Marbella: Sun, Sea, Sand, Spa, Sangria. In That Order, Please

Updated: Jun 27, 2019

Marbella is a resort city on southern Spain’s Costa del Sol, Andalusia. The Sierra Blanca Mountains rise dramatically behind 27 km of sandy Mediterranean beaches, villas, hotels, and golf courses.

The Golden Mile, west of Marbella, is full of prestigious nightclubs and coastal estates. Puerto Banús marina hosts luxury yachts and is surrounded by upmarket boutiques and bars.

Traditionally, the best time to visit the Costa Del Sol is in September and October, when the tourist have gone, but it is still warm enough to dip in the sea. Late May and early June has near perfect weather, but with European schools are still in session, less people are about. With that logic in mind (?), we made the trip during English half term in late May.

As soon as we arrived, around 7pm, we checked in then hit the beach for a nice sunset walk and cocktails at the local cabana restaurant.

We stayed at the very luscious Don Carlos Hotel. The Don Carlos has three accommodation options: The Oasis, which is a grouping of rooms adjoined to the spa, The high-rise Hotel Don Carlos, and the exclusive Don Carlos Villas. The resort offers the spa, four pools, a private beach, a kid's club, up-to-date fitness centre, and dozens of tennis courts set amongst 20,000m2 of tropical gardens and water features.

They have three restaurants offering Continental, Mediterranean and Thai cuisine, along with two pool side cafes for quick snack and easy dining. There is also a cocktail bar and Nikki Beach Club, that is just what it is.

The lobby at the Don Carlos

The Don Carlos also has a shop and a business centre. The lobby is well appointing with a decent collection of art available for purchase.

We stayed in the hotel where

the rooms were very clean and a decent size with speedy WIFI and cable TV with several English speaking channels.

The Don Carlos Resort Spa

There are very few hotel spas that I have been impressed with over my years as a self-appointed expert luxury spa reviewer. The One & Only in Cape Town, and the Aguas de Ibiza Grand Luxe Hotel in Ibiza are my two favourites. Usually you have a resort, and then you have a spa resort. The Don Carlos has managed to combine them beautifully.

The treatment menu is large without being overwhelming. I enjoyed a Traditional Don Carlos all over massage that was just delicious. This included nicely scented products and a belly rub. I'm usually a 'hand's off my belly' kind of gal, but I must admit I really enjoyed whatever technique was going on.

When you book a treatment, you can enjoy the spa amenities for the entire day. This includes taking advantage of their hot and cold plunge pools, two steam rooms with different temperatures and scent infusions, cold bucket shower, sauna, and indoor pool with many jets and power showers. You simply can not leave this pool with a tight muscle.

There is a tepid room, which was like a steam room only it was room temperature. I was a little confused by this one, but I gave it a go. A separate room, filled with comfy sun loungers, seems to have a gentle breeze. It could be, though, that this room is simply air conditioned. Nice, though. There is also a door to an outside sunbathing deck.

It was hard to leave the Don Carlos, but one evening we taxi'd to Old Quarter, Marbella for dinner out. Los Naranjos Plaza (Plaza of of the Orange Trees), is a lovely centre of action with loads of al fresco dining. Dozens of little cobbled streets spread from the centre and are occupied with quaint independent shops selling everything you might need to buy.

We had a lovely evening, eating paella and drinking sangria, then rolling to the beach to try to walk it all off. It was hard, but the sea breeze and beautiful evening made it easier to move my over-fed frame around the town.

The harbour side/ sea front area has loads of restaurants, nightlife and several public beaches that offer lots of things to do other than just lay in the sun. Water sports are available, but rather expensive.

We had a wonderful few days at the Don Carlos Hotel in Marbella. Loads of Sun, the majestic sea, just enough sand (never in any of the wrong places), magical spa soaking and treatments, and gallons of thirst-quenching, fruit-drenched sangria. A perfect mini-break!

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About Us


Fearing the empty nest? Don't! Since my children have flown the coup, I have had time to refocus on my passions of travel, art, and writing.  This little blog is a handy tool that helps me share what I have learned with others.


I grew up in the States, but have lived a large chunk of my adult life in the UK. I now split my time between London and South Africa as well as chasing the sun around the world. 


 When my nest emptied, I began to plan my trips according to my own schedule, indulging in going solo. Once one gets used to traveling solo, it can be a very freeing experience. I seek out interesting, informative and unique experiences, and proffer advice with my network of readers.  I also have a lot of fun!


 Spa retreats and personal growth travel are core to what I do.  If there was a master's degree in the art of booking massages, I would be a scholarship student! I also plan to conquer Europe one city break at a time and with all that effort, I need as many beach holidays as possible. 


So please enjoy reading my tales of travel. I hope you are encouraged to get on that plane and perhaps have a few giggles along the way.


When my large family was quite young, we lived in several international postings. In an age before Google Translate,  I negotiated the grocery stores of foreign countries in search of tasty ingredients. I soon became an expert at discerning information from food labels and also learned to cook healthy, quick meals from local sources. 


From this experience, I became quite the foodie, even before 'foodie' was a word. And now as an empty-nester and devotee of food travel networks, I  interpret those old recipes into smaller, even tastier versions. 


Being an editor and food/wine travel columnist,  I travel the world sampling indigenous recipes which I share on Old Bag on a Plane. I also love wine!


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