‘WE’REGOING THEREFIVETIMES THIS YEAR’
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