Home to the exclusive Sotogrande resort – all crisp white villas, gleaming supercars and healthy, tennis-court-tanned skin – and a wealthy port, San Roque’s immunity to local economic pressures is a result of the bottomless pit of money continuously brought in to Sotogrande from overseas. It’s a haven for the holiday home, and draws moneyed Brits, Germans, Swedes, Danes and the Dutch all year round.
As a result, San Roque’s makeup is distinctly gentrified; it’s a town that boasts pristine streets, avenues, lanes and squares; huge hillside villas grabbing the best views of the coast and the Rock of Gibraltar in the distance, and an imported population making little effort to integrate into Spanish society, but content to live their own life while enjoying Spain’s famous natural attractions.
In actual fact, San Roque is perhaps one of Southern Spain’s best examples that appearances can be deceptive. Despite the chic sheen that settles across the town at dusk; despite the air of entitlement and expat attitude that you might whiff on occasion; despite the aforementioned grandeur of Sotogrande… San Roque is a happy amalgamation of indigenous and expatriate. The wealthy ‘guiris’ bring in bucketfuls of cash, propping up the economy and making the area one of relatively high employment.
What’s more, the attraction of San Roque is its easy juxtaposition of traditional and sophisticated. A gentle stroll around the narrow cobbled streets of the village reveals a classic Andalusian settlement, complete with pre-requisite whitewashed houses, cute Juliet balconies and colourful flower all set beneath a searing sun. The little square, the dusty bodegas and the chalk-written tapas boards are all evident, as are the yachts and swish restaurants of the port, the golf courses of the hills inland and the polo set enjoying pitchside champers. San Roque marries both cultures, and does so expertly.