Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas, the world-class Asian hospitality group, is expanding into Europe; and its first Spanish property can be found in captivating Andalucía writes Andrew Forbes.
The Anantara Villa Padierna Palace Hotel Benahavis Marbella Resort is the group’s new flagship resort in Southern Spain. Sheltered by majestic mountains, this Mediterranean resort is close to some of the country’s most beautiful ‘white villages’, the prestigious town of Marbella, and the sparkling sea. Expect a compelling combination of European elegance with upscale gastronomy across 8 dining venues, as well as exceptional leisure facilities including a super-stylish beach & racquet club, an award-winning spa and championship golf courses.
Yet as you know, in the world of luxury travel, it is the guest experience that should define a resort, not solely the world-class facilities. So we made a recent visit to this striking old-world style palace, to learn more about Anantara’s first Spanish property, allowing us to give you the inside track on what’s new for guests in 2020.
The Anantara experience – luxury for all the senses
Villa Padierna Palace Hotel, Benahavis is a well-established property in Southern Spain, having been conceived and created by a Spanish family passionate about the finer things in European life. Almost 10 years ago, the then First Lady of the US, Michelle Obama, was a guest with daughter Sasha, recognising the resort as one of the finest in Spain.
Anantara is now building on the hotel’s short but prestigious history in hospitality with new levels of service; significantly enhanced dining and signature Anantara experiences
Since opening as a new Anantara resort, guests are promised a stay that is luxury for all the senses. From the sensory delight of the indulgent, light-filled guest rooms and suites; to tantalising cocktail concoctions at Eddy’s bar; the tempting new flavours across the hotel’s dining; the invigorating sports and leisure options; pampering in the spa; to inspirational cultural excursions – Anantara has created a unique and remarkable way to become immersed in the pleasures of Southern Spain.
Guest Rooms & Suites – classical refinement
Guest rooms are finished with the finest materials – everything says quality.
There are some 12 room categories, from intimate superior rooms to expansive 2-bedroom suites. Décor varies from palacial extravagance to calming Andalucian.
Our Junior Suite was all about classic elegance – think plush furnishings, polished wood furniture, crystal chandeliers overhead and Persian carpets underfoot.
Andalucía’s coast of sun was certainly living up to its name during our stay. Drawing open the curtains in the morning filled the suite with the warm of the Andalusian winter sunshine. That alone is priceless, yet all the more compelling when enjoyed in such elegant surroundings.
All the luxe amenities you expect are there, from a well-stocked in-room bar, coffee and tea making facilities, free Wi-Fi, and in the bathroom, beautifully scented Loewe toiletries, and soft robes.
Turn-down is where guests continue to see and feel the unique Anantara style in hospitality – there is attention to detail everywhere. I particularly liked the small bookmark cards left by the bed each evening with the handmade chocolates. Each evening they shared an insight into an Andalucian cultural entity like Flamenco, or an authentic dish, like gazpacho.
For a real taste of Anantara exclusivity there are the 1- and 2-bedroom private villas, set discretely amongst the Italian styled gardens.
I took a peek at the Villa Obama which was a stylish home-from-home for former First Lady Michelle Obama.
The Villa Obama covers three storeys, with two ensuite bedrooms, (one per floor), and a wonderful rooftop terrace with views of the Mediterranean. Need anything? Just ask your private Butler!
From world-class Japanese cuisine to refined Mediterranean dishes, we certainly dined well at Anantara Marbella. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as the group has really invested into its gastronomic offering, grounding the Villa Padierna Palace Hotel in its Andalucian setting, as well as introducing the latest trends in international dining. There are 8 venues for drinks and dining including the three main restaurants:
‘La Loggia’ – Mediterranean flavours
Tipped as the place for ‘Mediterranean culinary inspiration’, La Loggia is the bar restaurant that spills out onto a sun-drenched terrace overlooking the golf course and onto the Med. beyond.
Breakfast here lives up to 5-star expectations with a full a la carte menu of freshly prepared hot dishes that complement the generous buffet. Also, expect local delicacies like premium Ibérico ham freshly sliced and regional cheeses.
Open for lunch and dinner, the elegant dining room of La Loggia was a cosy setting for a relaxing and satisfying meal of Italian and Spanish produce.
Eddy’s Bar – the place for cocktails
Popular with guests and golfers, the hotel’s main bar is getting a make-over. Not only with the aesthetics, but with the menu too. Signature cocktails have been created by Diego Cabrera; the mixologist credited with revolutionising the Madrid cocktail scene. Start a memorable evening in the capable hands of expert barman Juan Villalobos, who will help you navigate the expansive choice of concoctions, suggesting one perfect for your palette. We had a lot of fun trying more than one!
“O” by Paco Roncero – dining by design
New for the 2020 season is the hotel’s signature dining experience, created by Michelin star chef Paco Roncero. This is set to be the place for Andalusian ‘haute cuisine’ – using exceptional ingredients.
99 Sushi Bar & Restaurant – upscale Japanese dining
The award-wining Spanish restaurant group has come to Marbella. The former golf club, a wonderful stand alone building just steps from the main entrance yet set amongst gardens is now the 99 Sushi Bar & Restaurant . A night here is certainly one to remember. Avant-garde Japanese cuisine is presented impeccably, by a highly trained and friendly team.
A foodie sanctuary, 99 Sushi Bar brings together a menu of fine sushi, sashimi, nigiri, tempuras, salads and wagyu beef dishes. Reflecting the restaurants Andalucian connection, the head waiter and sommelier will pair plates with regional and national wines including remarkable Albariño (perfect with Japanese food) and a local sweet Malaga mountain wine that’s a real treat with pudding.
For more information about our 99 Sushi Bar at the Anantara Marbella experience, read our separate review here.
Club del Mar – style by the sea
Don’t miss the opportunity to dine out by the sea.
This part of Andalucia is blessed with the best climate in Europe
The seafood is superb as you might expect. I ordered the Sea Bass baked in sea salt, superbly served by skilled waiter Adrian, under the care of beach club manager Javier, who is adept at making every guest feel like a VIP.
The beach club, open all year, was inaugurated in 2010 during the visit of Michelle Obama, and has since expanded to include a Racquet Club.
Private dining – just for you
For the ultimate dining experience, guests can have a private dining experience. Enjoying a tour of the grounds, passing the hotel’s spectacular Palazzo swimming pool area, I was told by the team that they had recently created a unique dining evening for a couple poolside. The whole area had been made private, lit with votive candles, on the terrace and water, with a table set for two amongst the palms – magical!
Medical Wellness & Spa – look and feel great
There is a timeless elegance to the medical wellness and spa at Anantara Villa Padierna Palace hotel. It’s certainly one of the most comprehensive hotel facilities I’ve enjoyed, with everything from a complete thermal spa circuit, personalised pampering therapies (I opted for the head and neck massage. Sensational. Literally. It begins with a calming foot bathing and massage) to aesthetic medical treatments. The spa is in a standalone building adjacent to the Italianate gardens. It’s a peaceful, luxurious place.
The authentic Southern Spain
The charm of local villages, the ancient magnificence of Ronda; the joy of discovering the best olive oils on the world; and visiting a local market to source premium produce for a private cooking class – these are just some of the experiences on offer.
Life is a Journey…
…so proclaims Anantara, and they certainly wish to make it a captivating one. Staying on the Costa del Sol at Villa Padierna one sees a fresh perspective of the coast, and Andalucia, enriched my authentic experiences that celebrate the region’s culture and food. A private trip up to Ronda is unmissable and Anantara’s concierge can offer guests access to the town’s premium olive oil producer, that collaborates with world renowned designer Philippe Stark.
Marbella’s charm is also showcased with a visit to old town, it’s select independent boutiques and stores, and the city’s market. Allow the chef to guide you through the abundance of tempting produce to choose items for a private cooking class where you get to enjoy the fruits of your labour.
The delightful village of Casares is close by – one of Spain’s most beautiful villages, whilst Benahavis is a gateway to the mountains and nature of this remarkable area.
That’s Anantara Villa Padierna Palace Hotel
There’s almost too much to cover about Anantara Marbella in one piece. But I trust this gives you a flavour of what you can look forward to. Expect a world-class resort secluded in the elite area of Benahavis, (part of the Golden Triangle that also includes the Andalucian seaside towns of Estepona and Marbella), surrounded by landscapes grounds and a championship golf courses.
Anantara Villa Padierna Palace Hotel Benahavis Marbella Resort
Urb. Los Flamingos Golf – Ctra. de Cádiz, km 166, 29679,
Marbella, Málaga, Spain
Tel: (+34) 952 889 150