Marbella is exactly the kind of place where you might expect to find a property scandal. Awash with cash, the city is characterized in part by the march of lavish estates of villas ever further up the mountainside, the better to secure views across the sea to Morocco. Sunning myself by the pool of one such villa, it was not so surprising to hear the Spanish government had recently dissolved Marbella's city council as part of a corruption investigation into allegations that huge bribes were taken by local officials in exchange for permitting thousands of illegal developments. It's a plot worthy of the trashiest of holiday novels, but our deeply tanned neighbors, pottering about their grounds skimpy attire, did not seem perturbed by the news, and the bustle of the harbour continued unabated in the distance.
Our villa, typical of the region, was part of the Villazzo group, which offers a hotel-style service in a portfolio of villas in Marbella, Miami, Aspen and St. Tropez. Unlike standard villa rentals, where someone always seems to end up with a pokey room with no view, or on too-frequent kitchen duty, Villazzo offers generously sized rooms and a chef and maid service. Each room has a private bathroom stocked with Bulgari green tea products, fluffy towels and robes. There's a concierge service and on-call masseurs and beauty therapists.
But not all of the vagaries of villa rental have been dispensed with- Villazzo's properties are privately owned, and although decorated to a high standard, the owner's tastes shine through. Our master bedroom featured a photograph of Pamela Anderson emerging from a giant eggshell. It was very, well…Marbella.
A stay at VillaHotel Enola, which sleeps 10 people, costs from € 2,600 a day; € 20,000 a week; €63,000 a month. Bookings: 020 8123 3375.
British Airways daily flights to Malaga; return fares from ₤ 59.
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