Costa del Sol is increasingly a luxury destination with Marbella at the forefront

by Lorraine Williamson

MARBELLA – It was no secret that Marbella exerts a great attraction on tourists who love luxury. Yet it now appears that the entire Costa del Sol is gaining ground as a luxury destination. 

The number of high-quality shops, accommodations and residences on this southern Spanish coast west of the city of Málaga continues to grow and is complemented by the wide cultural offer and the attractive city of Malaga. 

In terms of hotels, the Costa del Sol has “10 five-star hotels classified as ‘Gran Lujo’, mainly located in the areas of Marbella and Estepona, and 11 ‘regular’ five-star hotels in Marbella, Estepona and Málaga city,” said Javier Hernández, Executive Vice President of the Association of Hotel Owners of the Costa del Sol (Aehcos). 

In addition, there are also four-star and lower-category hotels “that target well-to-do tourists, and there are even one- and two-star hostels that attract a target audience even more demanding than that of five-star hotels”. These accommodations often offer small-scale services and strive for hyper-personalisation to serve the well-to-do tourist, Hernández said in Malaga Hoy. Around 10% of the province’s hotel offerings are available in luxury, boutique, and lower-class hotels that cater to this type of tourist. 

Prices in the luxury segment of the hotel sector are very dynamic. Rates typically start from €320 or €350 per room per night and can go as high as €3,000 for presidential suites or villas, depending on the various digital platforms consulted. 

The emergence of Málaga as a luxury destination 

The city of Málaga has experienced a rise in luxury tourism in recent years, with the opening and consolidation of luxury and five-star hotels, as many as four five-star hotels have been added in recent years. This kind of tourism has a clear purpose and is highly segmented, mainly focused on cultural and exclusive sun and beach experiences. Furthermore, shopping and gastronomy also play an important role in their motivations, according to the hotelier. 

The city is thus profiling itself as a luxury tourist destination with considerable potential. Nevertheless, Málaga still has room to grow further, as Marbella already does with its established reputation and appeal to well-to-do tourists. 

The demand for holiday apartments is growing in Málaga 

According to Carlos Pérez Lanzac, president of the Association of Professionals in Holiday Homes and Apartments of Andalucia (AVVA Pro), the demand for luxury holiday apartments has increased in the city of Málaga in recent years. This is because of “the competition that Málaga offers to attract this type of tourist” and because of “the quality of the offer”, although Marbella is still the leader. 

Also read: Only the rich continue to buy houses in Spain 

The supply of high-quality apartments is concentrated in the east of Málaga, where there are also larger and more expensive houses. There are also spectacular penthouses and apartments in La Malagueta, El Morlaco, Bellavista or Pinares de San Anton on El Limonar. 

Baycrest Wealth

The prices of luxury holiday apartments in Málaga can be around €650, €850 or even €1,000 per night in the low season. Meanwhile in the summer they can rise to more than €4,000 per night, depending on the type. 

Rental agencies that operate in this segment mainly have many Americans, Canadians, Australians and Scandinavians as customers. This mainly concerns “senior” guests who also find the cultural offer in Malaga very attractive. 

High-end Marbella 

The city of Marbella presents itself as a reference point for luxury tourism on the Costa del Sol. The hotel offer is being renovated and the arrival of international hotel chains points to the arrival of well-to-do tourists in the coming years. 

What is striking is that the economic situation and inflation due to the war in Ukraine and the Covid pandemic have not affected the luxury segment. Although there has been a slowdown in domestic tourism, international tourism continues to grow. May showed an occupancy rate of 85%. June was pretty good and July is also doing very well according to the tourist organisations. 

Renovation of the hotel offer in Marbella 

The Councilor of Tourism, Laura de Arce, emphasises the renewal that the hotel offer of the city has undergone in recent years, thanks to the modernisation decree of the Junta de Andalucía. Examples include hotels such as El Fuerte Marbella, San Cristóbal, Lima, Guadalmina and Los Monteros. Many of these have been upgraded to a higher category. The alderman also emphasises the arrival of “large hotel chains” to the city, such as Four Seasons, W Hotels, and the American Hyatt in Puerto Banús, the construction of which will start in 2024. It will result in an “immeasurable luxury offer”, according to De Arce. 

In addition to the hotel offer, the city also has Michelin-starred restaurants such as Messina, El Lago, Skina and Nintai. In addition, the remaining luxury gastronomic offer has also grown. This is reflected in the nightlife and “beach bars are increasingly becoming beach clubs”. Furthermore, shopaholics can find exclusive brands in Puerto Banús along with unique shops in the old town centre. Moreover, the city has no less than 14 golf courses. 

Market not affected by the economic crisis 

According to Juan José González, the president of the Tourist Initiative Centre (CIT) Marbella, this summer is already showing “unprecedented” occupancy levels. The CIT representative stressed that, after Madrid and Barcelona, Marbella is “a point of reference” for luxury tourism and “the city is the place with the largest number of first-class brand stores in the country, not only in terms of number but also in terms of turnover”. González stressed that this market is “unaffected by the economic crisis and that tourists with a high level of purchasing power maintain their capacity and continue to come to places like ours.” He claimed that he sees “an incredible growth in the consumption of this type of high-class tourist”. 

Traffic jam 

However, more and more entrepreneurs are urging the authorities to find a solution to the traffic jam on the motorway and along the entire Mediterranean coast. Regional and national governments must also make an effort to control uncontrolled tourism and promote Andalucia as a luxury destination. 

Also read: Companies in Marbella want solutions to traffic jams and chaos on the coast 


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