ARTICLE #11 – 31 AUGUST, 2017
MARBELLA – HOME FOR THE RICHEST
Not everyone knows Marbella from “back in the days” when it was “just” a mining and fishing town with agriculture and 10,000 inhabitants.
What now attracts celebrities to Marbella has only been around for the last fifty years or so. The perfectly trimmed golf courses known all around Europe for their high quality, mansions worth millions and the glamorous lifestyle are what represents Marbella today. And this is precisely the reason why for so many decades it has been a sweet spot attracting celebrities from all around the world.
Marbella has a noble history too. Already in the nineteenth century, it was the national capital of the steel industry. 75% of Marbella’s iron resources were distributed around the rest of Spain. Also, it was the region in Spain which during the civil war had one of the quickest recovering economies. As the local visionaries quickly discovered, the secret to the economy having such as swift recovery was tourism. And so it was tourism which brought celebrities to town for the first time.
Tourism and celebrities were a perfect match; it was the combination of the two that brought Marbella back to life and in fact created what it is known for today – the playground for the rich and famous.
The first visionary of Marbella’s future success was a Belgian Marquis Ricardo Soriano Sholtz von Hermensdorff, who in the 1940s made an extensive propaganda about how special Marbella is amongst his wealthy friends and relatives. His cousin, Prince Maximilian von Hohenlohe from Germany, who had properties stretching from then Czechoslovakia to the north of Spain, was the first aristocrat who was encouraged by Ricardo to leave the rainy northern climate for the idyllic life on the Coast of Spain. Ricardo joked that what his cousin spends on heating his castle in winter would buy him a finca in the Mediterranean.
It was in 1943 when Ricardo built his first residential complex and this was the beginning of the transformation for Marbella.
The city slowly started converting to accommodate visitors and to make a great business out of it. Ricardo remodelled the already existing houses changing them to bungalows, a style he borrowed from the United States. He also revalued the land and started selling it to other promoters who wanted to participate in making the city and business even greater. It is interesting to note that land on the “Golden Mile” which is Marbella’s most widely known strip of land was selling for 13 million pesetas (!) which are today’s equivalent of just over 78,000 Euros.
The real builders of Marbella tourism and makers of Marbella city Mecca were Don Alfonso de Hohenlohe and Don Jose Banus. That’s when the first hotels(Marbella Club), golf courses, bull rings, and discos were built. The great Banus port, which quickly became the largest in Europe hosted yachts of some of the most distinguished people and had more than 900 docking points.
Whilst Marbella was growing in size, its great success was spreading more, and this time across Arabic countries. In 1970, the richest royal family member, Saudi Arabian King Fahd arrived. He decided to build a palace on an 80-hectre land of Marbella which he said was a “land blessed by Allah.’ The King is said to have invested €90 m in Marbella’s economy. His visits were always legendary. His last visit to the town before he died in 2005 was truly one of a kind. A fleet of jumbo jets arrived with 3,000 family members, friends, camp followers and staff. He booked 300 hotel rooms, hired 500 additional staff, and more than 100 new Mercedes cars arrived on transporters from Germany, where they had been leased.
Marbella – paradise, luxury, traditions, people, beaches, the sun, golf, and a blend of cultures. What would Costa del Sol be without you?