More on Andalucia, wake up and think back to that bottle of Armour De Deutz 1999 Champagne that we sabred at Maia, in the Seychelles, and I kept the gold cap to the cork, a placomus designed by Pascal Morabito for collectors… he has been on the gal’s icon list ever since..
Anyway, here we are at fabulous Villa Padierna Palace Hotel, and it is time to take a day-trip. A peripatetic Dutchman, Bart Raaphorst, who seems finally to have settled here in Marbella as director-advisor to the Villa Padierna family, is taking me 75 minutes up inland to Carratraca, ‘Karr-al-krak’, in the Guadalhorces Valley.
We wind up to 541metres above sea level. The village, terracotta tiled roofs atop whitewash houses, nestles into the slops, surrounded by almond, olive and pine groves. 827 people live here, with eight massive windmills turning in the distance.
Since 1851, when Royal Decree declared that Carratraca’s thermal waters have ‘public interest’, people have come to drink (yes, this is potable) and bathe and be washed in these gorgeous water. They pour out of the rock at 18 degrees centigrade and the Real Academy of Pharmacy of the Institute of Spain says they are high in calcium, magnesium and sulphur.
The luxury Villa Padierna Therma Hotel was bought by Villa Padierna Hotels & Resorts in 2007. It is entirely dedicated to luxury wellness. Come here exclusively for all-in programmes, with treatments and all food and beverages (including caffeine but no alcohol, and no pork) thrown in.
Come here, too, for absolutely gorgeous rooms: all 43 are different. Third floor rooms, all Mansard, have relaxing blue and white, or more powerful red and white, patterned wallpapers. Other rooms have plain walls, better to display the Matisse, Miro and Picasso prints that jostle for space with local art. Recesses in each corner, about eight feet off the ground, up-display blue dayglo night in the evenings.
The bubbly director of operations, Dr Mercedes Talavera Bustamante, takes me down to a basement level, and through an under-road passage to another building that is exclusively the spa, built 1855 for King Fernando VII.
There are no less than 21 treatment rooms, and five Romanesque thermal pools. I had a sharp torrent of water hosed at me, I lay in a meditation bath, I progressed from warm through vitality to ice-cold pools. I went up to a rooftop, to see the outdoor pool, with lush fig trees.
We had lunch, a diet salad, a plate of grilled veggies, I thought what a luxury life this is, keep fit in such elegance. Back up in my room I discovered that all bathtubs have big adjacent mirrors – and some rooms have Pascal Morabito toiletries!