Oh what a wonderful life, here at Kempinski Bahia Estepona on the Costa del Sol, surrounded by lots of happy families and couples. As it happens, the gal is reading an article showing that the US baby boomer generation represents $3.2 TRILLION in annual spending power.
Two entrepreneurs, Nancy Bush and Sue Kruskopf, are trying to be the Martha Stewart of beyond, setting up a site MyWonderfulLife.com, which is all about personalising the kind of funeral and food you want at your memorial service.
In case you wonder, the gal in the photograph has NOT died and gone to heaven. Far from it, she is just about to have a hot candle massage at the Kempinski’s marvellous spa.
Put on the Must Do for serious travel – regular massages. Forget most of the wraps and experiential journeys unless you have more time and money than you know what to do with. Massages, and facials, are an investment in the machine that is your body.
Here, at the Kempinski-run spa, a charming Spanish woman was on reception (why do all Spanish women look so magnificently groomed and, most of them, beautifully honed, too?).
A charming Filipina took me through to a room with bright orange lights, then dimmed them, and explained that actually the wax from special candles is used as warm massage oil. It felt blissful and my back not only survived but was definitely stronger for more than another day.
At the Leading hotel, make the most of all its facilities. It used to have lots of shops but no-one used them (head into town for really good retail) so they have been turned into conference facilities. Sit in the lobby and on its terrace, looking down at the enormous gardens and pools below.
You might be at the Fairmont in Acapulco, or at Marquis Los Cabos, namely a lobby of space that looks out so much further. Take a walk in the gardens, around the pools, past the historic tower that is a hotel landmark. Some guests love the ambience so much they want to move in, or rather buy one of the 89 residences in an adjacent building.
Today a wedding was taking place, this one from the UK but the 20-odd couples that marry here each year come from many countries. Well, it is so much easier.
Having seen the work that went into a wedding in London ten days ago one could say there are four solutions, employ a wedding organiser (as Michael Fuchs did for his J.K. Place Capri super-event), hand everything over to a hotel, do it yourself but be prepared for thousands of small details (who is going to put the table name-cards in the right place?) – or simply do not get married.
Here, they are skilled at putting up a tent, wherever you want it, and bringing in the priest, or whatever religion is required. The bride provided not only her groom but also at least half a dozen same-size, slimline bridesmaids, all in peach chiffon that complemented the light terracotta of the main building.
Room 806, on the top floor of the hotel, is the 1,700 sq ft Levante Suite, and as well as a minibar you get a whole shelf of full-size bottles. There is also a full-size desktop Mac, and the bathroom has an electric towel rail, Chopard toiletries and a covetable wooden rack across the bathtub.
Ideal for reading as you soak, gal, though the intelligent books provided on the salon table are a bit heavy for bathtime reading – the tomes include Bulgari and Leonardo da Vinci mega-books.
More sense, perhaps, is to make an espresso from the FrancisFrancis machine and head on to the enormous terrace, which has lots of seating areas.
There, you can look down, at the gardens below and, to one side, the enormous vegetable garden, 300,000 sq ft in all, which produces 1.5 tons of avocados and 1.6 tons of tomatoes (four types) and much more.
At dinner we had started with bruschetta, using some of those tomatoes, and we finished with fig carpaccio and blueberry icecream, using fruit from the hotel harvest.
And then, as the sun came up the following day, it was time to leave the Marbella area.
Any hotel that can produce a proper breakfast with fresh-baked rolls and home-made yoghurt exactly as requested, in this case 0630, is offering authentic luxury, and if the place is fun too, it certainly makes me want to return.