Club Med lays first brick on its return to Spain

A beautiful Marbella day greeted the official announcement and laying of the first brick marking Club Med's return to Spain.

Club Med president Henri Giscard d'Estaing, Marbella mayor Angeles Muñoz, Dr Dokali Megharief, founder of Magna Hotel and Resorts and Jihad Megharief, president of Magna Hotel and Resorts, we present at the event, held in the resort's grounds.


The company's involvement with Spain began in 1950, with the first Club Med Alcudia Beach in the Baleares. Club Med has returned to Spain with the property owner Magna Hotels & Resorts to turn Marbella into the best all-inclusive family Resort in line with the standards of Club Med's new upmarket repositioning strategy.

With a total investment of nearly 72 million euros, renovation work of the existing building  - the old Don Miguel hotel  -  began in April; the opening is planned for July 2019, with the  creation of 300 direct jobs.

The Marbella resort will be the new family premium flagship of Club Med in Europe. Offering a wide variety of sports, wellness and cultural activities the Marbella esort will operate 11 months of theyear and will have a great potential to welcome groups with its complete range of meeting and event facilities. The resort will also appeal to families due to its comprehensive range of childcare from 4 months to 17 years

Henri Giscard d’Estaing, president of Club Med, commented, "I am very proud and honoured to celebrate with our partnerMagna Hotels & Resorts the rebirth of Club Med in Spain. As a world leader in premium all-inclusive holiday with wide brand awareness, Club Med has a capacity to att ract a family clientele from all over the world due to its presence in Europe, Asia/China, North and South of America.

"The opening of the first Exclusive collection resort Club Med Cefalù in Sicily, the opening of future flagship in Marbella and the ones that will follow on the few next years confirm the ambition of Club Med to redevelop in Mediterranean Europe".

El Paseo del Mar - eclectic, electric, unmissable!

We are witnessing a renaissance in the luxury hotel market on the Coast.

Already this year Nobu Hotel has opened at the Puente Romano, while work has already started on the W Marbella to the east of town. Bringing its A game to the table in an increasingly competitive market, the Kempinski Bahia Hotel, took the bold move of rebooting and revamping.

One of the best known hotels on the Coast - marking the most westerly point of the New Golden Mile - Kempinski Hotel Bahía reopened in last month with a stunning new lobby design and refreshed culinary outlets.

This week saw the hotel unveiling two new dining venues, which form part of their new restaurant concept El Paseo Del Mar, and I was invited to see the changes.

The hotel has certainly been bold in its redesign, that connects the eclectic to the exotic via the eccentric. Purple columns set off yellow sofas and the Mediterranean lies at your feet, literally, on a huge carpeted map of the Iberian peninsula and beyond. I unwittingly trampled Tangier underfoot, but many would say that’s no bad thing.

Black Rose, The Bar, is the cocktail bar and lounge located just off the lobby and designed as a meeting point, as well as the place to sample speciality cocktails, craft beers and wines alongside great snacks and light meals. The bar enjoys fabulous views of the gardens and Mediterranean by day, and is beautifully atmospheric by night too.

I ate at the Baltazár Bar & Grill, a cool poolside restaurant and steakhouse to the El Paseo Del Mar concept. With a funky interior it combines Andalusian design with a cool vibe, overlooking Kempinski Hotel Bahía’s beautiful pools and gardens. It’s an open plan design that makes great use of the space, but let’s cut to the chase here.

The food is simply sensational.

The team have used the freshest local ingredients to create a menu that utilises a Josper Grill and Tandoor oven to cook the best cuts of regional meat and fish to perfection. Superb tuna, beautiful cod, amazing steaks, plus a range of desserts that had a table of cynical Press hounds baying for more.

El Paseo del Mar has been created by the Zsidai Gastronomy Group in cooperation with Kempinski Hotel Bahía, an it is obviouslyapparent that this Hungarian group know what they are doing. Combing great food and service in a cool, classic yet casual environment, it’s a welcome new gourmet destination to the coast’s culinary scene.

Opening in time for the summer Spíler Beach Club, on the seafront, will complete the El Paseo Del Mar experience, with a cool, yet casual beach restaurant and bar right next to the Mediterranean. The menu will include favourites such as wood-fired artisan pizza and Argentinian steaks from the grill, plus amazing burgers and superfood salads.

I’m looking forward to chilling out in style, but make sure you book, because everyone else will want to as well!


Climbing La Concha for David

Popular Marbella DJ Russell Soden, who famously climbed Marbella's emblematic La Concha mountain an incredible 40 times in 40 days for charity, is lacing up his climbing boots for another great cause.

This Saturday, April 21, Russell will be heading up La Concha to raise money for David Toms. The much loved photographer suffered life changing injuries in a near fatal motorcycle accident in 2016.

"Weʼre raising £2,000 to help in his recovery from the accident" says Russell. He needs 24-hr care, equipment to support his disability, physiotherapy and a range of other services.

"David's dream is to have his own home with the care he needs to live a full life. He continues to fight for recovery, to hopefully recover more movement in his body, and have a better quality of life

The climb, with Russell and Klas Strom as guides - is open to all - just make sure that you bring proper footwear and plenty of water, and sets off from Refugio de Juanar at 10am.

For more info. call 686908016

A new "Golden Era" for Marbella property

•  Report highlights price of housing in some areas of Marbella is still below the peaks of 2006 and 2007
• In other ultra-prime areas, prices have even almost doubled since 2011
• The new construction cycle is just beginning, reaching only 10.88% of projects approved in 2017 compared to the 2007 total

The number of residential property sales in Marbella and its immediate surroundings, accompanied by the ever-increasing number of tourists year on year, have lead experts from the real estate and banking sectors to predict the beginning of a new golden era for the real estate sector in the area for the coming years.

According to the 'Marbella Property Market Report 2018' prepared by Christopher Clover, CEO of Panorama Properties, the longest established real estate agency in Marbella, there are still some areas where the price of housing is below the peaks of 2006 and 2007. However, the demand in the most sought-after areas of the municipality is outstripping supply, which has driven up prices, even almost doubling in the most exclusive areas compared to 2011, when the market hit bottom. These kinds of increases are  located in very specific places such as the beachside of The Golden Mile.

The Costa del Sol, and especially Marbella, is one of the locations that most drives the
residential real estate market. In fact, the National Institute of Statistics (INE) confirms that
Malaga is the fourth Spanish province, in which the most houses were sold during 2017
(30,064 compared to 15,917 in the Balearic Islands), surpassed only by Madrid, Barcelona and

According to the report the recovery of the residential market in the Marbella area began in 2012, two years earlier than in the rest of Spain, hence it is more consolidated than in the rest of the country. Currently, the cycle of new construction is gradually beginning, as confirmed by the figures of projects approved in 2017 by the Professional Order of Architects of Malaga. A total of 4,895 living units that represents only 10.88% of the 45,000 units approved in 2007.

"The strength of the current residential market lies with properties between 200,000 and
1,500,000€ for apartments and between 700,000 and 2,500,000€ for villas. Many of the
properties located in the best residential areas that are between 20 - 50 years old, are being
bought and either torn down and rebuilt, or totally refurbished, some by end users, others by
professional developers”, explains Clover, who has been analysing and writing about the luxury real estate sector on the Costa del Sol for 48 years.

It also highlights that the strength of the Marbella market differs from that of the rest of Spain due to the“multi-source market”; the extraordinary diversity of nationalities of the buyers coming from all over Europe and the rest of the world".

Investors in the area acknowledge that the rental market in Marbella is experiencing a strong rebound, with increases in both demand and prices to unprecedented levels, especially for luxury and modern properties that also offer security. In addition, fixed and variable mortgages are offering interest rates at historic lows and tourism figures are breaking records year-on-year.

In an area well known for its residential tourism, real estate sales are closely related to the high number of tourists that visit Marbella, which is an added factor for positive analysis.
Clover concludes: " For many, the hard evidence of the positive evolution of the Marbella property market, will no doubt lead them to conclude that 2018 and the coming years represent an outstanding time, perhaps even a historic opportunity, to purchase property in this area".


Mutterings from the Lake - If they could talk to the animals…

‘Never work with children or animals’ the old theatrical adage goes and the same could justly be applied to that other branch of the entertainment world that is otherwise known as Marbella politics.

The Town Hall has had more power struggles and shady dealing than a Sopranos’ season finale during the G.I.L era, more bloodletting and surprise attacks than the Red Wedding in Game of Thrones when the OSP party suddenly defected to Angles ‘Khaalissi’ Muñoz’s P.P. and deposed then mayor Jose ‘Ned Stark’ Bernal, plus the usual dose of Kafkaesque paperwork and Surrealist comedy that is daily life in Marbella.

Even the cast of Reality TV show ‘The Only Way is Essex’ have found that they cannot compete with the escapades of Marbella Town Hall, announcing that they will be filming the next series in Barcelona. Personally I think this is a brilliant strategic move by Prime Minister Rajoy. I reckon the Catalan separatists will be begging for Madrid to come and save them and they will stop demanding independence within 48 hour of Joey Essex, Arg and the rest of the brainless Bimbo Blitzkrieg hitting Barcelona.

But I digress.

Mayor Muñoz and the rest of the Town Hall unwittingly unleashed a storm of protest when they underestimated the number of animal lovers in town. It’s safe to say that the Partido Popular is the Spanish political party that supports ‘traditional’ values and, although animal rights have come a long way since villagers in obscure locations routinely hurled donkeys off church towers during ferias and Saint’s Days, this is a nation that still indulges in bullfighting.

When the Town Hall announced that they were putting the contract for collecting stray animals out to tender, with the very real possibility of it being taken away from animal charity Triple A, which has been finding foster and forever homes for abandoned animals for nearly 30 years, a veritable mierda storm erupted. Especially as this opened the door for one of the so-called “killing stations” that euthanize animals after 10 days, might get the contract.

Such was the outcry that Muñoz was forced to put out a video message to calm things down, only to have her message completely scuppered by her ranting Health Councillor, Carlos Alcalá, at a chaotic Press Conference a few days later. Obviously auditioning for the part of one of Cruela de Ville’s henchmen, he waved official documents in the air, saying those opposing the Town Hall’s plans were “ignorant”.

Cue huge uproar and one of the biggest retreats since Napoleon from Moscow in 1812. The Town Hall met with Triple A's secretary Jan the same afternoon - pictured above with the mayor and an obviously delighted  Alcalá - announced that they would be drawing up a new plan with Triple A and Marbella’s abandoned animals were saved.

Meanwhile rumours that activists had brought Goofy, Sylvester and Pluto fancy dress costumes and were planning to kidnap and hold Sñr Alcalá for 10 days to see how HE liked it, were unfounded…

Looking after your eyes on World Health Day

Today 2018 is World Health Day and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 70th anniversary, with the theme this year being universal health coverage.

The WHO estimates that in 2010, 285 million people were visually impaired. 80% of all causes of visual impairment, however,  are preventable or curable. In 2014 WHO launched a global action plan for Universal Eye Health and has just two more years to complete their plan to provide effective and accessible eye care services globally. The aim is to reduce avoidable visual impairment as a global public health problem and to secure access to rehabilitation services for the visually impaired.

Specsavers Opticas are marking today by offering eye health information in store and raising awareness that an eye test is not just for people that need glasses, but a vital health check. Opticians  offer easy access to highly trained professional ophthalmologists, who are able to check whether your eyes are healthy and if your vision is good. Having an eye test every two years, or when you notice a change in your vision, enables your optician to identify changes that might be associated with certain eye conditions.

A routine eye test at Specsavers in the UK helped save the life of a student midwife after it found she had fluid on her brain. Sian King was told by doctors that she could have had a stroke, suffered a potentially life-threatening brain aneurysm or may have gone blind had the fluid on the brain not been identified and treated so quickly. “Cases such as these are thankfully rare, but highlights how important it is to have a regular eye test”, commented José Ángel Moral-Tajadura, Retail and Business Development Manager of Specsavers Opticas.

Specsavers is supporting the global eye health action plan and World Health Day to ensure that nobody is needlessly visually impaired and those with unavoidable vision loss can achieve their full potential. They are offering free advanced eye tests using the latest technology, highly trained ophthalmologists and information on eye health and protecting the eyes in store throughout April. To find your nearest store visit

Gibraltar: Spain hopes for "third time lucky" on airport deal

Spain hopes to sign off on a bilateral agreement with Britain over Gibraltar before October so as not to hinder a Brexit transition deal, as well as joint use of the airport, Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis told Reuters yesterday.

Failure to reach an agreement on Gibraltar, a could disrupt a planned 21-month transition period for Britain following its official withdrawal from the European Union on March 29, 2019.

Gibraltar is due to leave along with the United Kingdom on that date, though 96 percent of its population voted in the 2016 referendum to remain in the EU and the territory is anxious to preserve free movement of people across its border with Spain.

Dastis said he hoped the bilateral accord on Gibraltar could be signed off before October and form a part of that final deal, which is also expected to comprise a framework for future trade relations between the EU and the United Kingdom.

Talks are centering around possible joint use of Gibraltar airport and a more comprehensive sharing of fiscal data between Britain and Spain for Gibraltar residents to prevent tax avoidance.

Spain has sought joint use for the airport on two previous occasions.“It seems to us a good idea to make a third attempt. You could apply the saying ‘third time lucky’,” he said.


Club Med to return to Spain

An iconic Marbella hotel is set for a €70-million renovation after being closed for over ten years.

The Hotel Don Miguel is due to reopen in 2019 after investors, who bought the abandoned property in 2013 under the name Magna Hotels & Resorts, reached a deal with top French hotel operator, Club Med.

A VIP ceremony in April will mark the beginning of the refurbishment which will create some 300 new jobs.

The reopening will mark Club Med’s return to Spain.

Mutterings from the lake - The Rain Man...

As the saying goes “Careful what you wish for”.

I have been bleating on for months about the lack of rainfall in Andalucía over winter with dire warnings about impending water shortages and widespread drought.

My wooden fishing boats had become land locked, the normally submerged houses, abandoned when the reservoir that I live on was created in 1970, had started to appear and Marbella’s 4x4 aficionados were using the lake bed as a test track.

While most of the population of Marbella took social media selfies boasting about the weather, I stalked my terrace, scanning the lake bed and muttering in darkly dystopian tones about the approaching arid apocalypse.

Then the rains came.

One of the many things that I have always loved about Spain is it doesn’t to anything – food, drink, sport, life – in halves. It’s either all or nothing and this even applies to the weather. Coming from North Staffordshire I am used to rain, but UK rain is an insidious drizzle that seeps under your jacket and seems to last for nine months.

The rain in Spain doesn’t muck about.

One minute we were all posting pictures of lunches on the playa and sunny strolls on the paseo and the next. – BOOM, CRASH, DRAMATIC CLAP OF THUNDER – we were scurrying for cover as the heavens opened cien por cien el maximo as they say in these parts.

We had obviously upset the ancient Andalus agua deity ‘Congas’.

The now traditional chaos reigned. Homes lost power, beaches were washed away, the traditional lagoon formed outside the Puente Romano Hotel (and how dare anyone suggest that while they were giving that particular stretch of road a facelift before the Davis Cup, perhaps fitting a decent drainage system might have been a good idea) and drivers blithely ignored the conditions and charged headlong into the spray. Once again, some Herbert ignored the warning signs and got his car stuck on the flooded bridge between La Campana and San Pedro and the rescue efforts made the local news.

Standing on my terrace in full Ahab mode, resplendent in my Drizzabone, Wellies and Beanie hat, I watched the lake level rise dramatically in little under a week, posted daily Social Media videos, and contemplated on battening down the hatches, upgrading the tyres on the 4x4 or, alternatively, investing in an Ark…

CADI Charity at La Catarina

Funky Craft Brewery La Catarina is the venue for tonight's Charity Raffle in favour of Centro de Atención a la Diversidad Infantil.

The funds will be going to CADI (Centro de Atencion a la Diversidad Infantil) an association created by parents of children with special needs and who organise events in order to raise money to go towards therapies that would otherwise be very expensive and towards activities with special monitors that help the children practise sports that otherwise couldn't. These sports include swimming, cycling, sailing, basketball, ski, surf, athletics, horse riding...and more, as the aim is to integrate them as much as possible no matter the condition.

It will be a fun packed afternoon for all of the family, including La Catarina's delicious Food and interactive Magic, Animation and Karaoke shows.
Our grand Charity Raffle will follow where we will be giving away over 25 prices including a Star Wars Stormtrooper helmet donated by Armour Factory Props! (Raffle tickets 2€ and for sale at the event).

The evening would not be complete without The Cops, a live band tribute to The Police and ending with the legend that is DJ Russell Soden.

If you cannot make it but would like to contribute, you can send a Donation to: Asociación Centro de Atención a la Diversidad Infantil. La Caixa ES78 2100 1755 28 0200403134. Concept: LA Catarina X CADI