TAKE a look inland. Yes, up into those shimming hills high above you.

With the right bit of advice and you can find yourself in a paradise not dissimilar to the landscapes of Africa, the Caribbean or Thailand.

Take the DDG retreat: While hardly known around Andalucia or Gibraltar, it has been voted one of the world’s most romantic hideouts by no less than the Sunday Times, the Telegraph and Conde Nast Traveller.

“There is everything here you’d want from a high-end holiday – privacy, infinity pool, and ambitious architecture,” wrote the Daily Mail.

And it is not hard to see why from the splendid way the owners, who bought the estate two decades ago, have carefully created half a dozen private suites, each maximising on breathtaking panoramic views and unforgettable sunsets.

SERENE: Swimming pool at the romantic DDG retreat

This is nature at its very best and yet you are only 15 minutes from Estepona or half an hour from Gib.

High in the stunning Sierra Crestellina, above Casares – not far from celebrated five-star hotel Finca Cortesin and the famous ‘restaurant road’ (more of which later) on the way up – and you can be guaranteed peace and quiet.

There are no screaming kids or motorbikes and the clever design of the hotel means you will feel as if you are on your own.

This is hardly surprising given that the suites – including two ‘ultra-cool’ tented suites – are spread around no less than four hectares.

The expat owners bought the old mountain farm and have transformed it into a worldly kingdom, of antiques, artefacts, and even plants, picked up on their many adventures around the world.

JAW-DROPPING: Views from the idyllic retreat just 15 minutes inland from the coast

The architecture is enhanced by tropical gardens so guests are surrounded by the aroma of nature,  be it pine, lemongrass or orange blossom.

The owners wanted to create something rare and unique in Europe, not just a small hotel room with a balcony, but an exclusive residence… and it needed to be as environmentally-friendly as possible.

“We endeavour to give something back,” explains the owner. “We use our own well for water and we plant many new trees each year. And the pool has an ozone cleaning system instead of chlorine.

“We love sharing our beautiful natural setting with our guests – with the birds singing and the chirping of cicadas and the rare vultures flying overhead, the wealth of butterflies, the profusion of flowers.”

LUCKY DINERS: Enjoy a meal looking out over the gorgeous countryside

But this is no sparse eco-retreat either.

Scattered around the estate you will find a tennis court, massage huts, as well as communal areas, where you can borrow CDs and DVDs.

You choose from a series of stylish casitas or the super-suites (each with their own hot tub or plunge pool).

Each have marble floors, chandeliers and even have air conditioning for very hot days or chilly nights.

When it comes to food and drink you can hole up and be catered for by the team, with a decent mix of dishes and meals.

AT ONE WITH NATURE: An outdoor bath is just the ticket in this romantic hideaway

Or you can take the Olive Press’ advice and head down the hill to one of the many excellent restaurants clustered in and around nearby Casares village.

Dubbed ‘Restaurant Road’ by the paper a few years ago, this is one of the best places on the Costa del Sol to eat.

There are half a dozen excellent places to eat on the road between the coast and Casares and include amazing Arroyo Hondo, the evocative Forge and the innovative and hip Sarmiento, right in the village.

So, all in all, combine a short romantic break with some of the best food in Andalucia and you’ve got that special escape trip under control… and all within an hour of where you live, by car!

Visit https://ddgretreat.com/gallery/ for more information and special offers. Quote ‘the Olive Press’ for an extra special rate!

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