It may boast one of Spain’s best golf courses, but Finca Cortesin, near Estepona on the Costa del Sol, certainly isn’t the sort of bland hotel frequented by old men in lemon slacks and Pringle sweaters. Designed with a nod to the Iberian peninsula’s thrilling history, it incorporates both Moorish and Castilian elements, and effortlessly manages that hard-to-pull-off trick of being glamorous and comfortable at the same time. It’s a genuine destination stay.
Hi-tech, fully equipped spa
The hotel is home to one of the best golf courses on the Costa del Sol
Late check-out or early check-in. For members staying in an Executive Suite, Executive Sea Suite or Pool Suite: a bottle of wine for three-night stays, a 50-minute massage each for four-night stays
In the know
Also need to know:
The hotel is home to one of the best spas in the region – offering heated and double-cushioned massage beds, a snow cave and a chemical-free indoor pool. The breezy Moroccan- and -Indian-themed chill-out areas are brilliantly laid-back spots for a cocktail or two. The resort runs daily transfers to the beach club.
Don’t forget your golf clubs – you’re right next to one of Southern Europe’s finest courses.
In the formal surroundings of Kabuki Raw – think antique wood tables and white tablecloths – you should be dressed to the nines. Jeans, shirts and summer dresses perfectly suit the more relaxed mood in El Jardin.
Mr and Mrs Smith reviews
As this Mr & Mrs Smith aren’t feeling particularly mobile – it is our ‘babymoon’, that last trip before two becomes three – we are craving somewhere we can check in and stay entirely put until check-out. A hotel that is luxurious and super-comfortable with everything we could want within walking (or waddling) distance. The service has to be decent, and everything has to be spacious: sardine-style sunloungers and bijou bathrooms won’t cut it with this Mrs Smith.
Happily, within minutes of arriving at Finca Cortesin, it is evident we’ve landed on our – in my case, swollen – feet. The hotel, while built in a traditional style, is brand spanking new, and is laid out in super-generous scale among verdant, undulating golf courses and lush, immaculately manicured gardens. Seamlessly checked in – and upgraded to an executive suite, thanks to my bulge – we’re taken on a leisurely orientation stroll. The highlight of this chic retreat is two enormous swimming pools on opposite sides of the hotel. The smaller is family-friendly with stylish sunloungers dotted under capacious umbrellas, and a poolside restaurant at one end. The longer, slimmer one has an Asian feel to it, and is adults-only: perfect for peaceful laps or canoodling in the cute balés. Both are a mouth-watering shade of deep bluey-green which, we conclude, they colour-matched with the sea off the Amalfi Coast. And should we be feeling like dipping our toes into real salty waters, there's a shuttle to the hotel's very own beach club on the five-minutes-away Spanish coastline.
The palatial proportions continue to surprise and delight as we’re shown to our suite. Double doors open into a high-ceilinged living room, tastefully furnished in mid-tone neutrals and olives, with the odd splash of colour. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors open to a Juliet balcony with views over the gardens and the Med in the distance. Through the next set of double doors is our bedroom and a bed more than big enough for me, bump and Mr Smith. As for the bathroom – for some people this is what defines luxury travel – our marble ensuite is not only grand but five times the size of our bedroom at home. Our room is so pristine, I’d have believed it if someone told us we’d been the first to stay. We admire how the designer has managed to incorporate quirky touches and eye-catching accessories amid classic sophistication. I grin like a Cheshire cat as we get unpacked and argue half-heartedly about which pool to experience first.
After a dip and a snooze in the sunshine we wander back to get ready for dinner; you must remember to book well in advance in high season. Laid-back dining can be found at Spanish/Mediterranean eatery El Jardin, where the candlelit tables are dotted about on the terrace outdoors.
The ensuing tasting menu is a blur of decadence: it's the full rollcall of A-list ingredients from lobster froth and foie gras embellishments to gold dust and an actual bonsai tree made of pure chocolate. It's not just a festival of flavours: this is pure edible theatre. This makes Charlie's experiences at the Chocolate Factory seem like a visit to the motorway services. And best of all you can watch the master at work thanks to the open kitchen. There's none of the effing and blinding of a Gordon Ramsay television scene either, seated in a rather demure and distinguished dining room, you have your very own brightly lit cookery show where the alchemy takes place with remarkable calm.
There is little to do after such a spectacular dinner but mosey back to our suite and give ourselves up to the expanses of our enormous bed. After dreaming about a land where it is normal to dine on delights such as truffles, gingko nuts and langoustines, breakfast is our next rendezvous. After a pick-me-up of juices and pastries on the terrace, we head down to the adults-only pool to get down to some serious R&R. We know that the hotel is full – it’s high summer season – but we’re struck by the sheer luxury of space, and the privacy and peace that pervades.
At lunchtime, we feel it is our reviewing duty to move across to the other pool – at least to have a bite to eat at the poolside restaurant. We brace ourselves for a more family-friendly buzz, but it is in fact just as tranquil, with an air more of Thailand than Costa del Sol, somehow. Here, the odd hedgefunder is sunning or splashing with their offspring – ‘hedgelets’ Mr Smith suggests – all in matching Vilebrequin, practising swimming strokes and diving styles all in a very well-mannered and unbothersome way. More snoozing occupies my afternoon while Mr Smith heads off to the spa for a massage. When he returns, he's looking rather smug – and invigorated. He has a spring in his step which he puts down to stepping right into the ‘snow cave’ – the size of a supermarket's chiller cabinet, it's like being transported to the North Pole: not just a gimmick, this icy therapy is excellent for the circulation, apparently. When I hear tell of an indoor hydrotherapy pool though I decide that some lazy lengths there might be more up my alley.
We venture out of the hotel for dinner on our second night. We’d read about an Italian restaurant called Don Giovanni, which, while not part of the hotel itself, is within the larger Finca Cortesin golf club and residential complex. Alas, that’s fully booked (our advice: book ahead), so we decide to make the 10-minute car journey down to the coast to see what we can find there. Our next tip: don’t bother. Football shirts, karaoke bars and tattooed Brits abound. It’s a bit of a culture shock and we stay just long enough to wolf down a pizza before scurrying back to some stargazing from the cushioned sofas of Finca Cortesin.
Back at our coastal-view haven, we get the super-helpful Aña on reception to plead with Don Giovanni to squeeze us in for pudding – ‘pregnant lady craving chocolate torte’ is roughly the line she takes, and it works. We wander across and enjoy a delicious end to the evening in their pretty fairy-lit courtyard, rueing the fact that we hadn’t been clever enough to book a table here before. At least we know it’s there for next time. And there will be a next time. Our Finca Cortesin stay has been so easy, relaxing and enjoyable – it was exactly what we were looking for. And, we imagine, just what we’ll need in about 12 months' time for our first leave-the-baby-with-the-grandparents weekend off.
Ctra. de Casares, km2; 29690, Casares, Marbella, Malaga, 29690, Casares
20.3 mi / 32.7 km from city centre
- Valet parking
- Exercise gym
- Internet services
- Tennis court
- On-Site parking
- Complimentary in-room coffee or tea
- Room service
- Onsite laundry
There are three main restaurants. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, El Jardín is the hotel's rustic mainstay, where fish is a star of the show. In Kabuki Raw, which has just earned a Michelin star, watch chef Luis Olarra combine Japanese traditions with Mediterranean ingredients to form fabulous evening meals. It's open from mid-March to 31 October, and over Christmas and New Year's Eve. Italian eatery Don Giovanni is open for dinner in summer only. Additionally, the Club House is open for breakfast or a casual lunch, where there are international and local favourites; you won’t go hungry at the beach club, either, where there is a moreish Mediterranean menu on offer (open Wednesday till Sunday in April, May June and September; all week through July and August). The Pool 35 bar serves light bites at lunchtime, summer only.
Book early and secure the chef’s table right next to the open kitchen at Kabuki Raw so you can watch Señor Olarra in action.
Dinner is served in the restaurants until 11pm; the last cocktails are mixed in the bars at around 2am.
A selection of sandwiches, soups, hot and cold starters, and mains are available to order round the clock.
Though some of its furniture errs slightly towards the uninspiring, the Blue Bar, situated in the hotel lounge, is still a lovely place for an ice-cold cocktail or two. The mesmerising blue hand-painted wallpaper certainly demands your attention – out of the corners of your eyes, it seems to be jumping off the walls. Drinks can also be taken on the outdoor terraces or in the pool areas.