Real de La Quinta History
by Aman Sandhu and Chris Chaplow
Real de La Quinta is a stunning 200-hectare residential resort located in the foothills just outside of the Sierra de las Nieves National Park in Málaga province, Spain. BRIGHT carefully selected Real de La Quinta to construct their award-winning Vista Lago Residences here, alongside the other sustainable villas and apartments that provide high-quality residence. Real de La Quinta and the land has a very interesting history.
The Old Path Through the Mountains
Centuries ago, the old path across Real de Quinta was one of the starting points (the other being Istan village) for the journey of both goods and people from Marbella on the coast to the inland town of Ronda and beyond. This route could only be made safely under the guidance of caballerías (cavalrymen or horsemen) because famous Highwaymen stalked the route. The last highwayman to be caught on this path was Flores Arrocha in 1932, who was shot in a clearing called Fuenfria. As the name suggests, today Fuenfria is a welcome stopping point for tourists to fill bottles with cold spring water whilst enjoying a walk in the Sierra de las Nieves park.
Next to the spring (and at other locations in the park), one might notice stone-walled pits about 4m across and 2m deep. These are called Pozo de Nieve (Snow Wells) and were used to pack winter mountain snow to make ice blocks destined for Ronda and Marbella.
Snow wells were built in the Sierra de las Nieves (“Snow Mountains”) to store the winter fallen snow, many of which still exist to this day. The snow would be pressed with large wooden rams until it turned into ice, where it would later be extracted and carried on the backs of mules to destinations as far away as Seville, Gibraltar, and even Ceuta. The trade was most active during the warmer months of spring and summer, and the transportation would be done at night to reduce liquefaction. But the journey was only made worse with the knowledge of highwaymen stalking the path.
The route is quiet today because of an innovative project that began in 1877 for a road linking Ronda with the coast that was also suitable for horse-drawn carriages. It was completed in 1939, according to plans signed by engineers José Fernández Castanys and Julián Dorao, and Ronda was finally united to the coast by the twisty road we are familiar with today – the Ronda Road. The old route was made redundant.
Imagine back in the early 20th century the mule-man watches as his crew finishes extracting the last block of ice from the snow wells in the Sierra de las Nieves. They attached it to the mules and prepared for the long, perilous journey towards Marbella so that the fishermen could conserve their catch.
The mule-man takes one last look back to the rolling hills as he arrives in Marbella while the sun begins to rise. He wonders what will become of this land in 100 years’ time. Little would he expect that the land upon which he laid eyes would become a development of luxury villas built around the Costa del Sol’s largest man-made lake.
The Heredia Estate
The landscape of the lower slopes of the Sierra Blanca had changed once before in the beginning of the 19th century, where the mountainside was covered in oak woodlands.
Manuel Agustín Heredia (1786 – 1846) was originally from Rabanera de Cameros in La Rioja, and moved to Malaga at the age of fifteen, finding work as a shop assistant. He started his first business in 1808 during the War of Independence. He traded nuts, wine from Malaga, and graphite from Benahavís with Gibraltar.
In 1813, he married Doña Isabel Livermore Salas, who was the daughter of Don Tomás Livermore Page, an English merchant based in Malaga and sister-in-law of the Marquis of Salamanca.
In 1826, Heredia led a consortium to build Ferrería de la Concepción in Marbella, the iron foundry that was the first blast furnace to operate in Spain. El Angel foundry followed some months later, both were located on the west bank of the Rio Verde in Marbella. La Concepcion’s ruins survive today, albeit in desperate need of preservation. El Angel became part of the San Pedro farming cooperative. A new mine was opened; Mina de Peñoncillo near Istán. The project was initially not so successful and most of the shareholders pulled out. Undeterred Heredia, working with a military engineer in 1833 built Fábrica de La Constancia foundry in Malaga city to refine the Marbella production. It was fuelled by Coal shipped in from the UK to produce higher-grade stronger cast iron.
The Marbella ironworks consumed all the trees on the Sierra Blanca. When they had exhausted those supplies, they began on the woodland of Benahavis although, fortunately, it didn’t suffer to the same extent as Marbella.
By 1840, Manuel Agustín Heredia was the wealthiest businessman in Spain. In his Malaga residence, his daughter, Amalia Heredia y Livermore, would in 1855 create the Jardines de la Concepción botanical garden with botanical species from all over the world. He purchased large quantities of land in Benahavís and built his country residence.
It is difficult to imagine today that the size of this Alcuzcuz estate was owned by a single person. Suffice to say years later from this enormous estate, several huge estates were sectioned in the mid-twentieth century. One to the west was called Tramores, later owned by the Goldsmith’s family. Another to the north was called La Baraka, later owned by Saudi Arabian businessman Adnan Khashoggi and became La Zagaleta in 1991. Another to the east of the Ronda road was El Madroñal.
The Alcuzcuz estate gained its hispano-arabic name from the interesting wheat product made there. It was made of little balls of flour paste and honey, which were steamed and put into an earthenware container that had holes that allowed the steam from a larger container to enter. Variations of the product included adding fresh butter, sugar, and raisins to form the cous cous we know today.
Manuel Heredia died in 1846 and Alcuzcuz was inherited by his daughter, Maria Heredia y Livermore who married Andrés Parladé y Sánchez de Quirós, Conde de Aguiar. They built the current estate house in 1850. This in turn was inherited by her son Andres Paladé Heredia (1859-1933) By the 1960s the now smaller Alcuzcuz estate was inherited by renowned interior designer Jaime Parladé Gross and his British wife Janette.
Jaime Parladé Gross built the beautiful La Heredia ‘village’ development in the 1980s, which still stands out as a beautiful example of a modern Andalusian ‘chocolate box’ village on the hill in pastel shades. Parladé died in 2015 and the current estate house, now called Dehesa de Alcuzcuz has been turned into a peaceful boutique hotel decorated in a style influenced by six generations.
The southern part of the Alcuzcuz estate became a select Urbanización (housing complex) and was also chosen by BRIGHT to construct their award-winning Villa Alcuzcuz.
To the east, on land originally belonging to the El Mardronal estate, Tomás Pascual developed La Quinta in the 1980s and later planned the Real de La Quinta project.
Tomás Pascual Sanz was a Spanish entrepreneur who was born on December 20, 1926 in the north of Spain in Fuentemizarra, Segovia. He founded many businesses during his lifetime, including the well-known Grupo Inmobiliario La Quinta in 1992.
Pascual’s entrepreneurial tendencies began as a child when he started selling sandwiches at the Aranda de Duero train station where his father was running the canteen. He later spent several years delivering merchandise throughout the region with his brothers and sisters; first by bicycle, then by motorcycle, and finally upgrading to a rented truck.
In 1950, when he was only 23 years old, Tomás Pascual founded Pascual Hermanos SL together with his brothers, Fidencio, Juan José, and Pedro. They then started a feed factory in 1959, where they began raising pigs, chickens, and cows seven years later. In 1969, Tomás Pascual created the famous Leche Pascual SA, a company pioneering in introducing milk uperisation (a method of sterilising) and Tetra Brik packaging in Spain (1973), as well as skimmed and semi-skimmed milk (1980). This company now markets over 300 food products from its 22 plants, including yoghurts, juices, eggs, beverages, and mineral water, along with breakfast cereals and compound feed for livestock.
Puerto Banus and Nueva Andalucia
The story of the tourism development of Marbella is often told; Ricardo Soriano, Marquis of Ivanrey, saw the opportunity in the 1940s to host travellers in his ‘Venta y Alberges El Rodeo’ on their way overland to Morocco. His nephew, Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe, founded the Marbella Club Hotel in 1954.
Norberto Goizueta, a wealthy young man from Navarra, had bought 300 acres of farming land between the Rio Guadalmina and Arroyo del Chopo in 1933. Seeing tourism develop in Marbella in the 1950s, Norberto changed his plans, and in 1959 the nine-hole Campo Sur links golf course was inaugurated. This was the first course after the 1925 Parador de Golf in Malaga.
In the late 1950s, Jose Banus purchased the land between the Guadaliza and Verde Rivers right up to the Marbella / Benahavis boundary and what is now the southern neighbour of Real de La Quinta. At the time, Banus stated he intended to use it for rearing cattle. The 1963 tourism development law opened a huge opportunity for Banús; his plans for the touristic development and promotion of the land were awarded in 1964, reportedly to build the ‘Centre of National Tourist Interest of Andalucía la Nueva (Marbella)’. This estate later became known as Nueva Andalucia.
La Quinta Golf & Country Club Resort
No doubt inspired by this development opportunity in Marbella, Tomás Pascual would go on to found a real estate company in 1979. La Quinta, not to be confused with Real de La Quinta, was the major project of Pascual’s. It began in the early 80s with the buying of the land just west of the Rio Guadaiza.
Tomás liked the name La Quinta, and that this simple multilingual word had connections with estates. ‘Quinta’ (from the Latin: quintus, “fifth”) in the urban context, has different meanings depending on the region or the country, although always in relation to real estate. Initially, it designated “the fifth part of the production” that the tenant (called a quintero) delivered to the owner of a farm; but later the denomination of quinta was applied to that same rural property, including its palaces or manor houses, parks and farms.
Association with Manuel Pinero
The association between golfer Manual Piñero and La Quinta began in the early 1980s. In 1985, Manuel Piñero led the European team to win the Ryder Cup, confirming his position as one of the world’s top golfers. He co-designed the La Quinta course and remained at the La Quinta golf club as the club Pro. In practice, he was a strong ambassador for the club and all of La Quinta.
La Quinta Golf Opens
La Quinta golf opened in 1987, being a reference development at the time. The clubhouse was an acclaimed example of a contemporary ‘luxury’ development.
The real estate developed substantially in La Quinta in the ten years following the 1997 Ryder Cup in Valderrama.
The La Quinta Hotel opened in 2000 with the Westin Group, who had sold it 10 years later only to buy it back again in 2016.
Real de La Quinta
Tomás had plans for a new La Quinta project to the east. He even started to acquire the land in the 1990s. It was to be a much more innovative and ambitious project. This is why it is called Real de La Quinta – the royal La Quinta.
The Plan Parcial was obtained from Benahavis Town Hall in 2002 and the approval of the ‘Projecto de Urbanizacion’ was granted in 2005. Initial infrastructure works began shortly after this.
Tomás died in 2006, however, and sadly never got to see his ‘royal’ creation come to fulfilment. He knew it was underway as son Borja Pascual took over the reins. The Pascual family sold La Quinta to a Chilean group in 2010, and are now using their expertise and resources to create the luxury development of Real de La Quinta.
Real de La Quinta, which was formally presented in 2017, was officially granted the building licence for its first project in 2018, with construction starting later the same year. This was also when the new access bridge opened for traffic, connecting La Quinta to Real de La Quinta.
The project, called Olivos, showcases the unique vision of the estate by implementing the latest designs into peaceful natural surroundings, creating a 12-building complex of low-sitting 2 and 3-bedroom apartments. There are 90 Olivos apartments in total, each providing views across the Mediterranean and communal gardens with swimming pools.
Following the success of the first project, Olivos, the second project, Quercus, was officially released on the market a year later in 2019, with construction starting in early 2020. The stylish development of two, three, and four-bedroom apartments consists of large living areas and terraces, creating a sense of freedom and space. The buildings, which contain no more than six apartments each, feature spectacular views to the new lake, golf course, and down to the coast.
All projects within the luxury estate are developed in accordance with BREEAM standards, ensuring sustainability, respect for the environment, and long-term value to investors. The BREEAM certificate was awarded to Real de La Quinta in 2019, making them the first project in Spain to achieve this milestone.
Sierra de las Nieves was declared a National Park in 2020 after campaigning by environmentalists. This is significant for Real de la Quinta as the land to the north will never be urbanised.
Vista Lago Residences
The current project being developed in Real de La Quinta is Vista Lago Residences. This project, which is being developed by BRIGHT, offers 18 sustainable luxury villas on the southernmost plots of the gated country club resort – each with its own unique feel and customisable to suit all preferences. Only a few villas remain unsold and available for purchase, so don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity to be a part of this exclusive community.
The future of Real de La Quinta builds on its interesting history. High-level and quality projects will continue being developed in this luxury estate, including spacious apartments and villas. Plans to construct a lake for non-motorised water sports are already in place, along with a golf course, hotel, commercial centre, spa, and many other attractions.