Anfitrión Villas & Suites: where art meets boutique hospitality in Marbella
Article & Interview by Anastasia Sukhanov · All images courtesy of Anfitrión Villa & Suites
In Marbella, a hidden truth often goes unnoticed: the grandeur of a place hinges on the soul of its host. This understanding is the heartbeat of Anfitrión Villas & Suites, a boutique hotel where hosting is elevated to an art form. Each space is transformed from mere bricks and mortar into a living, breathing essence of hospitality and culture.
Named after a mythological Greek character who was known for his generosity and lavish parties, Anfitrión is a masterclass in hospitality, harmoniously intertwined with the dynamic tapestry of Spanish culture and art.
Anfitrión stands out not just as a luxurious destination, but as an immersive journey into artistic expression. The boutique hotel is adorned with select pieces from emerging Spanish artists, and its architecture, crafted by specialists in luxury accommodations, offers comfort wrapped in visual allure.
BRIGHT had the opportunity to interview Lesya Belanenko, the visionary behind this innovative project, delving into her inspirations, challenges, and the unique journey of bringing Anfitrión Villas & Suites to life.
Can you elaborate on the inspiration behind Anfitrión Villas and how it stands out as an art residence in Europe?
Anfitrión Villas was inspired by various personal experiences and influential art projects. Among them are private art spaces in England and Club Matador in Madrid, which blend art, exclusivity, and community.
One of my key inspirations for the atmosphere we’ve cultivated at Anfitrión Villas comes from my experience at Finca La Donaira (an eco-retreat in Montecorto in the Serranía de Ronda). This boutique hotel exemplifies the essence of a welcoming host and the transformative impact it has on the guest experience. I remember being there when the owner, who embodies the role of ‘‘Amphitryon’’ was present. He held a jam session on his Steinway piano in the living room, which created an incredibly intimate and memorable atmosphere.
This experience highlighted for me the profound difference between just staying at a place and staying somewhere where a host’s presence is deeply felt. It’s this sense of warmth, personal touch, and community that I wanted to replicate at Anfitrión Villas. Our goal is to not just offer a space for guests but to ensure they feel a part of something special, much like I felt at Finca La Donaira.
What was the motivation for establishing this in Marbella?
Living in Marbella, I found myself missing the Bohemian and artistic community I was accustomed to. I wanted to create something that would not only satisfy my longing for this community but also appeal to like-minded people. Anfitrión Villas is a personal project aimed at providing a space where artists and art collectors can converge and engage in meaningful interactions, including events like artist talks. Hopefully, it will become a hub for artists and art lovers to connect and create.
How do you select artists for the residency?
Our art advisor curates the selection, focusing on Spanish artists or those influenced by Spanish culture. Our first artist, Alan Sastre, is a testament to this approach. A renowned painter from Barcelona and a figure in contemporary abstract painting, Alan honed his skills at institutions like The Cooper Union School of Art in New York and the Llotja School of Art and Design. His works have been exhibited in Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, Portugal, and various Spanish cities.
Currently, it’s truly fascinating to witness how Marbella’s essence has permeated Alan’s art. This is most evident in his evolving colour palette, where he has notably incorporated an abundance of yellows, capturing the vibrant energy and warmth of Marbella.
What’s your personal connection with the art world?
My passion for art was greatly inspired by my father, who studied at Kyiv University of Art. Despite the restrictive Soviet era, he remained a passionate and independent artist, working in various mediums like wood carving and sculpture. Growing up around his creative pursuits deeply influenced my artistic sensibilities and shaped my approach to Anfitrión Villas. I’ve also studied art techniques, including aquarelle in Venice.
What types of events and experiences do you plan to offer?
We’re focusing on intimate, exclusive events like artist-led dinners and wine tastings, allowing guests to engage personally with artists such as Alan Sastre. We also plan behind-the-scenes experiences, such as studio visits, offering insights into the artistic process. Additionally, special events like art unveilings and local culture-themed dinners will celebrate new art collections and the region’s culinary heritage, creating a rich, integrated experience of art and local culture.
What’s the vision for Anfitrión Villa’s future?
We currently have four villas, planning to expand to ten by 2026. We aim to keep the art and experiences fresh, with a rotating collection of works, primarily from artists who have stayed with us.
What are your favourite places in Marbella that inspire you?
I cherish biking along the beach at sunrise and hiking up La Concha for its breathtaking views. There’s also a unique charm in observing everyday life here, like families enjoying the beach or yoga groups on the Paseo de San Pedro. These moments and places contribute to the serene yet vibrant essence of Marbella.
And how do these places influence your work at Anfitrión?
They remind me of the importance of community and tranquility, elements I strive to incorporate into Anfitrión. Marbella’s landscape and culture are integral to the experience we offer, influencing both the artists and the art created here.