ESPAÑA, COSTA DEL SOL
Welcome to Sotogrande
Sitting at the extreme west end of the Costa del Sol next to the Guadiaro River lies one of the most exclusive residential areas in southern Spain. Known for its magnificent mansions and laid-back pace of life, Sotogrande is the discreet hideaway of the world’s aristocracy, celebrities and millionaires.
Unlike Marbella just down the coast, Sotogrande is all about “not being seen” and enjoying life without the paparazzi. That said, every so often the cameras do focus on the area, particularly when it comes to sporting events.
Sotogrande boasts several prime golf courses including Valderrama (ranked among the best in the world), Europe’s best polo clubs and two prestigious tennis clubs. These events bring together the world’s elite both on and off the greens, fields and courts.
Sotogrande’s history goes back to the early 1960s when self-made millionaire Joseph McMiking was on the lookout for a beachside location to build a residential development modelled on Palm Beach in Florida. The 3,000 or so hectares on the Mediterranean next to the Guadiaro caught his eye and by the mid-1960s the first wide avenues flanked by palm trees were laid. First property investors to buy in Sotogrande included the diamond magnate Phillip Oppenheimer and Nestlé’s Helmut Maucher.
The area quickly became popular among the Spanish aristocracy and richest families in Andalusian, drawn to the tranquillity and laid-back feel to Sotogrande. This relaxed atmosphere continues to be the area’s main attraction today, although residents now include millionaires from around the world and a sizeable number of Gibraltarians who have made the area their home.
Its proximity to the Atlantic, just beyond Gibraltar, means Sotogrande has a wetter and cooler climate than the rest of the Costa del Sol. Windy conditions too are common throughout the year keeping the summer heat down and making Sotogrande slightly cooler in the winter than neighbouring Estepona and Marbella. However, you can still expect plenty of sunshine with an average of around 300 sunny days a year.
Sotogrande lies in the province of Cadiz and enjoys the lush green scenery that characterises this part of Andalusian. Rolling hills covered in cork oaks surround Sotogrande with the high mountains and forests of the Alcornocales Natural Park to the north, one of the most beautiful parts of Spain.
Inland too are many of Andalusia’s famous white towns and villages including Medina Sidonia, Arcos de la Frontera and Gaucín. On the southern horizon is the Rock of Gibraltar whose silhouette dominates the skyline with the Moroccan coast beyond.
Visit Sotogrande at any time of year and you’ll find a quiet residential area with seemingly little going on. The discreet atmosphere means that people tend to keep themselves to their families and friends even at the height of summer.
The absence of the paparazzi and the glitz and glamour of Puerto Banús and Marbella means the rich and famous can holiday almost below the radar.
That said, the list of well-known faces runs very long at Sotogrande, particularly during the summer. Members of the Spanish Royal Family are regular visitors as is Sarah Ferguson. Novak Djokovic included Sotogrande on his summer itinerary recently and members of the European aristocracy holiday there every year.
Outside Sotogrande you’ll receive the usual warm Andalusian welcome. The locals in Cadiz province are famed in Spain for their love of laughter and life and you’ll find that joie de vivre when you visit the surrounding area.
Architecture & Market
Sotogrande’s beginnings as the Mediterranean Palm Beach give a clue to some of its architecture. Many of the mansions and townhouses in Sotogrande Costa have an American Hacienda style in pale pastels with tropical gardens and grounds.
Properties built like traditional Andalusian cortijo estates are also common – interior patios with fountains, pan tiled roofs and whitewashed façades make up the main features of this style of home.
In recent years, a more modern look has appeared in some villas to buy in Sotogrande. This architectural style favours straight lines with minimalist features and an abundance of steel and glass.
In complete contrast to these mainstream types of architecture is Sotogrande Marina. The low-rise (just four storeys) apartment blocks have a combination of Mediterranean and South American styles.
Wooden verandas line the façades and large balconies while the wooden shutters and façades contrast in colours – deep blue, ochre, pastels, magenta… – reminding you more of the Venetian islands than southern Spain.
A discreet luxury hideaway with magnificent homes
What You Will Love
Sotogrande allows you to make the most of some of the best ingredients that make up the Costa del Sol. Take the climate for a start – warm sunshine and cool ocean breezes make the weather almost perfect all year round.
The stunning surroundings, practically untouched by modern development, offer delights for nature lovers, hikers and cyclists plus you have some of the prettiest parts of Andalusia on your doorstep. You’ll also love Sotogrande if sport is your thing. Golfers are spoilt for choice as are water sports enthusiasts.
Plus you’ll discover the polo world of chukkas and mallets! But above all, Sotogrande is about peace and quiet, a characteristic valued highly by all who live or holiday there. Tranquil surroundings even in high season when the rest of the Costa del Sol is a hive of activity make Sotogrande unique in southern Spain. And the easy connections mean you can also enjoy the events and attractions in Marbella and other resorts on the Costa del Sol whenever you fancy before you return to your Sotogrande retreat. Possibly the perfect combination!
Where it all began, this part of Sotogrande has a beach-front position and includes the Guadiaro estuary, a protected area and water bird sanctuary. The grey sandy beach makes a popular spot for wind and kite surfing and is home to El Trocadero, one of the Costa del Sol’s signature beach clubs.
The Real Club de Golf de Sotogrande, the oldest of the four golf courses in Sotogrande, lies here. Designed by Robert Trent Jones in 1964, the course fits perfectly into its beachside surroundings and many properties back onto the greens. Bing Crosby was a regular player here joining visitors such as Jackie Kennedy and Onassis.
The gated entrance to this part of Sotogrande takes you through into long avenues, flanked by discreet mansions. All enjoy large grounds, protected from prying eyes by high walls and hedges. They belong to some of the noblest names in Spain and Europe as well as millionaires from all parts of the world. Of all the areas of Sotogrande, the original residential area has maintained its tranquillity the best. Even in the height of summer, the palm-lined avenues are an oasis of peace and quiet.
At the north end lies Las Lomas, a newer Sotogrande development consisting of townhouse complexes and villas. Las Lomas sits next to the A7 motorway that divides Sotogrande into two. Many of the area’s amenities – shops, supermarkets and banks – are found here.
Sotogrande’s seafront position has always made it popular with sailing enthusiasts, but it wasn’t until 1987 that the Marina was born. Built on the east side of the Guadiaro, it takes a Venetian style and consists of artificial areas connected by bridges and tree-lined boulevards. With almost 1,400 berths, Sotogrande Marina is the largest in Andalusia and one of the biggest in Spain. Low-rise apartment complexes sit on the islands and around the Marina’s perimeter and their façades are painted in bright pastels, reminiscent of Murano and Burano in the Venice lagoon. This is one of the main spots for boutiques and restaurants in Sotogrande, many of which have terraces overlooking the boats in the Marina. Unsurprisingly, this is a popular spot to buy in Sotogrande.
Next to the Marina lies Sotogrande’s largest beach, Playa Torreguadiaro whose grey sands run around a small bay for just over 1km. It’s one of the most popular beaches at the west end of the Costa del Sol and also offers good conditions for kite surfing.
Close to the Marina is Santa Maria Polo Club, one of the three largest in Europe and known for its prestigious events the world over. Founded in 1965, the Club celebrates 25 tournaments a year including the world-famous Gold Cup in the summer. It attracts top players from Argentina, Spain and Britain and during the largest events brings together over 2,000 horses.
To the north of the A7 motorway is the second of the largest residential areas that make up Sotogrande. Like its counterpart on the coast, Upper Sotogrande has wide avenues and dozens of mansions. New development is also taking place and includes La Reserva Club.
However, the focal points here are the finest golf courses on the Costa del Sol. They include Valderrama, the best in Europe and one of the premium courses in Europe. Robert Trent Jones designed the course in 1974 and many consider it to be his absolute masterpiece. Valderrama has hosted numerous prestigious tournaments over the years and welcomed the 32nd Ryder Cup in 1997. It was the first course to host the Cup outside the UK and saw the epic victory of the European team captained by Severiano Ballesteros over the US by just one point.
Also taking maximum advantage of the stunning scenery with rolling hills and panoramic views of the Mediterranean and Strait of Gibraltar are two other golf courses. La Reserva de Sotogrande and Almenara Golf both offer excellent playing conditions and rank among the best golf courses on the Costa del Sol. Two riding schools are located in Sotogrande Alto as is Sotogrande International School.
La Reserva Club, set in the hills at the far north of Sotogrande, is the newest place to buy in Sotogrande. Residential options include villas, apartments and townhouses based around the Club itself. This is home to 2,800m of sandy beach, Europe’s longest inland beach and a sports lagoon.
In tune with its high-end status, Sotogrande restaurants take their cuisine seriously. As you’d expect from the polo tradition, Argentinian restaurants are commonplace, particularly those offering grilled meat dishes. There’s also a strong international flavour and you’ll find a mixture of gastronomy from all corners of the world at the restaurants in Sotogrande Marina.
Lovers of Spanish food won’t be disappointed either – many establishments offer typical staples and local dishes, particularly if you venture slightly outside Sotogrande and visit one of the restaurants in San Martin del Tesorillo or on the way to Manilva.
Sitting right on Torreguadiaro beach, Chambao Beach Bar is one of the most established beach bars and restaurants in the area. True to its seaside nature, fresh fish and seafood take pride of place in the menu.
Locally caught red tuna is a must-try in season and the venue is also justly famous for its sushi and whole fish grilled on the open fire.
In the summer, the evening vibe turns to chill-out with a long list of cocktails and live DJs playing into the small hours.
Argentinian specialities dominate Parrilla La Quinta restaurant’s menu – think prime cuts of beef, grilled on the open barbecue, empanada pies and spicy chorizo. Pasta dishes and grilled fish and vegetables are also available.
The venue has a prime position in Sotogrande Marina with a large outside terrace where you can enjoy panoramic views of the boats and yachts moored alongside you. And in true Argentinian style, you can enjoy live tango music and dance in the restaurant on Friday evenings.