Back in the 1950s and 1960s, when it first began its transformation from a humble fishing village into the Costa del Sol’s capital of leisure and pleasure, Marbella welcomed some of the top celebrities of the day, from Deborah Kerr to Sean Connery and its reputation as a five-star resort endures.
Of course, the face of celebrity has changed – not to mention its individual faces – so the international media is just as likely to be enthralled by the antics of the cast of a popular reality TV show, The Only Way Is Essex, as they are to note the annual arrival of Hollywood royalty, in the shape of local boy made good, Antonio Banderas and his wife, Melanie Griffith.
The past couple of years have marked a particularly golden era for Marbella, with a very high-profile visit from Michelle Obama drawing paparazzi from all over the world and an increase in the regular arrival of major stars, such as Kylie Minogue, whose Spanish boyfriend, Andres Velencoso is clearly in love with all that this lively city has to offer.
Of course, the success of Spanish stars Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem has also helped to raise awareness. Where do Spain’s beautiful people go to enjoy themselves? The Balearics are popular with many international celebrities – the Spanish royal family, Richard Branson and Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones, amongst others, own property there – but for a resort that offers fun and function within a very small area, Marbella is hard to beat.
This year’s Starlite Charity Gala will be hosted by Antonio Banderas and Eva Longoria, reprising the role that they played in last year’s very successful event at Villa Padierna, which was also chosen by Michelle Obama for her Spanish break.
Holiday travel reflects the trends of the moment as much as fashion, music or any other leisure activity and, while most other resorts have found themselves falling out with a market that now expects high levels of luxury and service, Marbella has effortlessly reinvented itself. The Hollywood names of the 1950s have not only been joined by the big stars of today, they have been augmented by a new generation of celebrities who endorse the city’s continuing popularity.
In the summer months, apart from the celebrities who arrive in their dozens, there are always concerts featuring some of the biggest names from the world of music. In the past few years there have been concerts by Blondie, Deep Purple and Elton John and this year Earth, Wind and Fire, Jamie Cullum and Tom Jones will be here, amongst many others. It’s unbeatable all the year round, but during July and August it’s as much a place to see and be seen as St. Tropez.