The Marbella Club: A carefree utopia removed from reality
Words by Lorelle Williams
“The Marbella Club has charm and character, and indeed such is the strength of that character that it is impossible to even voice the name of Marbella without thinking of its eponymous club.” – Nicholas Foulkes.
Midway along Marbella’s Golden Mile beachfront, overlooking Gibraltar’s Columns of Hercules where it was once believed the world ended, sits the beautiful Marbella Club Hotel. Undoubtedly one of Spain’s most iconic resorts, The Marbella Club has been a jet setter’s playground since its opening in 1954.
The land on which the club sits was purchased by Prince Alfonso of Spain, a lover of the finer things in life, who built the resort from scratch and made it his home. The stunning grounds are surrounded by tropical gardens made up of exotic trees that were handpicked by Prince Alfonso during his travels and transported back to the Club. African acacia trees neighbour Spanish lemon trees and Californian palm trees, creating a fairy tale atmosphere where the spirit of Prince Alfonso – his inexhaustible joi de vivre – can be felt throughout.
The Club was, and still is, a carefree utopia removed from reality. Prince Alfonso created an environment where guests were not so much occupants of a hotel but made to feel as if they were staying with friends. Because of this The Marbella Club became a hideaway for the rich and famous. Marquesses, dukes, archdukes, princes, princesses graced the Club’s grounds during its earlier years and celebrities such as Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot and Sean Connery returned to the club each summer as a place where they could let their hair down out of the public eye.
Today, The Marbella Club Hotel is better known for its wellness offerings than the people who frequent it. The wellness programmes on offer emphasise the benefits of the Mediterranean principles and have helped lift The Marbella Club to destination spa status, drawing visitors from around the world.
I was invited to The Marbella Club to experience its signature programme, The Mediterranean Lifestyle Programme. This programme is inspired by the healing benefits of Mediterranean living and consists of a carefully considered combination of facials and body treatments, as well as meals made from locally sourced, seasonal ingredients.
The first treatment I tried as part of the programme was a thalasso vichy salt exfoliation. I laid on a bed underneath six mini showers while the therapist scrubbed my body for an hour, head to toe, with salt. The salt water used in the showers came direct from the Mediterranean Sea and the temperature of the water alternated throughout the treatment. The effect of this was twofold; the salt scrub acted as an exfoliator to remove dead skin, and the alternating temperature of the salt water improved my blood circulation.
The spa’s pool, where I sat with tea after the exfoliation, is round like a clock and each ‘hour’ is a hydromassage station targeting a different part of the body. So, if you start at 12 o’clock by the time you have reached 11 o’clock you have had a full body massage. The water in the pool is also direct, filtered water from the Mediterrean Sea loaded with magnesium. I found the focus on the body’s lack of magnesium to be a theme during my stay at The Marbella Club. Foods high in magnesium fill the restaurant’s menus, the pool is pumped with it and DIY magnesium sprays are set out in the suites.
It was late January when I visited the Club meaning my walk to and from the spa that first night was in the dark, so the next morning the hotel’s PR manager, Alejandra, gave me a full tour of all wellness facilities on offer: indoor yoga, outdoor aerial yoga, meditation sessions, a Beverly Hill’s style salon, a glass-walled gym resembling a studio from New York’s Upper East Side and a full holistic centre quietly tucked away in a secret garden. We finished the tour at the holistic centre where I met The Marbella Club’s life coach, Magalie, for a full lifestyle consultation.
The consultation started with a talk about my daily routine and diet then a full body composition study was carried out. Magalie measured my fat and muscle mass, extracellular and intracellular water, bone mass, visceral fat and metabolic age. She also determined the distribution of fat and muscle across my body and at the end of the meeting provided me with a full guidance report to improve my sleep and diet.
That afternoon I had an 80 minute deep tissue massage. My body was covered in magnesium and every knot from the nape of my neck to the soles of my feet was tackled. My arms were bent behind my back so that my shoulder blades protruded to allow the therapist to unknot hidden muscles behind them that had never been touched before.
Feeling much more limber the next morning, I attended an 8:30am yoga class in the holistic centre before breakfast, then made my way back to the spa for the last treatment on the programme, the hydramemory facial, which restored some much needed hydration into my dry, air-conditioned skin before my flight home.
The visiting royalty and film stars from the 60’s and 70’s have certainly left their mark and The Marbella Club, without a doubt, remains the epitome of luxury today. Its guests and its unrivalled wellness offerings have helped bring fame to Marbella and in doing so have helped secure the hotel’s official place as one of the Leading Hotels of the World.
Address: Av. Bulevar Príncipe Alfonso de Hohenlohe, s/n, 29602 Marbella, Málaga, Spain
Phone: +34 952 82 22 11