Don Carlos, Marbella, Spain

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  • Luxe surroundings, an arty interior and furniture by Philippe Starck at the Don Carlos hotel in Spain

    Walking into the lobby of the Don Carlos hotel in Marbella, Spain, is a little like entering a high-end art gallery. From the lavish floral displays and sculptural furniture to the actual art work itself, if it weren’t for the trolleys of suitcases and suited-and-booked reception staff, you could just as easily be in a well-lit annex of the Tate Modern.

    Intimidating? Not at all actually. The curious mix of well-dressed business bods staying at the hotel for conferences (Samsung were in residence at the time of our visit) and swimsuit-clad holiday makers all swanning through reception ensure you’ll be welcomed with open arms no matter how much or little work you intend on doing during your stay.

    Up in the bedrooms, the design theme continues with Philippe Stark furniture nestled up against trademark, mirrored walls.

    With 243 rooms and suites, we’re not in boutique hotel territory here, but there are plenty of advantages to the resort’s vast size, not least the numerous restaurants and bars (in a two-day visit we didn’t eat in the same place twice), plus the extensive landscaped gardens, the pools, beach club and world-class tennis courts.

    In fact, with so much on offer, it’s a wonder anyone spends more than a few sleeping hours in their room. Famous for its Beach Club, with its four-poster beachside beds, sunscreen waiter service and cocktails on tap, the Don Carlos also neighbours Nikki Beach where you’ll find more of the same lavish beds, beautiful people and pumping music. Beware though that with both, you’ll pay for entry unless your hotel package includes Beach Club entry as part of the extras.

    If after paying for all those cocktails and someone to massage in your sunscreen, your budget isn’t totally blown, the Don Carlos has recently opened a private selection of Deluxe Villas with their own pool and fleet of personal assistants (and helicopter launch pad for that matter). We haven’t won the lottery yet, but when we do, intend to make them one of our first ports of call.

    Special offers:
    Classic Collection Holidays (, 0800 008 7288) offer 7 nights for the price of 5 (or 14 for the price of 10) for stays completed by 31/08/09 at Don Carlos Leisure Resort & Spa in Marbella, saving £380 per couple per week or £190 per person. Meanwhile, a 7-night holiday in July 2009 is down from £1,136 per person, to £946 per person. Price based on two sharing a superior double/twin room on a bed and breakfast basis, including return flights and private transfers.   
    For further information on the Don Carlos Leisure Resort & Spa, visit

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