BRIGHT talks to Paul Bramley, long-time resident, tireless entrepreneur, and dynamic supporter of Marbella, for his always-insightful thoughts on the future of the town.
Interview by Giles Brown
It is safe to say that Paul Bramley is a force of nature. A self-made millionaire who started out selling second hand fridges in his teens, Paul’s business career has taken him from luxury boutique property development to interior design and his latest venture, Lush Blush wine “The Blush the World had been waiting for”. A passionate foodie, Paul not only appreciates the finer things in life, but also has a social conscience, providing public sports facilities in Nueva Andalucía and has previously sponsored up and coming young golfers (another passion).
As someone who has been living in Marbella for over 20 years, Paul is perfectly placed to give an overview about what makes the town so special. “Summer was incredible. I have people that are coming up to me and saying that they have never seen Marbella so busy, and I that this is a reaction to the pandemic. Everybody suddenly thought ‘After all the world has been through, it’s time to live our lives’.
“People are now coming over to buy houses and to be honest I have never seen such a wide range of nationalities – Dutch, Belgians, French and from the Gulf States. What has been interesting is that there are fewer English people here.
One of the common themes of recent market reports by the major international property firms is that Covid has made people reappraise their lives and working situations. Paul agrees “I think that is exactly what has happened. I was talking to a chap who used to be the CEO of Sky. He’s living here now because he can work from home. No one has to go into an office unless they really have to, thanks to Zoom meetings and the Internet. I think that if you have sunshine as we have, why would you want to be anywhere else? It has to be better working here than anywhere else in the world!”
It is not just the property market that has been affected, however. There has also been a been an increase in demand for top end cars and boats. “A friend was staying with us over the summer and counted 40 boats as he had breakfast on the terrace. I’ve never seen so many people using their boats, and that is another thing that I think the Covid situation has done. I think that people are now thinking ‘I am going to make the most of whatever I have – money, resources, whatever it is’, and that is why I think we are seeing so much more activity here.
Anyone who follows Paul’s Instagram will be well aware that Paul is a passionate foodie, and as such, he has an all-encompassing knowledge of Marbella’s gastronomic scene. He puts a lot of it down to one man. “I think the fact that it has improved so much is largely down to Daniel Shamoon – his team at the Puente Romano really has raised the bar. I went to El Chiringuito in Puente Romano last night and had what was probably one of the best meals in my life.
“I’ve eaten in over 400 Michelin Star restaurants, and over 50 Three Star Michelin restaurants and not many people can say that they have done that as they normally don’t have the time or the appreciation to do it. But food is my love. I know a lot about food, I can cook at a seriously high level, and I think that what has happened is people want quality. Take Puente Romano as a prime example – Sea Grill raised the bar for quality. The food that is coming out of the restaurants and the service are all unbelievable. People are beginning to enjoy themselves a lot more!”
“There was a time that you didn’t go out for a meal in Marbella thinking how good it was going to be, you worried about how bad it might be! Marbella now is like a small San Sebastian. Even the beach clubs are upping their game in terms of setting and cuisine. If you have a choice of where to go, you are going to go to the best that you can afford. As I said at the beginning, I think that that comes back to Daniel Shamoon and the raising of the bar. It’s not cheap, but you pay for what you get.”
Somehow finding the time to squeeze in a round of golf at Valderrama between overseeing the production and marketing of Lush Blush, Paul is convinced that Marbella gets the all-important life versus work balance right. “Marbella really is a jewel. You have a massive selection of different activities, and the infrastructure is much better. And it continues to attract people from all walks of life – you have people who are working, people that are semi-retired, people that visit on a regular basis that have a lot of money.
“And as someone with a passion for food, I have never seen the restaurants so busy. I was in Nobu recently and I was shocked by the number of people that were there. And if that place is packed then they have to be doing something right!”