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“Spain:Marbella and Puerto Banus”
Review of Marbella

Marbella
Ranked #9 of 96 Nightlife in Marbella
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed 9 June 2014

Picture this. You arrive at Marbella's harbour on your super yacht. You are whisked away by the on-board helicopter to your hilltop sprawling estate (it covers the entire top of the hill). Your chauffeur is polishing your Bentley at the end of the driveway and your personal assistant is putting together the list of social invitations for the week for you to choose from. Yes, this is life. Not my life, but somebody's.

Marbella and the neighbouring naughty Puerto Bañus are a playground for the rich and famous, rich and infamous and the not-so-famous but rich. You get the picture. The hilltop estates are staggering in their extravagance and I hear that many of them are occupied only a couple of weeks a year if at all. Super yachts sail here in the summer and even now out of season the harbour is full of beautiful luxurious yachts. One notable super yacht docked here at the moment is SHAF, belonging to the Saudi royal family. I am told that in the summer they come here with an impressive entourage and can be seen lounging on the decks of the beautiful yacht (not all at once, it's not that large:).

Protected by the Sierra Blanca mountain range to the immediate north, Marbella enjoys a micro climate that offers more than 300 days of sunshine a year and temperatures that range between 18℃ and 30℃. The local population of about 400,000 expands in season with more than 4 million tourists flocking here from all over the world. Locals say that summers are so busy with tourists that you cannot get an inch of space on the long beach and good luck getting a seat at a restaurant on the marina. Activities here vary but the most popular two are boating and golf. There are more golf courses per person here than anywhere else in the world.

Marbella and Puerto Bañus sit about 8 km from each other, Puerto Banus to the east and Marbella to the west, forming a continuous residential area between them. A beautiful paved promenade connects the two communities along the beach with palm trees, restaurants, bars and cafes open all year round. The stretch between Marbella and Puerto Banus is known as The Golden Mile. It earned its name from real estate prices in this area that are the highest in Europe, even more expensive than London real estate. Puerto Banus is known as the “wild child” of the two communities. This is partyland where you’d find the night life, flashy cars, expensive boutiques and the see and be seen culture. The Shaf super yacht I mentioned is docked here and you see ferraris and Lamborghinis circulating the narrow road running in front of the marina making quite a bit of a racket revving up their engines in case you didn't notice them. Funny. One more flashy place to mention is Nikki Beach just west of Marbella. This beach club, open in the summer only, is where €1000 champagne bottles get splashed around like water and where the beach parties happen. Not my scene but I thought you should know:).

Marbella has an interesting social history. It used to be another sleepy Spanish fishing village in the past until a European Prince Alfonso Hohenlohe got stuck in the village because of problems with his Rolls Royce (ah, the tough life of the aristocracy). The prince fell in love with the area and begun buying land and developing it into a resort for European aristocracy and Hollywood stars (his friends). In 1954 he famously transformed his residence into the Marbella Club Hotel that immediately attracted his European and Hollywood “crew” and thus was born Marbella, the destination for those who could afford it. The beautiful hotel is still a landmark in Marbella. We didn't stay there but made it our "headquarter" for stopping by for drinks, lunches and spa. Prices there defy gravity but I have a weakness for historic hotels and the food and service were superb.

This charming place caught the attention of the Saudi royalty in the 70’s and the then King Fahd had a palace fit for a king built on the famous golden mile, an exact replica of the white house. For years he came to Puerto Bañus with a fleet of jumbo jets and a large entourage (some say 3000) and injected a huge amount of money into the local economy. He entertained European royalty here and the high political echelon with foods flown in weekly from Saudi Arabia. When he died in 2005 the city declared a three day mourning period and declared him an “adopted son of the municipality”.

Marbella had other famous residents in the past including the ultimate James Bond Sean Connery and the musician Rod Stewart. It is still home to Lord sugar of the British Apprentice and James Hewitt, known for his liaison with Princess Di. The not-so-hard-on–the–eye Zoro a.k.a Antonio Banderas also has a home here (he was born in a neighbouring town) and can be seen with his wife Melanie Griffith strolling the Marina promenade when in residence (so I have been told). I hear that George Clooney also has a home here (told ya he's following me) but I don't know if it's true. I'll tell you once I get an invite. Simon Cowell also has a residence here and I read that Vladimir Putin bought an estate here worth millions of dollars. At the moment word is that Naomi Campbell is vacationing here on one of the super yachts. This is it for my version of the Enquirer or the London tabloids.

t's relatively quite here now, being off season, but the weather is wonderful and warm and the many restaurants set their tables on the promenade and the more casual ones on the sand on the long stretch of beach. On nice evenings the promenade is full of people nicely dressed and out for an early evening stroll before a late night supper.

Sunday is a special day here and people are out by the thousands if the weather is good. It is a local tradition to spend the day walking the promenade between the two communities, stopping for coffee here, a tapas there, perhaps a sangria and eventually a lunch or dinner. We participated in this fun outing last Sunday and spent the day walking the entire distance, stopping like the locals at various restaurants and cafes along the way. We picked a couple of beach restaurants serving guests right on the sand at cloth covered tables and it was a memorable experience. We saw restaurants grill fish on open fire, standing the cleaned fish vertically on sticks a few inches away from the flame. We walked the entire distance, slowly with several stops but still, it was a good exercise in the warm sun. We took a taxi back to our car.
The glitz is not all that Marbella has to offer. Marbella has a gorgeous old town going up the hill from the center of town. My heart just melts when I walk the beautiful streets and stop for coffee at one of the gorgeous old plazas up there. The narrow streets are paved with tile and stone in a beautiful pattern that makes you feel like you are inside a gorgeous structure, not outdoors. The stone developed a certain sheen with time. There seem to be a tradition of lining the very narrow streets with huge terra cotta or ceramic pots on both sides with beautiful plants planted in them. It is such a dreamy picturesque scene that my heart pounds when I walk there. I don’t think the images in this post truly reflect the charm of this old town. A good portion of the old city wall is still intact at the top of the hill, juxtaposing the glitzy Marbella with its ancient history. Locals live in the old town in these home that connect past and present. It must make an impact on who they are as people. This immediate connection to history is really unique. What a beautiful place.

The food in Andalucia is an interesting mixture of Spanish, Arabic and Jewish cuisines. We have had a few great lunches and dinners of freshly caught fish simply grilled and served with vegetables. Tapas have also been special, from roasted peppers marinated in local olive oil to fried fish, potato salads, lentils and grilled vegetables. The most popular food here is seafood and a lot of fried fish but every menu also features their famous cold soups gazpacho and salmorejo (recipes to come). Another interesting dish is eggplant fritters with honey, contribution from the Jewish heritage of the area. The bakeries sell anise seed fried pastries called borrachuelos and French toast like sweet they call torrijas. In Sevilla and Malaga I saw the churros that locals stop for daily it seems and eat them dipped in a thick chocolate drink. We have done that and I will report about it in a separate post.

There is a wonderful permanent market here, the Marbella Mercado Central where vendors set up gorgeous displays of vegetables, fish, spices, olive oils, olives, rice and of course their meat products that I tend to skip. Can you believe that this is available all year round? I know we have our supermarkets but this is different, more authentic, seasonal and fresh. Aye.

I have a lot more to tell but will end for now. Will keep you posted.
http://oliveoilandlemons.com/category/resources/travel/spain/

6  Thank OliveOilandLemons
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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28 - 32 of 111 reviews

Reviewed 24 March 2014

Marbella is definitely the best choice to spend a month in the winter sun. Here, the season never ends, and a large selection of excellent golf courses will make your vacation short. This is the eleventh time that I come here in February and I will come again.

4  Thank ZlatanJuras
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 March 2014 via mobile

My husband and I visited Marbella for the first time today.We parked our car and asked a Spanish gentleman whether it was alright. He pointed towards a parking meter saying moneta. I went to the meter paid for 2 hours and put the ticket in the windscreen . Upon our return 15 minutes before the time was up there was no car where we had originally parked. We spoke to a restaurant owner nearby who said the car had been towed away suggested we got a taxi to the football compound. Arriving there we met up with a Dutch guy and another English lady. They too had there cars compounded. As neither of us had the rental contract with us the firm refused to let us have the cars back. I did become angry with the Spanish lady of the compound when she refused to speak any English which she had done previously I asked on several occasions that the police got involved as I was not aware that we had done anything which granted the drastic action of our car being compounded. As she completely ignored us, closing all the windows I suggested to my husband driving the car out as we could see where it was. We got into the car and drive towards the exit of the compound when the people quickly closed the door. Within a few minutes 2 police officers arrived. I tried to explain our situation that I was not aware we had done anything wrong and showed my valid parking ticket. The police officer asked me to produce a photograph showing where I had parked, I told that I had not taken one and requested that the compounding firm produced one proving our wrongdoing. The police officer ignored my request ordering further police support. 3 more police arrived on bikes and they all seemed to have a good time nattering for about 1 hour ignoring all of the distressed people, except 1 officer who tried to be of assistance. Eventually after 2 hours waiting and getting more and more frustrated the police officer advised I contacted our car rental firm Go Record which we did. The firm was extremely helpful and after another hour And having paid 195 Euro we had our car back. We gave the English Lady a lift to her home and all this money lighter weren't back to our hotel still not understanding where we went wrong and appalled by the lack of support by Spanish Police. So when parking in Marbella be aware!


12  Thank Bellopfritzi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 February 2014

A pleasant surprise-lovely old town (a gem), great little marina. The place has a lovely cared for feel. The square with the orange trees is also lovely-had to order another drink and stay a bit longer ;)

1  Thank Laurel1959
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 December 2013

Went there on holiday in may - was so beautiful. Lovely beaches and went quad biking and boatibg on a river and to a fantastic safari zoo! Recommend!

1  Thank shanachontow
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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