Marbella has always been synonymous with a jet set lifestyle. Puerto Banus’ Marina is a sight to behold, crammed full of luxury super yachts.
Designer shops line the streets nearby and people with medically enhanced physiques can be seen walking along as if on a continuous catwalk. Those who have an exclusive pass to drive along the road next to the port, do so in cars that even Jeremy Clarkson would fawn over. It’s an ideal spot for sitting in a cafe and people watching!
It’s not just for the multi-millionaires and billionaire oligarchs, however. There’s a wide range of accommodation for all price brackets, guaranteed warm sunshine and somewhat Anglicised culture, which does make it easier if you have young children with you.
So it’s no surprise that it’s a popular holiday destination for Britons. It’s also very easy if you have children because the flight time is bearable, car hire at Malaga airport is easy and it’s only a forty minute drive from there.
We travel to Puerto Banus several times a year as we have family who live there. Most of the time we stay in a self-catering apartment because it’s cheaper and more convenient with small children. During winter months occasionally we treat ourselves to a short break in a luxury hotel.
Having tried a few luxury hotels in the area, we found the best one for families to be the Gran Melia Don Pepe. The hotel is located right on the beach front, all the rooms have breathtaking sea views and there are great pools, both outside and inside.
The inside pool is especially welcome for a winter break. Even in winter although the temperature in Marbella is mild, most outside pools aren’t heated. My children are still happy to splash outside in these conditions, however I need an outside temperature of at least 85 degrees before I’ll even dip a toe. This meant that the inside pool and jacuzzis were perfect for us all to enjoy together.
We usually stay in a Red Level Suite at the Don Pepe. You can get some great deals in winter. It’s ideal for families as you have spacious rooms with plenty of space for chill out time. There are two televisions and a Wii or Playstation, whichever you prefer. One thing to remember is to take your own DVD player for the room, though.
Children receive a welcome pack which is always a treat and there’s a kids’ club too.
The breakfast buffet is outstanding and they even have a mini buffet section for children. One thing I hate about buffet breakfasts with children is that I never have time to eat as I am continually getting up and down to fetch things for my little ones!
In The Don Pepe they have their own buffet area so they can enjoy going and helping themselves. They also have a cupboard next to it full of Rubix cubes, colouring sheets, pens, etc. so that the children can be occupied and don’t start complaining that they want to leave and go to the pool after they have finished their two mouthfuls of cereal!
With a Red Level Suite you have access to an exclusive lounge where all day long there are free drinks and snacks available for you to help yourself. This made it so easy with the children as we could just go in there and help ourselves to sandwiches, cakes and drinks without constantly having to order food. You also have your own concierge who offers help and advice.
In the evenings we often ordered room service for supper. The suite had a large dining table and it made dining with small children very convenient.
Despite being a luxury hotel, which also caters for corporate guests and couples, families are made to feel so welcome. In Spain there seems to be a different attitude to children where they are always seen as a great blessing and never an inconvenience. All the kindly words from staff made them feel very special and at ease.
So, if you want a taste of the high life but don’t have the bank balance of a large conglomerate, a family winter break in the Gran Melia Don Pepe Red Level could be exactly what you’re looking for.
Michelle Stonehill is a Managing Partner of Brighton Holiday Homes.