A Room with a View


Unlike the story of Forster’s novel, there will be no squabbling about a room with a view in Vista Lago Residences, because all the rooms have great views, whether of the green mountainsides surrounding them, the lake view that the name suggests, the Southern Spanish coastline below or the Mediterranean Sea beyond.

Sunset over Strait of Gibraltar

Article by Vivion O’Kelly

Looking south-west from your sitting room in all but two of the eighteen Vista Lago villas on a clear day, Africa is part of the view, sitting on the horizon just beyond Gibraltar. The highest mountain peak you see across the Straits of Gibraltar is Jebel Musa, twelve kilometres due west of the far tip of Ceuta, whose lights are clearly visible at night. At 842 metres high, it is two and a half times higher than the Eiffel Tower. If the Rock of Gibraltar appears to be about the same height, this is due to it being twenty-six kilometres closer, because at 426 metres high, it is almost half the height of its neighbouring Pillar of Hercules in Morocco.

Strait of Gibraltar
Jebel Musa as seen from the Straits of Gibraltar

The two other Vista Lago villas face eastwards, overlooking Istan Lake, Marbella town, and the Mediterranean Sea behind. There are few places in the world with such magnificent views.

View from the lounge of Villa NÂş3 at Vista Lago Residences
The view from the lounge of Villa NÂş3 at Vista Lago Residences overlooks Marbella

A view is, to some extent, subjective. Some like it close and some like it far away.  Some like it panoramic and some like it intimate. The secret to a great location, insofar as a view is concerned, is thus to provide all of these options, and this is what all the luxury Vista Lago villas provide. Looking down towards the coast, one sees the world-famous Puerto Banús, founded in 1970 by José Banús, a close friend of Francisco Franco. The grand opening of the marina was attended by the likes of Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly of Monaco, Roman Polanski, Hugh Hefner and the Aga Khan. Julio Iglesias was also there, hired as a singer for the princely sum of 751 euros in today’s money. Marbella, which needs no introduction, lies to the east of Banús.

The view from Vista Lago at sunset
The view from Vista Lago at sunset

The view continues down the coast towards Gibraltar, the British Overseas Territory (not a colony) named after the eight century Moorish military leader Tariq ibn Ziyad as Jebal Tariq. If the linguistic journey from that to Gibraltar seems a stretch, try Jebal ala at-tariq, which means “Mount of the Way” (from Africa to Iberia). The more recent history we all know of is, of course, its capture by Anglo-Dutch forces from Spain in 1704, later ceded to Britain by the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht. As solid rock, it falls below par, given that it is riddled with man-made tunnels excavated for defence purposes over the years.

The Pillars of Hercules – Gibraltar and Jebel Musa at sunset
The Pillars of Hercules – Gibraltar and Jebel Musa at sunset

Gibraltar is almost always visible, even on a balmy summer’s day when the horizon appears blurred beneath the haze, and it may provide some element of schadenfreude for some residents of the southern coastline to notice the cloud hovering over the Rock throughout those glorious sunny days.

Atmospheric conditions, especially on a cold and clear winter’s day, frequently throw the African coastline into sharp focus, making it difficult to judge relative distances from afar, and sometimes the Spanish mountains west of Gibraltar can be mistaken for those in Morocco. A rough measurement on a Google map tells us that, from Vista Lago Residences, the Jebel Musa peak lies less than ten kilometres west of a straight line of sight to the Rock of Gibraltar. That allows us to make a rough measurement of the full scope of the Mediterranean Sea that is visible to us from Vista Lago. There are few places in the world where one can see another continent, clearly defined as such. Perhaps from across the Ural River, or with a good telescope, from the westernmost tip of Alaska. But the view from Southern Spain to Africa is undoubtedly one of these almost unique views.

Two Continents Europe and Africa
There are few places in the world where one can see another continent

We can see Morocco clearly, but what do we know about it? A survey done many years ago by a Spanish newspaper showed a surprising lack of knowledge of the country and what they can see of it on the part of ordinary Spaniards living along the southern coastline. Most had never visited Morocco and expressed little desire to do so. We know of no similar survey done with regard to foreign residents, but one suspects, given that they have already moved to another country, that they would have more knowledge.

Nighttime view from Vista Lago
Nighttime view from Vista Lago

In case not, some relevant facts that most of our readers will probably already know. The night lights one sees in Morocco are those of the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, part of the European Union. This is one of two such enclaves, the other being Melilla, some 200 kilometres east of Ceuta and obviously invisible to the naked eye from the Spanish coastline. Older foreign residents will remember, in pre-EU membership times, having to leave Spain every three months to renew their passports, and for many, this meant a day trip to Ceuta and a walk around its customs post to get a passport entry stamp. There was a Monty Python comic element to this procedure, and it was not unusual to see, for example, luxury cars drive along the beach below the customs post and exchange packages for money in plain sight of the Moroccan customs officers. Such times are long gone. The Moroccans want their territory back, but the Spaniards argue that both enclaves existed as cities long before the establishment of the Moroccan state.

A room with a view – of history, geography, beautiful landscapes and panoramic views that take in different continents. This is what you get in all of the Vista Lago Residences villas, all built on high ground overlooking this extraordinary coastline. There are many reasons we in Southern Spain chose to live where we do, and this is surely one of them.

This time lapse video below, of day changing into sunset then night, makes it a little easier to imagine what it would be like to sit comfortably on your sofa in a Vista Lago villa and enjoy these incredible views.