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In & Around Marbella

Turn left out of the main reception of the building and walk up the hill and take the first street on the right. A hundred meters down on the left is Cripan – a baker and café. Here you can get the typically Andalusian breakfast – a toasted roll ( called a pitufo) with olive oil and minced raw tomato. Add to this a café con leche and a fresh orange juice. Additionally, there’s friendly service and a relaxed atmosphere.

The Coffee Dock
Just outside our building on Avenida Arias Maldonado the Coffee Dock serves a great English breakfast. They also do a fantastic bowl of porridge – tweaked with cream and honey. Prices are modest and the personnel and clientele exclusively English-speaking.


For eight hundred years Andalusia (Al-Andalus is the Arabic name) was Arab land controlled by dynasties of Muslim rulers from Morocco. Gradually, Christian forces under inspirational leaders like El Cid drove them back across the sea or forced them to convert. By 1492 the Catholic Kings, Ferdinand and Isabel, could claim that, finally, the whole of Spain and Portugal was in Christian hands.

The Moors bequeathed a whole lifestyle and attitude to Andalusia which is still prevalent today. Life is less hurried, people spend a lot of time drinking coffee and sitting around chatting. Also, a style of architecture (Mozarabe) which evoked the days of the Moorish Occupation can still be found in many government buildings, apartment buildings and bull-rings. Their preoccupation with sweet desserts and snacks is also part of the Moorish heritage.

There are a number of cities in Andalusia which, culturally and gastronomically speaking, are well worth a visit. Here are a few:


The recent addition of the Thyssen and Picasso museums has put Malaga firmly on the map as a cultural destination. The largely pedestrian town centre has been almost completely renovated, as has the old port, so there are plenty of beautiful squares, streets and paseos to enjoy. Additionally, Malaga has fine beaches, magnificent Moorish fortifications and bars, restaurants and cafés all over the place and it’s just a short bus-ride away from Marbella.


Christopher Columbus sailed from Seville, down the River Guadalquivir, to discover The New World. Ships, later, would line the river-banks to unload the gold, silver and jewels mined in the Spanish Empire of South America. Today it is the biggest city in the South with beautiful parks, old buildings and elegant shopping streets.


With its Roman bridge, mosque turned cathedral and narrow streets of white, shuttered houses and pots of flowers Cordoba is the quintessentially Andalusian city. Nicknamed ‘el horno’ (the oven), temperatures can get up to the forties in the summer months.


Its wonderful location at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and on the edge of a vast fertile plain made Granada the most desirable city for the Moors. They built the Alhambra palace on a hill above the city. It is one of the places in which resides the soul of Spain. Opposite the Alhambra is the neighbourhood of Albaícin, still Moorish in character with winding alleyways and mysterious houses with lush inner courtyards.


At Spain’s southernmost tip, on a strip of land enclosed on three sides by the sea, you’ll find the city of Cadiz. The old town is enchanting, with narrow streets full of cafés and restaurants, where the citizens while away their days. Who can blame them, when Madrid is so far away and Tangier lies just across the water. There is a distinct feeling of time warp here, of time passing slower than elsewhere. With water practically all around and history, in the form of old buildings and dilapidated docks, it’s not difficult to succumb yourself and emulate the locals and lie on the beach, have a leisurely lunch of ‘pescado frito’ (fried fish) eaten out of a paper bag on a bench in one of the squares, or catch the little ferry to Puerto de Santa María and sit by the water with a glass of wine or sherry.


Marbella is busier in the summer months so, although there is free parking on the street in much of the town, it gets difficult to find a place in July and August and on any summer weekend.

Around our building there are two types of parking zones. If the parking area is marked in blue then you have to pay for it by buying a ticket in one of the machines on the street. It works out at about a euro fifty per hour. However, if the parking area is marked with white stripes then parking is free 24/7.

Adjacent to our building there is an underground car park run by the Town Council. You can buy a covered spot in the car-park for around 70 euros per week throughout the year.


These are some of the courses in the Marbella area. Apparently, there are more than 50 within half an hour of the town – great courses, majestic courses and mediocre courses but all in the sun and most of them with views to the sea or the mountains.

(18 holes - about €70)

On the road to Malaga at Marbella’s eastward tip is Cabo Pino. Like so many courses it is not easy to find due to inadequate signposting. However, you know you’re on the right road if you find yourself driving up a hill with a practice range on your right.
I get that special ’butterflies in the stomach’ feeling peculiar to many golfers when I’m standing on the first tee on a sunny day. The fairway slopes down to a tight green defended by bunkers and pines. From the tee the pines are framed by a broad expanse of sea and sky. Wow factor aplenty!
The course is not that exacting and it’s very pretty in places. The third hole is spectacular with a tee box high above the fairway. In the distance the hills stretch out towards Ronda. If you hit your drive straight you’ve then got a wedge over a deep bunker to an elevated, flat green.
A nice feature of this course is that it is walkable. Many of the courses in the region are so hilly that a buggy is required. Usually, it is the very exclusive and expensive courses that are more or less flat –Cabo Pino is an exception: it’s not flat but it’s flat enough to walk.
There is also a nice café with tables outside with views over the sea.

(18 holes – about €80) Parador.esMalaga_golf

This is a busy course on the edge of the city of Malaga, on the strip of coast by the airport. It’s busy because it’s near the city but also because it’s a great course, with a number of holes running down to and alongside the beach. It is also very well maintained and, as you make your way from green to tee you are assailed, again and again, by spectacular views of the bay of Malaga. This course, a semi-links set-up, is also more or less flat – a rarity on the Costa del Sol.
No one hole sticks out but I do remember a par three of about a hundred and fifty meters lined with scented shrubs and trees giving off the pungent scent, a mixture of jasmine, orange blossom and pine, so typical of Andalusia.. As I walked towards the green I had one of those moments when you suddenly feel intensely alive and happy – I think I must have had a birdie opportunity!
It’s true that every three minutes a low-flying jet passes overhead on its approach to the airport but that too, gives the course something special.
As it’s a Parador Hotel there is also a first-class restaurant and comfortable bar. There are also impressive practice facilities.

(18 holes – about €80 euros)

Just outside town, near the hospital on the road to Malaga is Marbella Golf Country Club. The practice facilities are good and the clubhouse is really classy. The course is a Robert Trent Jones design which means that it won’t be straightforward – you continually have to rethink your strategy and dare to leave driver in the bag on many of the tees.
The first hole is a good example. The area on the fairway which is the designated landing zone slopes away on both sides which means if you cut or pull the ball it will roll off the fairway either into the out of bounds area on the left or a ditch with hardpan on the right. If you hit the shot right you will then have a tricky lofted approach to a backward-sloping green with a sand trap both in front and behind: a really mind-blowing start.
After that things settle down, especially on the back nine but it’s a course that requires as much brain as brawn and thus affords invaluable experience. All in all typical RTJ!
The course is walkable but you’ll feel more comfortable with a buggy as the rate of play is quite brisk.
A course that features marvellous views, gratifying flora and fauna, friendly people and challenging golf situations

9 holes – around €30

Sometimes, due to the exigencies of our quotidian life, the time between rounds of golf can seem infinite. At these moments, at least if you are in Marbella, there is a solution and it’s called Dama de Noche Golf. Just ten minutes’ drive from the centre of Marbella, this cute ‘Pay and Play’ course can provide quick relief when you just have to be on a fairway and hitting a golf ball. In other words, you can simply turn up, get a green fee and you’ll be on the tee in max fifteen minutes.
It’s been constructed on a fairly small strip of land sandwiched between a clinic for corrective surgery and a small residential development. Therefore the fairways are narrow and golf balls can come at you from the most unexpected directions. However, there are some great holes and it’s got a bit of Valderrama factor in that it’s not clear, in places, whether you’re on a golf course or sauntering round some exuberantly planted botanical gardens. Banana trees, palms, yucca, umbrella pines all line the tight fairways, and the walls separating the fairway from the by-pass are covered in bougainvillea, ivy and jasmine.
The third hole features a tee shot (about a 7-iron) over a dry river bed onto a narrow fairway which is fun and the eighth gives you an alternative route for your second shot: you can either go straight ahead to a green in front of you or you can shoot back over the river bed to another green on the other side. You might have days when you can agree with your playing partners to hit two balls off the eighth and go for both greens.
It’s an informal, easy-going place with a pleasant café by the first tee.

18 holes – about €120

Guadalmina is where the wealthy, well-connected and blue-blooded Spanish people go when they say they’re going to Marbella. Consequently, the Real (royal) club is a pretty ritzy affair and in the summer it’s very busy. VIPs can be seen wearing shorts and swinging golf clubs and if you don’t know everyone by their first name you’re made to feel a little as if you’re intruding. In fact, they don’t really want you around even if you’ve paid a small fortune to acquire a green fee. Why would anyone in his right mind go through all this?
The answer is two superb eighteen-hole courses – the North Course and the South Course. The North (el Norte) is a majestic but forgiving series of manicured fairways and cosseted greens. There is an endearing intimacy to the course as it winds its way between discreet but spacious villas, luxuriously appointed apartment buildings and gated golf communities. This is everyone’s dream of a stylish, leisured lifestyle. Then there is the South Course (el Sur). The first two holes are similar to the Norte but then you cross a small road and the holes are longer and even more magnificent. The course meanders down to the beach, there is a difficult par-3 parallel to the sea and then it climbs back to the club house. An unforgettable experience on a sunny, wind-free day.
Lunch or dinner at the clubhouse is not expensive and it’s a great place to hang out and feel the Marbella lifestyle in all its hedonistic glory, if you can take it.

18 holes - €150

The cognoscenti of Marbella are unanimous – Las Brisas Golf is the toughest course in the area but Aloha is by far the classiest. So classy in fact that you couldn’t get on unless your handicap was 25 or under (32 for ladies) and you were invited by a member. Since the crisis, however, they have reluctantly been issuing green fees to non-members. A stroll around the facilities explains all. It is quite simply heaven on earth if you are a golfer. The course is magnificently maintained with mountain views and every kind of tropical tree and shrub. It is exceptionally flat for the area. It is an exacting but rewarding course to play: hole 10 is a par-5 513 meters long and the par-3 17 is over two hundred meters in length.
Its website boasts past members like Sean Connery and the King of Malaysia (?) but these days you might be paired up with Jimmy Tarbuck or Bruce Forsyth – they’re both members, apparently! Whoever you play with, though, you’ll remember the experience for a long time afterwards.
Lunch in the clubhouse, too, is a luxurious and memorable affair


Supermarkets in Spain usually open around 9:30 in the morning and stay open until around 9 at night. The exception is Euromarket which still closes in the afternoon and then opens again at 5 o’clock

SUPERCOR – Seafront Walk

This is the nearest supermarket to the building. Turn right out of the garden gate and after about five minutes’ walk you’ll see on your right an area with a cinema and cafés. Inside this small shopping centre you’ll find the Supercor supermarket. They sell good fresh bread as well as practically everything else you might need. The produce is fine but more expensive than other supermarkets due to its location and image as an upmarket store. They have some excellent wines and a very good fish/seafood stall.

EUROMARKET – Avenida Gómez De La Serna.

This supermarket is also just five minutes’ walk away. Turn left outside the main reception area and walk up the street. The second turning on the left is the street you want. Euromarket has everything you need but the ‘fresh’ produce seems to look a bit tired. Being in Marbella, they have an extensive drinks aisle. There are some attractive bargains to be found among the red wines. Also they have a section for foreign items so you’ll see Brooke Bond Tea, Branston Pickle, Macvitie’s Digestives and so on.

SUPERSOL – Calle Valentuña 3.

Supersol is popular with the locals and it’s situated near the Old Town. You walk up from our building to the Marbella’s main street (Avenida Ricardo Soriano) turn right and then turn left at the second set of traffic lights. Supersol is just a little way up the hill. It’s got everything and the fresh fruit and vegetables are cheap. In Andalusia where meat is concerned, pork and poultry reign, so beef is not really on offer. The fish and seafood section, however, is very good. There are also all the packaged foods beloved of Northerners – packets of bacon, ham, sausages, Brown Sauce, Cheddar Cheese et al.

MERCADONA – Ricardo Soriano 72

This is, in our opinion, one of the best supermarket chains in Spain. It’s on the main shopping street but going towards Puerto Banus. Turn left at the top of our street (Arias Maldonaldo) onto Ricardo Soriano and it’s about ten minutes’ stroll. Mercadona has a good fresh fish and seafood section, the Spanish ham is very well priced and they sell things like fresh milk and fresh wholemeal bread. They have a great selection of cheeses too and the wine section is entirely adequate. It’s a bit further away than the others but it’s a nice walk and you can stop at Café El Tulipán for a coffee on the way back.

THE CENTRAL MARKET- Calle Francisco de Quevedo

There’s a roundabout just above Supersol supermarket. If you turn right the central market is just down the hill on the left in a new purpose-built hall. Here you can find produce of the finest quality: fish caught the very same morning, juicy prawns, fat lobsters, free-range chickens, carefully matured cheeses and beef from Argentina. Also the fruit and vegetables gleam with health. It’s expensive but you know you’re getting the best the region has to offer. It closes around 2.00 pm so it’s best to visit as early as possible.

RESTAURANT REVIEWS - A random selection of eating spots in Marbella

CAPUCCINO – Seafront walk

Turn right at the garden gate and walk towards Puerto Banus. After about 15 minutes you’ll see Capuccino ( on your right. It’s more a sidewalk café than a restaurant but it’s worth mentioning because a good portion of the clientele will be what remains of the Marbella jet-set. The super-rich wander down from their huge villas on the Golden Mile, their suites at Marbella Club and their penthouse apartments at Puente Romano to mingle with us mere mortals.
The atmosphere is both relaxed and exclusive – not that easy to organize but the seductive chill-out music really helps to set the scene. The coffee is very good and if you’re peckish you could try the Hummus or the Burger, both around 15 euros. Quintessential Marbella - and you get a bit of exercise into the bargain.

BOARDWALK – right next door in the Puerto Azul building

Airy, luxury beach-house décor, enthusiastic, friendly service and an appealing menu. Boardwalk offers a relatively, exclusive atmosphere with booths and easy chairs ranged around the bar and service area. You can sit and watch people walking along the seafront while you enjoy a meal or a drink. Breakfast is great with the inclusion of American standards like Eggs Florentine or Benedict alongside traditional English or Continental breakfasts. The fresh fruit juices are really that – made to order in a jiffy. Carrot or beetroot is available for the health-conscious but red grapefruit is also delicious.

DA BRUNO – Fronting the Skol Building

Da Bruno, specialising in pizza and pasta, arrived on the seafront a few years ago with a lot of triumphal fanfare and means to carry on that way. Its plush interior, vast, visible kitchens and singing personnel have made it a real favourite with people resident or on holiday in our building. The pizzas and pasta dishes are excellent but the seafood is very reliable also and the atmosphere is relaxed, even with a regiment of waiters dying to attend to your every need.
The management goes out of its way to make your dining experience memorable and, particularly at Christmas and other festive occasions they put on an unforgettable party. The outside section grows by the day and the tables and chairs now stretch down almost all the way to our garden gate. Residents and guests of the Skol Building get a 10% discount.

GASPAR – Calle Finlandia

About ten minutes walk away in a quiet tree-lined street is Restaurante Gaspar. The chef is Gaspar himself, a rotund, taciturn Basque; the restaurant is run by Señora Gaspar, a tiny woman with the air of a university professor of philosophy. Perhaps because of this there is an air of informality which is very pleasant. The restaurant is very popular with Spanish summer residents from granada, Cordoba and Seville. It is fascinatingly decorated with ‘objets trouvés: artefacts which give the dining area a unique charm. There are bullfighters’ costumes, faded by the sun and perhaps the gore of the corrida, a collection of walking-sticks, ancient golf clubs and, I think, tea-pots and coffee mills and also a wall of books.
There are also some nice paintings along one wall. The food is delicious and the products very fresh. Try the tortilla with the Mediterranean salad and then the Entrecote. They don’t serve coffee or dessert so you can wander down to the seafront for that. The relationship price/quality is excellent and it’s an authentic Spanish experience.

BECKITT’S – just behind the Skol Building.

This Irish-run restaurant is now firmly established in Marbella and is consistently recommended by our guests. The menu makes very few concessions to its location – it could just as well be in Dublin, Belfast or London. Its food is, basically, scrumptious and self-indulgent and could be described perhaps as Euro-fusion, that’s to say traditional dishes with a tweak. Duck, salmon, chicken, steak etc. are all present but the sauces and ingredients added to these staples make the food tasty and interesting. The décor is decadent and designed for the night – it’s a great place to get dolled up for and that is part of its success. You’ll need to reserve. Prices are not cheap but it will be a memorable meal.