About Puerto Banús
Once a small village
Decades ago, Puerto Banus was a small fishing village. It is tough to imagine that now, but anybody that does remember those days will be amazed at the transformation.
The story started in 1966 when Prince Alfonso de Hohenlohe invited the architect Noldi Schreck, who had participated in the design and build of Beverley Hills, to look at his plans for what became the Marbella’s Golden Mile. This involved a meeting with Jose Banus, a local property developer who wanted to build high rise properties on top of a small local fishing village. Being a personal friend of Francisco Franco, he may well have achieved this objective if Schreck had not persuaded him that a model Andalucian style village around a tasteful marina would make him more money. The resulting port became the first to be designed by a single architect and was named after its builder. The guest list for the opening ceremony in 1970 included such notables as the Aga Khan, Roman Polanski, Hugh Hefner, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco. Julio Iglesias was hired for 125,000 pesetas (about 750 Euros), and 300 waiters from Seville served 22 kilos of Beluga caviar to a total of 1700 guests.
Place to be
The marina, once a beach with the local fishing boats pulled up on the sand, is now home to dozens of multi-million euro boats owned by crowned heads of Europe and the Middle East, film stars and a sprinkling of self-made multi-millionaires.
It is a place where even the fenders wear fur coats and helicopters replace the ship’s boat. For the vast majority of us, these vessels are so unattainable that they are beyond envy. For that reason wandering around the marina is quite pleasant and you never know into whom you will bump. I am sure the middle-aged gentleman dripping with gold, wearing the open to the waist white shirt is somebody I have seen before, there again he could just as easily be a waiter from the fish restaurant.
Shopping and restaurant scene
Having gazed at the boats, cast your eyes inland as you walk up the jetties. Designer names nestle alongside restaurants with a scattering of souvenir shops among the cocktail and wine bars. Here you can buy a cheeky ‘T’ shirt for a few Euros or a fluffy mink beach bag for 6,000. There is no shortage of places to cool off with a drink or laze away a couple of hours over lunch just people watching and enjoying the view over the marina. Inexplicably the marina area is known as the Muelle Rivera, which translates as the easy or soft creek.
The narrow streets behind the marina only come alive at night. Here there are the pubs and clubs that have given Banus nightlife its worldwide reputation. Tapas bars provide an alternative meal choice and allow you to move from place to place, having a nibble here and another there. All the while, your eardrums are assaulted by the loud music emanating from open doors guarded by large, heavy looking gentlemen. But this is a time and place for the younger generation and there are plenty of them about. Banus swings at night, all night.