Amidst a busy schedule I managed to get out of the country for four days. Our destination was Puerto Banus in Marbella, Spain. After booking a flight with Ryan Air which on the surface seems inexpensive but in reality is not (handling, luggage, and taxes) works out fairly much the same as other UK carriers.
At one time during the 70’s and into the mid 80’s Puerta Banus, Marbella was a playground for the rich and famous – this has all changed now and it is more frequented by well heeled vacationers from all over Europe. It lacks the romanticism and the architecture of Cannes, the Cote d’azur, Saint Tropez and other similar European destinations – the marina on Puerto Banus is still used to moor boats and super Yachts owned by the world’s wealthiest individuals.
Strolling along the Marina Front line you will find the usual cheap souvenir shops mixed in with high end fashion boutiques such as Dolce & Gabbana, Gianfranco Ferre, Jimmy Choo, and Gucci.
Further back in Marbella itself there are plenty of shops and restaurants including the El Cortes Ingles which boast three large floors where almost everything can be purchased from clothing to household goods.
In recent years Marbella has been struck by the invasion of the chain restaurant which I am told has pushed out of business some of the more smaller Spanish cafes and restaurants only to be replaced with MacDonald’s, Burger King, Jacks American Brasserie, Tony Roma’s and other similar fast food chains.
Marbella itself also has a high percent of prostitution with many of its girls coming from Russia, Eastern Europe and Brazil to work – apparently being legal in that part of Spain. There are nightclubs and bars that cater to men and women looking for call girls and hookers in Marbella.
Park Plaza Suites Hotel
After a forty minute taxi drive to Marbella (careful you do not leave your mobile phone in the taxi – you will not get it back) we arrived at the Park Plaza Suites Hotel in Puerto Banus. The hotel / apartments ranks as mid to expensive 160.00 to 250.00 per night, there was ten of us split between two very large apartments with several rooms in each The price was considerably lowered by a special deal that worked out for three nights at £160.00 each. As this was at the end of the season we fooudn it still quite high in comparison to other hotels that were running better deals. (It would have paid to shopa round).
Our apartment at the Plaza Suites in Marbella was fairly clean and spacious, it included a large lounge and balcony, fully equipped kitchen, three bathrooms, and a bar (not fully stocked). If you are lucky enough to face the beach as I did then the view is great, my room overlooked the bay with pristine sandy beaches and palm trees.
The Park Plaza Suites,
Marítimo de Benabolá,
29660 Puerto Banús,
Tel: +34 952 909000
Jacks American Brasserie, Puerto Banus
With a friend I decided to take a walk on the Puerto Banus marina and search for something to eat – we were a bit early as restaurants in Puerto Banus had not quite opened for dinner. However, we did manage to find an American chain restaurant Jacks American Brasserie located approx half way down the Front Line of the Marina.
Jacks restaurant in Marbella serves typical American mainstream food and is considered the poor man’s TGI Friday – while we were not overtly impressed with Jacks it was alright and as they say – ‘any port in a storm’ – we actually found it far better than TGI Friday – at least better than the one located in Bournemouth – maybe a combination of being hungry and the weather being so good added to this belief.
We ordered randomly from the menu and had a plate of starters to share that consisted of onion rings, breaded cheese sticks, and ribs.
For our main course we had a bowl of chili and I had the cheeseburger and to give credit where its due it was quite delicious. I am told that the chilli was fairly good – and by all accounts it did look quite authentic.
Jacks American Restaurant – Puerto Banus
Muelle Ribera, Puerto Banús,
Phone: +34 952 813 625
Tibu Nightclub, Marbella
In the evening we had the VIP area booked at Club Tibu which boasts the largest outside terrace in Marbella. Unfortunately Tibu is a bit of a blur in my memory for me. However, I do remember the music being an eclectic fusion of upbeat dance and chilled styled Ibiza circa late 90’s.
Our seating was located at the far end of the nightclub, I am not sure if it was the warmth of the evening air or the 17 year old bottle of Ballantine’s Scotch I was busy consuming that I suddenly realized there was no roof and I was actually on the terrace, it’s interesting as your surrounded by walls that give the appearance you are in a nightclub and looking up at a black ceiling – until you notice a twinkling star and just as your blaming it on the scotch you suddenly feel a faint evening breeze – pretty neat. There is plenty to see at the club ranging from Palm trees to fountains and lots of hideaway areas for privacy – recommended for a good evening out in Marbella.
Antonio Banderas Square,
The following day after a quick breakfast at Alexandro’s located right around the corner from the Plaza suites – you will get a good cappuccino and Eggs Benedict there – we headed for the beach which is just a few steps from the front door of the Plaza Suites. This is what Marbella is truly known for its pristine sandy beaches – and blue warm sea. We spent the whole day at the beach and rented a super large King-size rubber mattress that you can lounge on while staff serve you drinks.
As mentioned previously Marbella is no longer the party capital of the rich and famous – but sure it’s a nice vacation spot and well recommended for a short holiday, nestled between mountains it is beautiful, the sea and beaches make for a nice trip, the weather is predominately warm all year round except for a short sporadic rainy season, and the nightlife is well worth checking out if you take the time to find the right places.
We were told that this summer (2008) had been quite hard economically as it had the lowest number of tourist and the ones who did come were spending less, the local business owners blamed it on the credit crunch, I think a combination of both the credit crunch and the high prices of Marbella has put many off from spending money on restaurants and bars that overcharge – maybe in the mistaken belief that it will attract the wealthy back to Marbella. A typical example of this is Pangaea Sky Lounge in Puerto Banus, it was empty and besides one couple we were the only group of people there. The drinks were highly overpriced and the staff seemed sullen (and in one case hostile) – it would not have been too bad if there was some energy to the venue, it lacked this and we soon left.
We were also told that Puerto Banus is a well-known destination for stag and hen parties, this was quite evident in the nightclubs, bars and beaches – it was a case of out-of-country and out-of-sight which gave full permission for a weekend of non-stop hedonism – we saw a group of woman riding a giant inflatable phallus on the waves – a group of guys walked around with women’s high heels and thongs and throwing-up on outside in the entrance to Dolce & Gabbana, on the Friday night there were many casualties from the UK and German booze cultures – the area had the same effect on the Romans – maybe it’s something in the water…
See our review for why we recommend Marrush Lebanese Restaurant for dinner in Puerto Banus.