It’s all thanks to Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe zu Langenburg. Crazy title, gilded guy: epitomising the lifestyle where celebrity and royalty intertwined, King Alfonso XII’s godson, and the playboy’s playboy, famously dated two Hollywood icons, Ava Gardner and Kim Novak; played tennis as a youngster with Fred Perry; went on boat trips with Aristotle Onassis; and thought nothing of negotiating oil deals for Spain with his mates the Saudi royal family.
He has been likened to James Bond – if 007 could trace his lineage back to the Holy Roman Empire of the 12th century. “I was very much in with high society,” he once explained. “What one would call the ‘jet set’, although I have never owned a jet — but I did have three aeroplanes for cargo. I also had an interest in aviation and had three pilot’s licences: Spanish, Austrian and Mexican.”
A ski instructor during World War II (of course), he also snapped up acres of land along a certain stretch of the Costa Del Sol shortly after it ended, and transformed it into a playground for the international jet set. Opened in 1954, the Marbella Club became the jewel in the crown on the Milla de Oro (Golden Mile) between Old Marbella Town and Puerto Banus. Inspired by an open-air Andalusian village, and set amid 50,000sqm of spacious sub-tropical gardens, the Marbella Club is today still one of Europe’s most sought-after and stunning luxury boutique resorts.
With 115 rooms and suites and 17 villas, along with a variety of village-y bars and restaurants, it also has one of the most extensive Kids Club in Europe, an impressive sea-facing thalassotherapy spa, and a new Holistic Studio within the peaceful botanical garden sanctuary. Activities include cooking demonstrations, hiking activities, two-day bike rental, a one day pass to Puente Romano’s tennis centre and unlimited access to the Marbella Club Golf Resort.
Just a stone’s throw from the sea, it’s a timeless place that really has seen it –all, that is, except visitors during these past few months, for fairly obvious reasons. The Covid pandemic has placed the hospitality industry in stasis and decimated other lines of work. During the crisis, the resort has offered financial aid to vulnerable locals, through its work with the local delegation of Red Cross and local organisation, Cáritas, donating surplus food and material to produce sanitary protection equipment.
But today, the Marbella Club will once again stage a grand reopening – and it has been meticulous in its approach when accommodating guests in a post-COVID world. It’s already well-equipped to adapt to social distancing, with such vast gardens, rooms and expansive villas, while an exhaustive health and safety programme has been put in place: guest health screening, cleaning and sanitising, restricted occupancy and contactless experiences.
“Reconnecting” packages such as Family Time allows guests to check into a Villa with private entrances, expansive grounds and contactless check-in facilities. Here, a dedicated Villa Host “will organise everything from movie nights to cooking classes, bespoke alfresco dinners and Kids Club experiences such as animal yoga or a DIY hand sanitiser workshop for little ones”.
The Restorative Getaway package is “designed to provide guests with a much-needed antidote to lockdown life through its 360-approach to preventative health”. With this package, guests have access to lifestyle and nutrition consultation, bespoke immunity talk and cooking demonstration with the resident wellness chef and naturopath nutritionist “to determine need areas and provide the tools to help click reset”.
There’s distanced dining too: all the resort’s restaurants now offer two-set mealtimes to maximise on space and adhere to distancing, while menus will be available via QR code access and contactless payment options positively encouraged. Guests can also take post-prandial advantage of a spot of Tibetan singing bowls-based meditation in-villa, should they feel so inclined. Wonder what Prince Alfonso would think of that? (Probably “jolly good fun”.)
Rates start from €390 per night. Visit www.marbellaclub.com for more information.