It is a long time since I visited the beautiful coast of Costa del Sol when we sang Viva Espana and danced the Agadoo, but I do wish I had not waited so long to revisit this beautiful coast.
The British love affair with Spain has stood the test of time and my recent visit to Costa del Sol helped me understand the fascination that southern Spain has to offer. Winter Sun,’ just what the doctor ordered’, well, sunshine in moderation is such a boost to a Silver Traveller. The attraction of wearing a t-shirt and being outdoors with the thermometer showing 20 degrees when it is only 2 degrees back in the UK is very hard to beat. And there are so many other reasons to visit including the lovely countryside and the food – Spanish olives, tapas and sea food, delicious!
The name Travel Planner is apt because they organise not only accommodation in desirable locations around Marbella and Puerto Banus, but also many other services. Vacation Marbella have over 58 properties that range from standard to luxury apartments. Some overlook the beach, others are in the centre of Puerto Banus and some with a view of the 18th tee! Whether you are travelling as a couple, with friends, family or a group of golfers away for a weekend, Vacation Marbella can help you design the perfect holiday.
The services they offer range from car-hire to golf green fees, yacht & fishing charters and babysitting – yes, they can arrange for a babysitter to give mum and dad an evening off. Beauty and Spa facilities can also be arranged along with luxury airport transfers. Another service is shopping for you to make sure you have a supply of food which is delivered to your apartment before you get there.
With the onus on luxury, Vacation Marbella wants to give the customer an experience of luxury living with an Andalusian feel and most of the properties have the extra touches to make you feel special. The wow factor is something the owners love to hear when clients visit their properties. Many people book year after year in the same property and some have long stays. Vacation Marbella offer discounts for Silver Travellers which range from 10-15% depending on the season and the length of stay. For anyone with a disability this area is excellent. Most properties have lifts and access to the beach or pool areas.
We stayed at the Playa del Rocio Complex in a two bedroom apartment that overlooked the beach. The apartment had one bathroom with an over bath shower. The kitchen was a good size with a combi microwave and hob and was well equipped for self-catering. The balcony was small but could seat four people comfortably and the view looking over Puerto Banus bay was superb. Sadly the swimming pool was closed for the winter but sunbeds were available on the grassed area. The beach and beach bars were close at hand and the pathway that leads from Puerto Banus to Marbella passed by the gate, so no excuses for not keeping fit. Walking, cycling and jogging or just strolling to meet friends at a local bar for an early morning coffee – all in the sun. The flat walk along the sea front is ideal for wheelchairs or anyone with sticks.
There are more than 70 golf courses to choose from along the Costa del Sol coast, and Vacation Marbella can advise and help you to organise your golfing experience. You don’t even have to take your own clubs, Vacation Marbella can organise them for you if you wish. So the choice is yours to relax or be more active, it is up to you.
Keeping fit in the sun is much easier and just watching the Silver Travellers striding out or cycling is very infectious. The Great Malaga Path that encircles the province or the Coastal path which takes in 14 towns and more than 200 km of coastline is waiting. But if that sounds a little too much then take the easy walk to the harbour of Puerto Banus and catch the ferry to Marbella which goes on the hour and cost 15 euros return. It returns on the half hour and is a very pleasant way to see some of this beautiful coastline. However, you can catch the bus to Marbella, the No 1 goes from behind the Corte de Ingles Supermarket in the square at a very low cost of 1 euro 18 cents.
Eating out is a pleasure on holiday and staying in Puerto Banus was a delight. The restaurants and ambiance are excellent, from fine dining at the Los Bandidos to a beautiful pizza at the Piccolo Amore and the Rioja wine goes down a treat. Sitting by the harbour is an ideal place to ‘people watch’ or ‘celebrity watch’ as Puerto Banus is the more exclusive area just outside Marbella with the beautiful yachts and large boats displayed in the harbour. Be prepared for hawkers around the harbour area selling bags, scarves, watches and sunglasses. They are very persistent but the police do have a presence there and the men disappear very quickly when the police appear.
Self-catering is very popular and most of the properties are near to a supermarket or a restaurant. The biggest and most popular super store in Puerto Banus is the Corte de Ingles. It is a store with everything. The food hall is fabulous with every kind of dish you wish to create or they do have a ready meal section too. The wines and spirits department is huge and so is the cake counter! Wander around the store and see the beautiful clothes and accessories but don’t forget your credit cards, as things are not as inexpensive as you might think in Spain and the weak pound versus the strong euro hasn’t helped.
If you wish to be ‘local’ then the area does have very good markets throughout the week on different days. Check the tourist information office which is in the main square for up to date information on the markets. We visited the San Pedro market which was on a Thursday. We went by bus from the stop above the Hard Rock Cafe, a No 4 bus takes you to the centre and it is a decent walk to the Fairground site, but it is a good market with clothes, bags and market produce for sale. The British contingent meet there and you can hear lots of English voices passing the time of day whilst having a drink after doing their shopping.
Marbella and Puerto Banus are on the Costa del Sol where you will find the pretty Moorish villages of Mijas and Frigilana with narrow cobbled streets and pretty white washed houses. Head further south-west to Ronda the birth place of modern bullfighting, all these trips can be organised by the services of Vacation Marbella. There is more to this area than you think and whether you just want to relax in the sun or see the culture of the surrounding areas, the choice is yours. Our visit to Marbella was surprising as we thought it would be very British but the Spanish have embraced the culture and as we walked through the main square looking at Salvador Dali statues and fountains and wandered through the Orange Square in the Old Town. The mixture of old and modern sits very well.
Viva Espana and Agadoo may still be heard in some of the bars or clubs in the area and memories will come flooding back but just go and see for yourself how Costa del Sol has moved with the times in Puerto Banus and Marbella and has embraced the British, whether as a tourist or a resident along this amazing and surprising coastline. What are you waiting for?