Is it all polo, swanky yachts, golfing in the sun and fancy clothing boutiques? Does Sotogrande somehow combine the glamour of Puerto Banús with its very own stamp of sophistication? It can certainly seem this way – residents of Sotogrande are somehow detached from the often-frenetic madness of the coast, yet still play an integral part in its social scene. The resort’s swish port receives almost none of the tourist trade that so swells the coffers of Banús’ bars and restaurants each summer, yet there’s rarely a hint of panic at falling profits.
Sotogrande seems like it is on a higher plane, both socially and economically. The almost-clinical whiteness of the architecture in and around the resort is almost too pristine, too unlived-in. Whereas Banús and Marbella have an authenticity to them that is visible once the tourist sheen has worn off, Sotogrande can often come across as something of a prototype; a whitewashed model village torn straight from some property developer’s boardroom, blown up and plonked into the real world.
While certainly nowhere near as popular, vibrant or varied as most of its eastern neighbours, Sotogrande isn’t completely lacking in charm. Firstly, this isn’t a great place for a family holiday – facilities and attractions for children are almost non-existent, unless your children are the type to enjoy lounging about on the beach all day or partaking in the very-occasional game of tennis (they might be; if so, Sotogrande is perfect).
Sotogrande is great for golfers; it is a paradise for sailing enthusiasts and polo players; lovers of fine dining will be mightily impressed by the restaurants here; and shopaholics have some reassuringly exclusive boutiques to swan around in. Noticed the pattern yet? The leisure pursuits offered by Sotogrande all require a fair amount of cash. This is a resort for the moneyed classes, as evidenced by the beautiful yachts in the harbour, the gorgeous villas, apartments and townhouses that ring the marina, and the awesome executive and super cars that cruise the perfect streets.
Still, there is some affordable property in the region that surrounds Sotogrande (such as San Roque and Sabanillas), while its location at the extreme west of the Costa del Sol makes it ideal for visiting Gibraltar, the lovely resort of Tarifa and the relatively undiscovered Costa de La Luz on Spain’s southwestern Atlantic coast