Puerto Banus is a trendy, world famous holiday destination on the Costa del Sol, some 60 km from Malaga Airport. Situated in Nueva Andalucia just west of Marbella, the resort certainly has its naysayers, who claim it is all glitz and no substance, and just a millionaire’s playground. This is true. But let’s not forget that Puerto Banus is a purpose-built resort with just that in mind. Constructed in 1970 by the architect José Banus, it was conceived as a luxury marina and shopping complex to cater to the influx of members of the elite jet set. Puerto Banus may have lost some of its luster since the halcyon days of the seventies, when it was popular with the likes of Sean Connery and Ava Gardner, but it is still a popular haunt for celebrities and high-rollers. It is also a magnet for the vicarious and curious who want to catch a glimpse of the lifestyles of the rich and famous.
If shopping is your raison d'être, then Puerto Banus is the place for you. Just make sure you go with space in your suitcase for the marina is crammed with chic designer brands to keep even the most discerning fashionista happy. Spread over a relatively short retail strip in the marina, luxury shopping experiences await you in the major fashion emporiums – Versace, Chloe, Jimmy Choo, Carolina Herrera , Dolce & Gabbana, to name a few.
If you can't afford to splash out thousands of euros on designer labels, there are other more affordable options. You will find Spanish high street fashion stores such as Zara, Stradivarius and Mango in the Marina Banús mall. Opposite the mall is Spain's beloved el Corte Inglés department store with its hypermarket, Hipercor. In summer an International Arts and Crafts Fair adds an exotic flair to the Port. Silverwork from Peru, and ambient nickel and glass lamps from India are just a few of the handmade arts and crafts on display. If you want to bargain hunt, don’t miss the Saturday Street Market by the bullring, with its wide array of clothes, shoes, crafts as well as the usual selection of fake designer goods. Be sure to haggle for a discount.
Retail therapy over, time for some car gazing. It isn’t uncommon to see the likes of Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Bentleys cruising along the quayside or sidled up against one of the super yachts in the marina. You will also see the famous yacht, Shaf, belonging to the Saudi royal family docked there.
When it comes to dining and entertainment, the Port is really impressive. All types of eateries, alfresco bars, piano bars and pubs abound. Puerto Banus offers some of the most exclusive restaurants in the area but there are also some economic choices available. You can’t go wrong with the well-priced Picasso Pizzeria or Jack’s American Brasserie, both of which boast harbour views. Behind the main square you will find the much newer Dani Garcia’s La Moraga and the Hard Rock Café as well as several tapas bars. Even if you eat a few streets back you will still want to go down to the Port for a stroll with an ice cream or to chill out at a bar to do some celebrity spotting. If you need a respite from all the shopping and partying, there is a cinema that shows one English-language film each week.
Indulge yourself and have a slice of the millionaire lifestyle for a reasonable price. You can charter a fully crewed yacht and spend a few hours lounging and sipping champagne as well as dolphin watching. Fulfill your automobile dreams with the rental of a Ferrari, Aston Martin or other exotic luxury car from one of the many specialised car rental agencies. If your wallet doesn't quite stretch to hiring a yacht, don’t deprive yourself of the stunning setting of the whitewashed buildings against the backdrop of the la Concha Peak, hop on a catamaran (Marbella Catamaran) for a 3-hour cruise along the local coastline.
On either side of the Puerto Banus are beaches but don't expect gorgeous golden sand. If you are feeling really flush, there are a number of beach clubs just west of the Port all within walking distance. The clubs have big chill-out beds, private pools and bars serving up cocktails. The two most popular are: Ocean Club, famous for its daytime Sintillate Champagne Spray parties and la Sala Beach (formerly Buddha Beach), which attracts a celebrity crowd year after year. Mistral Beach is another beach club, a bit more low key and serving traditional Spanish food. The beach there is popular with the young crowd and families alike and there is a water sports centre for the more active. For a simpler beach experience, grab your towel and sunscreen and head to one of the chiringuitos where you can rent a sunbed for around €10. One of the popular ones is Pedro’s Beach with its very laidback atmosphere of wooden tables and beer barrel seating, and famous for its prawn pil pil.
Don't leave without snapping a photo of the iconic green rhinoceros by Dali as well as the “el Marbellero” statue, a gift from Russian expats and said to be a representation of Marbella’s local residents.
For self catering accommodation, the holidaymaker is spoilt for choice. Luxurious apartments, townhouses and villas for rent are found all over Puerto Banus, including first line of the port.
Naturally, Puerto Banus does not exist in isolation. If you are willing to travel 10-20 minutes by car you will find Marbella, San Pedro de Alcantara, Benahavis and Estepona within your reach. Needless to say, that being located in Nueva Andalucia, the Golf Valley is right on its doorstep. It also has fast road access to the usual heritage sites such as Ronda, Mijas, Casares, etc.