Hovering in the hills above Marbella, Finca Cortesin is a handsome refuge of sparkling white walls, terracotta-tiled roofs and arched colonnades; a grand and grown-up resort of 215 hectares with 67 suites, a handful of lovely villas, two Olympic-sized pools, a Michelin-star restaurant and one of Spain’s greatest golf courses.
Arriving here is like arriving at the home of a Spanish countess. Yet despite the antiques and the tapestries on the walls, the finca is fairly new, built for purpose in 2008 in the rolling hills between Marbella and Sotogrande. Credit must go to the Portuguese designer for creating its aura of ancient authenticity. Doors to the bedrooms were salvaged from castles, flagstone floors were rescued from monasteries, walls have been hung with old oil paintings, and just off the lobby, the smart Moroccan lounge has more than just hints of the nearby Alhambra.
Suites are set around two main courtyards and are spacious and elegant. Most have terraces or balconies with views of the golf course, mountains or pool and sea, not to mention marble bathrooms with oversized tubs and walk-in rain showers. The two-, four- and five-bedroom villas are set apart from the suites and offer terraces, gardens and private pools – perfect for a multi-generational summer holiday.
The hotel’s smart restaurant, El Jardin de Lutz, serves upscale Spanish classics in a spectacularly pretty dining room. In another hotel it might hog all the limelight, but here it must share the stage with REI by Finca Cortesin which fuses the flavours of Japan while an authentic taste of Italy awaits at Don Giovanni.
There are two outdoor pools (one for adults only) plus an indoor option at the outstanding spa, which offers everything from ayurvedic and Thai massages to Spain’s only ‘snow cave’. The par-72 golf course is one of the best in the country, and there are tennis courts, a gym and a yoga and meditation centre with views of the mountains. Casares, one of the classic pueblos blancos of Andalucia, is not far away. Nor is the hotel’s private beach club, where Balinese beds, plush sun loungers and a 35-metre infinity pool await.