Every town is made up of areas with different characteristics, settings and price levels, and while Marbella is certainly no conventional town the same thing applies here.
The finest addresses in Marbella, where you find the most impressive mansions and most exclusive urbanisations of villas and apartments, tend to be located either on the edge of the sea or in country club settings just inland. Among the most famous are the Golden Mile, with its famed seaside location, and La Zagaleta, a private country club that ranks as the most secluded and luxurious in Europe.
Next on the list is nearby El Madroñal, a gated community of large, luxurious homes on expansive grounds that marry Marbella glamour with country appeal, while the large private estates of nearby La Reserva de Alcuzcuz represent a less well known but highly exclusive and very private hill club address. Also situated along the foot hills of a mountain range – in this case Marbella’s La Concha Mountain – is Sierra Blanca, a gated villa zone which in spite of its secluded feel is just a few minutes removed from Marbella’s downtown area.
Venture a little east and you come to Rio Real and Los Monteros, the two finest addresses on this side of Marbella. Both include a mouth-watering array of prime apartment, townhouse and villa urbanisations, but where Rio Real overlooks a stunning green golf valley close to the sea, Los Monteros is one those rare areas where large private villas run all the way to the beachfront. The latter gives it a particularly exclusive feel that has drawn the region’s elite – Antonio Banderas amongst them – to its leafy streets and peaceful beachside.
Head in the opposite direction and it’s a question of whether you prefer the peace and tranquillity of a luxury villa suburb or the hustle and bustle of Puerto Banús. The latter ranks among the more expensive parts of Marbella in square metre terms, with luxurious penthouse apartments overlooking the marina or the sea. Close to the action and excitement, they are within walking distance of shops, department stores, famous designer outlets and fine dining restaurants, not to mention the yachts, night time venues and beach clubs that add to the port’s glamour.
Bordering Puerto Banús on the west are more prime beachside apartments and penthouses, and while they remain close to all that it has to offer this is a somewhat more private and leafy environment in spite of its proximity to the sea. Just inland from here, flowing on from the famous casino, is an area known as Nueva Andalucía and nicknamed the Golf Valley, because of its concentration of first-class courses. Essentially a wide, almost level valley, it is above all a peaceful residential zone dominated by villas and criss-crossed by the serpentine beauty of championship golf courses.
On the northwest side of this valley, where the terrain begins to rise up towards El Madroñal and the other hill club zones, lies La Quinta – a stylish zone of villas and townhouses bordering a fine golf course of the same name. If this is the contact zone between Marbella and the municipal boundaries of Benahavís, then the classic villa zone of Guadalmina is where Marbella meets the zone of influence of its little sibling, the town of San Pedro Alcántara. Originally founded by Basque developers, Guadalmina contains a lower and upper area (with respective golf courses) separated by the coastal road.
The most exclusive of these is Guadalmina Baja (Lower Guadalmina), whose peaceful tree-lined streets flow towards the sea. Here too, large villas on expansive grounds follow the contours of the golf course towards a beach setting that is rare for any golf club in this area. Guadalmina is perhaps the last of the grand addresses before you come to Sotogrande, about 20 minutes to the west, though the exclusive beachside apartments of the New Golden Mile just west of Estepona provide another highly exclusive zone with some of the finest seaside properties anywhere in the region – proving just how diverse even the top end settings of Marbella are.