It’s Spain’s Mediterranean escape, a place that for decades has been a favorite haunt of jet-setters, revelers and those looking to soak up the abundance of sun, sea and sand. Now it has been given a stylish new complex. Travel writer, Amanda Cassidy visits the new Club Med Magna resort in Andalusia for a preview.
International press trips are my favorite, but not for the reasons you might think. Watching travel editors around the world absorb a new luxury all-inclusive resort is a bit like watching kids in a new playground. They are in their natural environment – observing, experimenting, asking questions, whispering to new friends about what we really think about it. You have to think on your feet. Everyone has a deadline, and you all want to sample every aspect of what you’re reviewing primarily to do justice to your readers.
Club Med Magna is a luxury lifestyle resort that runs along the southeast coast of the Costa Del Sol. Many Andalusian-inspired rooms offer sea views from panoramic windows, while one collection overlooks La Concha – the impossibly steep mountain that brings the microclimate to this pocket of Marbella.
We watched in awe as the circus school team show off their version of Spanish web and trapeze skills
A stay at this stylish property includes an a la carte restaurant, Tierra Gourmet Lounge and three bars for guests to sample local food and drink, as well as a buffet-style restaurant Suenos, which offers menus that vary inspired by authentic local cuisine.
Night One, the international team were still talking, but soon it was the spectacular opening garden party we were talking about. Hundreds of tables lined the lush green lawns surrounded by the smell of barbecued lobsters and mouth-watering salmon lingering as we photographed the burnt orange sunset. Then we watched, transfixed, as the circus school team demonstrated their version of web and trapeze skills in Spanish. The churros may have been washed down with champagne afterwards. All was well in the world, and we started exchanging travelogues with the Swedish contingency.
One of the key words of the Club Med philosophy is to put the child at the center of the holidays. A happy child means happy parents.
But it wasn’t just a flash in the pan to turn our cynical media heads. As someone who vacationed and then worked as a GO (a type of vacation rep at Club Med resorts) during the summer between college, these types of gorgeous displays are put up every week, for each guest. And just when you think it can’t get any better, it does. The flame dancers then introduced themselves, moving impressively towards Beyonce, and a local Spanish singer performed fiery traditional flamenco. We moved into the outdoor pool bar to continue the party.
Friendly and family
For a family vacation, it ticks a lot of boxes. Irish holidaymakers in particular will appreciate the direct flights and short transfer (40 minutes from Malaga airport). There is a small water park, flying trapeze, fitness classes, mini club, padel, tennis, golf, beach volleyball, archery and crafts. One of the key words of the Club Med philosophy is to put the child at the center of the holidays. A happy child means happy parents.
I saw this approach work very well when I worked at the Mini Club in my early twenties, and this commitment is further reinforced today by the adoption of a training program for staff that includes childcare , health and safety and even child psychology education through positive affirmations and encouraging children to do more of what they are good at. As a parent myself, this impressed me the most. In addition to spending time with family, it’s fun for children to have fun. And knowing that they are among the leaders who can bring out the best in them is comforting, even on vacation.
Then we dozed by the indoor-outdoor pool and dreamed of the next paella.
The resort, which opened last spring, is a twenty-minute walk from the beaches and downtown Marbella. It’s also just an hour from Gibraltar and two hours from Granada, Seville and Cadiz, making it easy to explore the area’s Arab-Andalusian history.
The setting is lovely: 14 acres of gardens, five pools, and an adults-only Zen zone, which was one of the places I parked for a few days. There are kids’ clubs, water games, mini-golf and a zip line. The spa, with 14 treatment rooms, was a cool, calm oasis with plush sky-blue swivel chairs in the relaxation room, overlooking the blue Mediterranean in the distance. Then we dozed by the indoor-outdoor pool and dreamed of the next paella.
The best part of the Club Med Magna experience is the sense of sanctuary, the quality of the food, the facilities (I tried padel for the first time and loved it) and the opportunity to try new things on vacation (including the flying trapeze – what a buzz!)
The lack of a beach club may disappoint, especially since Club Med is synonymous with water activities, but the resort doesn’t feel like it’s lacking anything, and the diversity of pools and other activities definitely made up for the lack of a beach. It’s here that I must point out the advantages of the Club Med Magna’s location – an Uber will get you to Orange Square (Marbella’s beautiful old street square) in just five minutes. The bright lights and floating boats of Puerto Banus are ten minutes away. The beautiful Insta-famous paseo (promenade) is just ten minutes away, where you can sit down for a carafe of sangria and watch the beautiful people stroll around.
Marbella at a glance
Editor’s tip: Tamanaco is a beachfront restaurant halfway between Marbella and Puerto Banus that specializes in Hawaiian cuisine, including poke bowls. A great place for sunsets and much cooler than the much more expensive Trocadero twenty feet away.
Try Lekune, a traditional pinxos spot where all the Madrid crowd go, and don’t miss the Saturday morning markets in Puerto Banus near the recently refurbished bullring. Rent bikes and ride the paseo. The best ice cream is El Piave in Marbella (approved by my three children). Try Costa Jump in San Pedro, a trampoline park that starts every hour. It’s a ten minute taxi ride from Club Med Magna. For an adventurous day out, visit Estepona, which has seen a lot of recent investment. El Madero on the beach has huge shacks there, and their calamari is some of the best on the coast. Finally, El Higueron restaurant on the way to Malaga is worth a visit – not only the food *kiss from the chef* but the views are mesmerizing.
Irish families will appreciate the convenience of Club Med’s latest offering. An exclusive all-inclusive resort that means everyone will be happy. Young children will especially love the water park and mini club (my ten and eleven may have considered themselves too old for the way it was advertised), but there’s plenty to do for all ages and kids. resort seemed extremely safe. The airport is only steps away and with the level of food offerings (oysters, scallops and the freshest offerings on tap) you will never want to leave the resort.
Prices for an all-inclusive seven-night stay at Club Med Magna Marbella in October start from €1,853 per adult (based on double occupancy) with flights from Dublin and transfers included.