History of Puerto Banús | Andalusia.com (2023)

History of Puerto Banus

by Chris Chaplow

Although the Puerto Banús marina complex maintains the illusion of being a developed old Spanish fishing village, the complex was actually designed and built in the 1970'sShoppingThe full name of Puerto Banus is Puerto José Banús, New Andalusia, New Andalusia

the developer

José Banús Masdeuwas born in Masó, Taragona, in 1906 and left school at the age of 14 to work for his father, a design engineer. The father-son team moved to Madrid and founded "Construcciones Molan y Banús", which received the order to build the access road to the Valle de los Caidos. From that point their success only grew until Banús owned and promoted a whole series of large housing estates in Madrid.

In the late 1950s he bought the land between the Guadaliza and Verde rivers, stating at the time that he intended to use it for ranching. TheTourism Promotion Act 1963opened up a great opportunity for Banús; his plans for tourism development and promotion of the countrywere awarded in 1964, ostensibly to build the “Centre of National Tourist Interest ofAndalusia the new(Marbella)” and marketed it under the name of his company José Banús SA for 99 years. Banús commissioned architectAntonio LamelaPrepare preliminary designs for a new marina. It would be the first marina on the Costa del Sol and the first in Spain to be built with private capital.

The Architects

Lamela's designs featured a futuristic semicircle of six 16-story skyscrapers, not unlike his Torre Colon project, which had been underway since 1967 and was at times the third tallest building in Madrid upon completion. Franco himself apparently admired the design of the Torre Colon so much that he visited the works several times.

When I heard about the whole projectAlfonso Hohenlohe,founder ofMarbella Club-HotelShe was horrified, declaring: "If this project comes about, I will sell my hotel and leave Marbella with all my family and friends." A reconciliation meeting between him and Banús was orchestrated by MonseñorRodrigo Bocanegra, whereupon Hohenlohe compromised by calling his favorite architectNoldi Frightin Mexico City (who had already designed his hotel's beach club) and asked him to come to Marbella and develop a project with Banús where the new buildings would be no higher than the treetops.

Schreck was born in Russia to a Swiss father and an aristocratic Russian mother. The family fled from the Bolsheviks and Schreck was educated in Switzerland. After World War II he traveled to Italy, France and Great Britain to study architecture. He emigrated to New York and went in searchFrank Lloyd Wrightbut discovered that to be an assistant to Frank Lloyd Wright you had to pay. Undeterred, he secured his first job as a set designer for Paramount Studios in Los Angeles. He was influenced by theHotel Bel Airand the houses of the rich in the "Spanish" style, again from the old "Franciscan Missions’ of the last century, forming a chain from what is now northern California down to Baja California (now Mexico). Schreck moved his office to Mexico City and was responsible for a lot of trendy workRosa Zonein the 1950s; Works that Hohenlohe had admired on his travels.

Schreck took charge of designing Banús' new project. He appointedMarkus Sainzas an assistant architect. Its original design was very similar to the Puerto Banús we see today, if perhaps a little more eccentric, not taking into account the Venetian-style canals. The enclosures have all been modeled after the classic designs of Andalusian villages, while the marina has been influenced by themPort-Pierre-Canto,CannesFranceAndPorto Cervoin Italy.

Lamela, true to his famous style, proposed a futuristic model, but it was populist architecture (particularly a pyramidal structure where each floor of a building has a smaller plan as it rises) that prevailed in the designs.

Construction begins

construction ofPuerto Banusstartedin 1965 with significant land clearing and the manufacture of hundreds of concrete blocks needed for the port's breakwater. These were laid out in the hundreds before being stacked in the water. Heavy civil engineering was completed in 1968. The marina was built by French contractor Spada using rock from the Nagüales quarry and transported in French Berliet trucks, each carrying between 45 and 75 tons. A special haul road was built along the west bank of the Rio Verde to facilitate this major operation. appointed frightPierre Canto(Promoter of Port Pierre-Canto, Cannes, France, opened 1966) to design the marina village. The apartments were to be 70m2, larger than Lamela's 60m2, but designed in the latest American open plan style. The larger three bedroom apartments were 160m². The construction of the village started after the opening of the marina.

Construction of the urbanization “Andalucía la Nueva” (now calledNew Andalusia) had actually started in 1964, and theHotel Andalusien Plaza(2022 Hard Rock Hotel) opened in 1970, but in the 1970s it focused on the sale of apartments and real estate, with advertising campaigns like those published in Madrid's ABC in 1975.

Puerto Banús opens

Puerto Banús had two inaugurations in 1970, an institutional inauguration with civil authorities on March 18 and 1970thMay 1970 and the opening party on May 2nd, which has become much better knownndAugust, attended by 1,700 people, led by Prince Reiner of Monaco and Grace Kelly ("godfathers" of Port Pierre-Canto, Cannes), Shāh Karim al-Husayni (Aga Khan IV), the creator of Porto Cebo in Italy, and international celebrities like Hugh Heftner who bought 120 acres of land in Los Monteros but never got permits for his Cuidad Playboy project. Hefner arrived at Malaga airport in his private Boeing 707 with Playboy Bunnies and Roman Polanski. Liza Minnelli also took part and she returned as an Oscar winner to sing "Cabaret" for four nights in 1974 in the bullring of Nueva Andalucia. dr Christian Barnard attended. A youngJulio Iglesiassang "Gwendolyne", the song that represented Spain in the Eurovision Song Contest earlier that year (Iglesias finished ninth in 1970, the year Dana of Ireland won with "All sorts of everything"). The princes of Asturias, Juan Carlos, and his wife Sofia (future king and queen) are often mistakenly reported as guests; They visited Puerto Banus and Marbella in 1972.

Oil Crisis, 1973

The 1973 oil crisis had a major impact on Puerto Banús and its successful operations as it started losing money. Shortly after Franco's death, the ban on gambling in Spain was lifted and in July 1978 Banús opened the second casino in Spainducal tower, complete with restaurant, swimming pools and beach club.

The casino alone was not enough to offset the port's losses. In 1980, Banús traveled to Saudi Arbaia to sell large parts of Nueva Andalucía and Puerto BanúsKönigFahd. This led to the construction of theBenabolacomplex, again directed by futuristic architectsSlats, which followed Schreck's style.

In 1981 Banús sold Las Brisas Golf and the eastern half of Nuevo Andalucía to avoid foreclosure on bank loans. He also sold the Torre del Duque complex and moved the casino across the street to the west wing of the Hotel Andalucía Plaza and sold the operating rights. This domino effect continued until Banús died in 1984 at the age of 78 in a Madrid clinic, without children. His wife died in 1992; the inheritance went to the family of his brother Juan, whose children have been arguing about the distribution of the inheritance ever since.

New President

Alberto Vidiella Tudoresbecame president and majority shareholder of the company Puerto José Banús SA, but at that point he seemed to be taking over a seedy port. Anyone visiting Puerto Banús in the late 1980s might have questioned the glamorous reputation of the Marbella jet set.

In 1991, Vidiella had to face the attempts of the then mayorJesus Gilto take over the port by taking advantage of debts owed by another group company, Banús Andalucía la Nueva SA, to the municipality. Phone hacks carried out by Italian police as part of an anti-mafia investigation later revealed Gil's true dubious intentions. In the end, Tudores managed to win in court and thwart Gil's plans. He is credited with luring major commercial brands to the port in the late 1990s. With the arrival of the new millennium, a whole new contingent of visitors came in line with the marina's expanded retail zone, led by El Corte Inglés and Marina Marbella, with a variety of shops centered around Plaza Antonio Banderas.

As commercialization increased, revenues increased, and in 2006 the Junta de Andalucía increased the canon payable for the concession from €120,000 to €1,100,000 per year. Tudores challenged this in court, which resulted in increases being scaled between 2006 and 2012. After the economic downturn in 2007, many retail stores closed or relocated. Puerto Banús management has had to work hard to attract visitors and brands to its front and second line outlets. The recovery was slow but was aided by advertising from television shows such asThe only way is via Essexand events such as Marbella Luxury Weekend, Marbella Fashion Week. Marbella Motor Show and Marbella Film Festival.

Eventually, Puerto Banús secured an identity as the place to be in Spain, with the most luxury brands per square meter of any Spanish luxury district.The complex has been registered with 4.9 million visitors a year, double that of the Alhambra, while the cost of mooring in the port has been rated the fourth most expensive in Europe.

Alberto Vidiella Tudores died in February 2016 at the age of 82 and the baton has been passed to his sons.José and Rubén Vidiella Salgado, who became joint vice presidents.

coastal law

As early as 1988, under “la Ley de Costas” (Coastal Law), all private beaches and marinas were declared public and ownership changed to time-based concessions. At Marinas it was 30 years; Marinas in Spain have since been in a state of uncertainty popularly referred to as the “2018 effect”. Sotogrande Marina lost a court case in 2016 to reclassify its 30-year concession to 75 years. In 2020, the Andalusian regional government passed legislation to frame existing concessions for up to 50 years, depending on expansion, investment and managerial efficiency by port owners. More recently, there have been rumors of offers to purchase the rights to use Puerto Banús. According to press reports, a Chinese-Swiss consortium led by Credit Suisse made such an offer. The value of such a purchase depends, of course, on the duration and expected extension of the port concession.

50th anniversary

2020 was the 50th anniversary of Puerto Banús. Marbella Town Hall commissioned a €350,000 video and advertising campaign to celebrate the anniversary. Unfortunately, due to the corona pandemic, the anniversary went largely unnoticed.

The composition of Puerto Banus has constantly changed over time. Some venues, such as Sinatra's, Salduba, Joys Live (formerly Old Joys), Patrick's 19th, Tango, Donna Sheesh Kebab and Los Bandidos are still in place and have stood the test of time, while others such as Joe's Bar, Espartaco Santoni's Latin Quarter, Comedia, Mel's, Spirit of Ecstasy, Websters and Khans are long gone.

Puerto Banús' luxury status has survived to this day, but in the 2010s its popularity also grew with British stag and hen parties, with bars like Linekers and Pangea opening to them. Some wonder if this growing presence of a decidedly noisy tourist demographic might affect Puerto Banús' long-term sustainability, but ultimately, throughout its 50-year history, Puerto Banús has proven itself capable of repeatedly reinventing itself and surviving. While some might say that the port has outgrown itself, becoming a web of congestion and parking problems during the summer months, Puerto Banús' popularity on the international tourist scene cannot be denied - and finally the post-pandemic era offers ample opportunity for Puerto Banús SA and City Hall to carry out a reset of this now iconic Spanish hotspot.

Promotional video for the 50th anniversary of Puerto Banús


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