Club Marbella, on Spain’s Costa del Sol, is one of the most legendary and glamorous hotels in the world. Spanish Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe converted it from a private home into a hotel in 1954 and, given its royal pedigree, it immediately attracted tastemakers and celebrities, including more than a fair share of kings and of queens.

It’s historic, but dated? No. In fact, this is a resort that constantly surprises its loyal guests with new experiences and manages to feel as relevant and in tune as the new property that just opened and the chic crowds are buzzing about.

Nestled on a prime plot on Marbella’s Golden Mile, the resort is surrounded by lush botanical gardens of orange, lemon, avocado, fig and banana trees and features a whitewashed aesthetic reminiscent of an authentic Andalusian village. Marbella is a unique destination in itself, with the area sheltered by the La Concha mountain, fostering a unique microclimate that makes it an ideal year-round destination.

The historic hotel has a glamorous past, beginning as the von Hohenlohe family’s humble Mediterranean hideaway, Finca Santa Margarita. Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe converted the house into a rustic motel-style hotel in 1954 and began inviting his celebrity and royal friends to visit.

That year, the hotel opened its first 20 rooms, a dining room and a bar. It wasn’t long before European nobility, royal families and Hollywood celebrities learned of the new beach destination and started clamoring for a staycation. The Marbella Club became a retreat for Brigitte Bardot, Grace Kelly, Sean Connery and other notables who checked in, not just for weeks, but for months.

More recently, the Marbella Club launched a redesigned Beach Club that takes inspiration from the historic “palapa” roof and is reminiscent of 1950s Acapulco. Featuring tropical greens and vibrant corals, it has reimagined outdoor lounging areas for guests in the lounge, bar and pool to spend the day.

The restaurant has gone from buffet-style to a la carte with a new raw bar serving refreshing Mexican-inspired seafood dishes, including ceviche and aguachile, as well as playful cocktails like Minty Matcha or a Piña Colada classic.

I stayed at the property with my two daughters, ages 9 and 14, last summer and can tell you from personal experience that the Marbella Club has the best kids club I have ever seen. Period. Yes, my children accepted.

The 5,000 square foot space offers more than 50 creative activities that truly immerse them in the destination. They can learn to cook Andalusian dishes, for example, or enjoy local traditions of perfume making, art, dancing and even animal keeping. Marbella Club has introduced a seahorse conservation initiative to the kids’ club with local organization Aula del Mar where they can learn about sea life and conservation. The property also has a partnership with the Mijas Donkey Preservation Society, allowing children to ride and take care of the donkeys during their visit.

Adults and children who like to be active can choose from endless options, including water sports, hiking, golf and tennis.

Evenings at the Marbella Club begin at the Clubhouse — essentially an open-air social hub with a bar and dining areas where guests can move from space to space depending on their mood.

I must point out that eating and drinking is a highlight of any stay: the all-day restaurant, El Patio, was inspired by a dreamy 1950s California aesthetic for a timeless yet contemporary take on the resort’s bohemian beginnings as a as a low-key hangout for Prince Alfonso and his A-list friends.

Rudi’s Bar is the perfect place to enjoy an aperitif, including the famous Nelson’s Negroni cocktail, named after mixologist and Marbella Club bar manager Nelson Gallo. It’s an elegant bohemian lounge with live music around a cozy fire.

The Grill, an upscale restaurant, is where guests soak up delicious local wines and sample classic dishes in the sophisticated indoor dining room or on the expansive alfresco terrace. The grilled Dover sole and the oven-roasted branzino are must-haves.

For travelers with deep pockets or those who want to pay a premium for privacy, the Marbella Club offers an impressive collection of 17 artisanal-style villas just steps from the sea. They are luxurious but feel like a real home – the Classy friend’s house with fabulous taste.

Villa guests are assigned a host who takes care of their needs throughout their stay. We were blessed with a villa experience and were spoiled by our host who exceeded our expectations with every request. Gluten-free bread? Check. I was presented with three options instead of just one. After dinner, last minute visit to Marbella? Recheck. And that too with a longtime local who knew the ins and outs of every street and regaled us with history we would never have learned from reading a guide book.

From finding me the perfect water aerobics instructor to arranging paddle lessons for my kids, there was nothing our host Álvaro couldn’t do.

Speaking of exercise, I would be remiss not to mention that wellness is at the forefront of the Marbella Club.

The spa has a seawater Thalasso pool and a long list of treatments, and the property offers free daily wellness experiences, including morning meditation and a high-intensity fitness class.

In fact, the Marbella Club offers private groups of four to ten people the opportunity to create bespoke wellness retreats in conjunction with an in-house team of naturopaths, nutritionists, therapists and fitness instructors.

These retreats are designed to tackle a range of health issues including exhaustion, stress and burnout; gut and liver health; nutrition for inner and outer beauty; fitness and weight loss; and age gracefully. Bespoke massages, facials and scrubs, and wholesome yet delicious meals provided by the hotel’s Head of Wellness, Andrés Ruiz, round out the experience.

Marbella is a must-see getaway for Europeans, but it’s time for travelers from the US to get more plugged in. The launch of United Airlines’ first direct flight from New York to Malaga in May 2023 will help. And when you come, the magic of the Marbella Club awaits you.