Finca is a good word — just like ‘albergo’ in Italian has a certain ring to it that the all-encompassing ‘hotel’ can’t quite manage.
According to Wikipedia, a finca is a piece of rural land, ‘typically with a cottage or farmhouse on it’, implying that it’s at the humbler end of the property spectrum.
And then along comes Finca Cortesin, near Estepona on the Costa del Sol, to blow any such description into the long grass — or, rather, across the acres of beautifully clipped green lawns, lush borders and paths canopied by scented white roses.
Finca Cortesin, near Estepona on the Costa del Sol, is a Spainish resort with a golf course and three swimming pools – one adults only
Walking through the double doors is like flicking through a bumper issue of World of Interiors magazine wholly devoted to one property: there are Moorish courtyards, portraits of Spanish noblemen, vast arches, flagstone floors (from a monastery in Portugal), tapestries, lanterns of every hue, richly upholstered sofas, princely ceramics.
‘Come here,’ says my wife after our first dinner, leading me towards the Ladies. Has she taken leave of her senses?
‘I can’t go in there,’ I tell her.
But then she opens the door and I gasp while she keeps guard outside.
I’m no expert on women’s loos but the sprigs of cherry blossom wallpaper makes this one of the most beautiful rooms I’ve ever seen, and I suppose what makes it extra special is knowing half the guests won’t get to see it.
My turn. Next evening, as I return from a swim in the emerald-green pool I hear hundreds of mocking birds buzzing about in the cloisters. They chatter like children on a school outing — except that in their case they are soon off for an extended stay in Africa, albeit with a reasonably short flight across the Strait of Gibraltar.
Walking through the double doors, Mark remarks, is like flicking through a bumper issue of World of Interiors magazine wholly devoted to one property
The lavish estate has 67 spacious, comfortable suites, with portraits of Spanish noblemen found throughout
‘You must see this,’ I tell my wife, but she’s reluctant to leave our terrace because the sky above the sea two miles away is turning pink, then coral, with a wisp of purple.
And there you have it — you’re spoilt for choice in this fabulous Finca, which looks as if it were built in the 17th century when in fact it’s just eight years old and was one of the last projects of the revered interior designer Duarte Pinto Coelho.
What an epitaph. Along with the exquisite taste, there’s a championship golf course (plus a Jack Nicklaus Golf Academy), three swimming pools (one Olympic size, just for grown-ups), four restaurants (including one with a Michelin star) and 67 suites.
Throw in impeccable, but not overly formal service, and I would say why bother flying to the Maldives for a honeymoon when you can flit over to Malaga in under three hours, for a fraction of the cost, and then it’s 45 minutes south on the motorway?
Finca looks as if it were built in the 17th century, when in fact it’s just eight years old and was one of the last projects of the revered interior designer Duarte Pinto Coelho
It boasts acres of beautifully clipped green lawns, lush borders and paths canopied by scented white roses
‘You don’t get the same kind of sea here as you do in the Maldives’ would be the retort. True, but the Finca’s Beach Club, with its Ibiza-style white-wood infinity pool and direct access to the beach is not exactly slumming it.
And those who have been swimming in this sea for a few decades can vouch for it being immeasurably cleaner today than it was 20 years ago.
The closest inland village is Casares, one of Andalucia’s famous white clusters built among jagged ledges where houses piled precariously on top of each other look like giant sugar cubes.
It comes alive at night. Or, at least, it does on the late September evening we are there, with groups of women in black sitting in circles by the fountain, while children play a made-up game that involves hopping on one leg as a punishment for something or other.
We eat in La Bodeguita overlooking the square, where you sit on plastic chairs but eat authentic food.
The boss, Manolo, speaks no English — not one word, although he gets the message when I ask for a good bottle of local red wine and comes back with a terrific Pinot Noir, albeit at a London price.
You can expect London prices at Finca Cortesin, too. But you won’t regret it, even if just for one night.
And the summer season here lasts until the end of October. Just don’t forget to make the pilgrimage to the ladies’ WC.
Elegant Resorts (elegantresorts.co.uk, 01244 897515) offers three nights b&b at Finca Cortesin from £1,035 pp, including flights from Gatwick with easyJet including private transfers and lounge passes.
Three days’ Meet and Greet parking at Gatwick from £52, maplemanorparking.net