Ask anyone to name a high-end holiday destination on the Costa del Sol and their first answer will undoubtedly be Marbella, famous for its glitz and glamour and million-euro mansions. But what about Sotogrande? Will they also mention this resort, just as high-end and desirable? Probably not because this tranquil enclave at the far western end of the coast loves to sit below the radar.
But you can’t keep a secret forever, especially when it offers the perfect setting for second and permanent homes. Imagine easy accessibility, scenic surroundings, simply stunning properties, guaranteed security and discretion and world-class amenities. And all in one place at Sotogrande. No wonder then that the word is getting out and Sotogrande is gradually becoming a favourite among property buyers.
The back story
But before we move onto the finer details of why Sotogrande is a fast-rising star, what about its origins? Like Marbella, this scenic destination caught the eye of developers in the early 60s. In Sotogrande’s case, those eyes belonged to the self-made millionaire Joseph McMiking. He was looking to mirror Palm Beach in Europe and saw the potential to turn the 2,000-hectare site at Sotogrande into a residential development on a par with Florida’s prime resort.
Other investors bought into his vision – the diamond magnate Phillip Oppenheimer and Helmut Maucher from Nestlé were among the first – and the tranquil spot also appealed to European royalty and aristocracy. As a result, 60 years later, Sotogrande is the most extensive privately-owned residential development in Andalusia and a favourite among the rich and famous, all of whom share the desire to keep a low profile.
The easy accessibility
Before 2002, Sotogrande was somewhat off the beaten track. But the advent of the AP-7 motorway brought 21st-century high-speed connections to the enclave, now just over an hour from Malaga Airport. Add to this the proximity of Gibraltar Airport and you’ve obviously got a winner for easy accessibility.
The absolute anonymity
As any society magazine reader knows, the Costa del Sol attracts a long list of royalty and A-listers every summer. This season’s celebrity visitors included Prince Albert of Monaco, Eva Longoria, Daryl Hannah, chef Jamie Oliver and footballer Tim Krul. The politicians don’t miss out either – the most recent arrival was British prime minister Boris Johnson. All these A-listers stayed in or near Marbella and attracted big paparazzi attention.
But what about Sotogrande? It has its fair share of rich and famous visitors too, but, unlike Marbella, it keeps quiet about them. The local press offers a round-up of the social season and you’ll recognize some of the A-listers in the photos. But the pictures carry the caption “some well-known faces” rather than their names because Sotogrande likes to stay right under the glitz and glamour radar.
The scenic surroundings (and all in one place)
Sotogrande marks the western frontier of the Costa del Sol, not far from where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic at the Strait of Gibraltar. This oceanic encounter means Sotogrande sits in a verdant landscape made up of rolling hills with a succession of sierra backdrops. Its sea views are majestic and include the Costa del Sol, Gibraltar and Africa on the horizon. Add to this the Guadiaro River estuary and you’ve got one privileged location on the Andalusian coastline.
Sotogrande comes vast and stretches from the sandy beaches (frontline vistas of The Rock and Africa from your parasol) up into the hills, crowned with cork oak forests. On the way, you pass through the Marina, whose pastel-coloured homes and sparkling canals could be straight from Venice as you go up past a historic polo ground and Spain’s finest fairways before you reach the Beach at La Reserva. This is the crowning glory in the hills and a private sanctuary where the sands come in the purest white and sit around an azure lagoon.
And all this within the same estate.
Part of Sotogrande’s success as a low-key luxury destination lies in its philosophy of providing a haven for its residents and holidaymakers. On the security side, the distinct sections of the development are gated and you’ll also find 24-hour manned posts on some complexes.
Next, there’s the maintenance. The entire area from the Sotogrande Marina on the beach to La Reserva in the hills is squeaky-clean and superbly kept. Like its three championship golf courses, Sotogrande’s palm boulevards are manicured.
And then there’s the approach to life. Sotogrande rides in the slow lane – holidays are to be savoured for their family and friends time. Lunches are long and leisurely (and for all the family), while evenings stretch languidly into the small hours. But not at showy nightclubs with the paparazzi on the door but under the stars at one of the beach restaurants or the polo or golf club house.
The world-class amenities
By now, you might just be wondering if all this peace and quiet makes Sotogrande boring. Far from it as foreign property buyers take delight in discovering. Take the sports facilities, for example, second to none and while they too are low-key, they’re also high pro.
First, the golf. The legendary Real Club Valderrama, the best course in Spain, has just hosted the annual Andalucía Masters with the world’s number one, Jon Rahm, heading the list of pro competitors. The resort even has its own golf tournament, the Circuito de Golf Sotogrande, in its eighth edition this year and held at five championship courses in the area before the Grand Final at Valderrama.
And then, of course, there’s the polo, Sotogrande’s signature sport. The resort celebrated the 50th edition of the Sotogrande Gold Cup in August with one of Spain’s best-known wine labels, Marqués de Riscal, taking home the anniversary trophy. In typical low-key style, Sotogrande polo matches are mostly free of charge and there’s something special about watching expert riders on thoroughbreds canter across the turf against the Atlantic breeze while you sip your chilled cava or cerveza. And yes, that spectator next to you could be someone famous but you wouldn’t know it.
Continuing the equestrian theme, Sotogrande also hosts the annual Spanish Horse Riding Championship at Las Dunas in La Reserva. And then there’s the yacht club at the Marina, the water sports in the Mediterranean and at the Beach. Plus, excellent racquet sports facilities. All on-site and perfect for enjoying in the over 300 days of sunshine a year.
The simply stunning properties
But enough about the location because Sotogrande has always been first and foremost about fine homes. From its small beginnings in the southern boulevards, real estate comes with a capital R and E in this part of the Costa del Sol. And as it has expanded northwards into the hills, Sotogrande has upped its property game.
La Reserva development is the latest ace up its sleeve and it’s here that you’ll find probably the most luxurious homes in southern Spain. All plots in Sotogrande provide generous space, but those in La Reserva also ensure that nature reigns supreme. Sustainable design is the watchword and the homes in harmony with their natural surroundings mirror the resort’s hallmark discretion.
Some of the world’s most renowned architects have put their signature to properties in La Reserva. Those at The Seven, for example, each boast a heavyweight name on their plans. While nature and clever landscaping offer refined al fresco living, the luxe interiors take the concept of a home to a whole new level. An indoor pool (as well as the outdoor), wine cellars, gyms and cinema rooms come as standard. And of course, fittings and fixtures are high-end and true to sustainability objectives.
The choice of properties
Sotogrande isn’t just about the mansions. The development also offers buyers a myriad of other options. Village Verde makes a good choice for those in search of replicating village life, but as discreet and exclusive as only Sotogrande knows how. Centred around communal facilities, the apartments and penthouses provide spacious living in stunning surroundings.
You’ll also find a selection of townhouses such as those in La Finca Collection. Again, it’s all about fine living and understated luxury, manifested in these homes in their scale and extra touches such as solarium and private garden along with lift and picture windows.
The next step
As this article has shown, Sotogrande combines discreet luxe living with world-class facilities and stunning nature on your doorstep. And it’s an incomparable pairing that you’ll find nowhere else in southern Spain. No wonder then that foreign buyers are increasingly attracted to this end of the Costa del Sol.
If you’d like to experience this well-kept secret for yourself, take a look at what’s on the market in Sotogrande. Our selection lists the finest new builds, all of which share the common denominators of class, style and, of course, the most exclusive destination in southern Spain. All you have to do is choose yours. Contact me today here.