Undisputedly the most stylish resort on the Costa del Sol, Marbella has one of the highest incomes per capita in Spain and more Rolls Royces than any European city except London. Many of the most fabulous homes are nestled in the surrounding hills or a few miles away in the luxurious marina and casino complex of Puerto Banus.

But central Marbella, especially the old town, is undergoing a renaissance. Set back a little from the sea and centred on the Plaza de los Naranjos (Orange Square), the still partially walled old town is hidden from the main road. Marbella’s rich and colourful history is evident here ?it became a walled city during its Islamic period when a castle and moat were built with just three entrances: ‘From the Sea’ (del Mar), ‘From Ronda’ and ‘From Malaga’. The castle remains today, but the moat and the doors have disappeared. Gradually, this original quarter is being gentrified, but it still retains a rustic charm and thankfully Marbella has been spared the worst excesses of concrete architecture found in other coastal areas. Although the market slowed in 2005, prices have now stabilised and there has never been a better time to buy your own slice of the ‘St Tropez of Spain’.

Close to the old town is Sierra Blanca, one of the most exclusive areas of Marbella. Cluttons are currently marketing La Palladiana, a house on the Golden Mile known locally for its striking architecture, in particular the unique columns which have made the property something of a landmark, according to the agent. Designed and built by the current owner in the classic Palladian style and with complete privacy and elevated views, the property has been built to the highest specification. ‘The property is truly unique in design,’ comments Vidya Manickavasagar from Cluttons’ Marbella office, ‘a far cry from the rustic Andalusian/Moorish style or sleek minimalist chic common to many of the finest homes here in Marbella’. With garaging for six cars, a private pool and garden, La Palladiana is on the market at ?6.6 million. Telephone Cluttons on 0800 028 5775 (freephone) or in Marbella on 00 34 952 907 200.

Also on the Golden Mile, local property specialists Kristina Szekely are selling a recently completed classical residence which benefits from 24-hour security. The magnificent elegant villa has six bedroom suites, plus staff accommodation, and is situated in a private gated community with views over the mountains and coastline. Built over two levels plus a lower ground floor, and set in a splendid landscaped garden, this is the perfect property for entertaining. The vast lower ground floor offers huge potential to create a cinema/wine cellar, gym or play room. Price on application. Telephone Kristina Szekely Real Estate on 00 34 952 810 102 or visit www.ksmarbella.com

If privacy is essential to you, then a few miles north of Marbella lies the exclusive Country Club La Zagaleta, where access is restricted strictly to members and residents. Set in the hills of Benahavis, the area is an oasis of tranquillity and calm, at the same time benefiting from all of the facilities you’d expect from one of the Costa del Sol’s top country clubs. The sales department is currently marketing one of the most exclusive villas on the development. Surrounded by lush gardens featuring pine, oak and cork trees with views of the Straits of Gibraltar, it has two swimming pools?one heated and one for the summer. The villa provides spacious accommodation and living space?the whole upper floor is given over to the master bedroom, bathroom and en suite dressing room, as well as a sauna. The semi-basement comprises a guest area with two bedrooms, two bathrooms plus a staff apartment. There is also the all-important climate-controlled wine cellar. Price on application.

For more information, please telephone Ignacio Perez Diaz on 00 34 952 85 54 50 (mobile: 670 85 54 50; fax: 00 34 952 85 53 13). Weekend visits only. He can also be contacted on marketing@lazagaleta.com or visit www.lazagaleta.com

Costa Del Golf

The San Roque Golf Resort lies between Gibraltar and Marbella, almost on the tip of the Iberian Peninsula. Spread across 340 acres, the resort is in the heart of one of Spain’s finest nature reserves, where the cork forests meet the Mediterranean. The centrepiece is the luxurious hacienda-style San Roque Club Hotel, the former mansion of the Domecq sherry dynasty.

For the golfer, there are currently plots, apartments and villas available on the resort, many overlooking the courses, so you can simply choose the green you want to live by. The resort is owned and developed by Promaga, the Spanish-based company known for the quality of its building and design (the resort is low density with no high rises), and the courses are Japanese owned. There’s not only golf on offer?Mark Phillips has just joined the equestrian centre team and the Asprey Cup (international show jumping) will be held here in August. But golf is what really puts San Roque on the map?it’s now part of the ‘Golden Triangle’ of venues with Valderrama and Sotogrande, and will be hosting the Spanish Open in April. As well as two 18-hole courses, a third championship nine-hole course is under construction?the pro is legendary Seve Ballesteros, and both he and his brother Vincente will be available to give lessons.

Gibraltar Airport is just 20 minutes away and direct flights from the UK are now avail-able from both British Airways and Monarch, bringing the Costa del Golf with its unique lifestyle even closer. Prices on application.

Telephone Promaga on 00 34 608 857 462 or visit

www.promaga.com www.sanroquegolf-resort.com or www.aspreycup.com

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