Sotogrande aerial view, July 2011
|Comarca||Campo de Gibraltar|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
Sotogrande is the largest privately owned residential development in Andalusia. Originally a gated community, it is located in the municipality of San Roque, Cádiz, Spain and is composed of a 25 square kilometres stretch from the Mediterranean Sea 25 km east of Gibraltar, back into the foothills of Sierra Almenara, providing contrasting views of sea, hills, cork forests and green fairways, including the Rock of Gibraltar and Morocco.
Some of the richest and most powerful families of Spain, Russia, and the United Kingdom reside in Sotogrande. Current and past regulars and inhabitants of Sotogrande include Peter Caruana, former Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, current Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Tony Blair, Emilio Botín, Ana Rosa Quintana, Royal Shakespeare Company actor Mike Gwilym, Vladimir Gusinsky, Boris Berezovsky, as well as Prince Louis Alphonse, Duke of Anjou, the legitimist pretender to the throne of France.
To build a city similar to Palm Beach in southern Europe, Sotogrande was established by the couple Joseph McMicking and Mercedes Zóbel de Ayala y Róxas of the Philippines with support from their nephews Jaime Zóbel and Enrique Zóbel. The McMickings, having seen the idyllic coasts in 1962, acquired five neighboring farms with the idea of creating a luxurious residential development by the Mediterranean. Joseph McMicking succeeded in creating what has become one of the most luxurious urbanizations in Europe. In May 2006 it was featured in The Times as having the most expensive homes in Europe. There are a number of artificial lakes and five golf courses, including the Valderrama Golf Club, created by Jaime Ortiz-Patiño and the San Roque course. The Port was established in 1988.
Sotogrande is well known as an architectural showcase on the Costa del Sol, with styles varying from the traditional Andalucian to mid century modern, all the way through 21st century design and even more unusual designs, including moorish/mudejar style homes and even a Swiss chalet. In 2008 the local government declared three buildings as of cultural interest, protecting them from reform or demolition. These architectural gems were the Biddle House, by Francisco Javier Carvajal, the Zóbel house by José Antonio Coderch, and the Real Club de Golf by Luis Gutierrez Soto.
Today, Sotogrande is renowned for its varied sporting facilities. It has five golf courses in Europe, Valderrama Golf Club host to the European Tour's Volvo Masters and the 1997 Ryder Cup, the Real Club de Golf, Almenara, La Reserva, La Cañada and a Golf Academy; six polo fields owned by the Santa María Polo Club; two Tennis and Padel Tennis Clubs and the SotoTennis Academy; the Racquet Centre which specializes in padel tennis and the Octogono which specializes in tennis, a rugby club and two Beach Clubs (Cucurucho and Octogono); a Kayak / Sailing Club, Riding stables and a busy marina.
River Guadiaro and Estuary, Sotogrande, a natural area of 27 hectares and the only marshland on this part of the coast, has been designated as an Andalusian National Park, Wildlife and Nature Reserve. A series of pathways has been constructed, with information boards explaining the natural area, enabling nature lovers unobstructed views of the estuary, its wildlife and in particular the migratory birds, on their route to and from Africa.
Sotogrande seems to have kept its head above the crisis. Finanzas, a Spanish finance publication, says that whilst prices in other areas of the Costa del Sol have taken a fall to the tune of -11.4% in Torremolinos, -10.99% in Fuengirola, -7.4% in Manilva, -5-5% in Casares and -3.4% in Mijas Costa. In Sotogrande average property prices have remained the same or increased, in some cases up to 45%. This phenomenon is attributed to the financial status of the residents of the urbanization.
The Sotogrande Marina has a mixture of retail units and restaurants as well as some apartments. The Sotogrande Marina has a taxi boat service during the summer season.
Recorded by Spanish secret services, Vladimir Putin illegally entered Spain at Sotogrande by private boat via plane flights from London to Gibraltar several times while he was head of Russia's FSB during the 1990s. He was visiting his friends in the Russian mafia.
Spanish police arrested several Russian mafia with residences at Sotogrande during Operation Troika.
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