by Chris Chaplow
Nueva Andalucia is a well thought out and attractive area just west of Marbella where, as its name suggests, the villas and apartments are based on traditional Andalusian architecture and design.
Nueva Andalucía is the largest neighbourhood in Marbella, extending over several square kilometres. It has an official census population of about 15,000 but considerably more residents in the summer. It was created by Madrid developer José Banús Mas, who came to Marbella in 1962 and acquired the land. Construction of Puerto Banús began in 1965, it was inaugurated in 1968, and the main infrastructure of Nueva Andalucía was installed shortly afterward. The area continued to grow until 1989 - and again in the 2000s.
The key attractions today are the large residential estate, reasonable access to the highway and Marbella and, for many, a short taxi ride home from the Puerto Banús nightlife. Being a large residential area it has plenty of small commercial centres and restaurants for those who don't want to venture out on a rainy or sunny day. Others find it too large and soulless; visitors can become frustrated or lost in the maze of tree-lined residential avenues which are confusingly either code-numbered (e.g. Calle 19B) or named in the normal way. This is not to mention the overlay of "supermanzana" urban layouts. It is, however, reputed that some residents appreciate the anonymity of the place.
Two Unnamed Areas
The western section is built on a natural ridge of land with less expensive properties, including La Campana village and La Torre de Andalucía. Smaller villas and townhouses are built along the ridge and its western slopes, reaching down to the main coast road and the Guadaliza River plain.
The eastern section includes sectors of higher quality villas and some areas of apartments in the lower lying land to the east of the natural ridge. The eastern section includes the "Golf Valley", with the famous Las Brisas (1968), Los Naranjos (1977) and Aloha golf courses, and the latter's"pueblo".
Only Three Entrances
The "main" entrance to Nueva Andalucía never had a monument or arch of any kind, perhaps because José Banús did not want to detract from his port. In the '80s and '90s it was marked by the curved row of shops overlooking the highway and Puerto Banús,highlighted by a Barclays Bank and a huge neon "Photo Quick" on the roof and La Tajona café. Today the bright lights of La Sala are the main landmark for entering Avenida Pilar Calvo. The abandoned, ugly, brick bullring, last used for concerts rather than bullfights in the early 2000s, serves as a reference point. Centro Plaza shopping centre - a popular meeting point -comprises quality shops, restaurants, bars and offices, as well as a supermarket, gymnasium and small adjoining car park. The traditional Saturday morning market on entering Avenida Pilar Calvo further adds to traffic disruption.
The second entrance is from the coastal highway a block to the west of the Andalucía Plaza Hotel, along the residential Avenida de los Girasoles. At the top it leads into the more commercial Avenida Miguel de Cervantes, which leads down tothe La Campana shopping area. Alternatively, you can follow the ridge past the Andalucía Garden Club and Aldea Blanca urbanisations and up to the La Corniche and Magna Marbella before dropping down again to Los Naranjos and the "Golf Valley".
The third entrance is opposite the eastern boulevard of Puerto Banús. Think Russian statue. Inland from the coastal highway there is a commercial centre with the Iceland food store, oposite the Open Cor supermarket, and an entrance into the La Alzambra urbanisation on the left. Continuing on Camino del Angel, there is access on the right for Los Naranjos de Marbella and La Dama de Noche Golf. Continue on Avenida Principe Salman into a woody area for Aloha School and Marbella Golf Centre. Continue up to Aloha Golf Club, along Calle la Cañada de Ganados past Aloha golf's water feature. Turn left for Aloha Pueblo and back to Centro Plaza. Alternatively continue ondeep into the "Golf Valley" and Las Brisas and Los Naranjos golf courses.
Luckily there are also three other "secret" back entrances in and out of Nueva Andalucía. From San Pedro there are two small crossings of the Rio Guadaliza into La Campana; there is a route from La Quinta Golf to the Los Naranjos golf roundabout; and on the eastern outskirts from Aloha School over the Rio Verde to the coastal highway's west-bound carriageway.
Other urbanisations include Albatross Hill, Vista Real, Señoria de Gonzaga, Lago de los Tortugas, Alimar de Marbella, Sierra Park Club, Los Arrayanes, Aloha Golf Apartments, Aloha Hill Club and Peña Blanca
The small and attractive Lago de los Tortugas (Turtle Lake - 4.4. hectares) is hidden away in the northern part. It a lost world with probably more water birds taking refuge in this small enclave than in the whole of the rest of Marbella. Children swim in the lake in the summer and you can enjoy a picnic there. It is actually not a lake but more of a reservoir. You can walk across the 40-metre long and 20-metre high concrete dam,which was built in 1890. In those days it was called the Embalse Nuevo El Ángel (New El Ángel Dam) as it complemented the earlier 1850 Pantano Viejo (Old Dam) and Embalse Alquiero (Alquiero Reservoir), even more hidden away in Nueva Andalucía. The lake gained its name, rather obviously, from the turtles that are now found there. To reach Turtle Lake take Calle Auriga off Avenida de Prado in Supermanzana H.
Other irrigation reservoirs in the area are Pantano Las Medranas, in San Pedro and since 1993 better known for its Cable Ski and now Wakeboarding Centre; La Lechebuilt in 1905 and located in Benahavís municipality just north of the San Pedro motorway toll booths; and the Embalse de Cancelada or Embalse de Arroyo del Taraje (1886), now part of Los Flamingos Golf in Estepona. The interconnecting aqueduct system that united all these was the most innovative in Spain at the time, driven by agrarian reform measures to irrigate the orange groves and sugar cane plantations of La Colonia - the San Pedro farming colony. (see San Pedro History)
Sports enthusiasts can find plenty on offer in Nueva Andalucía. Tennis, paddle tennis and several gymnasiums as well as Aloha Sports Club.Nueva Andalucía has several schools, including the renowned Aloha International College.
The expansive Hotel Andalucía Plaza (now H10 Andalucía Plaza Adult Only) was built as part of Jose Banus's infrastructure project, as was thecasino squeezed into the hotel's west wing almost as an afterthought. The hotel enjoys a private underpass for guests to walk to Puerto Banús and the beach. Nueva Andalucía is, in fact, better known for villa and apartment rentals.
Four star adult-only hotel located just 800m from Puerto Banus. There are outdoor and indoor swimming pools and guests have free entry to the Marbella Casino, which is next door.