You’ll have to make some pretty tough choices at Puente Romano. It’s more than likely to be sunny, so you could build up a sweat on the tennis court, or on a lounger. Choose which pool to swim in, or go to the beach. Have a massage or a facial. And then you have to decide what to eat and drink when the sun goes down. Tough choices.
Set between the Sierra Blanca mountains and the Med, Marbella is on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain and has a freakishly sunny microclimate. A favourite of the international glitterati since the 70s, Marbella’s history actually stretches back much further. Puente Romano is named after a Roman bridge at the heart of its central plaza, which is now (tastefully) surrounded by restaurants and bars and forms the social hub of the complex.
Puente Romano has the feel of an idealised Andalusian village: low-rise buildings with white-washed walls, overflowing flower pots and cobbled streets and passages. We stayed in a garden suite the size of our two-bedroom flat in South London. It had recently been updated with vast swathes of white marble, massive flatscreen TVs, a huge jacuzzi bathtub and a terrace overlooking the extensive gardens. The tennis club has an illustrious history, having been overseen by Bjorn Borg and Manolo Santana since it opened, and hosted the Senior Masters Cup during our stay. Spain’s only Six Senses Spa is a super high-end boutique centre for massages and treatments. Golf, water sports and horse riding facilities are not far away.
There are nine restaurants (and one nightclub) on site, including Dani Garcia’s two Michelin-starred flagship and UNI, which serves a hybrid Japanese-Peruvian Nikkei cuisine. We had Sunday lunch at the beachside Sea Grill buffet. Cue platefuls of bellota ham, paella, grilled lobster, and lashings of refreshing cava. For lighter bites, follow the tennis pros to Celicioso, a gluten-free bakery. Novak Djokovic’s favourite is, apparently, the banana bread. Mine was banoffee cake. There are also banana-free options and plenty of savoury dishes.
The golf course and equestrian centre with views over the Mediterranean Sea and Rock of Gibraltar. At the resort itself, Amor y Paz is a form of holistic therapy through tennis, while there are more conventional social tennis sessions for all-comers on Sunday mornings. There are morning yoga sessions on the beach, or simply have some gluten-free cakes delivered to your room from Celicioso.
And after that:
Borrow one of the hotel’s bikes and cycle the Paseo Maritimo, the waterfront promenade linking Marbella and Puerto Banus. You’ll see (and smell) plenty of restaurants along the beach offering moraga (spit-roasted fish cooked over charcoal). If you make it to Marbella itself, check out the Old Town and Orange Square. At Puerto Banus, keep your eyes peeled for the ‘stars’ of TOWIE, if that’s your kind of thing. If you want to stay in the resort, have a go at padel, a hybrid of tennis and squash played outdoors.