SO will it be Next Stop Hollywood for Castellar de la Frontera? If actress Salma Hayek is buying a large chunk of it, that’s a definite maybe.
When the sultry Mexican movie star and her billionaire husband chartered a €10,000 helicopter ride to view the threatened country estate of Almoraima, up for grabs for €300million, it added an unexpected twist to a saga that’s dominated local headlines for weeks. (Perhaps Salma reads the Olive Press, or how else would she know about a place most people couldn’t find on a Spanish map?)
But will all the locals be queuing up for her autograph if their finca is ‘Hayeked’? In a battle as fierce as any witnessed by Castellar’s 13th century castle, they have campaigned to save Almoraima from becoming a 5-star playground for the hunting, shooting and partying elite. Who’s to say the Hollywood set will be a safer bet?
Environmentalist Salma may be into saving dolphins and anti global warming. But her business-minded hubby, Francois-Henri Pinault, might have other plans for a finca that lost €1.2 million last year, harvesting cork and growing crops. He’s CEO of a group which owns Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, and heir to a family who buy Picassos and Mondrians like other people buy eggs – by the dozen!
Sexy Salma has brains as well as beauty so it’s fun imagining what she might do for the place if she ever becomes Queen of the castle.
Filming at the Finca At 14,000 hectares, Almoraima’s the ideal backlot for Ventanarosa, Salma’s film production company which made the Oscar-winning Frida and specialises in Latino flicks. For authenticity, she could plant giant cacti, and turn them into a cash crop with a tequila bodega. Casting would be no problem. Antonio Banderas, her co-star in the Mexico Trilogy movies and Puss in Boots, lives just up the road in Marbella.
Cleaning up the Convent Salma’s a convent school gal herself, so she’ll feel right at home. And, heaven knows, the hotel occupying Almoraima’s stunning 17th century convent could do with some stage direction and a sprinkling of Hollywood stardust to attract the punters; anti-palm weevil powder, too, to save the dying trees.
Firing Up the Feria The local wolves would be howling for more of smouldering Salma at Castellar’s Full Moon Flamenco Festival in August – and not only for her singing and dancing skills. Being all ‘frontera’ herself, those voluptuous curves would look fab in a flamenco dress.
Queening It at the Castle This best-kept Moorish fortress is a tailor-made location for historic movies, with trained eagles for stunt work courtesy of the resident Bird Man of Castellar, who puts on shows for tourists.
Supporting the Local Wildlife Salma’s California ranch is filled with rescue animals so she and daughter Valentina would adore Castellar Zoo, a sanctuary for mistreated and abandoned exotic species. The zoo’s pretty pushed for space and funds – a great cause celèbre for Salma, and Almoraima could take the overspill.
Promoting the Local Cuisine Who better than Salma? Pork and red wine are her favourite food and drink and her name sounds uncannily like another Andalusian speciality – salmorejo!