The Super Villa-ins
Hotels? How common. Max can’t recall the last time he stayed in a hotel. It would be bizarre to have strangers just down the hallway, sharing the same carpet. Max habitually stays at Desy’s 10-room villa in New Andalucia when he visits Marbella, but lately Desy’s has been a tad over-subscribed. None of the “old dogs”, as Max refers to his school chums, made it to their holiday homes in Mustique, Gstaad or Aspen, so Desy’s place has been busier than Bicester Village.
“The parties we had at Desy’s!” Max reminiscences. €100,000-a-night DJs, Michelin-starred chefs, and you’d be just as likely to clink a champagne glass with a Tory peer as a Russian gangster. To the locals, the supervilla-set are all the same, dubbed “los malos” – the bad guys.
This autumn, Max is flying the family – his girlfriend, his three children, his two stepchildren, the three nannies, his ex-wife and her new girlfriend – to a six-bedroom villa at Finca Cortesin, a fabulous luxury villa enclave favored by professional golfers and camera-shy celebrities.
“I read that Brad and Angelina were thinking about buying a villa around here!” he says to impress his teenage daughter, Elfie. “We could be neighbours!”
“They broke up, dad,” sighs Elfie.
Join the tribe: Scott Dunn offers seven nights at Finca Cortesin starting from £3,200 per person, based on 10 people sharing a five-bedroom Green 10 villa on a bed and breakfast basis, including British Airways flights. scottdunn.com
The Fun Worshipers
Lucy and Alex don’t care what their friends back in Stoke Newington say. Marbella family holidays are a vibe. “Seriously, Club Med holidays are amazing. You just ditch the kids at the watersports center after breakfast and get a taxi into town, and it’s like being 22 again,” says Alex, enthusiastically.
Nobody else at the barbecue is remotely convinced. But when Alex and Lucy make it to Club Med Magna Marbella – their third visit – they know they’ll find their people: middle-class urbanites from across Europe, who have accepted that with young families, an all-inclusive fun-packed activity holiday is the way to go. This tribe of new-generation package holidaymakers is better described as ‘package-plus’; they’re in Marbella’s old town bars more than the lobby bars, and escape on family excursions to Ronda.
“We get to try all sorts of new things, like flamenco lessons or the flying trapeze!” says Lucy. “And the kids don’t bother us at all, they’re too busy paddle-boarding or learning how to paint street murals. It’s amazing, I actually get to read a book!” Still, Alex and Lucy are met with a row of raised eyebrows. “Well, enjoy taking the entire family to Copenhagen by train,” says Lucy, huffily. “Sounds really relaxingEva.”
Join the tribe: Seven-night stays at Club Med Magna Marbella start at £858 per person on an all-inclusive basis, excluding flights. clubmed.co.uk
It’s Jade’s hen-do, and Nikki Beach isn’t going to know what’s hit it! Half the group are in a bit of a huff because the Nobu didn’t upgrade them even though they totally have 3K Instagram followers, and surely that should count for something? But they’ll get over it when the cava starts flowing… and their showy Instagram stories start rolling.
The girls are here to blow their entire 2021 holiday budget in one long weekend; this is their chance to live large like a WAG, without the tedium of a relationship with a footballer. Pia has come with a half-empty suitcase and is already booking an Uber to Parque Comercial La Cañada shopping mall.
“It’s the most-visited place in Spain after the Alhambra in Granada, so this is basically a Spanish cultural excursion,” she says. After the mall, the girls have daybeds booked at Nikki Beach beach club, then a cava tasting before a late-night sushi supper back at the Nobu. “Mmmm, I’m starving,” says Bibi. “Hey, remember when ‘no carbs before Marbs’ was a TOWIE mantra? These days, you can carry on stuffing your face, because Instagram filters do the job for you. Chuck over the Calamari.”
Join the tribe: Stays at the Nobu Hotel Marbella on the Golden Mile start at £429 per night; book via slh.com.