Widely considered as Spain’s answer to Saint-Tropez, in recent years Marbella has proven that it is more than a mere hot spot for the rich and famous who flock to its golden beaches summer after summer.
More recently, the area is seeing a notable influx in luxury development, with investments from some of the world’s leading hotel groups, major real estate firms and commercial property developers set to top one billion Euros over the next few years.
New luxury hotels, stunning villas and a sustainable shopping centre
Glamourous resort newcomers include Hard Rock Hotel Marbella, Club Med Magna Marbella, Conrad Costa del Sol Hotel and Siete Revueltas Resort which will join recent openings from the likes of Nobu Hotels, Anantara and Ikos next year, to solidify the region’s reputation as one of Europe’s finest luxury destinations.
Opening in Summer 2022 is the new Hard Rock Hotel Marbella, previously the Andalucía Plaza Hotel. The property has undergone a complete transformation to bring it back to life with Hard Rock Hotel’s signature bright and eclectic style. Elsewhere, the iconic Club Med will return to Spain after more than 20 years, with its new 14-acre resort, Club Med Magna Marbella. And not to be left out, Hilton is also strengthening its presence in the area with a new Conrad hotel near the glamorous Puerto Banús – the Conrad Costa del Sol Hotel.
In addition to the recent boost to tourism, the luxury property market in Marbella continues apace, as the talented and savvy realise that they now have the flexibility to work in any location or postcode. From spectacular beach-facing standalone villas to sophisticated serviced residences in the hills like EPIC Marbella, an ensemble of villas decorated by prestigious interiors brand FENDI Casa, and the new luxury residential project Breeze Marbella, located only steps away from Guadalmina Golf Course, Marbella has something for every taste.
Shopping enthusiasts will be delighted to learn that British developers Citygrove and Burlington are behind plans to create a 100-million euros open-air shopping complex close to Plaza de Toros. Conceptualised with sustainability in mind by the prestigious New York architecture studio KPF, the new high-end mall will house well-known retailers, with major international brands landing in the area for the first time.
One destination fits all
A true all-year-round destination that meets the needs of a wide spectrum of travellers, Marbella is the jewel in the Costa del Sol’s crown. With a unique ‘sea-meets-mountains’ landscape, the area is an ideal destination for beach enthusiasts and families, as well as cyclists, runners and hikers keen to discover the challenging trails zigzagging up to the top of La Concha mountain. And not to be left out, golfers can improve their swing on the beautiful sun-kissed courses – when they’re not busy with world-class international golf tournaments.
While culturephiles can enjoy a quiet palm-lined promenade in the Old Town, dotted with typical Andalusian houses, art galleries, and museums, food fanatics can indulge in a Michelin-starred experience at one of the awarded dining venues. these include Skina – the most impressive example of high Andalusian cuisine, boasting two Michelin stars – and Messina, located just steps away from the lively Amàre Beach Hotel Marbella and offering a menu that is a sophisticated encounter between South America and Europe.
And if you think a hedonistic hot spot like Marbella is not quite right for wellness-seekers, think again. Thanks to the holistic retreats scattered across the hilly surroundings, such as the nurturing Buchinger Wilhelmi clinic or the peaceful Shanti Som, Marbella promises a wholesome mind and body reboot.
Offering high-quality service, the luxury retail of Puerto Banús Harbour, a virtual MICE magnet with an international airport a mere 40 minutes away – it’s clear why Marbella has been nominated for European Best Destination for 2022.
Ángeles Muñoz, Mayor of Marbella, says: “We are very proud to be nominated for the 2022 Best Tourist Destination in Europe award. The European Best Destinations is responsible for the positioning of Europe as the number one destination in the world. It would be an honour for Marbella to be the leading destination next year and confirm once again that we offer a mix of excellent services, luxury accommodations, hospitality venues, cultural centres and top-quality sports and wellness facilities that is simply unmatched in Europe.”
An illustrous past
Marbella’s tourism roots are certainly storied: its beaches were first developed nearly a century ago, and the very first golf course arrived at Torremolinos in 1928, a mere two years after the Grand Hotel Miramar in Malaga opened its shutters in 1926. Indeed, the southern Spanish port town of Malaga is one of the oldest cities in the world, occupied at various points through its 2,800-year history by the Phoenicians, the Romans and the Arabs, all of whom left behind their own distinctive architecture and traditions.
After the second world war, Spanish aristocrats recommended the village of Marbella to the burgeoning international jet set, and then of course Prince Alfonso of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, who founded the Marbella Club, began inviting his friends, including his lovers, Ava Gardner and Kim Novak.
Throughout the 20th century, Marbella became a location synonymous with high-end living, as travellers of a distinctly stylish sort washed up on its pristine shores, including cultural icons such as Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, and Brigitte Bardot. Decades went by and the glamour momentum continued. The region is currently home to no less than eight five-star hotels and resorts, two major yachting hubs, and 27 kilometres of a fine and golden sand.
In simple terms, there’s something here for everyone – from the bucket and spade brigade to the modern traveller and nouveau riche who return year after year. Add that to the plethora of stunning resorts, a recent cultural renaissance, new design, a thriving café scene and forthcoming luxury residences – and you have a place where everything old and iconic is, finally, new again.
For more information, visit turismo.marbella.es/en/.