If there’s one thing that everyone should do in late spring, it’s plan a break to the Costa Del Sol. We’ve just returned from a fabulous family villa holiday in Puerto Banus topped off by blue skies, warm days and plenty of sunshine.

I wanted to surprise my wife with a break as we hadn’t been away for a while and so had to run the gauntlet of choosing the destination alone. When eventually I showed her the villa pics she thought it was a bit smart for a young family (we have two girls ages 3 years and 6 months) and far too close to too many golf courses (as I’m a bit of an enthusiast), but when we arrived it was thumbs up all round as the pastel blue villa was spacious and cleverly decked out with very few hazards for ‘little people’.

The 40-minute transfer to the villa from Malaga Airport was a breeze and we arrived relatively unstressed having had an unexpected and very welcome hire car upgrade. My wife was initially worried about having a private swimming pool at the villa with a very active and adventurous toddler, but when she saw that it was well fenced off from the garden and house she conceded that her fears had been misplaced.

Our eldest daughter was delighted when she realized that not only did she have a swimming pool but that the beach was at the end of the garden – literally about 30 metres from the lawn. Located on Arroyo de Pepina Sur, our villa must have been in one of the best positions in the area – with a sandy beach, local shops, restaurant and bars all within a short stroll of the property.

I didn’t bring my golf clubs on this holiday but wished I had many, many times – we must have driven past at least 8 different courses in the immediate area. Behind coastal Puerto Banus you’ll find Los Naranjos, Real, and Aloha golf clubs as well as several huge golf resorts closer to inland Benahavis. They’re all easily accessible from Puerto Banus.

My wife took herself off to spend a few hours shopping – never fond of trailing around on shopping trips I spent the time on the beach and at the villa with the girls – although it might not have been such a great idea as she returned with at least three bags from the upmarket El Corte Ingles department store as well as some designer bags which I noticed were secreted away into the suitcase very fast.

The only shopping we did together was window-shopping for yachts and sports boats – there are around 1000 moored at the Puerto Banus marina – and a trip with the girls to the Saturday morning street market located near to the famous bull ring. My wife found a yacht called Absolutely Fabulous when we were exploring the marina and watching the boats heading to the Marbella leisure port that caused a chuckle. Well, can you imagine – “Mayday, mayday – this is Absolutely Fabulous”.

There’s a handy car park underneath the central square in Puerto Banus which means that you’ll have a short and easy walk to the market with kids and won’t have to fight the traffic at the market itself – which was pretty much gridlocked due to some crazy parking and plenty of unloading going on. We went looking for souvenirs but managed to come away with bed linen, shoes for the girls and a leather handbag for my wife! I have to admit that I took the girls to one of the market cafes and had a beer – all right …two beers – whilst watching the world go by with the girls and waiting for my wife to return.

From Levante Beach at Puerto Banus you can beach walk to Marbella, but with the girls we felt it would have been quite a lot of carrying and possibly best left for another time. We visited a couple of the smaller beaches situated to the west of the resort for a look see and some toe dipping – there’s a string of abut five beaches in this area – as well as heading to nearby Marbella on the N340 coast road. We also ventured into the Sierra Blanca Mountains behind Marbella. We took a 4 x 4 up, although the roads to the viewpoints are fine for cars, and had some amazing panoramic views of the coast as well as a ‘heated discussion’ about my driving around hairpin bends.

My 3 year old was fascinated by the ‘big birds’, which on closer inspection turned out to be paragliders – and a fair few of them. Seems we’d struck the perfect conditions for jumping off cliffs with wings and gliding over the coastal strip. We also met some hikers at one of the viewpoints who were based in Puerto Banus heading out daily to follow different tracks and trails in the region.

Puerto Banus is well known for its high standard of restaurants and we weren’t disappointed. We had a couple of fantastic early suppers in ‘the Port’ area, one at La Moraga Iberica and another at Buenaventura Plaza – and the food, although not cheap, was of an excellent standard. In the main we catered at the villa to suit the girls, shopping at the local supermarket just a few minutes walk and in central Puerto Banus. We found plenty of fresh and well-priced seafood and lots of fruit and vegetables that seemed somehow much tastier than you find back home.

The weather in May was warm – I’d say around 20-22C and sunny every day – ideal for travelling with young kids and dare I say it…golf.

After we packed the kids off to bed we normally weren’t too far behind ourselves although we did make use of the villa’s fab upstairs TV room with its palatial proportions and massive flat screen plasma and SKY.

I’m planning to head back to this lovely villa when the girls are a bit older with my golf clubs or maybe just with the boys from the golf club on a bit of a tour. Just don’t tell ‘the wife’…

AZURE HOLIDAYS – Villa holidays made easy

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