Our 16-day trip to Spain concluded with a 5-night stay at the Marriott Playa Andalusia Resort (MVC property) in Estepona, and the property and our villa were excellent. We took the Renfe high-speed train from Barcelona to Malaga, rented a car and drove about an hour to the resort (driving time was longer due to two adults with very poor navigation skills!)
Our third-floor seafront room offered a wonderful view of the Mediterranean and one of the enormous swimming pools, and the balcony was a great location for morning coffee. The property offers many recreation activities, which are great for families any time of the year. We didn’t take advantage of these facilities as our days were filled with numerous side trips, but there’s enough to keep kids of all ages busy for hours.
The resort has very nice walking trails, a couple of restaurants / bars, and a small grocery store so you can have provisions in your villa. The villa had two large bedrooms (need a 2-bedroom to get the seafront views), a large living/dining area, a washer/dryer, and a fully-equipped kitchen with all the necessary equipment (plates, glasses, silverware, etc.) for snacks or full meals. The underground parking was very convenient as you could park directly below your building.
Our side trips were truly amazing beginning with the hilltop village of Ronda, one of the many fabulous “white towns” of Andalusia. Ronda is a great little village for dining, walking, views and more. It took about an hour driving from the resort up winding mountain roads, but essentially an easy drive with amazing views.
Another trip was to Granada to tour the Alhambra, an experience we would highly recommend. It was a 2-hour drive from the resort, but we left early on a Sunday, took the toll road (far less traffic) and enjoyed the scenery of southern Spain.
One of the highlights of the entire trip was a day in Tangier, Morocco. The ferry port is about an hour drive from the resort and the boat ride was another hour. We had a private tour with Moghit (http://tangier-private-guide.com/en/) and it was spectacular. Since it was off-season we were the only people on the tour (normally a max of 6 people). Moghit is from Tangier and he shared an immense amount of history and information. He also had a driver allowing him to converse with us throughout the day. We stopped for some afternoon vino at the Le Mirage hotel on the Atlantic and it was one of the high points of the day!
We wrapped up the side trips with a visit to Gibraltar, which was interesting but not spectacular. The best part was when a monkey (they are native to the Island and tame) jumped on my wife’s shoulder and stole her sandwich. I got photos before and after but had the set the camera down to help shoo him away before my wife freaked out.
The nearby town of Benahavis features numerous restaurants, and our favorite was the Bodegon Restaurant & Wine Shop (rated #1 on Trip Advisor). The last day we drove back to Malaga, got lost trying to find a gas station, enjoyed a 3-hour train trip to Madrid, and stayed at the Marriott Auditorium and Conference Center near the Madrid airport before flying home the next day. The room upgrade was a wonderful suite (based on my Platinum status) and the executive lounge was ideal for some evening drinks and breakfast the next morning.