We had reached the final hole all square and I just needed to sink a short putt to beat big brother to cap off the perfect short break.
Paul and I were in sunny Spain enjoying a wonderful morning of golf in spectacular surroundings. We were guests at the outstanding Marbella Club Hotel and, despite it being the ideal retreat for a complete rest, were doing battle on their lush fairways some 20 minutes away.
Although an avid golfer, it wasn’t the stunning course that had first attracted me to the resort. It was the illustrious list of guests who had checked into the hotel since it was founded by an aristocrat more than half a century ago.
Prince Alfonso of Hohenlohe-Langenburg (a former German county) originally had it built as his private residence in 1954, but later the likes of Ava Gardner, Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant and Laurence Olivier stayed here and relaxed by the sea.
Well, you’d be surprised if anyone was feeling anything other than on cloud nine at the Marbella Club. Two or three nights here will have your batteries fully charged.
It certainly worked for members of the famous Rothschild banking family, who have enjoyed all that the hotel has to offer, while fellow financier and politician Sir James Goldsmith and Arthur Rubinstein, the brilliant Polish/American classical pianist were other famous patrons.
After our round of golf, we were more than happy to return to ‘base’ and relax around the swimming pool near the main hotel building, where top-quality snacks – or something more filling – can be noshed while you read your book or take a dip.
The swimming pool next to the beach is also a good choice, although you could be tempted away (only a few yards) to the magnificent spa, where massages, manicures and all sorts of treats await.
While I love a good massage, I was particularly impressed by the nearby Wellness centre – a fairly new concept by the hotel, which gives you a superb break, but also a healthy one. A special menu for your stay is prepared, while a fitness instructor and even a doctor will ensure you are on the right track.
What I also liked about this special hotel is that, despite being upmarket, the staff really encourage children and make them feel exceptionally welcome. In fact, the children’s club is probably the finest I have witnessed and, unusually, a comparatively quiet environment as the youngsters immersed themselves in some wonderful activities.
I thought the small garden was a brilliant idea, allowing the children to grow fruit and vegetables and learn about herbs, plants, and all sorts of horticulture. And opposite in the aroma workshop, a few girls were experimenting with trying to make a perfume for when mum collected them… several hours later.
You would expect a hotel of this calibre to boast an excellent dining experience and the Marbella Club does not disappoint. Dinner at The Grill proved an evening to remember and its steaks are about the best you are likely to taste in all of Spain.
Marbella is a resort popular with Jewish tourists and there are active synagogues in the area. In centuries past, Jewish citizens suffered a considerable amount of persecution in Spain, most notably being expelled in 1492 and suffering an absence of hundreds of years before their gradual return.
If you fancy a bit of exercise, you can hire bikes (20 euros for a full day) and explore the very pleasant surroundings. Marbella’s pretty Old Town is a short ride away, while equally near on the other side of the hotel is the famed marina of Puerto Banus, where those who have made a few bob relax on their yachts. The choice of restaurants in this whole area will not disappoint.
It is also worth checking when San Pedro Street Market is operating, as a leisurely browse around its stalls will reveal all sorts of delights, including the freshest of fruit and vegetables. And you can always find a nice spot for some tapas.
But back to the golf, which had been our main mission. Like the weather, the competition had heated up and big brother and I had found ourselves all square, heading down the last. Tension was rising and the earlier banter had dwindled.
You’d be surprised if anyone was feeling anything other than on cloud nine at the Marbella club
I was standing over the short putt that would have earned me the spoils. I struck the ball… it only needed to travel five feet and find the hole and glory was mine.
But, somehow, it travelled six feet and missed its intended destination. I tapped in the return putt, we shook hands and the honours were even.
We could have played extra holes to finally decide the outcome, but that would have been a ridiculous decision. The luxuries on offer at our hotel demanded our attention.
Where to stay
Mark was a guest at the Marbella Club, where prices start from £380 per room, per night for double occupancy with breakfast included. For reservations, visit marbellaclub.com, call 0034 95 282 2211 or email email@example.com