There are a number of places to visit that are high on my bucket list. Mountainous regions of Nepal, the gothic architecture of Venice and the souks of Marrakech are among them. Marbella however was one that I had never given much though to. My limited knowledge of the place extended only to its reputed abundance of bikini clad babes and bottles of bolly. In my mind, not necessarily a reason for it to make it to the top of my list
It was only after an invite from the iconic Marbella Club, to try their new, bespoke ‘wellness programme’ that I started getting on board with the idea. The thought of a bit of sun, sea and soltan on Spain’s costa del sol, seemed just the thing for a break in my schedule, so I headed out for four days to get a taste of what the place had to offer and my goodness am I glad I did!
In case you have not heard of it, The Marbella Club is golf resort and spa in the centre of the town. The former pied-a-terre of Prince Alfonso, it is an old school jewel that in its hey day saw the likes of Bridget Bardot and many of the Mediterranean jetsetters pass through its doors. Hopping between the specifically designed ‘champagne room,’ it’s imposing ‘el grill’ restaurant and its white sandy beach, it is not hard to see where its allure lied. The resort itself is comprised of an assortment of charming, classic Andalusian architecture dotted around between gorgeously manicured gardens. Old pines and palms, the jasmine garden, charming mosaics and an abundance of character immediately made me fall in love with the place. Certainly its feeling of authenticity and agedness is something that no new hotel can create.
However, unlike the lavish party markers so synonymous with the area, I was here for a totally different experience, a Mediterranean renewal. Swapping champagne for fizzy water and cocktails for coconut juice, my aim for this trip was to experience a long weekend of absolute ‘wellness’. Healthy food, spa treatments and bespoke exercise classes to recover from a relenting couple of weeks of hardcore cooking and recipe development.
The mini break began with consultations with the club’s doctor, nutritionist and life coach to ascertain a little more about my lifestyle and offer some guidance on optimising my health and overall experience at the resort. A great start for anyone with a limited knowledge, or the ‘if no one sees me eat it, it didn’t happen’ approach to food. I was prescribed some spa treatments, including the underwater massage, their signature rose alpine facial and the special ‘wellness menu’ which followed me around all the restaurants.
On the odd occasion, where the spa’s menu escaped the waiters, I got a look in at the normal menu. I noticed a there were an abundance of options like fresh sashimi, crab and pink grapefruit salad, mushroom and rocket carpaccio with truffle… All options I would have deemed healthy and far more enticing than the steamed salmon and greens, or veal cutlet with mushrooms options that had popped upon the ‘wellness menu’. It struck me that though the food was delicious and in all instances the quality of produce were the absolute best, that there may be some disconnect in the perceived notion of what constitutes healthy. In many instances dishes on the ‘wellness menu’ were very protein heavy and vegetables had to be ordered separately. It was also a surprise that each restaurant would offer such vast portions of food and the option fruit after a meal too. Certainly this is not bootcamp, but it would have been very easy to fall off piste, had I been a guest with less willpower. A mere waft of the saffron laced fish soup was enough to have me fall to my knees. Bread and butter on every table was another hurdle to obstacle over.
Certainly the highlights of the trip was sunset yoga on the pier, hiking through the forest on the edge of the town, the amazing spa treatments and use of the hotel’s thalasso pool. This combined with some of the freshest seafood I have eaten this year and 3 blissful days of unrelenting sun was just what the doctor ordered. I went back to London feeling a stretch lighter and several shads darker.
If you want to get a taste of true Marbella, I can certainly recommend the Marbella Club for a place to visit. Between the 80s decorated breakfast terrace and the retro grill room, its more than a little reminiscent of a Jackie Collins novel, but then whats not to love about spending your mornings fantasising on a liaison with a sexy spaniard whilst one of their therapists obliterates your shoulders into relaxation. Certainly we may have been among the youngest guests and certainly with the least diamonds, but we were definitely the ones having the most fun.
You can find the details of The Marbella Club here