Arrival/Check-in: After an all-night flight to Madrid and short hop to Málaga, I could be forgiven for not noticing where I finally dropped my head onto a pillow. But Villa Padierna is an attention-grabber, a pink palazzo (think Tuscan villa sired by Biarritz grand hotel) set on a brilliant green golf course. I was greeted by name and registered quickly. No one accompanied me to my room, but with one small rolling bag, I clearly didn’t need help. (28/30)
Guest Quarters: My junior suite was flooded with sunlight, and its big Palladian windows overlooked the rolling golf course (with real Roman columns and statuary from the owner’s collection) to the Mediterranean — and beyond to North Africa’s Atlas Mountains. A welcome plate of elegant tapas set on the glass-topped table between the king-size bed and attractive sitting area was a pleasant surprise. The roomy bath had a long marble vanity with two sinks, a make-up mirror and French bath amenities. The large tub filled one end of the room, with a separate glass-enclosed shower at the other. Plush towels were within reach everywhere. Bright reading lights illuminated both sides of the bed, where a down duvet allowed me to leave the window open as I slept that December night. Closets were large enough for luggage and equipped with plenty of removable wooden hangers. The desk offered ample workspace, but I thought the $30 daily Internet fee excessive for a hotel of this caliber. On a later tour of other rooms, I saw an executive suite, bigger, but much like my own — although I did gaze enviously at the inroom espresso machine. (29/30)
Services/Amenities: After an excellent lunch of local dishes in La Loggia, I set out to tour the resort. Guestrooms surround an airy, bright atrium that rises to a glass dome. Arcaded corridors lined with more antiquities lead to a Moorish garden with soothing fountains, pools and cooling greenery. Beyond is an opulent — and enormous — spa. Along with a full menu of ESPA treatments, it features a series of baths, including a Turkish hammam. (40/40)
The Experience: The hotel’s owner recently chose Ritz- Carlton management, assuring a continuation of the high level of service I enjoyed. This is a resort worthy of a few days’ stay to savor the spa, private Mediterranean beach (with clubhouse and complimentary shuttle), golf and daily excursions offered to Seville, Tangier, Gibraltar or the surrounding mountains.
Total Score: (97/100)
Ctra. de Cadiz, Km. 166
29679 Marbella, Spain
tel 34 952 889 150
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I had just taken off my sandals, stepping onto the white-sand beach for a late-morning walk to a secluded spot I heard about from a front desk clerk, when I glanced down and saw the time on my phone. It had just turned 11 a.m., which meant it was only 7 am back home, the perfect time to call and say good morning to by husband before he left for work. Not quite ready to head back to my room, I decided I’d test the WiFi signal and made the call as I continued walking toward the shoreline.
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