Polo – Sotogrande’s Summer Sport

The European polo season has begun and the 10 goal world-class players are looking forward to play and to chalking up some serious goals. As spectators, on the other hand, we can’t wait to see the fast-paced, warrior-like tournaments and talented, agile ponies – not to mention, of course, dressing up to the nines, getting the fizz in, and everything else that goes on at a day at the polo.

Where is the Polo in Sotogrande?

Polo match in Sotogrande, Spain

The Santa Maria Polo Club in Sotogrande – which is just over the border of Malaga province into Cadiz province in southern Spain – is a famed location on the polo high goal tournament circuit.

Holding 20 tournaments this year, Sotogrande is the location in Spain. Santa Maria Polo Club with its magnificent manicured grounds is perfect for the big games of the summer. The Gold Cup and Silver cups, which attract the best polo teams in the world, are the major dates in Spain’s polo diary.

Address: Sotogrande, A-7, 11310 San Roque, Cadiz; telephone: 956 61 00 12. Santamariapoloclub.com.

Other Polo Clubs in Sotogrande

Dos Lunas Polo Club Match, Spain

Dos Lunas Polo Club has two polo fields; address: 11349 San Martín del Tesorillo, Cadiz; telephone: 956 61 80 52. Doslunas.es.

Polo Valley Polo Club for polo tuition; 29692 Casares, Malaga; telephone: 951 97 95 58. Polovalley.co.uk.

Ayala Polo Club has three fields; Hacienda de San Enrique, Km 1, 11312 San Enrique de Guadiaro, Cadiz; Telephone: 670 96 18 41.

When to Go to the Polo in Sotogrande?

2-4th June – XVIII Andrés Paradé Memorial Tournament

9-11th June – IV Doña Maria de la Mercedes Memorial Tournament

16-25th June – II Patrick G. Hermés Cup and XIV Conde de la Maza Memorial Tournament

30th June – 2nd July – XIII Copa de Jerez Tournament

7-9th July – XXIV Enrique Zobel Memorial Tournament

14-16th July – IV Manuel Prado Tournament

26th July – 27th August – 46th International Polo Tournament (the main event)

What to Expect?

An exciting day out for everyone, it’s great for families, couples or groups of friends. There’s plenty to do at Santa Maria Polo Club during the tournament – a shopping village, bars, lots of socialising and after parties with live music and DJs. Friday and Saturday nights are the busiest during the month long tournament.

Santa Maria Polo Club In Sotogrande, Spain

What to Wear?

If you’re a guy you can’t go too far wrong with adopting the Nacho Figueras look, basically. Ladies keep it comfortable, classic and elegant. By all means go casual with linen but a touch of formality wouldn’t be out of place, either. This isn’t Ascot, though, so keep the hats at home.

Polo Elsewhere in Europe

Since its heyday in the 20s and 30s polo is having a major resurgence. Urban polo clubs are popping up across the continent, and more and more variations of the game are becoming popular (snow polo is even played in St Moritz, Courcheval, Kitzbuhel, Klosters, Megeve and Val D’Isere during the winter months).

In Europe, England, France and Spain are the main players for polo. For the biggest tournaments the season starts in early May in England, then France and Spain in July and August. The high goal season in England includes the Cartier Queen’s Cup at Guards Polo Club, and the Veuve Cliquot Gold Cup at Cowdray Park. Once the Gold Cup is won the focus is on mainland Europe until the end of August.

Polo match close up

Haven’t Experienced a Polo Match? The Need-to-Know Polo Guide for Newbies

A polo field is 15 acres – so pretty large – but given that there are 8 horses per game sometimes topping 35mph the space soon gets eaten up. Teams are of four: player 1 is offence, 2 is defence (they really cover the ground and is the hard worker in the team), 3 is often the captain (and chief strategist) and 4 is defence, the person who can hit the ball the hardest.

Polo is incredibly fast-paced and the ball can reach speeds of 100 miles per hour. A polo chukker (or period of play) is seven minutes and most are played to six chukkers. After the first seven minutes horses can be changed for fresh legs as many times as a team wishes and are ready waiting for players throughout the game.

Fast, exciting and fun, there’s quite nothing like a polo game.

It’s free entrance to see the polo in Sotogrande and it’s a fun thing to do while visiting this part of southern Spain. If you fancy experiencing it for yourself, check out our handpicked selection of luxury villas in Sotogrande. Our concierge can help with any aspect of planning a day and night at the polo – just get in touch.

Eight of the Most Jaw-Dropping Beaches on the Costa de la Luz

horse-riding-valdevaqueros1

Psst… want to know where the savvy, sand-loving traveller heads for their European beach fix? Four little words: the Costa de la Luz.

It’s long been a jealously guarded secret amongst in-the-know Spanish visitors that the beaches on Cadiz’s Costa de la Luz are some of the best in Spain. These days, though, the definitely secret’s out, and barely a year goes by without one magazine or another stating this fact.

Where is the Costa de la Luz? 

Good question. It’s the coast that faces the Atlantic Ocean stretching from the Portuguese border to Tarifa (just west of the Gibraltar and the Costa del Sol) where the Mediterranean sea and the Atlantic meet – as the Flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia said, entre dos aguas, or ‘between two waters’.

The Costa de la Luz stretches over two provinces in Andalucia, Cadiz and Huelva. Now, these beaches have a different feel altogether to those of the neighbouring Costa del Sol. Wilder, and yes occasionally windswept, but also in many places almost completely lacking in development. The glamorous beach clubs are swapped for boho-chic beach-side bars, and raucous champagne spray parties traded in for chilled sun-downers. In a word: bliss.

Our Pick of the Best Beaches on the Costa de la Luz

Valdevaqueros Beach

dunes at valdevaqueros beach

Along from the lovely little port town of Tarifa is the epicentre of the kitesurfing scene on the Costa de la Luz, Playa Valdevaqueros. This huge beach, which rises to an enormous sand dune at its westernmost end, is where you go if you want to get active or at least be seen with the surfer types. The few beach bars that flank the edge of Valdevaqueros beach are cooler-than-cool chill out affairs with plenty of facilities for your boards and low-slung seating to kick back in.

El Palmar – Near Vejer de la Frontera

sunset at el palmar beach

Our absolute favourite Costa de la Luz beach for, well, everyone really is El Palmar. Crashing Atlantic waves and surf hire shacks keep the most energetic entertained. The pristine huge white sand beach is ideal for sunbathing and sandcastle-making for little ones.

The small but perfectly formed selection of beach bars and restaurants keep hunger pangs away and allow for easy afternoon beverage runs. Then, as the evening sets in, the livelier beach bars with live DJs and music keep the young (and young at heart) happy with beach beds and a place to be seen. El Palmar beach has it all.

LVC recommended place to grab a bite: Restaurante La Torre; Latorredelpalmar.com.

Bolonia Beach

bolonia-beach1

Next on our list of go-to Cadiz beaches is in the hamlet of Bolonia. As with El Palmar, the coastline is protected so there are only a few buildings around. The few that make up the hamlet and a handful towards the dunes are there to make your time more convenient. A handful of low-key bars and restaurants sell mainly seafood to visitors who want a respite from the midday sun.

Eating and sun-bathing aside, there’s also horse riding on offer, a summer craft market and the extensive Roman ruins of Baelo Claudia to explore. A wooden path winds its way up from the edge of the village to the waving fringes of a pine forest that skirts the dunes towards the west of the beach. As well as being a beautiful spot, it’s ideal for a run or leisurely saunter. Stay for sunset and take the hike up to the top of the dunes: the view of the sun melting in to the horizon is the stuff that holiday memories are made of.

LVC recommended place to grab a bite: Off the beach – Las Rejas (Lasrejasrestaurante.com); on the beach – Sirocco (Siroccobolonia.es).

Playa La Fontanilla in Conil de la Frontera

Convenient – with a capital ‘C’ for Conil. From little boutiques, supermarkets and banks to restaurants, tourist information and bars, Conil de la Frontera is a whitewashed town beside the sea with every amenity you could possibly ask for. It has a lovely old centre and is very popular with Spanish visitors from the interior towns when the mercury starts to climb and the heat becomes just too much to bear.

Just to the west of Conil de la Frontera is Playa La Fontanilla. This huge, golden sandy beach with surf is really family-friendly. While there are restaurants that spill onto the sand, don’t fret, the skyline isn’t spoilt by high-rises or congested eateries.

LVC recommended place to grab a bite: Restaurante La Fontanilla – it’s open all afternoon and is a popular local haunt (Lafontanilla.com).

Calas de Poniente – Near Conil de la Frontera

 calas de poniente cove

Another beach near Conil de la Frontera is Calas de Poniente. A cala is an area enclosed by cliffs, so unsurprisingly these beaches, which number seven in total, are like hidden coves. They aren’t the easiest to access (but aren’t prohibitively difficult by the same token) so just pack light and expect to have plenty of space to yourself. If you want to get back to nature these beaches with clear sea and clean sand are nudist, but we’d describe them as more ‘clothing optional’ as beach-goers don’t have to completely disrobe. However, if you fancy banishing all tan lines then these are the beaches to visit.

LVC recommended place to grab a bite: Lunch options in the immediate vicinity are next to non-existent, so take a cooler box with Jamon Iberico, melon, anchovies, tomatoes, avocado and fresh bread.

Los Caños de Meca

canos de meca beach

Just up the coast from the rugged fishing town of Barbate and fringed with dramatic cliffs, Caños de Meca is everything you’d hope for from a wild Cadiz beach. On the main street (Avenida Trafalgar) right by the beach there are a few scruffy bars where everyone gathers to drink cocktails and watch the sunset. Once the sun’s melted into the ocean, the party gets started – and the night is a long one.

LVC recommended place to grab a bite: La Laja (La-laja.com); or in Barbate, the superb El Campero (Restauranteelcampero.es).

Playa del Carmen / Playa Zahara de los Atunes

playa del carmen cadiz

Smaller and with a slightly sleepier feel than Conil, Zahara de los Atunes sits between Cape Trafalgar and the Costa’s nightlife hub, Tarifa. The town beach (although there are many beaches either side to choose from) is Playa del Carmen. This beautiful beach caters for families with sunbeds, upbeat chiringuitos (beach-side restaurants), surf board hire, paddle boarding, longboarding, kite surfing and everything you’d need in between.

Zahara de los Atunes is foodie to its core, and eating seems to be the first thing on everyone’s agenda when they get here. And with good reason, too: if you like Red Tuna, a town with ‘tuna’ in its name is likely to be the place for you. You can expect a lot better than average fare in the restaurants in Zahara de los Atunes – it’s a town that prides itself on its cuisine.

LVC recommended place to grab a bite: In town – 21 Restaurante (21restaurante.com); on the beach – La Luna which gets lively as the sun sets.

Fancy spending the summer on one of Cadiz’s best beaches? Match the stunning surroundings with a stay at one of our luxury Costa de la Luz villas.

Exploring the Wines of Andalucia – More Than Just a Sweet Affair

Wines in La Axarquia

Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Cava and Albariño are the big names in Spanish wine. It’s well known that to the north of Spain the land is ideal for vineyards. While in southern Spain with its hot climate and mountainous terrain it was left for fortified wines. However, not any more…

Up until 2000 Andalucia was famed only for its excellent fortified wines from Cadiz, Cordoba and Malaga provinces. However, in recent years small providers have been working hard in Granada, Malaga, Cadiz and Huelva producing dry whites, sparkling wines, rosés and reds that are starting to give the well-known wine regions of the North a run for their money.

Here at the Luxury Villa Collection we have discerning tastes when it comes to what ends up in our glass at the end of the day. And although there are a lot of new bodegas (wineries) in Andalucia, not all Andalucian wines are good. We’ve had great fun (hiccup) picking the best bodegas to visit.

Malaga Province

Axarquia Region

This mountainous region to the east of Malaga is famed for its avocados, mangos and sweet wine. Its white villages are pretty, charming, authentic and home to many food-related fiestas throughout the spring and summer.

Bodegas Bentomiz

bodegas bentomiz with mountains

Address: Finca El Almendro, Pago Cuesta Robano, 29752, Sayalonga, Malaga

What: The bodega building itself is a handsome, modern, slate affair which is strikingly bold in its very rural setting. Wine tastings are paired with nibbles of food, but the set course lunches they offer are exceptional so don’t miss them. The chef (and owner) has been trained by one of the best chefs in the province.

Products: Aromatic red, rosé, white and sweet wines under the Ariyanas label.

We love: Their 100% Moscatel de Alejandrí­a, sweet Terruño Pizarroso (a typical Malaga wine) and their rosé, Ariyanas Romé Rosado, is absolutely perfect on hot evenings.

Point of difference: They cork with reusable glass stoppers – very chic and a useful memento.

More information: Bodegasbentomiz.com 

Ronda 

Ronda has a wine-making heritage which goes all the way back to Roman times, and has been recently revived. There are 18 wineries (on our last count) so more than enough to warrant a private chauffeur and a whistle stop tour of a few of them.

The town itself is in a magical setting and packs quite a punch in terms of sightseeing credentials, so coupling up a day wine tasting with cultural sights is ideal. Whether you choose to wine taste before or after visiting the town there’s plenty to enjoy from palaces and pretty squares, to a traditional bull ring and the famous old bridge.

Descalzos Viejos

descalzos viejos wine barrels

Address: Finca Descalzos Viejos, Pdo. de los Molinos, Apartado de Correos 365, 29400, Ronda, Malaga

What: A restored convent building steeped in history. With its frescos, vaulted ceilings and atmospheric feel it’s not only one of our favourite bodegas in Spain, but anywhere else in the world, too.

Products: Red and white wine as well as a sweet wine called Dv Mí­nima – which is absolutely delicious. All wines have the D.O. Sierra de Malaga seal of approval.

We love: There are no set tours; each tour is specific upon request.

Point of difference: The vineyards are in the gorge of Ronda, making it a spectacular setting and within easy reach of the town for a spot of sightseeing.

More information: Descalzosviejos.com

Joaquín Fernández

Horse Riding Through A Vineyard in Spain

Address: Finca los Frutales, Paraje Los Frontones, 29400, Ronda, Malaga

What: An organic winery created in a self-sustainable ecosystem.

Products: Red, rosé and a blush wine.

We love: The rural setting and the in-depth explanations provided in to mixing traditional methods with new technology and organic procedures.

Point of difference: You can go on a horse riding tour through the vineyard – that’s pretty special.

More information: Bodegajf.es 

Cadiz Province 

Cadiz province is very much the Andalucia wine heartlands. Home to the Sherry Triangle – Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlucar de Barrameda and Puerto de Santa Maria – in Cadiz province it’s all about sweet and dry Sherry. If you’re not familiar with Sherry, don’t let that put you off – it’s an incredibly versatile, rich and complex wine. Some of these wineries have been producing wines for hundreds of years, and with this heritage comes quality. On a tasting in Cadiz province you will be taken on a journey through history and will know your different Sherries at the end of it, from sun-drenched sweet Pedro Ximénez to the salty dryness of Manzanilla.

Puerto de Santa Maria 

On the Atlantic coast the old town of Puerto de Santa Maria is filled with cobbled streets, traditional fish restaurants and an imposing Moorish fortress.

Bodegas Gutierrez Colosia

wine barrels gutierrez colosia

Address: Avda. Bajamar, 40, 11500 El Puerto de Santa Marí­a, Cšdiz

What: One of the area’s smaller wineries, Bodegas Gutiérrez Colosí­a is family owned and a beautiful example of a typical southern Spanish bodega.

Products: Sherries – Fino, Amontillado, Pedro Ximénez, Oloroso, Palo Cortado – and Brandies.

We love: It’s very atmospheric and romantic; they offer great tapas and the family have a real understanding of flamenco (a show can be arranged).

Point of difference: Beside the Guadalete River in the charming El Puerto de Santa Maria it makes for a wonderful day out.

More information: Gutierrezcolosia.com

Sanlucar de Barrameda 

Sitting alongside the Guadalquivir estuary, the town of Sanlucar old quarter (Barrio Alto) is delightful. The town is famed for its wide, golden beaches, seafood, beach horse racing and its salty Manzanilla wine.

Barbadillo

wine barrels in barbadillo bodega

Address: Luis de Eguilaz, 11, 11540, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cádiz

What: Barbadillo is one of the oldest and largest family bodegas in Andalucia as well as being home to the Manzanilla Museum.

Products: White, red and sparkling as well as Sherries (Manzanilla, Oloroso, Amontilado, Palo Cortado, Creams, Pedro Ximénez) and Brandies.

We love: The Cathedral of Manzanilla, where the barrels are kept – it truly is enormous. The beginner’s wine tasting course gives a good understanding of Sherry and gets you prepared to sound like you know what you’re talking about even if this is your first foray into Sherry.

Point of difference: Barbadillo has 17 wine cellars covering 75,000 m2!

More information: Barbadillo.com

Jerez de la Frontera 

A visit to Andalucia wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Jerez – the home of the Spanish Riding School, the Buleria (a type of flamenco) and Sherry. It’s a beautiful city with great restaurants, a wonderful food market and many, many wineries.

Las Bodegas Marqués del Real Tesoro y Valdespino

Manzanillla La Guita bottle & barrels

Address: Ctra. Nacional IV, Km. 640, 11408 Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz

What: Many famous Sherry household names (La Guita and Real Tesoro for instance) sit under the Estévez Group who own the cellars of Marques del Real Tesoro y Valdespino.

Products: Cava, Brandy and Sherries (Manzanilla, Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso, Palo Cortado, Cream, Pedro Ximenez).

We love: The modern art gallery which is part of the cellar – look out for the Picasso prints as well as works from Dali, Botero and Miro.

Point of difference: Three very unique experiences in one: a vineyard and winery, art gallery and stud to the rare, black cloaked, pure breed Spanish horses (pure Andalucian horses are usually grey and these are black).

More information: Grupoestevez.es

More Details – When Should You Visit?

The vineyards and wineries are open all year round. However, the harvest is carried out mainly in August and September (sometimes stretching to October depending on the weather). So to see the fields and hills full of harvesters and the grapes being selected and crushed September is the time to book. If you want to visit some of the boutique bodegas around the Malaga or Ronda area then do contact our Concierge who can organise an excellent guided tour in small private groups with a door to door service.

Enjoy exploring the wines here in Andalucia – and don’t worry: all the bodegas ship abroad.

Like our guide to exploring Andalucia’s wine? Try out some of the wines mentioned at one of our pick of the best restaurants in Malaga and Marbella.