The gal likes arriving in style – like the 50-year old Bentley that Villa Padierna Palace Hotel, above Marbella, uses to transport VIPs from Malaga airport.
‘Villa’ is kinda-understatement for this gigantic luxury resort. There are four golf courses, one by Antonio García Garrido. There is a man-made lake, where a mini-submarine lurked during Michelle Obama’s visit August 2010.
There is meeting space (indoors) for well over 2,000 and an amphitheatre (outside) that could seat twice that number.
And then, in rambling four-floor buildings around central covered-over courtyards, there are 129 bedrooms, though some, I think, are those in separate villas beyond the amphitheatre.
This is a place full of experiences. Take the spa, coordinated by the lovely, bubbly Auxi Velazquez. She told me that people taking-the-cure typically first have a session with the medic, Dr Jose Luis Guijarro Arcas.
We pretended I was heavily overweight and could not stop eating. He would ask me, then, ‘are you here for weight control, beauty or fitness?’ The gal, acting her temporary persona, said weight control.
The doctor asked more questions – do you snack, sweet or savoury? Do you eat alone, and/or in front of the television? Do you sleep well, get cramps in the night, need snacks in the night?
Is there family history of obesity, diabetes, heart problems? He explained the difference between hunger and appetite, the need to control the latter.
Then it was time for Auxi to work her skin diagnosis machine. Take a look at these images, all of you, and realize just what a luxury traveler has to go through from time to time.
Thank goodness it was time for lunch, and afterwards we meandered over to have a look at where the Obamas stayed. It was Michelle and the elder daughter Malik – the Pres and the younger daughter were supposed to come too but BO had to stay behind because of the BP oil spill.
However the two Obama ladies came, and had a lovely private stay, if you can be private when 59 other rooms are taken by your retinue, security and the like, and another 300 people were billeted elsewhere. As well as the sub there was also a frigate out at sea.
The Obama villa was 603, two floors with, atop, a stunning rooftop terrace for magnificent Andalucia viewing. I particularly liked the main floor bedroom, for its lavender icecream-coloured walls.
Dinner that night, mine not theirs, was with the owner of Villa Padierna Hotels and Resorts Ricardo Arranz de Miguel and his wife Alicia. She is Doña Alicia Padierna de Villapadierna y Klein , hence the name of the company (she studied fashion at Parsons in New York, and boy is she chic).
Victor Taborda, the chef, was trained by Ferran Adrià at El Bulli. Tonight he was fortunately simple, Carpaccio of Jabugo ham, Soft poached egg over parmesan and truffle risotto, Red Mullet on grandmother’s bread crumbs and, finally, Honey meringue with cream cheese icecream and pistachio powder.
Pair this with Moët followed by Marques de Padierna Reserva 2003 Tinta del Pais (D.O. Ribera del Duero) and you get a pretty memorable luxury meal.