The Costa del Sol came into being as an international tourism resort in the second half of the last century. That was a time when a few wealthy people in search of something different came to these shores, while at the same time, mass tourism began to change the coast from a fishing and farming-based rural community to what it is today.
Nobody knows with certainty where the Costa del Sol got its name, although there are various theories, none of them entirely credible. We do know, nevertheless, that the name appeared as such in the advertising for the Spanish-American Fair in Seville in 1929. It is said that a certain Austrian consul in Cádiz, who used to travel along the coast to Almería frequently, dreamed up the name, due to the single aspect of the region that everybody is aware of, especially in the summertime: the sun shines a lot here. We can thus suppose that, if this is true, the Costa del Sol once described the entire coastline from Cádiz to Almería, and not only the Malaga coastal strip that we know today as the world-famous Costa del Sol.
In any case, the real beginnings of tourism on the Costa del Sol bring us back to an Englishman named George Langworthy, known locally, and logically, as ‘El ingles,’ who settled in Torremolinos with his wife at the end of the 19th century. The couple lived in the Santa Clara Castle, and in the beginning of the 20th century, converted it into a residence for foreigners, charging them one peseta per night.
Years later, Carlota Alessadri Tettamanzy converted one of her properties into what became the Parador de Montemar, and shortly afterwards, opened the La Roca Hotel. From these three establishments grew the hotel industry of the Costa del Sol, a big step forward being the opening of the Pez Espada Hotel in 1959. Within a few years, Torremolinos was a bustling tourist resort known all over Europe.
The spectacular growth of Torremolinos had a domino effect in reverse, and by the end of the sixties and beginning of the seventies, the surrounding towns of Benalmádena, Mijas and Fuengirola had also grown into important tourist towns. The reasons had to do with climate, relatively inexpensive cost of living, cheap flights from Northern Europe and many more factors, not least the fact that many films were also made on the Costa del Sol – up to the end of 2003, a total of 230.
But just a few kilometres down the coast from Torremolinos, another boom in a different type of tourism was happening. This was at the hands of Prince Alfonso de Hohenlohe, Noberto Goizueta and José Luque, the men responsible for placing Marbella on the international quality tourism map. Prince Alfonso had founded the Marbella Club in 1954, and with his worldwide contacts, managed to attract the cream of the international jet-set, from aristocrats and barons of industry to film stars and society hostesses. Then José Banús began the great marina and property project that was to link his name forever to international tourism in the shape of Puerto Banús. This attracted the people with the big yachts, and Puerto Banús began to acquire the fame that it enjoys today. He was also responsible for turning the land behind into a huge playground of top golf courses and stylish residential developments now known as Nueva Andalucía.