Celebrity Travel Destinations – Costa del Sol

Travel destinations on the Spanish Riviera, or the Costa del Sol, attract celebrities, royalty, and the wealthy, as well as the not so rich or famous, for the mild climate and the endless days of sunshine.

From the grand opening of Puerto Banús in 1970, attended by such famous people as Prince Rainier and Grace of Monaco, the Aga Khan, Roman Polanski, Hugh Hefner, and Julio Iglesias, it has rapidly gained in popularity as a travel destination and place to have fun. It is now connected to the town of Marbella, a well-known tourist spot, by a wide wooden footbridge across the Rio Verde to the 8-mile long seashore esplanade. There’s much more to vacationing in Puerto Banús, however, besides admiring the fabulous yachts at the marina and the luxurious automobiles, and hoping to see a few celebrities such as Kate Moss, the Beckhams, Simon Cowell, Sean Connery, and Saudi King Fahd, who are frequent visitors.

Dali’s 3-ton statue of a green rhinoceros in lace, a gift to the port in 2004, stands at the entrance of this interesting old fishing village, now a thriving town with shops and small boutiques, trendy bars and clubs, a wide selection of restaurants and cafes, and lots of things to see and do. Known as an outstanding travel destination for golf enthusiasts, one of the best in the world, there are over 20 championship courses and driving ranges in the area around Puerto Banús and Marbella. Valderrama, Flamingos, Aloha, Los Naranjos, and San Roque, to mention a few, offer vacationers an incredible golfing experience.

Beach goers will enjoy sunning and the spa at Buddha’s Beach, the Caribbean atmosphere of Pedro’s, jet skiing at Mistral’s, or perhaps the more exclusive Ocean Club. In addition, there are numerous entertainment venues including the huge Tivoli World amusement park, adventure and water parks, as well as a zoo open until midnight and the free Lobo (wolf) Park. A 15-minute ride on the cable car to the top of Mt Calamorro offers a spectacular view, often as far away as Gibraltar and the Moroccan coast. While in the area, travelers may visit the sanctuary for the giant Andaluz donkeys in danger of becoming extinct.

Hours & Admission:

Tivoli – Open Sat & Sun, 12 Noon – 8pm (Sundays only in November). $8.

Cable Car: Open daily, 10am – 6pm. Adults – $16, Children – $11.

Ancraa Sanctuary: Sun, 11am – 2pm. Free, donations welcome.

Zoo – Open daily, 10am – 6pm. Children ages 3 to 9, $12, Adults – $17.

If you’re looking for even more family entertainment, the Casa Loca provides something for all ages with large play areas, special events, a restaurant, and bar.

Hours: Mon & Thurs – 2 to 9pm, Wed – 10am to 9pm, Fri – 2 to 11pm, Sat – 12:30 to 11pm, Sun – 12:30 to 9pm.

Admission: $10 – all day.

Puerto Banús is a shopper’s dream with over 95 boutiques, large shopping centers, and upscale stores to suit extravagant tastes from designers such as Armani, Dior, and Versace to the less expensive Precio Justo (the right price) shops, Bershka, and the large department store El Corte Ingles, with prices to fit the average traveler’s budget. There’s always the Saturday street market for bargain hunters.

Restaurants & Nightlife:

Travelers will find great seafood at Antonio’s, popular with celebrities, Italian at Don Leone, and the unusual baked fish in salt at La Dorada. If you enjoy fine dining, the Ristorante Regina features the best in Italian dishes, with an impressive wine list, superb atmosphere, outdoor terrace, live music, and impeccable hospitality. Every Thursday from 6 to 8, Regina’s offers champagne and cocktails, $2-6 a glass, and Sunday lunch is now available for $20-$24. February is carnival month where guests can enjoy a fabulous meal for $27. Visit their website for more information and make reservations for lunch, a romantic evening, or special occasion.

A tourist favorite is La Moraga in Puerto Banús, where the menu is extensive and the food delicious, well worth the price of $70 to $80 for two full meals, drinks, and dessert. Guacho features Argentine fare, and Los Bandidos specializes in Swedish and French dishes. Try Spain’s famous tapas and other regional specialties at La Taberna del Pinxto in Marbella, avg price under $20, and El Baracon de las Tapa.

The Costa del Sol is known for nightlife and there are an abundance of places in Marbella and Puerto Banús from cozy pubs and friendly bars such as Sinatra’s, Irish Banús, Conga, El Corsario, and Salduba to the glittering discos at the swanky Olivia Valére, Vanito, and The Loft, or Dreamers and Scream for the younger crowd. La Comedia offers late night entertainment, open from 11pm until 6am. If disco and dancing is not your thing, the Library Bar, Lulu’s, and Linekers are recommended for cocktails and “hen and stag” parties. Other popular nightspots are the Havana Bar, the News Cafè, and the Buddha del Sol for something different.


The ultra luxurious Marbella Club Hotel, located on the “Golden Mile” between Puerto Banús and Marbella has catered to many international film stars such as Audrey Hepburn, Ava Gardner, and Sir Laurence Olivier. It offers elegant guest rooms and suites, a beach club, golf club, riding stables, a fully equipped spa, as well as informal and formal dining options.

Rates: $400 to over $1,000 per room (obviously not affordable for the average budget).

Among the more reasonably priced are the Andalucia Plaza Hotel in Marbella, which offers over 400 guestrooms, a fitness center, casino, and golf and tennis nearby. Conveniently located for both leisure and business travelers, travelers will appreciate the top-notch service at this hotel, earning the First Choice Gold Choice Award in 2000-2001. Rates: From $104 . Others recommended include

The Melia Marbella near the boardwalk with rates from $110, and the Gran Hotel Guadalpin with rates from $180. Numerous apartments, hostels, and private villas (if you prefer) are available in the area.

Getting there: Major airline carriers to Malaga Airport include British Airways, Lufthansa, KLM, & Iberia. If you rent a car, be sure and get good directions Рfrom the airport to Marbella 30-45 minutes. Taxis are also available, but a less expensive alternative is to take the bus for $6. Puerto Ban̼s is a short drive or bus ride from Marbella.

Whether you’re looking for romance, relaxation in a beautiful setting, the excitement of a cosmopolitan atmosphere, or planning a golf vacation holiday, it’s quite possible you’ll find it on the Costa del Sol.

Sharon L Slayton

Filed Under: Celebrity travel gossip

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