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Sotogrande

 
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Sotogrande is a small town in the Spanish district of San Roque. There are two golfcourses, a marina, squash-, fonton- and tenniscourts, restaurants etc.

 
 
 
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Sotogrande is the largest resort and privately owned residential development in Andalusia. The resort is administered by NH Hotels and is considered part of the NH World. It is located in the municipality of San Roque, Cádiz, Spain, southern Europe and is composed of a 20 square kilometres (8 sq mi) stretch from the Mediterranean Sea 25 km east of Gibraltar, back into the foothills of Sierra Almenara, providing contrasting views of sea, hills, cork forests and green fairways, including the Rock of Gibraltar and Morocco.

History
Regulars and inhabitants of Sotogrande include Peter Caruana, Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Tony Blair, José María Aznar, John Medina, Juan Loyasa, Sandro Rottman, Antonio A. Camerena, Doro Plana, Emilio Botín, Ana Rosa Quintana, Royal Shakespeare Company actor Mike Gwilym, and HRH Prince Louis Alphonse of Bourbon, the legitimist pretender to the throne of France.

Sotogrande was established by the generous couple Joseph Rafael McMicking e Ynchausti and Mercedes Zobel de Ayala y Roxas, both Filipinos.
Joseph or "Joe" was born in Manila, whose paternal family was British. His mother was half-Spanish-, half-Filipina, descended from the wealthy Filipino-Basque Ynchausti clan who were part of the Ynchausti Yrisarry Bautista conglomerate called Ynchausti y Compania, the only Filipino-company that was in par with British and American trading groups at the turn of the century. Joe and his athletic brothers were part of the small McMicking family that managed business interests of American, German and British investors in the Orient.
As the war in the Pacific raged on, he was forced to leave the Philippines for his safety and to be a part of the exiled Philippine Commonwealth government of Manuel Luis Quezon y Molina that was en route from Australia to the United States. Joe became an Intelligence Officer for General Douglas MacArthur during the war efforts against the enemy from Brisbane, Australia.
His childhood friend and sweetheart, Mercedes, stayed behind, shuttling back and forth to the Zobel de Ayala estates in the capital, Manila, as well as the Roxas estates in Batangas and Laguna.
Mercedes Zobel de Ayala y Roxas was one of the children of Don Jacobo Zobel Zangroniz and his first wife, Consuelo Roxas Ayala de Zobel (when Consuelo died, he married Fermina Montojo Torrentegui, daughter of the Spanish Admiral Patricio Montojo who lost in the Battle of Manila Bay against General George Dewey and of the Americans). The Zobels of Hamburg, Germany came to the Philippines centuries ago and became involved in business investments with the heirs of Antonio de Ayala, a poor immigrant from Iberia and was related to the Royal House of the Spanish Bourbons as well as the Ducal House of Alba (Although a direct male heir, he was born “on the wrong side of the bed.”) Later on, they married their children to the far wealthier and moreno Roxas family, heirs of Don Bonifacio Roxas whose landholdings continue to be the largest in the Philippines today.
Joseph and Mercedes met and fell in love when the Zobel de Ayala wealth has reached no growth for some time. Although Mercedes’s family was worth of hundreds of millions of dollars then and continued to own large but idle lands, they were no longer the pre-eminent one, as other Filipino families such as the half-Spanish Gorrichos, Pardo de Taveras, Gonzalezes, Tuasons, Aranetas, Elizaldes, and the half-Chinese Palancas, Yuchengcos, Chino Velascos, Cojuangcos, Lopezes (of Iloilo), Limjaps and Gotuacos have moved up the economic ladder. The odds were against the Zobel de Ayala, having been important supporters of the Philippine Revolution, in direct defiance of their blue blood cousins in Spain. In other words, they were no longer the one and only super wealthy billionaire family from Spain’s farthest colony that rumors back in Madrid purport them to be.
Joseph came back to the Philippines and to his wife Mercedes amidst the ruins around them: the Ayala and Zobel mansions in San Miguel, Manila were razed to the ground, her father’s polo ponies were either reduced to servicing coach trolleys or were eaten by the Japanese Imperial Army or their Korean stevedores, their loyal farmhands in Hacienda San Pedro de Makati and in Calatagan, Batangas were starving and they barely had no food to provide to them, and many deaths and funerals. What was left were mostly idle lands, a few beer and cigarette factories, and small shares in banks, less valuable properties that were given to Mercedes and her siblings after her mother’s and grandmother’s deaths even decades before the World War.
Determined to make a name for himself, Joseph started developing these old, inconsequential haciendas into centers of business developments such as what the skyscraper-laden Makati district is today. He nurtured back the Azucarera Don Pedro in Batangas, diversified in gold mining, nickel mining, construction, hotels, distilleries, airlines, and partnered with various families to change the face of Manila and make it vibrant again. Joseph and his wife’s many nephews and nieces, primarily Enrique Emilio Zobel y Olgado (son of Angela Olgado with Mercedes’s oldest brother Jacobo), entered into lucrative business contracts with the government of Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda Marcos, and even going as far as building the biggest palace in the world, that of the Sultan Hajji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei. Other nephew Jaime Zobel y Pfitz (son of older brother Alfonso) started moving up the company ladder in the financial side of the Ayala group of companies, most notably in the Bank of the Philippine Islands, formerly the Banco de Reina Isabel II. At the same time, Joseph and Mercedes, because of their artistic nephew Alfonso’s suggestion, purchased farms near the Mediterranean in Cuenca to build what is now Sotogrande. At the height of their wealth, the very simple and unassuming couple controlled San Miguel Corporation, Ayala Corporation, Bank of the Philippine Islands plus various haciendas and subsidiaries. Admittedly, Mrs. Mercedes de McMicking remarked numerous times that, “It was he who made us wealthy again” referring to her loving husband Joe. By the 1960s, the House of Zobel de Ayala has regained its highest position in society before the Philippine Revolution: they were billionaires once again and richer than the Ducal House of Alba itself.
Mercedes, still without child at this time, poured all of her resources to creating various foundations to uplift the lives of Filipinos such as the Filipinas Heritage Library and the Ayala Foundation. She above all never forgot how hard it was to see people dying around her--- how it was to be alone during the War years. The same sentiment was felt by her childless younger half-sister, Consuelo Zobel y Montojo, who also married an American (General Adler of Hawaii) and was childless. On her death, she bequeathed her much smaller US$260 million dollar estate to the Consuelo Alger Zobel Foundation, for the sole purpose of uplifting the lives of Filipinos and Hawaiians.
As Mercedes's nephews and nieces enlarged her holdings in the Philippines, she and Joe concentrated on Sotogrande. The Zobels, having seen the idyllic coasts in 1962, bought five neighbouring farms, with the idea of creating a luxurious residential development by the Mediterranean. MacMicking succeeded in creating what has become one of the most luxurious urbanizations in Europe, in May 2006 it was featured in The Times as having the most expensive homes in Europe. The jet set appeal of Sotogrande lies in the natural beauty of the site, enhanced by the early landscaping, planting of avenues of palm and conifer trees, underground infrastructure and wide, two-lane roads. There are some artificial lakes and 5 golf courses, including the world-famous Valderrama and San Roque courses.
Joe and Mercedes spent many of their remaining years in Sotogrande, overseeing their holdings in Manila by way of their trusted lieutenants and the younger Zobel members. Every year, the McMicking-Zobels flew home to Manila to personally check on their charities and the lives of their grand nieces and grand nephews. Mrs. Mercedes Zobel de Ayala y Roxas de McMicking died in her Sotogrande home. Her remains were flown to the Philippines as per her wishes, to rest with Joe’s in the country they grew up and fell in love in.

Architecture
Sotogrande is well known as an architectural showcase on the Costa del Sol, with styles varying from the traditional Andalucian to mid century modern, all the way through 21st century design and even more unusual designs, including moorish/mudejar style homes and even a Swiss chalet. In 2008 the local government declared three buildings as of cultural interest, protecting them from reform or demolition. These architectural gems were the Biddle House, by Francisco Javier Carvajal, the Zóbel house by José Antonio Coderch, and the Real Club de Golf by Luis Gutierrez Soto.

Sport
Today, Sotogrande is renowned for its varied sporting facilities. It has five golf courses in Europe, Valderrama Golf Club host to the European Tour's Volvo Masters and the 1997 Ryder Cup, the Club Real de Golf, Almenara, La Reserva, La Cañada and a Golf Academy; two world famous Polo fields owned by the Santa María Polo Club; two Tennis and Padel Tennis Clubs; the Raquet Centre which specializes in padel tennis and the Octogano which specializes in tennis; two Beach Clubs (Cucurucho,Octogano); a Kayak / Sailing Club, Riding stables and a busy marina where in the center you will find "the" place in Sotogrande, the Cafe KE, the first on entering the Mediterranean. Daily sailingtrips can be booked with Jan Mantel of Salvador Deli.

Nature
River Guadiaro and Estuary, Sotogrande, a natural area of 27 hectares and the only marshland on this part of the coast, has been designated as an Andalusian National Park, Wildlife and Nature Reserve. A series of pathways has been constructed, with information boards explaining the natural area, enabling nature lovers unobstructed views of the estuary, its wildlife and in particular the migratory birds, on their route to and from Africa.

Economy
Sotogrande seems to have kept its head above the crisis. Finanzas, a Spanish finance publication, says that whilst prices in other areas of the Costa del Sol have taken a fall to the tune of -11.4% in Torremolinos, -10.99% in Fuengirola, -7.4% in Manilva, -5-5% in Casares and -3.4% in Mijas Costa. In Sotogrande average property prices have remained the same or increased, in some cases up to 45%. This phenomena is attributed to the financial status of the residents of the urbanization.



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