The International Marbella Set

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

There’s no law which says that when you’re buying an overseas property it has to be in Provence or Tuscany. With European boundaries blurring, and growing numbers of countries relaxing rules on foreign ownership, the world is increasingly one’s oyster when it comes to choosing where to live.
Which is why we’ve spread our net wide this week to bring you this selection of unpolished pearls. Some are in reasonably well-charted locations, while others are distinctly off-the-radar.
Still, whether you’re buying in Bordeaux or on the banks of the Bosphorus, it is essential to enter into any property purchase with your feet firmly on the ground.
You may not be able to speak the local language, but you do need to know the Latin phrase “Caveat emptor” - Buyer Beware. With the right research and advice, now is a great time to snap up a second home somewhere unexpected.

Not so long ago, this was a country renowned for nothing but grimness and the oppressive rule of Communist dictator Enver Hoxha. But even the Party couldn’t blot out the sunshine, and despite its infrastructure, Albania has a climate that’s every bit equal to its neighbour Greece. What’s more, you can pick up a basic Albanian seaside flat for the price of a family cruise (well, an expensive one, anyway). The website has apartments in the resorts of Vlora and Saranda for just £25,000 (views across to Corfu), and for £29,000, you can buy an apartment at Lalzit Bay, a huge, new (i.e. still being built) beachfront development, 20 miles from the capital Tirana. For more details, ring 08451 258600 or visit
Pattaya Thailand
Not exactly a romantic hideaway, but cheap. For £26,300, you can buy a studio flat in The Vision, a 23-storey apartment block due to be completed in 2014. Or, push the boat out with a one-bedroom flat that’s twice the size, for £46,000.
Viewed from the outside, a glass-and-aluminium block on a hillside is not going to be the most beautiful building in the world, but it has great views across the sea and over the twinkling lights of Pattaya’s nightclubs. The place attracts six million visitors per year, some of whom might like to rent your place when you’re not there. There’s a swimming pool on the 20th floor, too. You can find details at The Move Channel (
Puglia Italy
A trullo is a sort of stone-built, pointy-roofed, Italian hobbit home, and there’s one for sale for just under £80,000 at Ceglie Messapica, 25 miles northwest of Brindisi, on the southern heel of Italy. It has everything a compactly sized human needs: one bedroom, one bathroom, two acres and lots of shady fruit trees. Prices in Puglia are generally a lot lower than in Tuscany and Umbria. You can buy a distinctive white masseria (a traditional farmhouse, usually with olive groves and outbuildings), for around £310,000 (unconverted) and £440,000-plus (converted).
St Petersburg Russia
An awful lot lovelier than Moscow, though just as cold in winter. The cheapest way to own an apartment here is to buy out the tenants of an old-fashioned communal flat, in which families occupy their own living rooms, but share, say, a bathroom and kitchen. However, this is a long process (four to eight months), and can take longer if, as estate agents City Realty Russia ( put it, the tenants “start to play games”. It is essential, then, to make sure your agents can help you cut through the red tape and low-level obstructiveness that you may encounter. As a rough rule of thumb, flats start at £1,250 per sq m for communally owned, £1,600 for privately owned and £3,000 for somewhere with a good view and windows facing the street, rather than a courtyard. Size-wise, apartments range from 25 sq m (small) to 70 sq m (medium) and 120 sq m (oligarch proportions).
Kraków Poland
If the idea of living in a converted Polish brewery appeals, there are 30 one-bedroom apartments on sale at the former Central Kraków brewery for £64,000 to £73,800. Details from Property Venture, 01932 849536,
The good news about Poland is that house prices have been rising (by 8 per cent in 2010), and the country is hosting the European Football Championships next year. When buying a new home, though, you need to find out if the price is for a “black finish” or a “white finish” (i.e. with the kitchen and bathroom fitted). “Black finish” will add up to £15,000 to the price.
Under £500,000
Leipzig Germany
All right, it’s not quite the same as owning a villa in the south of France, but a number of British buyers have been drawn to the idea of owning buy-to-let apartment buildings here. Leipzig is the birthplace of Richard Wagner and was home to JS Bach for the last 27 years of his life.
For £250,000-£350,000, you can become the landlord of anything from 12 to 15 flats in the Kleinzschocher district, three miles south-west of the old (well, restored) city centre. For £2 million, you can buy a whole street (eight blocks).
Zell am See Austria
Sailing in summer plus skiing in winter adds up to a place where there’s going to be year-round letting potential.
Traditional local wooden houses go for £300,000-£440,000, but if you buy in a new-build development such as the one being marketed by Mark Warner Property, 020 7692 0786, (from £314,000), you can buy free of VAT, provided you undertake to rent it out to tourists. This can knock up to 15 per cent off the purchase price.
Nova Scotia Canada
From London, it takes longer to drive to Halifax, Yorkshire, than it takes to fly to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Flight time is around five hours, due to the fact that Nova Scotia sticks into the Atlantic on Canada’s east coast. As well as Air Canada, there’s a budget alternative: Transat (fares from £400 return).
Once you’re there, the place is hardly crowded, and that’s its charm. The total population is just 950,000, which works out at 10 people per square mile, as against 1,800 in New York. Apart from a little 17-mile-wide isthmus connecting it with the mainland, Nova Scotia is surrounded by sea. The car number plates say it’s “Canada’s Ocean Playground”, and the figures bear this out (Nova Scotia has 4,360 miles of coastline).
Foreigners are called “Come-From-Aways”, but can usually get mortgages of 50-60 per cent. Canadian law says you can stay for up to six months in any calendar year without applying for a residents’ extension.
“A lot of Brits say they want to fulfil a dream and have horses on their land here,” says Tom Harris of estate agents Tradewinds ( “For 400,000 Canadian dollars [£260,000], you can buy a property with 10 acres of land; for 150,000 Canadian dollars [£97,000], you can buy a three-bedroom bungalow with five acres.
“Unlike the UK, the seller and buyer sign a contract which neither party can get out of, unless, say, it turns out there are only five acres, as opposed to the 10 acres promised in the particulars.”
Tallinn Estonia
There aren’t many European capitals where you can buy a place in the old historic centre for under £300,000, but Tallinn is an exception. Within two minutes’ walk of the ancient main square Raekoja, you can buy a one-bedroom apartment for around £140,000 and a two-bedroom place for £290,000. There’s a firm called Goodson and Red, in Joe Street, ( which specialises in selling to Britons. There’s also an unusual new eco-scheme called Oxford Park, 30 minutes’ drive from Tallinn. Houses are timber-clad, set in a forest-cum-park and separated by little rivers. Prices start from around £90,000, and the project is being marketed by Property Secrets, 0115 985 3963,
Alentejo Portugal
No one wants the hours of back-breaking work in the fields, but we all like the idea of growing our own wine. And a clever new scheme offers you the chance not just to purchase a property, but part of a vineyard, too. The smallest two-bedroom town house at the L’and Vineyards tourist village costs £150,000, the biggest villa £704,000; the bigger your property, the bigger your vineyard. Details on, 0800 311 2193.
Shetland Islands
Not technically overseas, but about as far removed as you can get from urban Britain. The top house price on the islands is around £350,000 for a three-to-four-bedroom bungalow in the capital Lerwick; less top-of-the-range would be £180,000. If you’re lucky, you might find a restored, traditional croft house for £80,000-£150,000, though many are reserved for, well, crofters. The pace of life here is much slower than on the mainland, apart from all the television crews making documentaries about the slower pace of life. There’s even an organisation called Move Shetland, set up specifically to encourage you to migrate here: 01595 745885,
Kotor Bay Montenegro
The area has been designated a Unesco World Heritage site, but prices haven’t shot through the roof. You can still get a simple, waterside stone house for around £130,000, while a four-bedroom seafront villa will set you back around £280,000 ( Two things to note, warns Britain-based agent Property Venture ( surveys aren’t carried out automatically in Montenegro, so you might need to hire an architect or structural engineer to inspect the place. And although as a foreigner you are allowed to buy an apartment, you have to buy land via a company, which you will need to set up.
Kolymbari Crete
Kolymbari is one of the few parts of this lovely Greek island where more income is derived from farming (grapes, olive oil) than tourism. There’s not only a Blue Flag beach, but a whole host of little coves and lagoons within a 20-minute drive. Derelict stone farmhouses go for £35,000, but may need expensive foundation and structural work. Two-bedroom places cost from £115,000, three-bedroom from £140,000.
“Under Greek property law, any number of people can own the freehold, with each party owning an equal percentage,” says British developer Mike Saunders, of Snobby Homes (, who reports that despite being just a 30-minute drive from Chania airport, the level of new-build activity around Kolymbari is “extremely low key”.
Over £500,000
Most Britons who visit Kenya find themselves at some point on lovely Lamu Island, but not many end up owning a beachfront villa there. Roughly a million pounds will buy you a beautiful private home on the edge of the Indian Ocean, from which you can gaze out at the Arab sailing dhows during the day, and breathe in the fragrant jasmine blooms in the evening as you sip sundowners in your tropical garden.
Alternatively, you can direct your gaze inland and buy yourself a slice of colonial Africa at Nanyuki, 110 miles from Nairobi and a lot fresher and cleaner. Here, in the middle of game-rich safari land, there is horse-riding, birdwatching, trout fishing and golf. Not only are you surrounded by flower and vegetable farms, but you’re in the shadow of Mount Kenya, right on the equator.
According to agents Knight Frank, the buying process is not complicated, but it can be slow. “On average, it takes about 90 days to complete a transaction,” they say. “And because buying a beach property requires presidential consent, that can take a bit longer.”
Not to be mistaken for Slovakia, the Czech Republic’s mountainous other half, Slovenia is the pretty little forest country that’s equidistant from everywhere. It is surrounded by Italy, Austria, Croatia and Hungary, and known as the New Zealand of Europe.
You can buy a traditional wooden farmer’s cottage in bad condition for £20,000, and in good condition for £40,000. Alternatively, you could buy the enormous, seven-bedroom country mansion owned by Guy Speir, a British estate agent who works in Prague. It was built in 1875 for the foreman of the Vienna-Trieste railway, it’s called Hisa Zenia and it overlooks a lovely valley 60 miles from the fairy-tale capital Ljubljana (£748,000). Speaking of which, you can buy a two-bedroom riverside apartment overlooking the city’s central (but tiny) Preseren Square, for £1.48 million.
No shortage of cheap housing for the locals, but when it comes to foreigners, it seems the only places available are palaces. For £1.1 million, you can buy a small but luxurious beach villa at Nam Hai, an upmarket resort overlooking the South China Sea, near the port of Hoi An. And £1.7 million gets you a wave-lapped, three-bedroom beachfront villa at a resort on the island of Con Dao, a 45-minute flight from Ho Chi Minh city (formerly Saigon). Natural wonders include a pure-white-sand beach and abundant marine life (dolphins, sea turtles, dugongs); man-made attractions include a spa, restaurant and health club.
Ibiza Spain
This party island is hardly off the beaten track, but there are few properties in Europe which can outfunk the £2.6m Cala Valdella near San José (00 34 933 562 989, cascading down a slope and inspired by the tree-houses of the Lost Boys in Peter Pan. There’s a main house, plus two subsidiary houses, all in bright colours; their frames are made of concrete and iron, and the walls of reinforced, insulating, plastic.
Newport Rhode Island, United States
If you like boats, yachts and messing around by the waterside, this US version of Cowes is the place for you. Top addresses are Bellevue and Ocean Avenues (prices from £2.5m-£11.3m), but there are places right on the harbour for around £1 million. You fly to Boston, and after a 75-minute drive, you’re dipping your toes in the water.
Istanbul Turkey
You’d need a big family, lots of friends and plenty of money before you made an offer on the Zeki Pasha Waterside Mansion (00 90 530 280 9946, The guide price is £72.3 million, but for that, you get 23 bedrooms and a lot of history: the palace was built by French architect Alexandre Vallaury for one Musir Zeki Pasha, who was a government minister in the second half of the 19th century. Hopefully, he wasn’t claiming for this home on his parliamentary expenses.
Bali Indonesia
Dominating a cliff-top on the south-west of the island, in an area known as the Bukit, stands the glorious Istana, a £4.6m, five-bedroom villa with two infinity pools and a 5,200 sq m estate.
It works both as your own private home plus a commercial holiday property – butlers and chefs on hand (0062 361 738747;


Tuesday, 19 July 2011

AROUND 200 guests attended the opening of Ferrari and Maserati dealer C de Salamanca’s new dealership in Marbella. Guests included Marbella Mayor Angeles Muñoz, C. De Salamanca president Cristina Toda and Formula one Ferrari test driver Marc Gene.


Sunday, 17 July 2011

", according to a new study.
Taxation, perceived better living standards abroad and the weather mean that only 44% are certain of remaining here.

But the survey of more than 500 UK-based millionaires, carried out for investment firm Skandia, found that only 2% were thinking of moving to a tax haven such as Switzerland or the Cayman Islands.

Preferred destinations were France, the USA, Spain and Australia.

Jo Rimmer of Skandia said: "Our survey seems to indicate that the UK's wealthiest really are saving for a rainy day and will seriously consider moving to sunnier climes if storm clouds gather in either economic or meteorological terms."

The research also found working hard and investing wisely is a surer way to become a millionaire than being born into money.

More than two thirds of the high-net-worth individuals surveyed made their fortunes from employment income, investments or as the result of selling their business venture.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

THE businessman Dr Michael Smurfit is still looking for a buyer for his 3,716sq m (40,000sq ft) villa in Marbella in Spain about seven years after it was first offered for sale.

UK estate agents Fine Country are quoting “well in excess of €30 million” for Casa de Loriana which was built in 2002 along The Golden Mile, where it has its own elevated beachfront. It is within easy walking distance of Marbella town centre.

The villa, originally priced at up to €50 million, is one of the largest and most exclusive private residences in the popular resort with facilities to entertain up to 300 guests.

It is accessed by a private road and a large security gate. The stylish grounds have a large fountain, terraced gardens and lawns along with a lagoon and a heated swimming-pool with a Jacuzzi and waterfall. Facilities at Casa de Loriana include a private cinema, medical room and formal and informal diningrooms and sittingrooms.

The main house has five double suites and is served by a lift. The main suite on the ground floor includes a sauna for two and a library. All residents have the use of their own bathrooms and dressingrooms. The villa has sleeping accommodation for 20 people in all.

A tax resident in Monaco, Dr Smurfit has a substantial home at the K Club in Co Kildare, which he jointly owns with the property developer Gerry Gannon. Mr Gannon is currently looking for a buyer for his 49 per cent stake in the club.


Seven months after sporting dangerously thin limbs, Nicola McLean has been showing off a healthier figure in Marbella after having put on around a stone in recent months.

A friend tells Now: ‘Nic's had a tough time but she's back in amazing shape and we're all very proud of her.'

Nicola, 27, admitted starving herself after giving birth to son Striker in March 2010.

She lost 6st in eight months to get down to just 7st 9lb and a tiny size 6.

‘I don't eat normally,' she said at the time. ‘I won't eat every day.

'I know it's wrong but I don't want the numbers on the scales to go up.

'I've lost too much weight. My boobs look horrendous and you can see my ribs - I look like a little girl.'

Nic made a change when loved ones begged her to regain her curves.

Footballer hubby Tom Williams even promised her the Marbella break if she gained 5lb.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Welsh singing legend and 60s sex symbol Tom Jones, 71, will be heating up the summer with an exclusive show on August 18 at Hotel Puente Romano, Marbella.

Jones will perform classics such as ‘It’s Not Unusual’, ‘Kiss’, ‘Delilah’ and ‘Sex Bomb’ as well as tracks from his critically acclaimed album ‘Praise & Blame’.


Spain’s most expensive residence, and one of the most exclusive in the world has just changed hands, but remains British owned.

Sa Fortalessa de Pollença consists of an 87,000 square metre estate with a castle, seven residencies, private beaches and a forest. It’s found in the Pollença bay on Mallorca, and is protected by Cape Formentor and a military base, offering complete security which has been enjoyed over the years by many heads of state and top dignitaries. It was a Mecca for artists and intellectuals from across Europe in the 20’s.

British owner John Ogden has sold the estate to a Spanish company whose main shareholder is another Briton who remains nameless, as does the quantity of money involved, but the deal has been confirmed by lawyers in Palma.

One report says the sale went for 125 million €, a far cry from the 45,000 pesetas paid in 1919 by the Argentinean painter, Roberto Ramaugé.


Sunday, 10 July 2011

The lovebirds, Eva Longoria and Eduardo Cruz, appeared warmer and closer than ever, while they spent the night out in London. The 36-year-old beauty was spotted clutching onto her handsome beau's hand as they left The Cuckoo Club in Mayfair on Thursday night.
Throughout the evening, the couple looked at each other romantically, laughing and smiling at one another. Eva Longoria was looking stunning as always, flaunting her super-toned physique in a multicolored strapless Herve Leger dress.
Longoria complemented her looks with purple heels and nude embellished clutch. While going out for spending the romantic evening with her beau, Eva Longoria opted to go natural with her flawless complexion with minimal make-up.
The sexy brunette tied up her locks in a casual ponytail. The love duo showed up at the club after 10:00 pm and enjoyed a quixotic dinner together for two hours.
Later, Eva Longoria and Eduardo made their way towards dance floors and rocked the night together until around 3:00 am. The couple left the club in high spirits with Eva giggling at some joke Eduardo was sharing.
After thoroughly enjoying their night-out, the couple hopped into a chauffeured car and was driven back to their hotel.
The holiday trip to London was not the first romantic ride for the couple together; the couple spent last few weeks in Spain. "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria was spotted there with her boyfriend enjoying steamy holiday days.
The romantic couple enjoyed sightseeing, dined with Eduardo's sister, Penelope Cruz, and her husband, Javier Bardem, in Madrid and enjoyed the exotic beach in Marbella. The hot and sexy Eva Longoria truly took advantage of her beach holidays and gave onlookers a treat this week as she stepped out onto a very crowded public beach in a super-sexy white bikini and a see-through vest.
The actress showcased her perfectly toned curves in extremely skimpy bikini bottoms and looked comfortable as she made her way through the sand and waves.
Initially, Eva Longoria and the Spanish singer dated for several months quietly. However, their latest trip to two holiday destinations clearly shows that their romance is entering the next level.
The new relationship of Eva Longoria started in December after she had been betrayed by her NBA star husband, Tony Parker, several months ago. In late January, their divorce got finalized.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Although he insists on a smart dress code for customers at his own restaurant in Marbella, former Life Guards officer James Hewitt has let his own sartorial standards slip.

‘He looked like he had just come straight off the beach,’ says one paying guest, who was celebrating her 18th birthday at the swanky hotel’s bar.

‘He came in at about 8.30 pm on Monday with a young woman,’ she says.

‘He was wearing shorts, a very creased shirt and a hat. He looked hot and dishevelled. The woman was in a beach dress.

‘As soon as they went up to the bar, the maitre d’ came over and said something first in Spanish and then in English.

'I overheard him saying:  “You can’t come in here like that.'' '

According to the guest, Hewitt, whose Polo House restaurant does not allow diners in shorts, asked if he and his companion could sit by the pool, but was refused.

On a happier note, I hear James and his business partner Ram Nandkishore, are planning to open ventures in Rome, Geneva and London.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Bankrupt reality TV star Morgan, 47, is currently battling in court over a $3m settlement with millionaire 80-year-old John Adams Morgan, the New York Post reports.

'I'm sure the world thinks, "Sonja doesn't have to worry, she's got that husband there for her." But I'm on my own,' Morgan, 47, told the Post.

In court papers Morgan claims that while her ex-husband lives on a $19m private island off Connecticut, she is banned from visiting homes they co-own.

And Morgan, a mother of one, says she now may be forced to sell off her own New York home.

Layers for Adams Morgan say his client is appealing previous court rulings because he believes the divorce judge forced him to pay more than was agreed in pre and postnuptial agreements.

Morgan's financial woes have been documented in recent episodes of her hit reality TV show.

Last month, footage aired showing her co-stars learning she had filed for bankruptcy for $19 million in the papers.

She said she was 'heart broken' despite putting on a brave face.

After the episode, she took to her blog on

'It has been a steep learning curve in a business I knew nothing about,' she wrote, referring to an movie investment that sparked her finance trouble.

'I am back to doing what I know and will recover some of my loss with continued hard work. Facing this reality is not pretty for me.'


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