Marbella’s Party People

I’ve always wondered what they’re like. You know, the posh parties at Marbella beach clubs where you have to wear white or silver or gold or red? Where the glamorous people line up to have their photos taken, beautifully made up with smoky eyes and coiffed locks; where the men wear freshly ironed linen suits and the women float in on layers of delicate fabric and four inch heels; and where the champagne flows until the €2,500 bottles of vodka take over…

Marbella beach clubs

And then last night I was finally invited to one such night of thrills and decadence. My gorgeous friend and her equally handsome husband were teaming up with friends to party the night away among the rest of the beautiful people. “Come with us! There will be champagne and canapés. It will be fun! I have the perfect dress for you to wear!”

But it’s just not me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m posh enough and I’m definitely sociable. But so not glamorous, although my friend would have done her best to fix that with a stroke of her make up brush (or trowel in my case) and a flick of the hair straighteners. I think it’s more of a confidence thing.

You see the people in the pictures always look perfect. Not a hair out of place, no crooked smiles, wonky eyes, creased dresses or ruffled feathers. Just perfect. Perhaps it’s the champagne, relaxing the guests until that exact moment when they can ooze the look that says “carefree with party attitude”. Cue photographer quickly, before the moment passes. Or may be it’s because the photographers give the non conformists a wide berth, or click the shutter and then subtly press delete.

I enjoy my lifestyle on the Costa del Sol. We have great friends and family around us and love to go out “our way”. In the summer, @RobDJ tends to be busy making other people’s dreams come true, DJing at their beautiful weddings in stunning locations. Often I roadie, driving him to events which require an overnight stay, exploring new areas and spending precious time together in the car, finally a chance to catch up on each other’s news.

During downtime, we spend evenings on the beach, watching the sun set. “How romantic” I hear you gasp. Not really, but our faithful four-legged friend loves nothing more than splashing in the waves and making us partake in lots of energetic ball throwing. But we enjoy the time together.

Getting together with friends for tapas or fresh fish dinners in a beach chiringuito suits us just fine. When finances allow, we hoof it across to the Costa de la Luz or up to the Sierra Nevada (depending on the season). The Sierra Nevada speaks for itself: amazing days of warm weather skiing on slopes that are pretty quiet if you time it right; easy, relaxed dinners, reading books in front of the fire, early nights…

We’re less active when it comes to weekends on the Costa de la Luz. Our choice of accommodation depends on whether or not we are travelling with dog, and on what special offers I can find. Hipotel Flamenco Conil  was amazing when we picked up a room at a very special end of season price one year. But my favourite is El Palomar de la Breña; not luxurious in the traditional sense of the word, but relaxing, tranquil, calm and charming – plus they welcome the dog too! We’ve stayed in a few other dog friendly places nearer to the beach. The cheap and cheerful La Gallega just 500m from the amazing beach at El Palmar deserves a special mention. It’s basic accommodation but ideally located, especially if you want to surf.

So I digress. Once again I’ve been lured away from the land of the beautiful people, and drawn back into my comfort zone. But on a positive note, I’ve just seen my friends outside. I had to ask them if the morning after, was worth the night before. Apparently it is, but to me it looks like hell.

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Rest and Relaxation at Hipotel Flamenco Conil

1st November 2010

I dragged my other half away last weekend. He’s been working far too hard and not getting enough sleep so I decided that action was called for. I roped in my parents to dogsit, booked a plush hotel (albeit at a heavily discounted, end of season price), packed the bags and waited for him to come home so that we could drive off into the sunset. We ended up driving off into the moonlight, but at least we got away for a whole weekend of R & R!

The hotel was fantastic, especially considering the knock down rate. It was so fantastic that I spent the whole weekend worrying that I’d read the website wrong and that the price I had agreed for the whole weekend was really per night or, perhaps, per person AND per night! Thankfully it turned out that I was right first time and it was just a great deal!

Hipotel Flamenco Conil

Sat on our frontline beach balcony, just north of Conil de la Frontera on the Costa de la Luz, we could watch the waves crashing on the jagged shoreline and admire the nearby cliffs longing to be explored. So different from the beaches and topography we’re used to on the Costa del Sol.

Fuente del Gallo, Conil de la Frontera

His lordship’s body clock meant that we were first down to breakfast, just as the sun was rising. Breakfast under the stars. An unusual opportunity that only arises just before the clocks change, that’s if you’re like me and not a natural early bird. The hotel was very popular with German tourists, so much so that my blond hair and blue eyes attracted more germanic salutations than Spanish. I got the feeling that my schoolgirl German would come in pretty useful, if only I could remember it! Those brave and, let’s face it, tough and oh so fit Germans were battling it out with the freezing Atlantic waves first thing in the morning, running up and down the cliffs and sweating it out in the sauna. It was almost embarrassing to watch as I slurped on my coffee, and dipped another churro in some yummy chocolate.

Breakfast by moonlight

Of course, lolloping great labradors aren’t allowed in plush hotels. Such a shame as there was a lovely group of similar long legged bounders enjoying fun and games on the beach. And I did miss his company, especially when his lordship fell asleep straight after our early breakfast and was still snoring away by lunchtime. I resisted the “why did we bother” comment and remembered that I had prescribed R & R and time away from the computers. Wish I’d smuggled my laptop into the bag when he wasn’t looking though.

El Palmar beach, Vejer

Instead, I ordered another cafe con leche and read my magazine in the last of the October sunshine. And wrote him a note to say: if you sleep all day and keep me awake all night, I’ll kill you!
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El Palomar de la Brena

29th July 2010

As “not so regular as we’d like to be” visitors to this hotel, we never tire of the feeling of sheer relaxation and peace that descends upon us as soon as we sweep up their driveway. That may sound a bit over the top, and it’s not as if we live the most hectic of lives any more, but it’s one of our favourite places to while away a weekend. And “sweep up their driveway” may be pushing it as well. El Palomar de la Breña is tucked away in amongst the pine trees of the Breña Natural Park and the track leading up to it is full of potholes, tree roots, twists and turns. It may have been more apt to say “as we chug up the driveway” – but not nearly so poetic.

El Palomar de la Breña is a couple of hours drive away from the Costa del Sol. It’s north of Tarifa on the Costa de la Luz, near the towns of Vejer and Conil. More importantly, for him indoors, it’s just a few minutes drive away from El Palmar, his favourite place to surf when the waves are behaving themselves. We both love to visit the nearby beaches and hang out at the trendy cafes, but he picked the wrong girlfriend for slumming it on the beach so our compromise is to stay here. Also they let us bring our beloved labrador!

Bailey checking out the room

It’s by no means a luxurious hotel, but it has everything you need for a few days, and very friendly staff. The rooms are clean, comfortable and large – we normally stay in one of the rooms spread over three storeys which we love. You walk into an entrance area, there is a good sized bathroom (very clean) downstairs and gallery bedroom upstairs. There’s a portable TV showing Spanish channels and an extra bed/chaise on the entrance level, perfect if one of you is an early riser.

The views are to die for and there is a small table and chairs outside every room so that you can take it all in. Fantastic spot for an early morning cup of coffee – but bring a flask as being typically Spanish, they don’t provide tea and coffee making facilities.

There is a restaurant at the hotel, popular with the locals, and very well respected. It offers a Spanish menu relying on delicious locally sourced food, although there is not an enormous choice. Best to book if you plan to eat in the restaurant as it’s not enormous and fills up quickly. Like the hotel, it’s simply decorated inside and definitely doesn’t pretend to be anything that it’s not. Breakfast is served in the room that acts as the entrance hall, reception area, bar and art gallery so there’s always something to peruse while you tuck into your toast. They include a simple fare of fresh juice, tea and coffee, cereal and toast in the room price.

The hotel is described as an 18th century country farmhouse but is, perhaps, more well known locally for its dovecote, apparently the biggest in the world with 7770 nests and a total area of almost 400 m2. Of course, dove meat would have been popular but apparently the doves did more than just feed the aristocracy of the period The mess they created was considered to be the best organic fertilizer there was during life before chemicals and, in addition, dovecotes in the area produced saltpeter, used in the creation of gunpowder.

Dovecote DJ

In my humble opinion, El Palomar de la Breña is one of those places that you should discover and then let capture your heart and your imagination. If you love it as much as me, you will then prevaricate about whether you should tell everyone about it, or keep it as a secret all to yourself. It inhabits a little world all of its own, with no stress, no hurry and lots of mañana. A wonderful place to contemplate life, write or read trashy novels by the pool. It’s so wonderfully peaceful and out of the way. It makes me feel happy and serene and takes me away from the stresses of daily life.

For more information, visit their website on www.palomardelabreñ

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