in and out, or taking a Selfie next to a Bentley.
At night, the scene changes, and become one of the biggest Party Places anywhere in the world.
The bars and restaurants are endless, and the atmosphere is for people who want to party hearty.
But where the average age of the party goers in Ibiza is 25, it is probably closer to 35 in Puerto Banús, so a more mature crowd.
Puerto Banús however, is also the beaches on both sides of the Marina. These are truly beautiful beaches with a Boardwalk that makes it easy to walk, bike or skate along the various areas with its very up-market hotels, beach bars and restaurants. This is where “the other half” lives and fully enjoys life on the Costa del Sol.
Just across the beach road from Puerto Banús, you will find Nueva Andalucía, and you are now in the suburbs of Marbella.
This is a very affluent area, and it is home to some very expensive properties, be it magnificent villas, or modern spacious apartments.
Nueva Andalucía is home to some of the most famous golf courses on the entire coast, and Nueva Andalucía is often referred to as “Golf Valley”. Los Naranjos, La Quinta, Las Brisas, Aloha, and La Dama de Noche Golf Clubs are highly estimated by golfers, but the luxurious Club House bars and restaurants are open to the general public, so come and enjoy lunch or dinner overlooking the vast manicured golf courses, it is a real pleasure.
The area has its own shopping area, Centro Plaza, with easy underground parking and lots of great shops, a supermarket, hairdressers and nail salons, and bars and restaurants. One of Marbella’s trendiest Bar & Restaurants can also be found in Nueva Andalucía, the “La Sala”, and if you like Bargain Hunting, don´t miss the weekly Street Market on Saturdays.