Characterised by large private homes bordering onto leafy streets or the fairways of the Real Club de Golf Guadalmina, this well-established residential area is known as one of the most refined and pleasant living environments in Marbella.
Guadalmina is one of those places split into two zones – with Guadalmina Baja south of the main road on the seaside, and Guadalmina Alta on the northern or ‘mountainside’. The golf course is a prominent feature on either side of the road, and as if not recognising this barrier it meanders its way under the dual-carriage way that is the main thoroughfare in the area, and transcends the line between Alta and Baja.
Though Guadalmina Baja is regarded as the better address, the northern stretch also features some of the most refined villas and idyllic residential zones in the greater Marbella area. Though largely a well-established upmarket and low-density concentration of spacious and in many cases luxuriant villas looking out onto broad fairways, the area is also home to a number of small and discreet townhouse developments designed in the style of Andalusian pueblos.
To these are added some attractive apartment buildings featuring white modernist design and vistas of the golf course that is so central to life in this part of Marbella. Not surprisingly, Guadalmina is much favoured by those who love the game, and its two full courses, designated North and South, dominate the landscape in the style of an extensive and beautifully manicured parkland.
Where other parts of Marbella enjoy a heritage that links them to Madrid, Seville, Germany or Great Britain, Guadalmina first beguiled visitors from the Basque country in Spain’s high north. Indeed, it was back in 1933 that Basque businessman Norberto Goizueta surveyed the lush level coastline of Guadalmina from his yacht. Situated just west of the then agricultural village of San Pedro, in the midst of extensive farmland, Guadalmina offered the gentle undulation, lush greenery and long uninterrupted beach that drew Goizueta’s attention.
Like others after him Goizueta was beguiled by the beauty and benevolent climate of this sunny southern spot, and by the 1950s he and his sons were clearing fields of corn, peat and sugarcane, and planting grass – much to the amazement of local farmers who couldn’t have foreseen the tremendous appeal of Marbella as a golf centre back then. Upon completion of the original South Course in 1959 the Club de Golf Guadalmina was established, beginning a veritable golf revolution without equal anywhere in Europe.
By 1965 the course hosted the Spanish Championship, the first of many national and international tournaments to take place in this, one of the region’s hallowed courses. The second course, designed by Folco Nardi, was added in 1973, attesting to both the growth of the game in the region and the growing popularity of Guadalmina as a place to play golf, vacation and live.
A favoured home
By now the first of those in a position to indulge themselves had built their villas close to beach and fairway, and before long Basque developers were commissioned to construct new luxurious homes as word spread originally in Northern Spain and later much further afield. Today it shares the cosmopolitan ambience of Marbella, with a large Spanish, Scandinavian and British community with a common passion for golf and elegant living, but the historic connection with the País Vasco and Navarra remains a distinguishing feature of Guadalmina.
Though some of the grandest villas on large seaside plots can be found here, this is not a zone of ostentation and pretence, but rather a discreet and private part of Marbella that is favoured by international businesspeople and celebrities. The social and commercial life focuses on Marbella, with the little town of San Pedro Alcántara providing a local hub of activity and services, yet Guadalmina enjoys a good range of services in its own right.
These include a prestigious private school, a charming little church for weddings and similar ceremonies, and a rather stylish commercial centre with shops, cafés, boutiques, restaurants and professional services such as doctors, dentists, lawyers and interior designers. The centre, which retains an affluent Spanish atmosphere, has some of the finest fish and tapas restaurants in the area, and is a popular social venue especially in the summer months. Much of Guadalmina’s social life, however, centres upon the Guadalmina Hotel, with its beachside facilities, and the clubhouse that plays such an important role in the lives of many of the local residents.
With an attractive, low-density setting upon its own stretch of coastline, just minutes away from San Pedro and barely ten minutes from Marbella, this is a convenient oasis of peace and elegance in the heart of the greater Marbella area.