Sunday Morning Mutterings - A Banús Blast from the Past

You can easily dismiss ‘The Port’ as full of the wannabies, the It girls, and the has-beens as well as the brash, blinged, blasted and frequently botoxed, but it has been an integral part of my life for decades.

Although the anniversary was lost in the lockdown, Puerto Banús celebrated its fiftieth birthday in May.

I started to visit Puerto Banús on family holidays and, when we moved to Nueva Andalucía in 1985 the Jet-Set marina became my regular haunt. Being a 17-year-old cashless student at the time meant that I was hardly rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous at Menchu’s, so we used to buy beers at the small supermarket and hang out on two benches behind the Hollywood Bar that we christened ‘The Slabs’. Imagine a prototype botellon, with 80s fashions and 125cc motorcycles  - I drove a Mobylette that I painted reggae colours - and you will get the general idea.

Puerto Banús was a completely different in the 80s. Before the advent of mobile phones, meeting up with friends was a hit and miss affair, but as The Port was less developed, you knew the places your crowd would be. Salduba, Sinatra, Zelius, Mel’s, the Russian Bar or the legendary Joe’s Bar - where grabbing a space on a sofa was like finding gold dust -  and Comedia. Late nights turned into early mornings at Webster’s bar with its legendary lock ins.

With no Social Media, any passing celebrity was more likely to be friendly too – apart from Sean Connery who famously told us where to go in the old cinema in Puerto Banús, after we all hummed the James Bond theme tune as he walked in. I spent an (admittedly hazy) evening with actor John Hurt in Sinatra’s, had an even more hazy night with Danny Dyer and Tamer Hassan when we celebrated the end of filming of their movie “The Business”, frequently spotted Rod Stewart enjoying a hassle free dinner at a front line restaurant, and was famously with my friend who was dating Ronnie Corbett’s daughter. She had broken her curfew and was dancing with us in Joe’s Bar when the curtain by the front door flew open and a very, VERY angry five foot nothing comedian burst in and grabbed his daughter. When we foolishly tried to interject, we were greeted with a stream of invective that owed more to Quentin Tarantino than ’The Two Ronnies’.

The Puerto Banús of my ‘terrible teens’ may be long gone, and most of the characters too, but every time I find myself walking past the old Hollywood Bar – now a restaurant – I always duck down the narrow walkway to the place where ‘The Slabs’ once stood, pause, and allow myself a little smile.


Dovak Back

The coronavirus pandemic brought the entire tennis tour to a standstill in early March. Just like millions of other people around the world, the coronavirus shutdown forced the tennis players to stay confined to their homes for the last 2 months. World No.1 Novak Djokovic enjoyed his quarantine with his family at his home in Marbella, Spain.

While Djokovic has returned to his hometown of Belgrade, in Serbia, his fans will be eager to know where the Serbian stayed during the global health crisis. Novak’s house in Marbella is one of his several properties around the world. However, it is one of the most secretive ones. Naturally, his fans might be interested to know how his house looks like.

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic house in Marbella, Spain

Djokovic owns one of the most prestigious residential properties of Marbella with a stunning sea view. The luxurious villa is built with beautiful marble and is designed in a partly Moroccan style.

Novak Djokovic house

His house has 9 bedrooms with a private tennis court where Djokovic trained every day during the lockdown. Moreover, the property also includes a large swimming pool, cinema room, billiard, table tennis, table football, a gym, sauna, hammam, jacuzzi, bar, and a barbecue area. It is certainly the perfect place to spend the quarantine.

Read More: “He Wants This Gold For Serbia”- Novak Djokovic’s Mother Reveals His Olympic Dream

Since turning pro in 2003, Djokovic has won more than $143 million in tournament prize money. He is also the highest-earning tennis player of all time in terms of on-cour

Novak aces quarentine in Marbella

Tennis World Number One Novak Djokovic hasspent the past two months locked down due to the coronavirus pandemic with his family in Marbella.

Admittedly, it's not a bad pad to be locked down in. The luxurious nine bedroom villa is built with beautiful marble and is designed in a partly Moroccan style. There's a private tennis court where Djokovic trained every day during the lockdown, as well as a large swimming pool, cinema room, billiard, table tennis, table football, a gym, sauna, hammam, jacuzzi, bar, and a barbecue area.

Recently Djokovic returned to the practice courts at the Club de Tenis Puente Romano, where he was thanked by Marbella mayor Angeles Munoz via Twitter ‘for the fidelity he has to our city, to which comes to rest and visit his brother Marko, to the point that he decided to spend the confinement with his family here’.

“The fact that the current No 1 of the ATP opts for Marbella reflects that we are a destination of excellence, not only to enjoy our very complete offer,(sic) but for elite sports practice,” she said.

Djokovic started the season with a perfect record, winning all 18 matches he played and claiming three titles in a row before the pro tours were suspended from March 12.

Since turning pro in 2003, Djokovic has won more than $143 million in tournament prize money. He is also the highest-earning tennis player of all time in terms of on-court earnings.

Marbella goes to Phase 2 this Monday.

It's back to the beach!

Spain's government yesterday announced that Malaga Province would be moving to Phase 2 on Monday June 1 as part of the deescalisation programme.

Among the main points are that people under 70 will be able to go out to walk at any time, bars and restaurants are allowed to open their interior spaces, groups of up to 15 people can meet and that theatres, cinemas and galleries will also be able to open.

Swimming pools and the beaches are also open in Phase 2 and you will be able to relax on the sand as long as you observe social distancing.

And, if you're feeling romantic, weddings will also be allowed!

Marbella mourns COVID 19 victims

Marbella Town Hall marked a midday minute of silence yesterday to remember the victims of COVID-19.

The minute's silence came at the beginning of ten days of official mourning throughout Spain. Marbella mayor Ángeles Muñoz and other members of the Town Hall observed the silence outside the Town Hall building.

Total infections in Marbella yesterday passed the 400 mark with six new cases taking the number to 402. There have, however, been no fatalities in town for three weeks. Marbella has recorded 15 deaths since the pandemic began.

Angeles Munoz in Marbella this week

Coronavirus - Mayor's anger as Marbella faces another week of Phase 1

Malaga and Granada provinces will not be allowed to move to Phase 2 with the rest of Andalucia this Monday.

The decision by central government in Madrid angered Marbella's mayor, Ángeles Muñoz, who took to Social Media to complain. "The government's decision is arbitrary and incomprehensible" she wrote "...does not obey epidemiological criteria and represents enormous damage to the tourist sector, which they are continuously mistreating with declarations and actions that do not show the slightest respect for an essential industry for the Costa del Sol, Andalucia and Spain".

The mayor's remarks came at the end of a week when she had been out in Marbella's Old Town promoting the gradual return to normality among small business.

Hundreds protest Marbella lockdown

Marbella followed the example of the well heeled Salamanca district of Madrid yesterday when hundreds gathered to protest against the continuing State of Alarm and Prime Minister Sanchez's policies
Facebook: Immaculada Brujita

The protesters, many draped in Spanish flags and banging pots and pans, made their way along the paseo and the Avenida del Mar to the Alameda Park.

Protesters in the Alameda Park. Photo Facebook: Ana Molero

Although not officially supported by Marbella's Partido Popular, the protesters unrolled a giant Spanish flag with the town's name written across it. The last time that particular flag was seen was at the Davis Cup, when it was used by the Town Hall to promote the city.

The actions of the protesters, many without masks or respecting social distancing, drew swift critisism on Social Media, with comments that this would damage Marbella's image. Marbella today celebrated 14 days without coronavirus fatalities and Malaga Province has requested to move to Phase 2.

Breaking News - Nao Pool Club Blaze

Puerto Banus Pool Club Nao was struck by a fire the night before it was due to open. More follows...

Sunday Morning Mutterings - Feliz Cumple Banús!

It has been a haven for the Jet Set, the wannabies, the It girls, and the has beens as well as the brash, blinged, blasted and frequently botoxed, and as it turns 50 today, Puerto Banús shows no signs of slowing down!

The Port’s story began in 1962 when Catalan construction magnate José Banús Masdeu - a good friend of Spain’s leader General Franco - brought the land that was to become Nueva Andalucia.

Marbella was already a fashionable and exclusive retreat for the rich and titled old families of Europe. Banús wanted something different: a resort not for “the wealthy few, but for the wealthy many”. His new development featured wide roads, spacious villas, immaculately landscaped gardens, and even its own bullring.

The crowning achievement was Puerto Banús, a yacht harbour on a scale never seen before, with a Mediterranean-style village attached. Needless to say the project was called “crazy” and “stupid” when the plans were announced, but he enlisted the services of Beverly Hills architect Noldi Schreck.

One of Schreck's first jobs was to meet José Banús and convince him that Puerto Banús was not a suitable place to build huge skyscrapers. The fashionable resort of Torremolinos was about to lose its cache of cool chic under a tidal wave of concrete high-rise monsters. To reinforce his point, Schreck drew an artist’s vision of Puerto Banús as a sophisticated Andalusian village and marina, and then superimposed stark skyscrapers behind them. This convinced José, and Puerto Banús became the first marina to be constructed by a single architect.

Puerto Banús officially opened on May 17, 1970, and Jose Banús organised a a huge party to celebrate the occasion. Marbella had never had an event like it. The 1,700 guests included Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco, future Spanish King Juan Carlos and Princess Sofia of Greece, Liza Minnelli, film director Roman Polanski, the Aga Khan, Playboy owner Hugh Heffner (who flew in on the Playboy Jet) and most of the European Jet Set.
Entertainment was provided by a young Spanish singer called Julio Iglesias, who was contracted to sing for the guests for the enormous (at the time) sum of 125,000 pesetas. In all the party cost Banús eight million pesetas, which included hiring an army of 300 waiters from Seville (as they couldn’t find enough waiters on the Coast) and flying in 50 pounds of Beluga caviar.

A young Julio Iglesias at the opening of Puerto Banús

Safe to say, Puerto Banus had arrived.

The 70s and 80s underlined Puerto Banús’ reputation as a playground for the rich and famous. Formula 1 world champion and Guadalmina resident James Hunt would often be seen playing backgammon in Sinatra Bar. Sean Connery, whose beachfront villa, Malibu, was less than 10 minute’s walk from Puerto Banús, was also a regular. Saudi billionaire Adnan Khashoggi, along with the Saudi Royal Family, moored their superyachts in Banús, and icon Elizabeth Taylor was one of his guests.

80s heyday. Liz Taylor with Adnan Khashoggi, George Hamilton and Don Jamie de Mora y Aragon

The bars and clubs, some like Sinatra’s, Salduba and golfers’ favourite Patrick’s 19th, are still there, while others such as the great Joe’s Bar – where grabbing a space on a sofa was akin finding gold dust - Comedia, Mel’s, Spirit of Ecstasy and Websters - with its legendary lock ins - are long gone.

Although not on the cutting edge of the gastronomic scene, many restaurants have become institutions in Puerto Banus, including the ever popular Picasso’s, The Red Pepper – although owner Chris, who seemingly spent all day seated on the terrace overseeing operations, is no longer with is – and the revamped Da Paulo and Don Leone restaurants. Dalli’s Pasta factory continues to be a favourite for visiting racing drivers and if you are there you have to try their Pasta Connery, named after the greatest Bond of all, who is a friend of the family.

The past 15 years have seen a major change as Puerto Banús became popular with British Stag and Hen parties. Loud and brash, sometimes to excess, Marbella’s mayor stepped up policing in the marina to clamp down on what a colleague in the Spanish Press referred to as “Marbelluf” behaviour.

Having cleaned up its act somewhat, Puerto Banús is still a haven for the seriously wealthy, as a stroll along the front line with its haute couture boutiques and endless procession of supercars will confirm. Although the coronavirus crisis has put any celebration on hold, at the beginning of the year the authorities held a small and select presentation when, as well as marking 50 years, they also made Lady Kitty Spencer, niece of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, an ‘ambassador’.

So Puerto Banús may be 50, but as they say, 50 is the new 30, and ‘The Port’ shows no sign of slowing down just yet!

A version of this article appeared on

Coronavirus - Monday Phase 1 move for Marbellla

Marbella will move a little closer to the "New Normal" on Monday.

With last night's announcement that Malaga Province will finally be allowed to move to Phase 1 - a week later than most of Spain - certain restrictions will be eased.

Some of the major points will be the freedom of movement within Malaga Province for shopping, play certain sports and to meet people; the ability to meet friends and family in groups of up to ten people, and the opening of bar and restaurant terraces up to 50% of capability.

Some restrictions still apply, however. The designated hours for leaving the house for walks and exercise still apply, but your are allowed to go shopping or sit on a bar terrace at any time.

Hotels, retail stores and professional services less than 400 sq m are allowed to open, except those in commercial centres without direct access. Garden centres, ITV centres and car showrooms are allowed to open only by appointment. Open air markets are allowed to open but only with 25% of their stalls.

Outdoor sports facilities will be accessible, except for swimming pools and water areas. Individual sports or those that can be carried out by a maximum of two people will be allowed, as long as they do not maintain physical contact and comply with the interpersonal distance of two metres. Gyms can open via appointment only at 30% of capacity, and with two metres of separation, while the showers and changing rooms are off limits. Hunting and fishing are allowed as is nature tourism.

Cinemas, galleries, museums and theatres are also permitted to open, but only with 30% capacity and open air events have a maximum of 200 people.

Marbella mayor Ángeles Muñoz welcomed Juan Manuel Moreno Bonilla, President of the Junta de Andalucia yesterday (pictured) when she took the opportunity to stress that Marbella was "a destination that had COVID-19 under control".