The golden age of golfing resorts

With four courses being built in an idyllic setting, Los Flamingos is miles ahead of the competition
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The Independent Online

Ever since the swanky strip running from Marbella to Puerto Banus was nicknamed "The Golden Mile", the unit of measurement, gilded or not, has been liberally splashed around the western Costa del Sol.

There's the Green Mile, neither particularly green nor a mile long, just west of Marbella. And then, more ambitiously, there's the New Golden Mile, which can refer to anywhere along the 62km of coast between San Pedro de Alcantará and Sotogrande, taking in Casares and Estepona en route.

The accuracy of its moniker apart, though, there is little doubt that the New Golden Mile is the focus for new development on the Costa del Sol and at the heart of it is Los Flamingos, the golf resort that is set to be the largest in Europe.

Although dozens of cranes are currently crunching into the hillsides of this still very green area, the Benahavís district's building laws are tight, demanding that only 15 per cent of a site is built on to avoid high-density development of the sort that has blighted resorts further east.

Los Flamingos, 10km west of Marbella and 1km inland from Costalita beach, is doing more than its bit to preserve the greenery with four golf courses - 54 holes in all - flanked by natural lakes and hills. Two courses are complete, the third is underway and the owner of Los Flamingos, R&A Capital, has just bought a further two million square metres of land on the other side of the toll road on which to build the fourth.

The six developments dotted around Los Flamingos' present three million square metres have spectacular views from an elevated position over the greens and across to Africa.

No one knows the area better than Nigel Eede, owner of Marbella Choice Properties, who has lived there for 20 years and on various developments in Los Flamingos for the past five.

"There are about 600 apartments being built in total on Los Flamingos, divided among the six complexes, so it's not a high-density development," says Eede.

"The complexes are all upmarket but quite different in style, from the Mediterranean Pueblo-style Four Seasons to the contemporary, white Alanda Flamingos. There are also 135 villa plots, which have all been sold apart from about three. Villas here go on the market for between €2m (£1.4m) and €7m (£4.9m) and that adds value to the apartments too."

Three of Los Flamingos' developments belong to "boutique" developer Alanda Homes, the Spanish arm of Irish homebuilders McInerney Holdings. Two of them - the 98-apartment Four Seasons Flamingos and the 54-apartment Tee 5 - sold out within weeks last year. The third, Alanda Flamingos, has 21 of its 55 apartments left, starting at €450,000 (£319,000) and due for completion in June. Selling before completion is discouraged.

"We try not to let people flip [sell before completion] on the property so as not to create an empty urbanisation," says Justine Haughey from Alanda Homes, "so the first resale apartments are just coming on the market now, starting at €485,000 (£344,000)."

As an incentive to hold on to your home, Alanda throws in a 10-year membership to Los Flamingos golf club, worth €25,000 (£17,000).

Acosta Flamingos, whose apartments are an impressive 130sq m, has proved another lucrative development. "We sold off-plan to investors for €328,000 (£232,000) a year ago, before building licences had been granted, and they are now back on the market for €480,000 (£340,000)," says Nigel Eede.

At El Lago de Los Flamingos, prices start at €335,000 (£237,000). "El Lago is one of the nicest and most upmarket developments, a small, private gated community set in a cul de sac next to the natural lake," says Eede. The sixth complex is Royal Flamingos, whose 57 apartments are all frontline golf.

"There's a cosmopolitan community and about 30 per cent of people live here permanently," says Eede. "You get quite a few people running businesses from their Los Flamingos property and commuting back to England or Holland during the week. You also get a lot of stockbrokers and currency traders who have offices in Marbella but rent properties here because they want to be away from the bustle of Puerto Banús."

"The last two years have been boom years on the New Golden Mile," says Eede - meaning there are a lot of cranes. But he insists that even while construction is ongoing Los Flamingos is a peaceful place to live and will become one of the most salubrious resorts around.

Eede forecasts: "People who invest here will make serious money long term. I've no intention of moving, ever."

Los Flamingos is unquestionably a golf-lover's paradise, with a golfing academy, practice area with putting green, pro shop and club house.

But the setting is also impressive enough to sell the resort to those who couldn't care less about irons and wedges. Helen and Gary Fox from Harrow in North London, are committed non-golfers but have recently bought a two-bedroom apartment on Alanda's Tee 5 and are "completely delighted".

"When we entered the gates for the first time, it was a shock. This oasis opened up before us. There's nothing quite as beautiful as this anywhere on the coast," says Helen, 53.

"We were going to buy a place purely for investment, but the agent from Marbella Choice drove us up to the highest point where Tee 5 was due to be built and it was so beautiful that we chose an apartment that we could use for regular holidays."

The Fox's large, contemporary garden apartment cost €500,000 (£355,000) and is set on a hill with uninterrupted golf and sea views from its 80sq m terrace. When they are not soaking up the views, the Foxes rent out the apartment for £300-£750 a week (see www.marbellaflat.com).

"You don't need to play golf to appreciate how beautiful this place is. With golf developments, you know you'll get a lot of greenery and there's usually a hotel on site," says Helen. "Los Flamingos is a wonderful oasis, but we also have a good social life down here."

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