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Don Carlos Leisure Resort & Spa 4.5

Marbella, Costa del Sol, Andalucia

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Near the beach and a 10-minute walk to Aventura Amazonia park
  • Rooms have plush beds and marble bathrooms
  • Some rooms have balconies or terraces with sea views
  • Spacious villas with living rooms, kitchenettes, and luxury services
  • Oasis Rooms come with personal butler service and other privileges
  • Sandy beach with beach club and water sports
  • Two large outdoor pools and children's pool
  • Six restaurants and bars include Mediterranean and Thai, plus stylish cocktail lounge
  • Full-service spa
  • Tennis club and kids' club 
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout

Cons

  • Located a bit far from shopping, Old Town, and other attractions
  • Hillside location means a hike back up from the beach
  • Decor in some rooms is dated
  • TVs have limited number of English-language channels

Bottom Line

Don Carlos Leisure Resort & Spa is a luxury resort located a 10-minute drive from Marbella's Old Town. The Don Carlos has lush grounds and superb facilities like a beach club, two outdoor pools and a children's pool, a full-service spa, tennis club, and several restaurants and bars. Its 243 modern rooms come with plush beds, flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi -- though some can be small and the decor in a few is a bit dated. Spacious villas and Oasis Rooms come with extras like personal butlers and high-end sound systems. It's more lavish and more of a conventional resort than the nearby Marriott's Marbella Beach condo resort, but also more expensive.

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Scene

Large beach resort with plenty of activities and high-end polish

Don Carlos Leisure Resort & Spa is housed in a series of white buildings set on lovely grounds. Paths wind their way past palm trees and lush greenery, flowers, and sculptures. Tropical songbirds and a placid pond with fish and water lilies add to the serene feel. Inside, globe-style lights and colorful modern art and photography create a chic contemporary look in the lobby. It all has plenty of high-end polish, with just the right amount of shimmer in design details like mosaic tiles and polished marble floors. Large windows throughout the property let in lots of natural light and provide views of the greenery outside. 

The vibe here is social, but refined -- don't expect animation teams or any tacky distractions. Many guests gather on the hotel's soft-sand beach, where blue lounge chairs provide seating under thatched umbrellas. The Orange Beach Club offers a relaxing tropical atmosphere, and features thatched-roof pagoda-style buildings, an open-air restaurant, and Bali beds (covered daybeds). The club's pool is a distinctively shaped and vivid blue freeform pool that winds its way through the lush greenery, around and under the white buildings. It provides a laid-back place for this resort's upmarket clientele to unwind. With an array of facilities, the resort attracts both families and couples seeking a sunny beach vacation. Note that its hillside location means it's a bit of a hike to get around the sprawling property, depending on where guests might be heading.

Location

Beachfront location a 10-minute walk from Aventura Amazonia adventure park

Don Carlos Leisure Resort & Spa is just off the major A-7 road that runs along the coast to Malaga. There are some restaurants nearby, but there is little commercial activity in the area. Given the hotel's location away from most of the area's shopping, dining, and major attractions, it's advisable to have a car while staying here. The resort is a two-minute drive or 10-minute walk to Aventura Amazonia adventure park, featuring ziplines, multi-sport circuits, and climbing walls. It's a 12-minute drive to Marbella's Old Town -- which is home to Alameda Park's lovely gardens and the Contemporary Spanish Engraving Museum, featuring art from the likes of Miro, Picasso, and Dali. Other sites in the Old Town include Plaza de los Naranjos, a beautiful Castilian Renaissance square, and the Chapel of Santiago, the oldest religious building in the city. It's 15 minutes by car to reach the Bonsai Museum and Plaza de Toros bullfight ring. Puerto Banus Marina is an 18-minute drive, while Selwo Marina Delfinarium, with its dolphin shows and penguin exhibits, is about a 30-minute drive. Malaga Airport is about a 30-minute drive, while Malaga city can be reached in around 45 minutes.

Rooms

Modern rooms with marble bathrooms, plus some with balconies and sea views

Rooms at the Don Carlos are all modern, though within that category they range from slightly dated to contemporary. Most lower category rooms are done in pleasantly bright decor, with light wood veneer furniture, bold statement headboards with abstract oak patterns, and pops of red everywhere throw pillows to retro papasan chairs. It's an attractive look, created by lots of tan and white, with patterned carpeted floors and funky accent walls including mirrored geometric panels. Oasis Rooms employ a similar mid-century/contemporary aesthetic, but done in soothing green tones and beachy hues. Somewhat surprisingly, the Presidential Suite that we visited was the most dated room on the grounds, with unattractive satin fabrics used throughout.

All rooms have work desks, safes, flat-screen TVs with a wide range of international channels (but only a few English-speaking channels), CD players, electric kettles, and free Wi-Fi. Some rooms lack minibars. Irons and ironing boards are available upon request. Bathrooms are clean and clad in marble, and come with premium bath products, bathrobes, and slippers. Some feel a little cramped, however, with limited counter space. Bathrooms in the Oasis Rooms have large bathtubs and separate spacious rainfall showers.

Suites have living rooms, and some rooms have private balconies or terraces -- some with sea views. One- and two-bedroom villas have living rooms, kitchenettes, and added amenities like MP3 players, large terraces, and personal butler service. Other perks include packing and unpacking of luggage, shoe shines, and free daily ironing of garments. Oasis Rooms come with fresh fruit, sound systems with iPod docks, private check-in and check-out, free breakfast, a dedicated business lounge, and free tennis club access. Some Oasis Rooms have living rooms and fully equipped kitchens. Butler service is also included with Oasis Rooms.

Features

Beach with beach club, two outdoor pools, six restaurants, full-service spa, and kids' club

Don Carlos Leisure Resort & Spa offers its guests a wealth of leisure facilities. Its Orange Beach Club has lounge chairs, Bali beds, music, dedicated staffing, and a restaurant serving drinks and Mediterranean cuisine with local produce. It also has a large freeform swimming pool. Heated in winter, the main resort pool is long and suited for lap swimming. The hotel also has a freeform children's pool as well as a pool for the exclusive use of villa guests. The more exclusive VIP Nikki Beach Club offers perks like massages, boat transfer, and towel service, and is open seasonally -- guests have access to it for a fee. The beach also offers beach volleyball and water sports like pedal boating, sailing, jet skiing, water skiing, canoeing, and scuba diving, though they aren't included with most room rates. 

The excellent tennis club (for a fee) has seven outdoor clay courts and two hard courts, as well as offering lessons, stringing, equipment sales, and a restaurant/bar. The hotel also has a 24-hour fitness center, outdoor sports courts (soccer, field hockey, etc.), yoga, Pilates, and a jogging circuit through the gardens. The full-service spa has a beauty salon and offers a wide range of massages and facials, with several treatment cabins and some open-air cabins in the garden facing the sea. Treatments aren't included in room rates. Families are catered to with a kids' club (ages 4-12) that organizes various activities. 

The resort serves an ample breakfast buffet (for a fee) with cooked-to-order eggs, pancakes, pastries, and other items. The fine-dining restaurant serves Mediterranean cuisine with local Andalusian produce, and features an open-air terrace with sea views. The poolside restaurant offers views of the resort's tropical garden, and serves traditional Spanish rice dishes, pastas, and other light fare. The Thai restaurant is below the main pool in the middle of the resort's garden, surrounded by palm trees and orchids. The stylish cocktail lounge features sunset views and live music. Twenty-four-hour room service is available, but keep in mind that like many hotels in the area, dining can be limited depending on the season. 

The Don Carlos also has meeting rooms, wedding hosting, a business center, and baggage assistance. The concierge staff can arrange golf outings and other excursions around the area. Free limited self-parking is available and Wi-Fi is free throughout the resort.

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Address

Avda. Zurita s/n, Elviria, Marbella 29604, Spain

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