It has always been said that the lures of Sotogrande work in all seasons — from spring kitesurfing to summer beach living, autumn hiking in Andalucía’s hills to racing winter waves in a boat under sail. But it is only when you take a closer look at the cooler months, that this celebrated destination really comes into its own. Still doused in style, tranquillity and traces of warmth blown off Africa’s coast, the period between December and March is blissfully mild, rich with wholesome activity and loved deeply by those that live here. Although wintery days glimmer with traditional festivity, peace, and community togetherness, they don’t feel much like winter at all.
Golf at Sotogrande needs no introduction with its reputation of spectacular rounds on renowned courses scattered among beaches, cork forests, rivers, marinas, and mountains. However, golf at Sotogrande, when the rest of Europe locks down against the icy cold, is an even more remarkable experience. From the iconic fairways of Valderrama to the picturesque greens of La Reserva Club, all enjoying panoramas of the Spanish seascape, a sensational game can be played comfortably all year round. And whilst the summertime bustles with more visitors and golfing occasion, there is a calmer and sophisticated calendar of events during the winter months and the unhurried pace allows you to take the time to savour the view.
From a distance, it may seem that it is all about golf on these sun-soaked shores but up close, it is a different story altogether. While golf is undoubtedly a big part of the outdoor culture here, one must peer through Sotogrande’s kaleidoscope of sport and activity, from horse riding to tennis, paddleboarding, fishing and kitesurfing, to see the full technicolour picture. Come rain or shine, the temperate weather from autumn to spring means that the local community upholds their ‘al fresco’ lifestyle twelve months of the year with never-ending opportunity to delight in the fresh air on foot, horseback, board, wheels or with a racquet in hand. In December, polo and showjumping events at the Santa María Club grow in popularity as the equestrian elite around the world take notice of these ‘off-peak’ fixtures. Tennis and padel tournaments, mix- ins and socials play out through the winter, offering a timetable of shared moments both on and off the court. No matter the day, kites are seen gliding high above the silvery waves, stand-up paddleboarders and open water swimmers below. And just as Sotogrande’s sailing courses and races stretch across the year (the Winter League a highlight on the local club calendar), her nature park ‘Esturio del Rio Guadiaro’ stays alive with wildlife and birdsong, beckoning hikers, kayakers and cyclists to journey through. During the winter months, unearth a wealth of open-air ventures that are decidedly more refreshing and thrilling than their summer counterparts.
And because you’ve quickened your heart rate under sail, on the tennis court or in the saddle, time should be spent winding down at one of Sotogrande’s numerous spas, allowing mind, body and soul to fall back into balance. Complementary to the high energy and active philosophy of this coastal destination are the gentler forms of wellness including beauty therapies, massage, yoga and Pilates. There are groups classes or expert instructors and therapists who can come to you, leading you through sun salutations or working out your knots in the privacy of your own home. In this community devoted to the good life, a winter menu of slower pursuits makes the most of the quieter season and seduces all into a state of pure relaxation.
Beyond the borders of Sotogrande, a multitude of further opportunity unfolds. At her doorstep, there are new sights to see, snowy slopes to roam and many cities to explore. Travel the Costa del Sol by car or bike, stopping in Malaga to soak up the marvels of the Picasso Museum, the Pompidou or the Carmen Thyssen Museum. Climb the Sierra Nevada to journey back down on snowboard, taboggan or skis. Rest on the Puente Nuevo in Ronda and take in the view as the trees turn golden and drop their sepia leaves. Or taste Spain’s finest flavours in Sevilla and join the crowds waving their scarves in the stands at a local football game. From Soto’s warm beaches to the colder heights of Granada, there is excitement at every turn to satiate the curious, the romantics and the most discerning of adventurers.
And when Christmas and the New Year approach, the whole region glows with millions of twinkling lights. Invitations fly through our mailboxes, restaurants serve up their seasonal dishes and parties begin. In the marina, boats dip and rock with festive music and the merry sound of friends rejoicing rings loud. Christmas markets sprawl along the waterfront and shoppers rush to fill their baskets with presents for their loved ones. Families gather, candles are lit, champagne flutes chink and carols can be heard – a reminder that it is, in fact, wintertime in Sotogrande afterall.
Written by Rachel Drew