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  The Divine Villa Padierna Palace Hotel, Marbella, Spain
– Glamorous Golfers Resort and Romantic Retreat
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Sitting in the hills of Benahavís, this magnificent Palladian splendour, in the style of a Tuscan palace – whispers rather than shouts. Created by Englishman Edward Gilbert: architect and master-builder, together with his patron Riccardo Arranz de Miguel, their renaissance collaboration reminiscent of the Medicis. It’s hard to imagine that this dreamscape born a mere 11 years ago, was just green fields.

The 5 star Grand Luxe Villa Padierna Palace, member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, draws its exclusive clientele from all parts of the globe. The resort gravitates towards sophisticated grown ups and romantics young and old, although there are smatterings of well-behaved children with their parents during the school holidays.

Keeping up to Par

It is unashamedly a golfers resort with the Flamingos Club, leading directly down from the terraces of the hotel. Buggies whizz past on the velvety green literally on the doorstep. There’s an odd fascination having breakfast at La Loggia, sipping orange juice whilst watching golfers practicing their putts in their primary coloured gear, in contrast to the tranquil stillness of the undulating plains surrounding the silky lake, no doubt full of misguided balls –18 holes, Par 71 mens handicap 27, women 34.

The Alferini Club–18 holes, par 73, is much more challenging: suited to top amateurs and professionals, although the handicaps are stated as the same as the Flamingos, you would be kidding yourself if you weren’t nearer to scratch.

Flamingo Golf - Putting Practice
[Click to enlarge pics]

Tramores Club is ideal for beginners & good for practice. A shorter course par 63/65 way upping the handicap to 48 for both men and women.

If you really want to perfect your game there’s the Villa Padierna Michael Campbell Golf Academy, where the 2005 US Open Champion offers a comprehensive support system for aspiring tour professionals of all ages.

The hotel has an hourly shuttle service to its own private Beach: Club de Mar. A broad sandy coastal stretch with comfortable loungers and all the trimmings and an excellent bar-restaurant.

Villa Padierna Photo Gallery

We are staying in a sumptuous Junior Suite with a luxuriant marble bathroom overlooking the Flamingos golf course. The rooms are furnished in classical style with original art and antiques from the owner’s private collection; there are 1200 exquisite pieces housed in the hotel.

The VP has 130 unique rooms and suites including 9 villas. The Obama Villa, eponymously named after America’s First Lady, Michelle Obama, who visited the resort with her youngest daughter Sacha in 2010, is especially beautiful with its huge terrace and elegant airy interiors. Guest Daniella Ruchti, a golf loving reconstructive plastic surgeon says, ‘it’s the VP’s divine symmetry’ that she loves.

Lunch Break Even the food is perfectly balanced. La Loggia, casual dining with delicate salads, a delightful seafood risotto, inventive pasta, classic Tournedos Rossini and pleasingly pretty puddings. Servings for each course just enough to make you look forward to the next, leaving space for the dessert and a nightcap in Eddy’s Bar or a Grappa in the opulent drawing room. La Veranda, a grander affair; the room graced with huge tapestries, tables spilling out on to romantic terraces. Menu highlight; Baked John Dory with Ñoquis of Betroot & Wine Caramel and an especially light Rice Pudding & Egg Yolk Flan with Cinnamon Sauce – Chef Christobal Gómez at the helm. Shuttle down to the Beach Club de Mar and try the amazing seafood Paella – so more-ish that Philip indulged in 3 helpings. Or snack at La Pérgola after a swim in the VP’s glorious labyrinthian pool surrounded by fountains and gardens.

Spa Trek

The VP Spa & Wellness Institute must be one of Europe’s finest pamper emporiums with top notch beauticians and masseurs who really get to grips with their discerning guests. I am having the Michelle Obama treatment: a delicious two hour gourmet facial with masks – strawberry, truffle, ‘caviar’ and collagen and finally a high-frequency wand that slips over the nooks and crevices of the skin tightening and lifting the face and neck. It’s not only a pleasant experience but the accompanying background music - a compilation of Strauss waltzes, cool jazz and classic melodies, rather than generic whale sounds and transcendental musak, makes a welcome change.

Philip is equally knocked out with his ‘Man Facial’ and a foot massage to boot; beautifully coordinated by the therapist who switches to his toes while his mask is setting. Keep trim in the state-of-the-art gym and visit the celebrated spa circuit: hot and cold pools, aromatherapy steam baths and salt rubs and the beautiful indoor pool almost begs for guests to arrive in togas and laurels and their maidens in draped white gowns.
Inviting Villa Padierna Palace pool
Wedding Bliss – Villa Padierna Palace


For exchanging wedding vows, the VP’s Romanesque Amphitheatre is perfectly sited next to the stupendous ballroom that can accommodate a banquet for 500 guests. Could anywhere be more magical?

Leave room in your suitcase for a shopping spree at the VP Boutique owned by Alicia Villa Padierna, wife of Riccardo Arranz, stocking glamorous garments from all over the world and a huge selection of stylish golf apparel.

The hotel is simply magnificent and the discreet and expert staff reflect its grace.

From €256 + VAT for a Deluxe Room BB, Low Season – but for best deals visit the Villa Padierna website which offers excellent promotions and packages.

Award-winning online luxury travel agent, Destinology also offers very good packages with or without flights and the knowledgeable staff are very helpful and efficient.

Disclaimer: Prices correct at the time of publication.

Villa Padierna Palace Perfectly Polished

© Philip and Nina Saville, The 2012-15