As The Marbella Club Hotel prepares to celebrate its 60th year in business, we take a look back at its rich and vibrant history, and the many distinguished and famous guests it has welcomed through its doors over the years.
When Prince Alfonso travelled down from Madrid in 1948 to purchase the stunning rural 180, 000 square-metre enclave on the shores of the glistening Mediterranean, the old finca was only ever intended to become his family’s beachside hideaway. Little did he know that the charming Andalusian farmhouse, Santa Margarita, and its surrounding grounds would become one of the most prestigious hotels in Europe, if not the world.
The finca’s first guests were French travellers on their way from French North Africa to France, who were enchanted with the farmhouse’s magnificent location and idyllic outlook. The embryo of the Marbella Club was now born, with twenty bedrooms, a dining room and a bar located in the central part of the house, which was opened to visitors in 1954.
Having travelled extensively throughout Europe as well as the USA, Prince Alfonso had his ideas set on just the kind of luxurious hotel he wanted to create somewhere; with all the chic sophistication of the French Riviera, but with the glitz and glamour of the American establishments he had frequented.
With this in mind, Prince Alfonso brought in a team of friends and family members who shared his vision, and together they created The Marbella Club Hotel we know and love so well. Count Rudi started as Assistant Manager on January 1st 1957, with all the energy of youth and his own boundless optimism. “Every week we would have at least three parties, one a treasure hunt, one a fancy dress party on the beach, and so on,” he remembers. “There was always something going on.”
Luxury destination for high society
As the swinging sixties got underway, Marbella became a destination to rival St.Tropez and Monaco, and an avalanche of aristocracy, millionaires and Hollywood stars descended on this glamorous beachside resort in the south of Spain. From Don Juan de Bourbon and the Conde de Barcelona, father of the former king Juan Carlos, who moored his yacht off the coast as Spanish high society came to pay court, to highflyers Gunther Sachs and movie stars Brigitte Bardot and Audrey Hepburn, The Marbella Club Hotel became the playground of the rich and famous.
In 1967, Town & Country Magazine described The Marbella Club Hotel the “rank upstart of the four-star playgrounds. Liveliest, clubbiest, most historically social. It breaks new ground, dares to be young, deciding who’s who by its own lights.”
The seventies saw the inauguration of the illustrious pleasure port of Puerto Banús, heralding a new era, as Marbella was to mature and develop further. It was the place to be and the Marbella Club was the place to stay. During the 1980s, the hotel was admitted to the association of Leading Hotels of the World and, as the Costa del Sol began booming with tourism and development, the Marbella Club represented the epitome of the ‘Marbella lifestyle’, becoming more overtly glamorous and continuing to attract celebrities, royalty and the international jet set crowd through its famous doors.
Over the past couple of decades this legendary establishment has continued to grow and prosper, with new additions, restaurants and renovations keeping it ahead of its time and boasting every luxury imaginable, whilst still retaining all of its original charm. Home to some of the finest parties and events in Europe, from outdoor concerts on its tennis courts to bohemian nights down at its beachside nightclub, the Marbella Club is not only a Marbella institution; it is the essence of elegance and glamour that have made our town the holiday resort and luxury destination that it is today.