THE stage is set for another ‘Marbellous’ long, hot celebrity summer.
Over the last 60 years, Swarovski crystal-studded sandals have tramped up and down the paseo maritimo mostly in impeccably-pedicured feet.
From iconic early trailblazers like Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn to more current celebrities like Posh and Becks, Hugh Grant and George Clooney Marbella’s appeal to the filthy rich and famous is timeless.
The well-heeled, suited, booted and beautiful have been building their fabulous villas here since Roman empire days when the town was known as Salduba.
Today, a holiday in Marbella is a rite of passage on the journey to cool, for ordinary folk as well as an A-to-Z list of celebrities.
Ironically, however, the glitz and glamour is not what initially reeled in the first pioneering punters …
Quite the contrary, when German aristocrat Prince Alfonso de Hohenlohe was sent to the coast by his father in 1947, to buy land, he fell in love with a dusty little fishing village.
He was so enamoured with its natural charms, he knew he could entice some of Europe’s grandest families to swap their Cannes or San Sebastian vacation for Marbella.
From that day forth, the town was on the map and on the road to becoming the resort it is today, synonymous with refinement, class and a little touch of bling.
Here the Olive Press picks out our favourite celebrities to grace Marbella, be it temporarily or for good.
Paradise for global leaders
IT is the luxury and seclusion that entices politicians and others of high profile to buy boltholes in Marbella’s foothills.
These include Russian President Vladimir Putin, who – the Olive Press revealled exclusively two years ago – snapped up a palatial property in La Zagaleta, with plans for a vineyard.
If he needs to borrow a cup of sugar he can call on neighbours like the former Mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, or loveable British actor Hugh Grant. (Although as the villas on this exclusive country estate are set in acres of grounds, he’ll have to take the car!)
French president Nicolas Sarkozy and wife Carla Bruni add a touch of je ne sais quoi to the Marbella party scene while David Cameron has shown his colours (bronze, not blue) at least three times on the Costa del Sol.
Tony and Cherie Blair were also spotted splashing the cash in Marbella’s Old Town last year.
Meanwhile, America’s First Lady, Michelle Obama, and her younger daughter Sasha stayed in the town on a five-day trip that cost a mind-boggling €379,000 in 2010.
Barrack’s never been, so watch this space!
SOME seek seclusion in Marbella, others come to get themselves noticed!
It’s all good for column inches in the British press, as reality TV star singer Gareth Gates discovered when he hit the town.
The stars of top reality TV shows TOWIE, Made in Chelsea and Geordie Shore all make guest appearances for the publicity – actually managing to coincide in 2013, when Marbella also made headline news as the most famous party territory on earth.
So important has it been for the crew from TOWIE, now in its 10th season, that every year they now come for a few weeks to make their summer spin off The Only Way is Marbs.
Meanwhile, cast member Elliott Wright opens up a restaurant, Olivia’s, in nearby La Cala de Mijas next month.
Always at the heart of the action, reality TV tycoon Simon Cowell also makes regular Marbella appearances. He’s rumoured to rent a villa in Marbs for a cool €15,000 a day, so it must have the X-Factor!
And finally, Alan Sugar has been visiting the resort, where he had property, for the last few decades.
MARBELLA scores with the sporty set and it looks like it’s game-on for another outbreak of footy fever this summer.
Man-of-the-moment soccer star Gareth Bale – who has two properties on the coast – is a fan, showing his swinging form on the local golf courses last month.
Former England manager Fabio Capello has a property here, as do numerous Premier League footballers, past and present.
Other giants of the beautiful game, like Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos and Chelsea’s John Terry, are paid-up members of the Marbella supporters club, visiting regularly.
And let’s not forget that Young Player of the Year, Spurs star Harry Kane, opted to bring his childhood sweetheart Katie Goodland here for a romantic break. Eating, where else, but at La Sala, which is owned by practically an entire team of soccer stars!
Finally, last month, the Saracens rugby team flew out for a pre-match bender in Puerto Banus.
EVEN genuine A-list celebrities are prepared to risk prying paparazzi lenses for a taste of Marbella’s highlife.
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt came to the area on a house-hunting trip in 2013. Too bad they are looking to buy in Alicante but it’s their loss!
Lady Gaga was also allegedly cruising the market for a Marbella mansion, last year, as was reportedly George Clooney.
Hollywood glamour hit town, too, in the shapely form of not-so-desperate housewife star Eva Longoria. While pop legends Michael Jackson, Madonna and Elton John have all also visited.