VERDICT Marbella is awash in tourist resorts, but Anantara has mastered the art of luxury. Its formula of service and exceptional quality hits high marks for even the most frequent travelers.

TESTED BY Ramsey Qubein

BEST FOR Manicured grounds, three 18-hole golf courses, and exquisite dining

DON’T MISS The private yoga classes overlooking the Mediterranean

PRICE Internet rates for a traditional room start at $250 including breakfast.

CONTACT Anantara Villa Padierna Palace Benahavis Marbella Resort. Phone +66-0-2-365-9110. anantara.com/en/villa-padierna-marbella

BACKGROUND Anantara’s hospitality and focus on connecting guests with the destination shines through, with signature experiences that avoid the tourist hubbub yet still immerse the traveler in the region.

WHERE IS IT? Within a gated development, the resort is an hour’s drive from Malaga. Major sites like Alhambra Palace is just over two hours’ drive; Marbella Old Town is especially convenient.

WHAT'S IT LIKE? The resort is divided between two beautifully designed villas that look like palaces. Trickling Moorish fountains surround the pool and gardens with majestic noble arches in the main atrium creating a dramatic first impression.

ROOMS The décor of the 132 rooms and suites blends old-world European accent pieces in the artwork and fabrics with modern touches like flat-screen TVs and immense bathrooms stocked with Spanish-brand Loewe luxury products. Some rooms and suites have furnished balconies overlooking the golf course or gardens. I really enjoyed the option to choose my own style of pillow from a bedside menu although I wish there were more conveniently placed power outlets.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS La Loggia is the main dining room serving all-day menus starting with a lavish breakfast buffet featuring Spanish products galore – cured meats and hams, local cheeses, and tropical fruits. I especially liked the Padron peppers and churros; a la carte dishes like omelets and pancakes are also available. Lunch and dinner continue the same Spanish fusion theme (the salmorejo soup was incredible). Eddy’s Bar is a consistent award winner for its cocktail menu served in designer glassware while 99 Sushi Bar is especially popular for its menu made famous from outlets in Dubai, Madrid, and Mallorca among others. Menus are served by the pool, at the panoramic beach club (a short shuttle drive away), and The Grill Club (part of the racquet club). Chef Paco Roncero, a two-Michelin star recipient, is responsible for much of the resort’s specialty menus including the new O by Paco Roncero. Anantara is famous for its Dining by Design concept that allows people to customize their menu and dining location anywhere around the resort (the romantic chapel is a popular option).

LEISURE FACILITIES The swimming pool winds around trees with plenty of shade. A lifeguard delivers towels and reading material to sunseekers while others relax in the spa. This goes beyond massage and beauty treatments to offer an impressive thalassotherapy circuit, with hot and cold areas designed to improve circulation and energy levels. For a bit of local flair, try the Andalusian olive oil massage. A kids’ club provides supervised activities like cooking classes.

MEETINGS AND FITNESS Facilities Wireless Internet is complimentary, including at the beach club, and there are a variety of conference setups including an outdoor amphitheater. A business corner provides a computer and printer.