Easy Escapes: Finca Cortesin, Estepona, Spain

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  • Jess Wood grabs some instant sunshine at a five-star hideaway on the Costa del Sol

    Jess Wood grabs some instant sunshine at a five-star hideaway on the Costa del Sol

    Why go? A 50 minute drive from the glitz of Marbella and 20 minutes from Puerto Banús, Finca Cortesin is set in rolling countryside flanked by the Casares Mountains, overlooking the Mediterranean. You can check in and shut yourself away in sumptuous oblivion or use it as a base for exploring – the pretty town of Sotogrande and historic Ronda, famous for the dramatic views from its El Tajo gorge, are nearby.

    Spanish style: life is all white and sunny at Finca Cortesin

    When? There’s no such thing as a dud month in Málaga, which enjoys a mild climate and warm temperatures year round. If you’re after an action-packed break, spring or early autumn are ideal times to make the most of Finca Cortesin’s top class golf course, when temperatures average 19ºC. If topping up your tan is the priority, temperatures soar to the high 20s in July and August.

    Stay at: The hotel feels like being in a converted historic building – although it was actually only built a few years ago. Designed in traditional ‘finca’ style, it features a Moroccan-style tiled courtyard and interiors by the late Portuguese design guru Duarte Pinto Coelho. Inspired décor details include a stone floor sourced from an 18th-century Portuguese convent, antique wooden doors salvaged from castles and a gym adorned with chandeliers. Oh, and the grounds boast thousand year-old olive trees brought over from Sicily and lovingly replanted. There are only 67 (incredibly spacious) suites, each furnished in an airy Provençal style, with giant plump white beds and huge marble bathrooms kitted out with Penhaligon’s toiletries. If you want to push the boat out, fully-serviced villas are also an option. For relaxation, choose from an open-air dip surrounded by vines in one of the three mosaic-tiled outdoor pools, or try the heated indoor pool which uses natural salt water. As well as the 18-hole golf course and Jack Nicklaus golf academy, the resort has two tennis courts and two paddle tennis courts. When you want to hit the beach club, a kilometre away from the main buildings, the hotel provides a free shuttle.

    Room with a view: an executive suite at Finca Cortesin

    Dine at: Let out your waistband in preparation for a gastro feast. All the food here is light and modern, with an experimental twist. After bespoke cocktails in the chic Blue Bar, we settle in at the Spanish-themed El Jardín de Lutz and gorge on warm pigeon salad with chestnuts and wild berries. There’s also an Italian restaurant, Don Giovanni, but the pièce de résistance is the blow-out five-course dinner at Kabuki Raw, where chef Rafael Carrasco serves up Japanese-meets-Mediterranean dishes in a setting that allows you to see the chefs at work – hence the ‘kabuki’ (Japanese theatre) name. Highlights include belly of tuna with tomato and toasted bread, a melt-in-the-mouth sushi selection and a dish of wafer-thin white fish with citrussy ponzu sauce.

    In the morning the incredible buffet breakfast is brought to you in lots of small dishes as you gaze out over the gardens – our yoghurt came whipped and accompanied by little pots of chocolate and cucumber. Far more delicious than it sounds!

    Country comforts: the Blue Bar at Finca Cortesin

    You really must: To work off all those courses, treat yourself to a Biologique Recherche treatment at the hotel’s spa, which has an extensive menu of facial and body treatments, from £87 for 60 minutes. There are also massages, including Oriental, Thai, Balinese and four-hand, as well as fabulous caviar and collagen facials. It also features Spain’s only snow cave – if you’re brave enough.

    If you’re keen to explore the surrounding area, take a (tipsy) wine-tasting tour round the sherry bodegas of nearby Jerez de la Frontera, a town also famous for its Feria del Caballo (10-17 May). The hotel also offers a package which takes you round the Gonzalez Byass wine cellar and includes tickets to the ‘Real Escuela de Arte Equestre’ dancing horse show, from £1,729 for two including three nights in a junior suite with breakfast and spa access.

    Málaga (malagaturismo.com) is also making a name for itself as a cultural centre. An outpost of the Centre Pompidou in Paris (centrepompidou.es) has just opened on the waterfront with some 80 works from its collection on show, and other worthwhile stops are the Coleción de Museo Ruso (coleccionmuseoruso.es), the Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga (carmenthyssenmalaga.org) and the Museo Picasso Málaga (museopicassomalaga.org).

    Flower power: olive trees at Finca Cortesin

    Bring home: Sherry, olive oil, cheese and serrano ham – you can get all this at Málaga airport after security.

    Book now: British Airways (ba.com) flies from London Gatwick and London City to Málaga (45 minutes’ drive from Finca Cortesin) from £84 return, and from London Heathrow to Gibraltar (35 minutes’ drive) from £74 return. In April a junior suite at Finca Cortesin (fincacortesin.com) costs from £397 room only.

    Info: Marco Polo Andalucía (£12.99; Mairdumont) covers the region, and see andalucia.org.


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