January 2018 - Vacation Marbella

How to enjoy Marbella in winter

On the Costa del Sol we are so lucky with the weather with plenty of bright sunshine and high temperatures throughout the year. However, visitors can be surprised by how cool it can feel in the shade, or when night falls. Don’t be caught unprepared, read on for our insider’s advice for having a wonderful time in Marbella during the winter.

It’s all about the layers

When you’re packing, think of layers that can make sure you are comfortable morning, noon and night. What catches you out here is it can be cool in the morning, but by midday it is usually warm and if you’re in the sunshine you’ll probably want to have something with short sleeves. Watch out again later on, as it quickly cools down again in the evening, so light shirts, tops or cardigans and light jackets layered up over a short-sleeved top or t-shirt is the best way to be prepared.

Choose your restaurants with care

We have the most amazing restaurants here on the Costa del Sol and lunchtime even in the winter is no problem, as you can usually be outside enjoying the sunshine. However in the evening it can be more tricky, as the temperatures drop you really want to be inside, somewhere which is warm and has a nice atmosphere out of season. These restaurants are not as common, so choose carefully, and don’t be afraid to walk into and out of a few before you find the right place – it’s horrid to feel cold and uncomfortable when you should be enjoying your meal. We’ve compiled a Marbella restaurant guide with some of our top picks, which you can browse on our website. Out of these, our favourites for the winter would be –

  • Mosh Fun Kitchen if you’re looking for a really lively night out, with music and great food, as this is always buzzing
  • Ta-Kumi for great Japanese food in central Marbella, it has a really nice interior dining space and is very comfortable during the winter
  • Paco Jimenez in Marbella’s Old Town for traditional Spanish food and a cozy dining area complete with an open fire and objects from the family’s history. The team always give you a warm welcome and it’s a lovely home from home feel.
  • Messina for Michelin star fine dining and a comfortable dining area
  • Hacienda Patagonica for amazing steak and casual dining with an excellent buzz. It’s always busy in this popular restaurant and the bistro feel is great in the winter.

 

Enjoy sports and active pursuits

Sunny winter days are perfect to enjoy some of Marbella’s excellent sports facilities. It is a great time to enjoy one of the 70 golf courses on the Costa del Sol, or to head out into the countryside to hike, mountain bike or horse ride. One of the most popular activities in the area is hiking the Caminito del Rey near to Malaga, a spectacular route which takes you alongside and over the El Chorro gorge, more than 100 meters up.  This is a winter activity that you won’t forget, but it is very popular and availability is limited, so book your tickets and time slot before you arrive on the website.

 

Take in some art and culture

If you get a rare rainy day, then head to one of the excellent art galleries on the Costa del Sol. Malaga is the hub for art on the coast, but Mijas and Marbella also have some good galleries and Estepona has some really interesting small museums to explore.

 

Take a day trip

When the temperatures are cooler, the crowds are fewer and the traffic is light it’s a great time to hit the road and visit some of the nearby towns to Marbella. Just a few hours’ drive can take you to some of the most celebrated cities, like Granada, which brims with Andalusian culture, history and charm and of course has the legendary Alhambra Palace and Gardens. Just an hour away you can visit Ronda with its incredible gorge and excellent wines, or the picturesque village of Mijas, which has excellent hiking, an art gallery featuring some of the world’s great painters and even a chocolate factory!  You can even take a day trip to the slopes for a day’s skiing in the Sierra Nevada mountain range near Granada. We love waking up by the beach and skiing before lunch, it’s an amazing experience.

As you can see, Marbella is an excellent winter destination, as well as a wonderful place for a summer beach holiday. Choosing a holiday rental property gives you the flexibility to chill out at “home” if there’s a rainy day, shop in the excellent local markets and enjoy cooking and dining on the cooler evenings. Some have lovely open fires and others have underfloor heating so you’re warm and comfortable whatever the weather. Please check with us if you’d like advice on the best properties, or locations for the winter months, depending on your plans and requirements. We have excellent properties right by some of the best golf courses, and others more central if you prefer a city break and our local experts are here to help you make the best decision. Browse our Marbella vacation rentals or contact our team for advice.

Ironman comes to Marbella

Last year the Mayor of Marbella and the organizers of Ironman announced that the world’s most famous triathlon would coming to Marbella in 2018 and that it would be held here for at least three years. This is an Ironman 70.3 event which is half the distance of a full distance race, but is excellent news for Marbella as it will bring participants and spectators from around the world to compete.

The first Ironman 70.3 Marbella will take place on the 29th of April this year and comprises a 1.9km swim, a 90km bike ride and a 21.1km run. They chose Marbella for the excellent climate and facilities, as well as the beautiful setting for the race. Participants will enjoy their 1,900 meter swim in the Mediterranean, coming back to the shore at Puerto Banus’ Levante beach. After the swim, the competitors will grab their bikes for a 90 kilometre ride along the Golden Mile, crossing the town and heading up to Ojen, Monda, Coin and Cartama, before coming back to Puerto Banus. The 21km run starts at Banus and goes along the stunning seafront promenade to Marbella, with two laps completing the distance.

This is a highly challenging event, but open to both professionals and amateurs. When tickets went on sale in June they quickly sold out in both categories. There are over 1,500 people taking part in the event, with 57 nationalities represented, 37% of the athletes come from Spain and 25% from the UK. If you missed out on the chance to take part in the Ironman event this year, don’t worry, you can still cheer the racers on and line the route. You can also build up to the challenge with a few smaller events so you’re ready for next year.

To prepare for the run, why not train to do the Marbella Half Marathon that takes place at the end of September each year? This is the same distance as the run in the Ironman 70.3 triathlon, so if you can manage the half marathon that will give you a lot of confidence to enter the 2019 race. Look out for the 5K races which are held for charity through the year as well, these are excellent training opportunities and always have a lovely atmosphere.

Watching the Ironman

If you are a spectator coming to cheer on friends or family, there are lots of great places to watch the action. If you want to see a little bit of everything, enjoy the sun on Levante Beach and wait for the swimmers to arrive after their 1.9km swim and change over to their bikes, these transitions are always really exciting and an easy way to see the two stages. Later in the day why not choose to enjoy a drink and some nibbles in one of the great beachfront restaurants and cafes which line the promenade to cheer on the runners in the final stage of the race in style and comfort? We recommend indulging in a long buffet lunch at the refined restaurant Sea Grill beachside in the Puente Romano, which overlooks the paseo and the sea beyond and would be a wonderful place to watch the competitors go by.

Things to do before and after the Ironman

If you are travelling to Marbella for the Ironman event, here are a few insider’s tips from our experts on things to do before and after the race.

If you’re a competitor

Before – Train at one of Marbella’s excellent gyms such as Glow in Puerto Banus which has a pool, fitness classes and a gym and offers day passes for non-members. There are also many adventure activities around Marbella which can be part of your training and a great way to get to know the area, such as hiking, mountain biking, or horse riding. The more ambitious of you may want to try climbing the iconic La Concha mountain, which sits just behind Marbella. It is 1,200 meters at its summit and the climb takes around 6 hours, round trip.

After – To ease aching muscles, head to one of the area’s fantastic spas, for a deep tissue sports massage, to relax in the Jacuzzi and feel the tension melt away in the steam room. Check out our list of the best Marbella spas.

Once you’ve relaxed, you’ll need fuel to help those muscles recover. We have a list of recommended restaurants in Marbella on our website, but a great option for health conscious athletes would be the stunning Japanese restaurant Ta-Kumi which specialises in wonderful sushi in a refined atmosphere.  Alternatively, if your body is craving the calories and protein that only an amazing steak can offer, head down to Hacienda Patagonica, which we believe serves the best steak in town.

If you’re a supporter

If you have just come along to cheer on the participants, you have an excellent opportunity to enjoy everything that Marbella has to offer. This is so much more than just a beach destination, so whether you’re a golf fan, culture vulture, or gourmet traveller, Marbella has something for you.

The must see sights are best explored on foot, so ditch the car in a central location and take to the streets. Marbella Old Town is a gem, brimming with history and charm and the perfect place to start. Take a stroll, look at the chapels and church, pop into the Engravings Museum for a little art and enjoy a coffee in one of the beautiful squares.

From there head down to the sea along the Avenida del Mar and admire the statues by Salvador Dali. Then do a lap around the pretty Marbella marina and stop for a drink in one of the many bars before walking along to Puerto Banus. This is a lovely walk which will take you just under an hour, strolling along the seafront promenade (the route the runners will take for the Ironman). For those of you not in a hurry, stop off for a spot of lunch along the way and pop into the Museo Ralli, just a few paces from the beach, which boasts an amazing collection of Latin American art.

Arrive in Puerto Banus to admire the super yachts and cars and to enjoy a little retail therapy in the many designer boutiques. A great way back to Marbella is to hop on the Catamaran Ferry which goes back and forth between Banus and Marbella around once an hour, check out the timetable and prices here. If you take the last boat at 6pm, you will get back to Marbella port in perfect time for sundowners, and there are excellent cocktail bars facing the beach which get the last of the sun. This little trip will give you a sense of the history, culture, lifestyle and beautiful scenery that we’re lucky enough to enjoy all year round here in Marbella!

Where to stay?

A great option for participants and spectators alike to experience the real Marbella is to choose a luxury vacation rental property. With a vacation rental you have the space and facilities to prepare healthy and delicious meals in the run up to the race and soak in the tub directly after. There’s room to store all your gear and you can live like a local during your stay. We have some excellent Golden Mile vacation rentals, which offer easy access to the seafront promenade between Marbella and Banus where the run will take place and we’d recommend choosing one of these as your base.

Good luck to all the competitors for the months of training ahead. You have the hard job, but we are here to help you to find the perfect vacation rental and offer all the extras you need to have a great trip and do your best in the race. We can stock your fridge before you arrive and even arrange for a masseuse to come and visit your apartment or villa before or after the race for a deep tissue massage. Nothing is too much trouble, so please don’t hesitate to ask

Vacation Marbella is perfect to explore Puerto Banus

Puerto Banus and neighbouring Marbella, or ‘Marbs’ as it has affectionately become known as, have long been popular destinations for holidaying Brits and that shows no signs of abating.

That is certainly not to suggest that demand has swamped the area with floods of tourists. On the contrary, visitors could never bore of people-watching while sipping a cocktail in the harbour as the sun sets over the sparkling Mediterranean waters.

However, should they wish to escape the crowds then there is no shortage of secluded bays, mountainous walks or traditional quaint Spanish villages off the beaten track that give a true taste of this beautifully diverse region.

But naturally, as this is area has been dubbed the “Golf Valley” thanks to the fact it boasts more than 60 golf courses stretching from Malaga to Sotogrande, more than 30 in the Costa del Sol region and 15 alone in Marbella, the area is a paradise for those wishing to hit the fairways, and with an average of 320 sunny days a year, this is the ideal destination in all seasons.

With so many highly-acclaimed golf courses within such close proximity, it is the perfect place for golfers of all levels – those who fancy themselves as the next Rory McIlroy, or those part-time fair-weather players who simply fancy dusting off the old clubs in warmer climes.

Here at Vacation Marbella we have an excellent relationship with the neighbouring courses and we can take care of every aspect – from hiring clubs if you haven’t brought your own to transfers and even discounted green fees at the likes of Los Naranjos.

Los Naranjos is just a five-minute drive from Puerto Banus, and as well as enjoying pristine fairways and carefully-manicured greens, this prominent course also boasts an impressive club house which serves all kinds of delicious home-cooked food to suit all tastes.

There are also a host of world-famous courses to play if visitors want a real test with the likes of Valderrama – regarded as one of Spain’s best courses and host of the 1997 Ryder Cup – Finca Cortesin and La Quinta Golf + Country Club, which boasts 27 holes divided into three loops, to name just a few.

Puerto Banus is renowned for its food and seemingly endless supply of bars and restaurants, making it one of Europe’s most sought-after spots – a Spanish equivalent of St Tropez in the south of France.

Yet the beauty of this hotspot, unlike the millionaire’s playground of its continental cousin, is you don’t have to be rich or famous to enjoy the trappings of this luxurious resort town as there is something for all budgets.

Yes, you may well spot a celeb from the world of sport or TV enjoying the scenery (and or a drink or two), or perhaps even royalty, and there most certainly are high-end exclusive venues to wine and dine, but Puerto Banus is accessible to all walks of life, despite the array of luxury yachts and flash cars that line the harbour.

For those shop-a-holics with a liking for big price tags and designer names, the harbour is home to Calle Ribera and its rows of boutiques and high-end stores such as Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton, Dior and Gucci, while Marina Banus Shopping Centre offers equally tantalising clothes at more modest rates in modern surroundings. This is where there are 17 high street brands on two floors under one roof, including the likes of Zara, H&M and Claire’s Accessories.

Having undoubtedly built up a hunger while perusing the shops, a delicious meal is never far away in Puerto Banus, and again the selection is wide-ranging from light bites or burgers to Michelin star restaurants.

Naturally, the views from most of them in the harbour are stunning with unobstructed views of the Med.  Whether you want to call in and enjoy the “Legendary Home of the Burger’ – Hard Rock Café, tackle one of the mouth-watering steaks at El Groucho de Banus, or visit one of the four Michelin star restaurants – El Gran Gatsby, Vovem Asador, Albert y Simon and Victor.

This is Puerto Banus, and if you want to burn off some of those calories on the dance floor then you are most certainly in the right place thanks to the glamorous and world-famous nightlife. While life here during the day may be half-paced, it is anything but when the sun goes down as the place truly comes to life at night.

There is no shortage of venues for those who like the smaller more intimate bar-style clubs, but equally this is party central, and the choice of heart-pumping loud and hectic settings where you can dance and drink until the small hours of the morning are in abundance. Either way, there is never a dull moment.

While this is certainly the place to let yourself go, it is also the ideal destination to unwind, relax and soak up some rays thanks to Puerto Banus’ three beaches, all of which are very different. Just to the west of the harbour is Playa Nueva Andalucia – made up of three man-made bays, while Playa del Rio Verde to the east both proudly boast the coveted EU blue flags thanks to their outstanding facilities and high standards of cleanliness.

There is also Playa Puerto Banus, also known as Playa de Levante, which is situated between the marina complex, and Playa Rio Verde that runs for 1km and is perfect for families and young children thanks to its calm and shallow waters.

What makes this region so appealing for single travellers, couples, families and groups of any age is the fact there is still much to do and see. Activities are endless around these parts, whether it is chartering a yacht from the harbour or wine-tasting in a converted monastery in the stunning setting of Ronda, we can arrange every aspect of your adventure at Vacation Marbella with a comprehensive list of guest services.

Whether it’s a family occasion with the kids, or you want to enjoy some quality time with your loved one, we arrange fully qualified and certified nannies thanks to a comprehensive baby-sitting service to allow you the freedom to enjoy Puerto Banus and much further afield.

Vacation Marbella welcomes UK golf journalists

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Vacation Marbella hosted its first press trip recently when a group of seven UK golf journalists was invited to experience this wonderful region of Andalucía.

In association with leading marcomms specialist the Azalea Group, the three-day fact-finding mission proved to be an enormous success as the party enjoyed rounds at Los Naranjos and Rio Real golf courses, as well as savouring the culinary delights at the hugely popular Trocadero Arena, and visiting the Viejos Descalzos winery, all while staying in the modern accommodation at Vacation Marbella’s Paradise at Medina de Banus.

Some of the UK’s leading golfing publications and websites – Golf Monthly, Golfshake, National Club Golfer, Golf Punk, Today’s Golfer, Women & Golf and Golf365were invited to experience this fabulous Andalucia region, and the early feedback is very positive.

Property rental company Vacation Marbella has long been regarded as the premier provider of high-end apartments in the heart of the ‘Golf Valley’ and we already welcome more than 10,000 visitors a year to our growing portfolio of accommodation options.

The press group stayed at the Medina de Banus gated complex, situated just a short walk from Puerto Banus’ famous harbour. All the modern apartments have benefited from a total refurbishment, meaning guests can enjoy all the mod-cons and luxury you would come to expect from Vacation Marbella.

The development, with 24-hour security, boasts a large outdoor swimming pool and carefully landscaped gardens offering ultimate privacy. And the jewel of Medina de Banus is the Medina Luxury Penthouse, which, while modern, manages to maintain traditional Spanish-style architecture.

With incredible sea views from its spacious balcony, the six-bedroom 300m2 apartment highlights our commitment to luxury and comfort, coming complete with private pool, sun-roof terrace and BBQ, pool table and, even, sound-proof windows.

And it was this impressive setting where the assembled press enjoyed their first taste of Marbella, with local chef, Elvira, cooking a selection of delicious tapas-style foods, washed down with some of the local wine and a few beers.

Having been dubbed the ‘Golf Valley’ we are spoilt for choice here in the Marbella region given  there are 15 courses to choose from on the doorstep, and the UK group was invited to play Los Naranjos and Rio Real under clear blue skies and temperatures averaging 21C.

And both courses proved hugely popular with the first round at the Robert Trent Jones Sr-designed Los Naranjos, a course that was described as “in pristine condition”, according to the party.

Golf 365’s Pat Mooney wrote: “RTJ considers Los Naranjos – opened in 1977 – as one of his finest European designs. Yet, the two nines are quite different with the front nine the stronger – water comes into play numerous times. The front nine is more challenging with several stand-out holes.”

What we have discovered at Vacation Marbella is journalists love to eat! And they were not disappointed with the clubhouse food at Los Naranjos as they relived their birdies and pars – but mostly double bogeys – in fabulous and modern surroundings.

The Costa del Sol is well known for its sparkling Mediterranean waters, but the scenery inland is equally as stunning, and one gem is Ronda, the mountain-top town, that, although just a 40-minute drive from the colourful trappings of Puerto Banus, feels a million miles away thanks to its unique historic charm.

Ronda sits above the El Tajo gorge and a 100m chasm, and next to the 18th-century Puente Nuevo bridge offering unrivalled and breathtaking views of the Serrania de Ronda mountains.

Spain has become the world’s largest wine producer and the Andalucia region is home to Descalzos Viejos, meaning Old Barefoot People. Originally a monastery, the 16th-century building is now fully renovated and home to a winery thanks to the imagination and dedication of owner Flavio Salesi, who arrived in Spain from Argentina, in the mid-90s, with just a bag and a dream.

Golf Punk’s John Dean wrote: “Vacation Marbella are keen to show us there is much more going on in Marbella than just golf, so we head to Ronda, high in the mountains, and a 40-minute drive away, for a wine tasting session.

“But it’s wine tasting with a difference. The winery is the creation of one Fabio Salesi, who had the mad-cap idea of buying a wreck of an old monastery at Descalzos Viejos, and turning it into a winery. And 23 years later, they are producing some wonderful wines, which you can go and savour.”

Rio Real was the second course on the itinerary on the final day and the Javier Arana-designed layout, which is situated on the doorstep of Marbella town, went down a storm with the assembled hacks.

The aesthetically pleasing course winds its way through a variety of native trees, such as pines, palms and olives, with unrivalled views of the Mediterranean on some of the holes.

“Then we were on to Rio Real Golf Club, which is a little cracker, with some really idiosyncratic holes,” Golf Punk observed.

“The course was designed by the legendary Javier Arana. It’s amazing how they have fitted this course into such a tight piece of land, but they’ve done a fine job of it, and it’s an engaging and fun track, which will constantly keep you on your toes.”

Mooney added: “Rio Real is a much tighter track and situated just three kilometres east of Marbella. Designed by renowned Spanish architect Javier Arana it first opened in 1965 and has a river running through the course – from which the club takes its name.”

Last, but certainly by no means least, was a visit to Trocadero Arena, Marbella’s highly-rated beachfront restaurant, the safari-themed diner just minutes away from Rio Real, where guests can relax and enjoy locally sourced seafood and paella, as well as international cuisine, and sip a cocktail while watching the sun set over the Med.

Golf Shake’s Owen Davies declared in his ‘blog’ that the Marbella region boasted some stunning scenery off the beaten track despite being a short drive from the bright lights of Puerto Banus.

He described the ancient town of Ronda as being “beautiful” and giving a “real taste of Spanish culture”, with the old Descalzos Viejos monastery a must-see site for travellers.

Davies’ ‘blog’, which featured our Medina luxury penthouse, finished his feature with a glowing reference to hosts Vacation Marbella, emphasising our array of guest services, such as car hire, reduced green fees and baby-sitting.

Vacation Marbella was delighted to host such a press trip and we look forward to seeing and reading all the outstanding positive comments over the next few months.

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