The Mediterranean lifestyle is one which finds pleasure in daily life. Food is cooked from scratch and mealtimes are shared with loved ones, work-life-balance is taken seriously, in times of stress or turmoil there is a proverbial shrug of the shoulders and ‘let it be’ attitude and olive oil is drizzled over pretty much everything. Spring, being the season of blossoming and starting anew, seemed the perfect time to visit the Marbella Club to experience their recently launched ‘Mediterranean Lifestyle Programme’, a 3-day guided wellness package.
Marbella Club has a history as glittering as the coastline it sits on. From humble beginnings as an old farmhouse which was acquired by Prince Alfonso Hohenlohe in 1954, the hotel has attracted legendary guests such as Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Ava Gardner and Cary Grant. It put Marbella on the map as a holiday destination and while the Spanish city is synonymous with beach parties and debauchery, Marbella Club has more recently established itself as a luxury hideaway for the health-conscious.
With a tailored approach to wellness, they offer six different packages depending on your desired goals, lasting 2, 3 or 7 days. Each one varies in severity, from the workout-heavy ‘Bikini Body and Beach Ready’ programme to the less onerous ‘Destress & Unwind’. The ‘Mediterranean Lifestyle’ package which I opted for promised to have me feeling “revitalized and radiant” thanks to a healthy yet relaxed diet, facials, body treatments and personalised massages. For those wanted to engage in open discussions, there are also weekly talks which are open to all hotel guests, ranging in topics from gut health to how to curb sugar cravings.
It wasn’t difficult to relax once I’d checked in at Marbella Club. My room was airy and decorated in a palette of sandy tones and calming blues, complete with its own balcony, Nespresso machine and a welcome basket full of fresh fruit and herbal teas. I also noticed a yoga mat in the wardrobe, an indication of the hotel’s efforts to encourage a healthful stay. No Mars bars in the mini bar either – instead it was filled with dark chocolate, kombucha and organic coconut water. The bathroom was equally as spacious with a bathtub and rain shower. Aside from the essentials, it was also stocked with a dry body brush, natural sea sponge and Natura Bisse products – all the right tools for a few days of self-care and pampering.
The first thing I noticed about the grounds at Marbella Hotel was how botanically rich they were. I later found out they had been landscaped by Prince Alfonso, who’d travelled the world collecting different exotic species of flowers, trees and plants. Fuchsia bougainvillaea clambered up the white walls creating a stark contrast, vines wrapped around archways, palm trees provided shade and just past the lobby, a water fountain sat framed by a jasmine-filled courtyard.
The Wellness Plan
My journey to a “radiant and revitalized” me began with a lifestyle consultation in the Holistic Studio, which is a separate 3-story glass building hidden within a tranquil garden. I discussed my current eating and exercising habits with in-house wellbeing advisor Carolyne, who gave me some pointers on which areas I needed to focus on and handed me my programme for the next few days. On the agenda: daily yoga and pilates, (optional) additional fitness activities such as core workouts and HIIT, daily spa treatments and a taster of all four of the hotel’s eateries. I also had access to the 24-hour gym did I wish to do my own workouts, which I did on two occasions before dinner, once the evening had cooled a little.
The programme was carefully mapped out so that I could enjoy each activity without feeling rushed, giving me plenty of in-between time to explore the surrounding areas or simply laze by one of the hotel’s three pools. I headed to the spa for my first treatment, a 45-minute Thalasso Vichy Salt & Oil Exfoliation. I lay down on a bed which had 3 different shower heads stationed over the top. The therapist scrubbed my entire body with a sea salt and oil mixture and later rinsed it off with salt water. While not the most relaxing experience, it was certainly revitalizing and let my skin feeling silky smooth. The following day, after a sauna session and dip in the Thalasso spa pool which overlooks the mediterranean sea, I had a Heated Lava Stone Massage which was a deeply therapeutic and balancing treatment with essential oils. Combined with the daily yoga classes (I tried aerial for the first time and did lots of Ashtanga and Hatha), the spa time really calmed my nervous system and made me feel pampered in every sense. My third and final day involved a Hydramemory Facial which was super hydrating for my sun-parched skin, using hibiscus and honey to gently lock in moisture.
Marbella Club has four main places to eat, each with their own vibe and menu. The common thread amongst all of these, however, is a nod towards typically Spanish cuisine, using local and seasonal ingredients, bold flavours and of course, plenty of delicious extra virgin olive oil (they serve Belvis del Las Navas, Marbella’s first certified organic olive oil).
‘The Grill’ is where you’ll find the expansive breakfast buffet each morning, with outdoor seating overlooking the manicured lawns and the outdoor pool. The spread includes pretty much everything you could possibly want to start your day, from made-to-order juices and egg dishes to cold cuts, cheeses and on the sweeter side, fresh fruit, pastries and pancakes. I opted for veggie omelettes with salmon and fresh guacamole and cold-pressed green juices each morning. Come evening, The Grill is the most formal and classic of Marbella Club’s eateries, retaining the old-school charm which the hotel is famed for. The outdoor terrace lights up with candles and is the perfect spot for a romantic evening for couples.
The Beach Club is a more casual affair, with seafood platters and buffet-style lunches by the pool. MC Cafe is great for casual dinners and was one of my regular spots as I fell in love with the grilled fish and Asian sauteed vegetable dish there. Finally, Chiringuito MC Beach offers the best fish and seafood, barbecued food, beachside cocktails and huge pans of paella.
Marbella Club has also partnered with award-winning nutritionist, Amanda Hamilton to create bespoke health-focused menus which are available at all four of the restaurants. This makes adhering to your Lifestyle Programme easier, as the menus outline recommended dishes. The attention to detail at Marbella Club even means that staff are made aware of your package so that you are served the best-suited meals for you, without any confusion.
I fell in love with the hotel’s holistic approach to wellness and the sense that my Mediterranean package was all about adopting a lifestyle as opposed to embarking on a strict regime. Daily workouts were balanced out with blissful, indulgent spa treatments and downtime reading by the pool. I took long, leisurely strolls along the promenade which is just a few steps away from the hotel and come evening, if I fancied a glass of wine alongside my dinner, it still fitted in with the programme. Marbella Club itself is both virtuous and fun in equal measures – the perfect place to combine luxury with wellness for a restorative holiday, whatever your personal goals.
For more information and booking visit Marbellaclub.com
words by Eva Ramirez