The charming hilltop village of Benahavís, just ten minutes’ drive from Marbella into the foothills of the Serranía de Ronda certainly punches above its weight.
It’s known as "the dining room of the Costa del Sol", with the highest concentration of world-class eating in the region.
There are more than three dozen restaurants in the winding backstreets of Benahavís, ranging from atmospheric-cellar to sun-drenched roof terraces. Los Albanicos, Amanhavis and La Escalera de Manolo Espada are top of the booked-out list. But the menus which feature un-showy regional specialities also lists wines at €100-plus per bottle, and Los Albanicos alone sells more than 20 bottles a year of the €1,400 Pingus. All of which indicates the clientele that comes to eat here from the nearby millionaire enclaves.
The relaxed charm of Benahavís contrasts with the value of the properties on the surrounding hills. This is the location of some of the most serious property money in Spain.
The climate is as appealing as at Marbella Beach Club just 20 minutes down the hill. There is spectacular mountain scenery in every direction, and the 100km views along the coastline and across to Africa are unbeatable.
The river gorges of the Guadalmansa, Guadaize and Guadalmina offer unspoilt nature, with hiking, canyoning, and swimming in clear river pools.
And there are golf courses. Seven golf clubs in Benahavís alone, including Los Arqueros, the first golf course to be designed by Severiano Ballesteros. Plus 15 more world-class courses within just a 15-minute drive. For low-handicap, high-net-worth investors, this is the place to be.
Benahavís is a highly desirable place to live. But for seclusion, privacy and exclusivity nothing can match the villas on the estate of La Zagaleta which overlooks the township.
To call this a "gated community" suggests an urban estate with an entrance barrier, restricted access and private parking.
This is a difference level of exclusive living: a vast 2,200 acres of mountain scenery which has been described as "the world’s most expensive housing estate."
It previously belonged to billionaire arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, who was known as the King of Marbella for the lavish parties he threw at his residence here. When the former hunting estate was embargoed by three banks it was bought by a far-sighted consortium of Spanish, Swiss, German and American investors.
The cheapest building plots here now sell for millions of euros, with prime locations coming onto the market at tens of millions. Building on the estate sets a new bar for super-luxury design and fit-out, with infinity pools, private spas, gyms, wine cellars and home cinemas as standard, and additional features ranging from glass floors and bowling alleys, to golf simulators and helipads. Amongst the finished properties which do come to market, a 10-bedroom ultra-modern villa designed by Maxim Prunkov was listed for sale in 2018 for £25M.
There are no apartments. The building plots of 3,000 to 10,000 square metres are accessed by country roads which wind through the wooded mountain terrain, with each plot separated by a minimum green zone intended to allow freedom of movement for wildlife.
Understandably, ownership here is limited to the vastly wealthy. And privacy is highly valued: barbed-wire fencing surrounds the entire estate, there is 24-hour armed security and extensive CCTV.
It’s rumoured that Vladimir Putin co-owns a palatial villa with a number of Russian businessmen. The Beckhams and Beyoncé have denied that they own homes here. The mayor of Moscow, Hugh Grant and Rod Stewart have lived here at various times, and Cristiano Ronaldo has certainly rented a mansion to host family and friends during the summer.
Khashoggi’s former mansion is now the club house of one of the most prestigious country clubs in Europe, and includes a restaurant, bar, billiard and bridge rooms, pro-shop, swimming pool and tennis courts. There are two 18-hole golf courses, and an equestrian centre which stables Spanish and Arab horses (members and residents can have their own horses stabled here).
For yacht owners, the exclusive marina at Puerto Banús is only 18 minutes away.
In the early 1990s, when the Costa del Sol was embracing development, there was planning permission for 3,000 properties on the Zagaleta estate. A decision by the new owners to limit building to only 420 homes has proved to be extremely astute.
Approximately half the potential plots have been developed to date. And at this level of exclusivity and luxurious provision, the market is proving to be immune to the fluctuations that affect properties further down the price chain.
See also: Property development finance in Marbella.
To invest in exclusive properties at this level, in a building plot or in a finished luxury villa - for your own use or as a high-return rental property - Clifton Private Finance can access private institutions and our funding circle. Call us to discuss your plans:
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