El Fuerte Marbella: a local landmark reborn

El Fuerte Marbella, a family-owned hotel, has recently re-opened following an extensive transformation. Making its mark on Marbella, the design, headed by Jaime Beriestain Studio, is contemporary and sleek, taking this much-loved destination in a new direction whilst retaining the Andalusian sense of place and spirit of hedonism…

red and white striped umbrellas above tables and sunloungers around the pool at El fuerte marbella

Built as a former fortress, the site is steeped in history.The 20th century saw the building turn from a flour factory to a boarding house before opening its doors as a hotel in 1955. El Fuerte Marbella quickly became an emblem of hedonism and to maintain its rich legacy, the building’s original architectural features have been carefully restored, ensuring that the hotel will be personified by the same sense of fun and freedom.

At the helm of the project is Jaime Beriestain, who has playfully reimagined the interiors to reflect the laid-back Mediterranean lifestyle. Familiar whitewashed walls against the backdrop of Moorish gardens speaks to Andalusian tradition. Yet, Beriestain’s Studio has toned down the original grandeur of the building to redefine the hotel as an understated oasis of calm.

red wicker chair with white cushions on a white floor with view outside to red and white striped parasols

Image credit: Manolo Llera

“When faced with an iconic hotel like El Fuerte, my first mission is to connect with the local community to understand the sense of place and soak up the treasure trove of history and tradition,” commented Beriestein. “Along with my team, the goal is to create a space where guests find serenity in the beauty of their surroundings, whilst respecting the rich cultural heritage of the building.”

stone floors, green and terracotta cushions and surfaces give a sense of contemporary Mediterranean design

Image credit: Manolo Llera

Light open spaces are warm and inviting, weaving in elements of nature. The ground floor comprises an array of private spots to unwind. Nooks are created by the building’s original structure from fortress pillars to palatial arched doorways, hiding the hotel’s little library. The charming café leads to the botanical bordered poolside before meeting the sparkling sea. Every space has been thoughtfully designed to encapsulate the relaxed rhythm of the Costa del Sol.

hotel guestroom with green wall and terracotta floor with wooden ceiling fan and surfaces

Image credit: Manolo Llera

El Fuerte Marbella has 266 rooms, 78 of which are ‘Selected’, a higher category room. Again, the contemporary design schemes are a departure from the traditional bold and colourful Andalusian style. The earthy colour palettes of terracotta, golden brown and green tones are complemented by light and soft fabrics with natural textures to create a comfortable and relaxing ambience. Hand-painted washed ceramics adorn the walls and seamlessly blend with clay floors for a crafted feel. Décor includes hand-carved wooden ornaments and artwork – all championing local artisans and craftmanship.

The property shelters five restaurants and a bar. Nodding to Marbella’s seafaring traditions and sitting pride of place on the beach front is El Fuerte Marbella’s Chiringuito, Soleo. Here, guests can indulge in the freshest Mediterranean flavours. Also beachside is Levante, serving food infused with Andalusian aromas and flavours. Le Marche is the epitome of laid-back offering unpretentious food and will serve an unrivalled breakfast menu using produce of the highest quality. Guests can stop by the Qahwa Coffee House – serving speciality coffee, sweets and master chocolatier – for their morning fix or grab a snack from Grab & Go.

cream bar stools in front of wood and terracotta bar with a green tiled back wall

Image credit: Manolo Llera

Elevating the gastronomic offering at El Fuerte Marbella is a fine-dining restaurant headed up by 4 Michelin starred chef Paco Pérez. In tune with the vibrant culinary scene on the Costa del Sol, Pérez has curated an impressive menu. Reflecting the laid-back atmosphere of the hotel, the food is not over-the-top and lavish, but simple and down-to-earth. The hotel’s rooftop terrace is also home to Edge by Paco Perez – a picturesque sanctuary with panoramic views of the sea, as well as a rooftop pool. By night Edge becomes a buzzy bar with lounge seating.

The hotel is home to two swimming pools, both with unrivalled sea views and direct beach access. Both have plenty of space to bask poolside in the sunshine or lounge in a cool spot, shaded by a canopy of trees. Guests can also retreat to the impressive spa, complete with whirlpools, saunas, treatment rooms and a gym. The pool is surrounded by forest green tiling whilst individual treatment room walls are a brown ceramic colour to create an earthy ambience.

swimming pools, seaview with red and white striped parasols and sunloungers

Image credit: Manolo Llera

El Fuerte Marbella is a short walk from the charming old town where Moorish architecture and pretty Spanish plazas sit side by side. Not to be missed is Plaza de los Naranjos where the scent of orange trees fills the square which bustles with authentic Spanish tapas spots. Direct access to the beach sets El Fuerte Marbella apart. Here, guests can stroll along the ‘paseo maritimo’ or take a boat out to sea.

Main image credit: Manola Llera