To say that Finca Cortesin is a special place would be a massive understatement. The property is somewhere Compare Retreats’ Founder Dervla Louli tries to add into her travel itinerary every year, after discovering it a few years ago with her husband, a CrossFit enthusiast and Ironman amateur athlete. Already a haven for wellness-centric guests and discerning luxury travellers with a love of incredible interior design, the recent addition of the yoga centre and new villas are perfectly timed to elevate the property to even greater heights, and the no-phone policy in public areas offers much-needed respite from screens. Dervla returned this year while her husband took part in the Marbella Iron Man competition, to enjoy Thai and Ayurvedic spa treatments as he discovered the joys of post-race recovery in the cryotherapy snow chamber.
Just 50-minutes from Malaga Airport, 15-minutes from Gibraltar and 30 minutes away from Marbella, Finca Cortesin is located in the rolling hills of Southern Spain in the small village of Casares. The air is clean, the views are breathtaking, and the land is rich and green covered in wild olive, mastic and cork-oak trees. The castle of Casares at the top of the town is of Arabic origins, and from here you can see the entire town of Andalusian white houses.
The climate is typically Mediterranean with Spring and Summer being the most beautiful times to visit. We went at the end of April, and it was perfect for cooler mornings, warm days by the pool, and long evenings sitting by the fire outside the Blue Bar.
If exploring is on your agenda during your visit, there are several experiences suitable for everyone. Granada and The Alhambra Palace, Ronda, Malaga and Picasso’s birthplace, Seville, Cordoba, Gibraltar, Tangier, Marbella Old Town, The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, Caminito del Ray, Doñano National Park, Cetacean sighting, private-boat tours, hiking, e-bike trips, and any customisable experience you can conceive are all on offer making it the perfect base to explore Southern Spain from for families, solo travellers, groups and couples.
The five-star award-winning luxury resort has a Moorish-inspired hotel, three restaurants, an indoor heated pool, an outdoor 30-metre pool for lounging, and a 50-metre Olympic-sized adult-only pool that boasts the most symmetrically-situated palm trees I’ve ever seen. The extensive spa and gym are bright and sunny with light streaming in from huge windows with ivy peaking out over them.
The photogenic Chinoiserie Blue Bar features de Gournay wallpaper and contrasting pale red sofas with the same symmetrical décor that flows through the property. Nearby the sea-side Beach Club has an infinity pool and Mediterranean restaurant is open Wednesday to Sunday, and the Cabell B. Robinson par-72, 18-hole golf course and Jack Nicklaus golf school, has been ranked as one of the top five courses in Spain.
The Andalusian architecture with white walls, courtyards and large courtyards gives it a bright and spacious atmosphere that immediately makes you relax. Renowned designer Duarte Pinto Coelho is responsible for Finca Cortesin’s common area that is like a curio cabinet with surprises around every corner. Architects Roger Torras and Ignacio Sierra, landscape architect Gerald Huggan and interior designers Ana and Christina Calderón are the masterminds behind the understated and elegant look and feel found as soon as you set foot onto the grounds.
While the resort is quite formal and best suited to adults, they do welcome children of all ages who feel very at home here. Kids aged four and older can join the kid’s club unaccompanied, and younger guests can join in with an adult.
There are six types of 67 individually designed suites that are all spacious and beautiful. Some of my favourites include the Executive Suites surrounding the Moroccan-inspired courtyards on the second level that have their own living rooms and balconies, the Private-Pool Suite and the stunning Cortesin Suite. The generously sized marble baths, fluffy towels, enormous beds and extensive in-room dining options are all worth a special mention.
We had excellent private breakfasts and dinners on our balcony, and the view overlooking the main pool in the evening was breathtaking. The villas are perfect for larger groups and families and go up to five bedrooms. Staying in the villas feels exactly like you’re in the hotel with turn-down service, full amenities and room service but you have extra conveniences such as Gaggenau kitchens, the choice of a private chef and your own private pool. The décor in the villas is an extension of Finca Cortesin’s signature décor with inspiring art and curiosities in many of the rooms.
The food at Finca Cortesin goes far beyond healthy fads like kale salads and celery juice, focusing instead on elevating the most spectacular raw ingredients money can buy. The three restaurants (four if you include the pool restaurant) all specialise in different areas. I’m a very fussy eater, but every single request was answered with a yes, including an in-room dining order for their famous whole sole. Bennison-fabric covered El Jardín De Lutz is arguably the prettiest restaurant at the hotel with Waikiki green wallpaper that pours from the ceilings to the tables and beyond.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the traditional Spanish restaurant. Breakfast is served a la carte and includes muesli, yoghurt, fruit, cured meats, local cheese and a selection of healthy but more indulgent carb options like bread and coffee cake. The real stars in the morning are the eggs, which are served in every imaginable way; the best rendition is the Cortesin Omelette with truffle and a side of perfectly steamed spinach with Antonio’s famous black iced-coffee.
Dinner at El Jardin is also divine with imaginative vegetable and protein dishes, including the best sole you will ever eat. A few steps away is the famous Kabuki Raw gourmet restaurant that has a star in the Michelin guide and two Suns in the Repsol. Guests can view chefs whipping up works of art featuring Japanese seafood and organic produce from the Finca Cortesin organic vegetable garden. The tapestry-lined walls and statement red Chinoiserie furniture make for an epic backdrop for a special evening, and the food is next level, light and perfect for health-conscious diners.
If you’re craving a carb or steak fix, Don Giovanni is the place for you. Paper-thin pizza, lasagna like mama makes it, and beautifully cooked sirloin steaks are a few highlights from our meal here that uses many ingredients sourced from Italy.
Every dining outlet, even the bar, remembered our food and drink preferences perfectly from the first day onwards. My sugar-free tonic and fresh lemon in a large fishbowl glass order was magically communicated somehow to everyone on site as was my ‘large green salad hold the olive oil’. It’s small things like these that take a hotel from great to exceptional and illustrates the extraordinary tight team that keeps everything running smoothly behind the scenes led by GM Reneé Zimmer, an exceptional and thoughtful hotelier.
Wellness at Finca Cortesin is a luxurious affair and the state-of-the-art spa, golf course, gym, tennis facilities, pools, nearby Ascari race course, and experiences like SUP Yoga, hiking, e-bike routes, make it a brilliant place for health-centric guests of all ages.
The spa boasts three saunas, three steam baths and three relaxation areas with six treatment rooms and a double cabin with treatments that incorporate Biologique Recherche and Carita products. The large indoor heated pool is lined with floor-ceiling windows on one side and Romanesque pillars on the other with large antique lanterns suspended from the ceiling. There are individual and shared heat and water facilities that include a sauna, steam room, plunge pool, power showers and a snow chamber that was cool long before the Vim Hof method became popular.
The Thai and Ayurvedic treatments are as authentic as they come with therapists from Asia flown in to bring the real deal to clients. The post-Ironman sports massage my husband booked unwound tight knots in his calves and shoulders, while my hot-stone massage made my jetlag a thing of the past—to say we both slept soundly that night would be an understatement. The four-hand oriental massage, Ayurvedic voyage, and hyaluronic facial are a few well-loved treatments of mine and the treatments for two performed in the large couple’s suite is excellent for something on the more romantic side. Practical beauty services like nail and hair care are also available on site, and the big and bouncy blow dry was one of the best I’ve had in Spain.
For guests who want to keep their fitness up on site, the 25, 30 and 50-metre pools are perfect for laps while the gym has all the latest equipment you could ever need for an intense workout with a view. Personal training sessions are offered, tennis lessons and games are available, and the 7,400-yard long championship course that has hosted the VOLVO World Match Play Championship for three years is the perfect place to tee off. The brand new yoga centre just a few minutes walk away from the hotel is in one of the most peaceful spots on the property and boasts beautiful views to be enjoyed, post-class.
For something more adventurous kayaking, paddle boarding, sailing and Sup Yoga are available on the Adriatic sea while the natural routes along Sierra de las Nieves National Park and Sierra de Crestellina can be toured on foot or by e-bike with a guided tour.
At the moment, wellness retreats and packages are a relaxed affair with clients preferring to book treatments and activities as and when they prefer. For something a little more set in stone, there are two perfect packages to choose from: the Two-Night Spa Retreat with a 50-minute spa treatment, or the Two-Night Golf Retreat which includes one round of golf per person.
For a relaxing retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, there is nothing quite as special as the whitewashed walls of Finca Cortesin. The spacious décor, delicious yet healthy food, and carefully thought out spa menu, and activities let you relax against a backdrop like nowhere else in Europe. The team here have the art of helping guests unwind down to a fine art. Nothing is ever too much trouble, everything is possible, and the wellness facilities and treatments are second to none.
While every room here is beautiful, the Executive Suites with generous balconies, high ceilings, bathtubs and walk-in rain showers are my favourite rooms on site. Make sure to ask for a room with views of the pool and gardens that will take your breath away every morning. The pool suite featuring a horse-motif on the curtains and the green-hued Cortesin Suite are two other unique rooms I love.