Meet the New Marbella


Meet the New Marbella
27 Marzo, 2015
New Marbella
Spain’s resort city on the Costa del Sol is drawing in a fresh wave of luxury homeownerslooking for year-round getaways
advantage of Marbella’s good weather and
its improved access. He spent years deciding
whereexactly to live. "I didn’t want frontline beach, and I wanted sea views," he says,
but he didn’t want a remote location. In
2011, he bought a partially completed house
above Puerto Banffs, knownfor its boutiques
and yacht-filled harbor. He paid El.5 million,
then spent ¢:1 million in upgrades.
Today, he has a roughly 800-squaremeter, seven-bedroom mansion--with sea
views--that he shares with his girlfriend
and two children. Amenities include a
heated outdoor pool and a full array of
smart homefeatures. He estimates the
home’scurrent value at ¢3.5 million.
M~: Buch, like manynewer Marbella arrivals, works from his mansion. He often
hosts entrepreneurs for long weekends
marked by meetings in his homeconference
room and downtime in a lounge he
equipped with sophisticated speakers. "It’s
basically a nightclub," he says.
It was in the late 1940s and early 1950s
that the then-small town of Marbella was
reinvented by Spanish nobleman Ricardo
Soriano and his nephew, Prince Alfonso of
Hohenlohe-Langanburg. The prince’s prime
beachfront estate became the Marbella Club
Hotel in the mid 1950s, and soon attracted
This newgenerationof
homeownersmay commute
to Central or NorthernEurope
Spanish coastal city
of Marbella is beginning to resemble Southern California more than southern Spain, as
a year-round population of about 140,000
grows and an additional 600,000 or so flock
there in the summerfor power-shopping,
yacht-gazing and sunbathing on the beach.
Thearea’s key selling pdlnt is its welcoming microclimate: Tucked between the
mountains and the Mediterranean, the city
has cooler summers and warmer winters
than its neighbors on Spain’s Costa del Sol,
and moresun than its rival resorts further
up the Mediterranean coast.
In the 1960s and ’70s, it was a popular
destination for Europeanjet-setters w~th
nameslike Onassis and Bismarck. But like
much of southern Europe, Marbella saw
prices plunge following the global economic
turmoil of 2008. Now,the area is on the rebound, thanks to renewed interest from
Middle Eastern and Scandinavian second
homebuyers, better infrastructure and a
year-round appeal to younger buyers.
Mathella’s most expensive mansions are
mainly in four distinct areas. La Zagaleta
and Sierra Blanca feature dramatic mountainside settings, while Los Monteros and
the Golden Mile have serene beachfront estates. Morecentrally located, Sierra Blanca
and the Golden Mile offer conveniance.
The prices of Murbella’s high-and
homes generally defined as starting at g5
million, or about $5.4 million--dropped
about 15%during the economiccrisis, after
peaking in 2006 and 2007, says Christopher
Clover, founder of PanoramaProperties, an
associate office of Savills. Today,prices are
at precrisis levels, he adds.
Recent sales in La Zagaleta include a
1,505-square-meter homefor just under C9
million. The five-bedroom, saran-bathroom
villa has t60 square meters of terraces, in
door and outdoor pools, and a homecinema. Marbella’s Tobal Arqditectos, which
built about half of the development’s 230
existing homes, did the design. Diego Tobal,
a principal in the practice, says the murket’s resurgence reflects a changing demographic in local high-end buyers. "People
nowlive here year-round," says the 36year-old, who grew up in Marbella.
This new generation of homeowners
may commute to Central or Northern Eu
rope during the week and spend long weekends in the sun, he says. He also has clients
nowbased in the area full-time, including
Jesper Buch, a Danish investor in tech
start-ups in the U.K. and Scandinavia.
Mr. Buch, 39 years old, wanted to take
European high society. By the t980s, a
wider range of sun-seekers had arrived. Today, homes on MarbeIla Club Hotel grounds
still have special appeal. A furnished, four
bedroom, four-bathroom 206-square meter
villa there is listed for g4.95 million.
Mr. Clover, a Virginia native, says that
while Marbella’s main allure is the weather;
he also notes file expansion of the MtilagaCosta del Sol Airport, a half-hour’s drive
away. Marhella--once isolated--is now connected to major Europeancities. Also, a
high-speed train line, inaugurated in 2007,
has cut traveling time from Marbella to Madrid from up to 10 hours to under three.
Marbella property sales surged more
than 28%in volume in 2014 over the previous year, says Mr. Clover. He and other
agents point to the return of MiddleEastern buyers, and consistent demand among
27 Marzo, 2015
Marbella’sreal estate crisis beganbefore
the 2008downturlt. Starting in the nlid-1990s,
the region enduredyears of corruption, leading in 2013to the convictionof local officialson charges related to construction kickbacks.
In 2006, Spain’s governmenttemporarily dissolved Marbella’scity council. Today,the city
has a reliable governmentand sensible plannmgreg~tlations, Mr. Clover says.
Mr. Tobal, the local architect, sees a silver lining even in Marbella’s troubles. He
says the slowdownin building in the wake
of the scandals spared Marbella from the
worst of the overdevelopment elsewhere
on the coast.
La Zagaleta, a 900-hectare development,
was forged in the ’80s and ’90s by a devel
oper who acquired the former estate of
Saudi-born businessman Adrian Khashoggi.
Its secluded mountain mansions, with sea
views taking in the Rockof Gibraltar and
the Moroccancoast, are prized.
Los Monteros, where actor Antonio Banderas has a home, is also popular. The fastest-growing demand among high-end buyers, however,is for Sierra Blanca. A 1995
five-bedroom home in 2,200-square-meters
of groundsis listed for ¢5.6 million.
Mr. Tobal says Marbella’s year-round
residents are more restrained than past visitors. Their mansions may be 1,500-squaremeters with 7-meter-high ceilings, but materials l~ke stone and woodtemper excess.
"Wetry to be as far awayfrom bling as possible," he says.
In the mountainside
district of La Zagaletathis 1,500square-meter,
villa, designed
by the local
firm of TobalArquitectos,
for lust under~9million. It has160
of terraces,indoorandoutdoor
pools,anda home