From traditional 5-star events at the Marbella Club hotel to a quick Malaga getaway, Giles Brown guides us through the festive season on the coast.
Giles Brown, the ghost of Marbella Christmas Past, Present and Future, decks the halls with boughs of holly, harks his heralds and speculatively hangs mistletoe in the most unexpected places as he pulls out his festive favs from his stockings…
As the yuletide favourite puts it,
“He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness’ sake”
Obviously, in Marbella there are a few “Marbs quirks” to these lyrics. Sleeping can either be ruled out altogether over the frantic festive period or replaced with “crashed and burned” and presumably, EVERYONE knows when you are awake. The sound of tinsel infused revelry and silly bells on elf hats should be enough of an indication.
After the excesses of one of the most manic summer seasons that Marbella has endured in years, perhaps “good” is something of a relative term. “Not intentionally bad” or “luckily remembered to delete last night’s photos” might be more appropriate.
Whether you have been good, bad, or indifferent this year…
To discover a little Christmas magic, Marbella style, forget the bling of Banús and head to the Old Town. Wandering around the atmospheric narrow streets of the “Casco Antiguo”, with its boutiques and unique shops is great fun during the run up to Christmas, and there are plenty of restaurants and bars to grab a warming drink or bite to eat. The main church square is where you will find the traditional Nativity diorama, and the Plaza de Naranjos is home to two huge angels. These make up part of the light displays that run through most of the Old Town and Marbella’s main thoroughfare, the Avenida Ricardo Soriano.
If you want to trip the light fantastic, or a trip to fantastic lights, the Christmas illuminations on Malaga’s Calle Larios are a must. Be warned though. It gets very busy, and parking can be hard to find, so you might want to make use of the excellent metro from the outskirts. Or you could use it as the perfect excuse to check into one of Malaga’s excellent hotels for a festive city break!
Back in Marbella, there are a host of activities over Christmas. “Zambombas” -the lively Flamenco version of carol singing – are extremely popular. They mainly involve large quantities of music, singing, dancing, fuelled by chocolate and churros to keep the crowd going!
La Represa Park on Saturday December 17th is the venue for a Zambomba organised by Marbella’s Flamenco Dance Academy and the Art and Culture Guitar Workshop, in support of cancer charity CUDECA. Featuring poetry readings, dance, and guitar performances, as well as a recreation of Bethlehem, it promises to be one of the best Zambombas.
While Santa Claus will be busy, visiting Marbella’s various schools, medical centres and generally updating his naughty or nice list, on Wednesday December 21st, Rudolph and the rest of the reindeer get the day off. Santa will be taking a tour of the town with Marbella’s very own motorcycle club, “Los Mentirosos”. At time of going to Press I was unable to confirm if Santa will be riding a Harley – you will just have to keep your eyes open from 6pm along Marbella’s main roads!
As you would expect, Marbella’s most emblematic hotels are firm favourites on the run up to Christmas Day. At the western end of the New Golden Mile, the Kempinksi Bahia Hotel offers a Christmas High Tea, where you can enjoy tea or coffee and a glass of crisp Cava, before enjoying a selection of savoury and sweet delights, along with traditional scones. The Kempinski also has one of the finest Christmas Trees in Marbella. I was there when the team were putting the towering pine in place, and it took a head for heights to reach the top! Kempinski also offer a Christmas Eve Dinner at the excellent Baltazár Bar & Grill with a six-course menu, live music and a relaxed yet elegant atmosphere.
Puente Romano Resort and Hotel is another firm favourite, with the Sea Grill restaurant enjoying one of the best beachfront locations in Marbella. I have enjoyed Christmas lunch at Sea Grill for several years now, and it never fails to disappoint. The combination of a fabulous setting, open and yet still intimate, professional service and superbly fresh food is a winning one. Christmas Day at Sea Grill centres on the brunch buffet, with an abundance of traditional dishes and seasonal delicacies, as well as a spectacular assortment of desserts, puddings, and special Christmas pastries.
Effortlessly stylish and with some of the most innovative cuisine in Marbella, Boho Club Marbella is easily one of the most exciting destinations on the scene in recent years. Small, chic and perfectly formed, Chef Diego del Rio and his dedicated team produce seasonal menus that are contemporary but not pretentious. More importantly, the dishes are sublime! Add this to a young, passionate and professional management and front of house staff whose enthusiasm and belief is exceptional, and you have something uniquely special. Give yourself an early Christmas gift and go.
Old style Marbella means only one thing – the Marbella Club Hotel. This is where it all started, and although several parts of the town have changed beyond recognition since Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe welcomed his first guests in the early 50s, the Marbella Club continues to maintain an old school charm.
If you do nothing else, simply sip a glass of champagne and remember the stars that spent the festive season here. Audrey Hepburn and Sean Connery are just a few of the Marbella Club’s Ghosts of Christmas Past…