The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Cover Story -

For all the Costa del Sol’s bad press, I rarely hear a dis­grun­tled hol­i­day­maker when I’m there. From peo­ple on cut-price pack­age deals to cou­ples rent­ing lav­ish vil­las, they all say how won­der­ful it would be to own a place there. Yet lik­ing the Costa del Sol is al­most a guilty plea­sure. Its im­age is so tar­nished in the UK that ad­mit­ting to own­ing a home there comes with a built-in defence mech­a­nism. “It’s 10 min­utes from Mar­bella,” I’ve found my­self gab­bling, “but it’s still very Span­ish. It’s noth­ing like Mar­bella…”

Asked what she thinks of the coast now, hav­ing spent fam­ily hol­i­days in her So­togrande apart­ment since 1986 (when it cost £70,000), Suzanne Gra­ham, a PR con­sul­tant from Ox­ford, is sim­i­larly at pains to ex­plain her predilec­tion for re­turn­ing year af­ter year. “Oh it’s hor­ren­dous,” she says. “I can’t imag­ine why I still love it, but I do. We’re go­ing there five times this year.”

Ac­tu­ally, she can think of plenty of rea­sons why she loves it. “The weather, the An­dalu­sian horses, the feast days. I’ve some very close Span­ish friends there. It’s so con­ve­nient and it’s won­der­ful for kids. We walk and go bird­watch­ing in the hills. We have a lit­tle boat we take to Gi­bral­tar.

“There is so much to do in So­togrande, the views are won­der­ful, it’s safe, it’s where my chil­dren learnt to ride, play ten­nis and drive…”

Now, Suzanne is sell­ing her two-bed­room pen­t­house over­look­ing the ma­rina, with a 55-year lease, for €325,000 through Holmes Prop­erty Sales. “We’ve had won­der­ful times there and we’ve al­ways rented it out very suc­cess­fully,” she ex­plains. “But we don’t need the flat any more. My daugh­ter has bought a big­ger apart­ment nearby, to re­cre­ate her happy child­hoods there with her own chil­dren, so we all go there in­stead.”

Now and then: Zoe Dare Hall at her house in Ojen and as a child with her mother, on the Costa del Sol. Be­low, Suzanne Gra­ham and her hus­band

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