Lifestyle July, 4th 2018 by

Signs of the times – Marbella past, present, future

Signs of the times, ‘MARBELLA BAY’ road sign near Hospital Costa del Sol

What’s the significance of a place name, and how does a name reflect its surroundings?

While the very name ‘Marbella’ resonates around the world – making it a must-visit destination for discerning travellers and a base for any number of nationalities – many will recognise the Hollywood-style road signs dotted around Marbella and other towns like Estepona and Mijas.

These really are signs of the times. Familiar features on the Costa landscape, international status symbols, a single name summing up an entire district.

It’s now 25 years since the large white capital letters were copied under the Gil administration, with the ‘MARBELLA’ ones cropping up around various districts in 1993, commanding as much attention for their striking visual statement as the town’s reputation itself.

And how many of us have spotted the ‘BAHIA DE MARBELLA’ sign as we drive past Hospital Costa del Sol?

Behind this sign, hidden from view, lies a long stretch of sand dunes protected by Asociación Pro Dunas, framed by majestic mountain ranges, and a housing complex described in gushing terms by its residents as “the most prestigious urbanisation in Marbella.”

Local writer Chris Dove has given the area an unofficial makeover using its English translation to create new name, ‘MARBELLA BAY’.

“The tropical nature of a bay conjures up positive images while accurately describing the surrounding area,” Chris explained. “’Marbella Bay’ has an international dimension, it’s easier for foreigners to pronounce, it’s instantly recognisable, memorable, and has a nice, modern ring to it.”

18 years and counting…

According to the urbanisation’s administrators, José Conejo Guerra y Asociados, the mixed residential community comprises 66 single homes, terraced houses, apartments, villas and penthouses.

“The Urbanisation is beautiful because of its location,” José explained. “I was the estate manager for six years in the beginning, from 2000 to 2006, while the Bahía community first flourished a little earlier, in 1995.”

José’s oversight of the complex coincides with the work of respected Peruvian architect Leonor Mármol Vásquez and her son, Málaga-based architect Manuel Navarro Mármol. The pair left their mark on one property on the estate, drawing on classic Spanish styles and features chosen for the home of a retired Johnson & Johnson director and his wife.

Construction began in 1997 and was completed in 1999, fulfilling the German couple’s wish to move to Marbella at the turn of the new millennium.

Proximity to the coast’s General Hospital wasn’t by accident! The setting is fitting with quality medical facilities and therapeutic golf greens at barely a hop, skip and a jump, minutes from Marbella’s main N340 highway with Puerto Banús and Málaga at either end.

As Manuel Navarro explained, “The location of the property in Bahía de Marbella is one of the main characteristics of this house. Designed to obtain the maximum orientation towards the South, and situated in a back-facing cul-de-sac.

“At the level of habitability, we speak of a house for a married couple with large interior spaces of common use, adjoining rooms designed for their grandchildren’s visits from Germany, and a separate two-bedroom guest house with all amenities.”

Eighteen years after José’s stewardship of the estate began, he says there’s still work to be done and an improvements plan is in place. “The main entrance wasn’t finished, for example, and some green spaces have yet to be completed.”

And 18 years after the retired couple moved into their designer home – introducing Bahía de Marbella to new generations of visitors – their favourite architect Leonor Mármol is herself retired.

Manuel, however, continues to lead emblematic projects including the ornamental lighting and greening of central Marbella, and the Rehabilitation of Los Baños del Carmen historic site, close to the sea in Málaga City. 

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Chris Dove

(BA Hons Economics), international business writer and editorial director, Pro Write and Edit.

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