The mag­nif­i­cent seven

Liz Rowl­in­son ex­am­ines how the once su­per-lux­ury re­sort of So­togrande, now un­der new own­er­ship, is re­turn­ing to its former glory with cut­ting-edge new de­vel­op­ment

Country Life Every Week - - Spain -

The Span­ish re­sort of So­togrande has not been es­pe­cially fash­ion­able in re­cent years. Like its glitzy neigh­bour Mar­bella, it was hit hard by the Span­ish prop­erty crash and, as newer, more cut­ting-edge high­end re­sorts sprang up else­where, it fell off the radar of high-net-worth in­di­vid­u­als who were seek­ing pri­vacy and ex­clu­siv­ity.

how­ever, 2014 her­alded a new chap­ter for An­dalu­sia’s largest re­sort, an al­most 5,000-acre piece of prime coastal land near Gi­bral­tar that stretches back to the Sierra Al­me­nara moun­tains. The 52-year-old re­sort was ac­quired by Cer­berus Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment and Orion Cap­i­tal Man­agers from the Nh ho­tel Group for €225 mil­lion and new CEO Marc To­piol has be­gun to turn things around.

‘So­togrande has a large num­ber of res­i­dents who had been there 40 or 50 years, but it needed to adapt to at­tract new gen­er­a­tions,’ says Mr To­piol, who pre­vi­ously worked for the Mar­riott and Ritz-carl­ton ho­tel groups. ‘I wanted to rein­tro­duce the idea of com­mu­nity liv­ing with a strong sense of se­cu­rity—the re­sort is so huge that fam­i­lies have to get in the car to reach the beach.’

Thus, at La Reserva Club, the high­est point of the re­sort, close to the pop­u­lar So­togrande In­ter­na­tional School (ex­pand­ing this year) and La Reserva Club golf course, Mr To­piol has cre­ated a ‘se­cluded within se­cluded’ en­vi­ron­ment.

The 1,480-acre gated com­mu­nity of La Reserva will in­clude 400 prop­er­ties with a new beach club, chil­dren’s club and water­sports hub based around a new man­made sandy la­goon, well­ness spa, padel-ten­nis cen­tre and restau­rants.

Along with el Mi­rador’s six new plots for de­sign-and-build homes with prices from €5.8 mil­lion, there will also be a col­lec­tion of new vil­las of the type So­togrande has never seen be­fore—the Seven, a septet of stand­out 2,000sq ft-plus homes on the hill, each in­di­vid­u­ally de­signed by lead­ing ar­chi­tects, in­clud­ing Brazil­ian Stu­dio MK27, Nor­we­gian Jensen & Skod­vin and Lon­don-based Gu­muchd­jian Ar­chi­tects. The striking de­signs start from €13.5 mil­lion (w w w.7so­togrande. com).

For those with smaller bud­gets, there are An­dalu­sian-style town houses from €550,000 in the ex­ist­ing Los Cor­ti­jos vil­lage nearby or five-bed­room re­sale vil­las from about €1.8 mil­lion.

To build on the re­sort’s suc­cess as a top sport­ing venue, along with five cham­pi­onship golf cour­ses in­clud­ing Ry­der Cup venue Valder­rama, the best polo fields in europe and a good ten­nis academy, there will be a host of new fa­cil­i­ties and a cal­en­dar of events to at­tract a younger de­mo­graphic. These have in­cluded the in­au­gu­ral Grand Prix—100 clas­sic cars ar­rived in the ma­rina from Seville—fol­low­ing GC32 high-speed cata­ma­ran rac­ing last year.

There are also reg­u­lar cock­tail par-

ties, jazz nights, fit­ness boot camps and detox re­treats. Cer­tainly, the beaches have never been so full as this sum­mer, says James Ste­wart, a Sav­ills as­so­ciate who’s been there for 35 years. ‘The beach bars are packed, buy­ers are get­ting younger and the price of plots has dou­bled since 2014,’ he says.

It seems So­togrande is worth an­other look.

For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion, visit www. lareser­va­club­so­ or tele­phone 00 34 856 560 922

Pri­vacy and ex­clu­siv­ity are the or­der of the day at the rein­vig­o­rated So­togrande, al­though there are plenty of ac­tiv­i­ties if you’re feel­ing so­cia­ble

From €13.5 mil­lion The Seven, a col­lec­tion of vil­las at La Reserva Club, in­cludes this striking de­sign by Fran Sil­vestre Arqui­tec­tos, in­spired by the gorges and cave homes of nearby Granada (www.7so­togrande. com)

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