Planet Marbella sits down with long-time resident, top luxury bespoke property developer and dynamic supporter of Marbella Paul Bramley for his always insightful thoughts on the future for the town.
PM. Paul, as someone who has been living in Marbella for a while, what are your thoughts about the current situation?
PB. Well to start with, summer 2021 has been incredible. I have people that are coming up to me and saying that they have never seen Marbella so busy.
PM. Why is that?
PB. To be honest I think that the Covid situation has sorted Marbella out. People are now coming over to buy houses. We have had over eight viewings booked for the next 10 days for our exclusive properties, La Villa and the project at La Zagaletta. I certainly didn’t think that we would get that in August and it hasn’t happened in the over 20 years that I have been here.
PM. What nationalities are buying?
PB. I have never seen such a large amount of different people coming over here – Dutch, Belgians, French and from the Gulf States. What has been interesting is that there are fewer English people here at the moment.
PM. Do you think that Covid has made people reappraise their lives and working situations?
PB. I think that is exactly what has happened. People have suddenly thought ‘After all the world has been through, it’s time to live our lives’.
I was talking to a chap who used to be the CEO of Sky. He’s living here now, because he can work from home. No one has to go into an office unless they really have to because of Zoom meetings and the Internet.
I think that if you have sunshine as we have, why would you want to be anywhere else? It has to be better working here than anywhere else in the world.
PM. You have also noticed that there seem to be more yachts just off Marbella…
PB. A friend who is staying with us at the moment was on the terrace and counted 40 boats the other day. I’ve never seen so many people actually using their boats. That’s another thing that I think the Covid situation has done. I think that people are now thinking ‘I am going to make the most of whatever I have – money, resources, whatever it is’, and that is why I think we are seeing so much more activity here.
PM. Anyone who follows your Instagram account knows that you are a passionate foodie. What are your thoughts on Marbella’s gastronomic scene?
PB. I think the fact that it has improved so much is largely down to Daniel Shamoon – his team at the Puente Romano really has raised the bar. I went to El Chiringito in Puente Romano last night and had what was probably one of the best meals in my life. I’ve eaten in over 400 Michelin Star restaurants, and over 50 Three Star Michelin restaurants. Not many people can say that they have done that as they normally don’t have the time or the appreciation to do it. But food is my love. I know a lot about food, I can cook at a seriously high level and I think that what has happened is people want quality.
Take Puente Romano as a prime example – Sea Grill raised the bar for quality. The food that is coming out of the restaurants and the service are all unbelievable. People are beginning to enjoy themselves a lot more!
There was a time that you didn’t go out for a meal in Marbella thinking how good it was going to be, you worried about how bad it might be! Marbella now is like a small San Sebastian. Even the beach clubs are upping their game in terms of setting and cuisine. If you have a choice of where to go, you are going to go to the best that you can afford.
The wine selection in the past five years has also improved and is as good and diverse as anywhere in the world. You can order whatever you want. I think that you have people with better taste coming here now. People who are used to that type of lifestyle.
If you have a good turnover then you can afford to get fresher ingredients and better quality. I think that this is one of the biggest things that has happened here. The food – and as I said at the beginning I think that that comes back to Daniel Shamoon and the raising of the bar. It’s not cheap, but you pay for what you get.
PM. Is it safe to say that Marbella is doing a lot of things right?
PB. Marbella really is a jewel. You have a massive selection of different activities, plus the infrastructure is much better. And it continues to attract people from all walks of life – you have people who are working, people that are semi-retired, people that visit on a regular basis that have a lot of money. And as someone with a passion for food, I have never seen the restaurants so busy. I was in Nobu and I was actually shocked by the number of people that were there. And if that place is packed then they have to be doing something right!