Luis Figueroa Conde de Quintanilla – an aristocrat who fell in love with Marbella, in his sight changing from a fishing port into one of the most luxurious and expensive resorts of the entire Mediterranean coast.
You are from Madrid; however, Marbella occupies a special place in your heart. Please tell us your earliest memory about Marbella.
I arrived to Marbella when I was 12 years old when the first hotels and urbanizations were built and the town still was only a small fishermen and agricultural enclave. My parents had built a house on the beach front in the Los Monteros area and we changed from summer vacations in Biarritz to the south. Nothing could have been more exciting for us children. We changed what was for us a boring place to something full of activities, good weather and free life.
Marbella then was beginning to get known as a vacation resort and more and more people from all over the world were arriving. In fact there were then only three hotels and small “fondas” in town, the only night club was Pepe Moreno and the landscape was very different. Very few constructions, empty land mostly agricultural and fishermen fishing from the beach every morning. Really Marbella was special and so it has remained for me ever since.
How do you see Marbella now and in the future?
Today Marbella although very different retains that special feeling for me. Marbella is part of my life and where many of my best memories take place. It has developed a cosmopolitan ambience where almost everything you have in big cities is also there but still has that sense of freedom and joy de vivre with which it was developed. It is difficult to find better climates in Europe and connection with other parts of the world is very good. Though there is a saying, nothing lasts forever; Marbella is there to last forever.
Do you visit Marbella only on your holidays or are there other reasons?
Because of my special feeling for this town, when the opportunity arose I decided to become more attached to this place and got involved with golf and hotels so as to have a good reason to spend more time here. Although I have been always very involved in sports, mainly in golf and equitation – I was the president of the national equitation federation and member of the national Olympic committee for 8 years, golf club was a very challenging project for me. I run the golf course of Rio Real and its hotel and keep improving its facilities constantly so it becomes a reference for Marbella. So for now over almost 30 years Marbella is not only that special vacation resort but also a demanding professional place to center my focus.
Please tell us about Rio Real Golf Club, one of the historical golf clubs in Marbella, its today’s goals and challenges.
Rio Real Golf Club was designed by the foremost Spanish golf course architect Javier Arana and from the very start, only the best quality facilities were used. Since its opening, many national as well as European tournaments have taken place in our club. As a result, Rio Real Golf Club has become a reference point in this type of sport in Spain. For us the main goal is to keep the high quality standards of the game for our club members and guests.
Challenges always exist especially if they result from the decisions of some unexperienced politicians that make things more difficult by changing for instance regulations and levying taxes, to which we have to adapt constantly. Consequently, this does not always make it easy to run this type of business and this is something we have to accept and live with.
Fortunately, as you are in Marbella, its wonderful climate and impressive views over Mediterranean Sea and mountains make you understand that you are in a privilege place and this gives you a reason to enjoy even more each moment you are here.