Jeremy Ellwood spends a couple of days at The Marbella Club, a legendary jewel in the Costa del Sol's crown
Magnificent Marbella: Golf In The Costa Del Sol
The Marbella Club proves the wisdom of the adage, “If you build it, they will come.” The man responsible for this glorious resort on Spain’s southern strip was Prince Alfonso of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, who first spied the potential of this wonderful seafront plot in the 1940s, then gradually transformed it into a place the jetset would find irresistible.
The Marbella Club boasts a superb array of accommodation (topped off by the mind-blowing beachfront Villa del Mar), restaurants and facilities to keep old and young entertained. It really is a resort for all ages, with the Kids’ Club, in the old Finca where Alfonso once lived, the most impressively equipped I’ve ever encountered. Sadly, the kids weren’t with me this time – they would have loved it!
The adults don’t fare badly either with golf, tennis and riding among the sports on offer, and a well-equipped gym, Beach Club and beautiful botanical gardens to enjoy. There’s a real focus on ‘wellness’, not only in the spa, but also via on-site experts in nutrition, and even the mental side of golf, as I discovered in a one-on-one session that sought to address any mental barriers holding me back.
As for golf, there are 27 holes available to guests: a splendid 18-holer that plays over wonderfully rolling terrain, with views out to sea in places, and nine holes at El Higueral, weaving round some highly desirable housing.
The Marbella Club Golf Resort, surrounded by magnificent mountains and even more impressive houses, starts well with an up-and-over par 4 to a raised green with a delightful stone wall beyond, then a downhill par 3 across a gully. There are lots of good holes, including the par-5 6th up a valley towards Monte Mayor, and the par-5 7th, which cascades back down. The back nine starts with a clever short par 4 and finishes from a dramatic elevated tee staring towards the Med.
I enjoyed El Higueral too, especially the 2nd where you must negotiate both water and a deep chasm, and the 3rd with its island green. The 6th was my favourite though, a par-5 where a river valley flanks the left from tee to green.
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Time away from golf was spent relaxing in the Thalasso pool, with its wealth of powerful jets delivering a full-on underwater massage, or eating in one of the excellent restaurants. The immense and colourful buffet at the poolside Beach Club ranked among the highlights, as did some very tasty wild boar in The Grill. We also frequented the elegantly informal MC Café, and embarked on a memorable Tapas Tour of Old Marbella on Saturday night.
We crammed much into two days, even finding time for a tour of the Belvis de las Navas olive grove in a vintage 1970s Land Rover, climbing unfeasible slopes and terraces with charismatic owner, Sandro Gamazo. Its truly spectacular setting up in the hills, provided a fitting finale to my visit to this legendary Spanish destination.