Conde Rudi, Marbella Club.
Conde Rudi and his family have also been crucial members of the wider Marbella Community. A a figure that has has set the standard as the ultimate host and lead by example: “Every customer is a king and almost every king is a customer of the Marbella Club”.
Nestled within Marbella’s prestigious Golden Mile, this exquisite resort is enveloped by enchanting botanical gardens adorned with orange, lemon, avocado, fig, and banana trees. Its picturesque white-washed design pays homage to the charm of an authentic Andalusian village. Marbella itself is a remarkable destination, blessed by the sheltering presence of La Concha Mountain, creating a distinctive microclimate that makes it a perfect year-round getaway.
The storied hotel has a fascinating history. It started as the von Hohenlohe family’s modest Mediterranean hideaway, Finca Santa Margarita. In 1954, Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe transformed the house into a charming motel-style hotel. From then on, he welcomed celebrities and royalty to come and stay at the hotel.
That same year, the hotel introduced its initial 20 bedrooms, a dining room, and a bar. It didn’t take much time for word to spread among royal families, European nobility, and famous Hollywood personalities about this captivating coastal spot. Soon, there was a surge of interest, and people started eagerly requesting to stay there. The Marbella Club quickly became a sought-after sanctuary where renowned individuals like Grace Kelly, Brigitte Bardot, Sean Connery, and other notable figures would not just stay for weeks but for months at a time.
– How the idea of creating the Marbella club was born, this luxury hotel but without the pretensions of a palace, with such an Andalusian aesthetic and that he made a reality together with his cousin Prince Alfonso de Hohenlohe.
I have been lucky to have been here almost from the beginning. Frankly it was for me the great luck of my life! My cousin Prince Alfonso de Hohenlohe had encouraged so many friends at that time to come to Marbella…
The word “glamour” interests me but for me there is something else, the class, the style but at the same time the environment.
Alfonso had fallen in love with the farm that later became the Marbella club, without a doubt a paradise! with so many details worthy of the best place. We maintained an Andalusian atmosphere, with a garden that was not carved in the French style, to maintain that natural nature. With that variety of local plants that the prince planted here, the site itself due to its good climate, the mountain behind that brought us water and so many things that today everyone takes guaranteed but that did not exist.
The staff we found in Marbella were not professionals, they were the sons of the carpenter’s mason and we have taught them how we think we should serve the customer, not the great luxury! the luxury is the garden, the minerals of the mountain, the joy, the green and thus it is a success.
Alfonso had so many contacts in the world, in Saint Moritz when he went skiing, in Hollywood, in the England of the hunts in so many places! and he told everyone “you can’t imagine what Marbella is like! and people came with curiosity and when they arrived they said but if this is very humble that he has told us until they stayed and extended their stays.
We are proud of the simplicity that we have achieved with all the comfort that you can offer to a visitor. and many decided to make their home here. It was never the idea to make a fortune with this hotel, the idea was to have like minded people.
“ Elegance simplicity or elegant simplicity describes Marbella itself ”
– I once read an interview that they did to you where they said that you were the keeper of the Marbella club’s secrets, which character has particularly impacted you?
Many… friends and clients have been people on the same wavelength, the character of the Prince, my contacts and those of Princess Maria Luisa have made this site lucky to have so many celebrities, especially from the movies, politicians, presidents of government, kings reigning and others in exile and also merchants who came to enjoy and not to show off.
The Dukes of Windsor, for example, some aristocrats who in life have shown the great training they possess, especially the Duke. I have always been sorry that he could not be King of England and Emperor of India among so many other titles… but his heart took him to the arms of a woman. When he came to the Marbella Club, what he liked the most is that we have treated him with respect but we have not done much theater. The best was when he entered the dining room and passed in front of the English gentlemen and they stood up until he sat down. This is what is enjoyed here. “Each customer is a king and almost every king is a Marbella Club customer”.
– Your wife is a princess, descendant of Emperor William II and cousin of Queen Sofia, what about her?
She is an ideal wife and a perfect mother. I have been very lucky to find a wife like Maria Luisa, a woman who has brought many qualities to our family and which we have passed on to our children. This is how his imperial family had taught him even when they had also lost everything, not only their Castles but also what Prussia is, which has been wiped off the map.
– What are the most important values that you instilled in your children?
What we have sucked is what we wanted to instill in our children, the sense of responsibility and to comply, the obligation! without showing off and always being at the service of others. The obligation in which it was born and we today feel responsible towards the people of Marbella to serve them. Marbella is my land, it is my home. God has given me a chance to rebuild the life I had lost in eastern Germany after escaping from our Castle when the Russians came. If we hadn’t been quick, we would have spent our lives in Siberia as planned. I must reward this luck that I have had in Marbella with my effort.
– Do your children live in Marbella?
Unfortunately not. We have two children, Sofia as their godmother the Queen of Spain and Federico, we are very proud of them, both have achieved success in their careers and in their lives. Sofia has her company of large events throughout Europe and excellent contracts such as Bentley for Europe, Chanel, Tiffany. He is based in Valencia but actually lives on a plane.
I remember Federico that one day I asked him to help me in a general strike in Spain and we were in the middle of the season at the hotel and I asked him to come with his friends from school and I trust them completely with the restaurant, he was only 16 years old and they did a Incredible work, all the guests were delighted and there he told me I think I’m going to work in hospitality and I sent him to the best hospitality school in the world in Lausanne where I had also studied. He has worked in the best hotels such as the Savoy, Rosewood and now they have just signed him for the Conrad which has now been bought and renovated by the Guru of Qatar and today he is the director of the Room Division of one of the best hotels in the world.
– Do your children have noble titles?
If they are earls but don’t want to use their titles, they don’t like to show off. They are Sofia and Federico Von Schönburg.
– What do you think of the Spanish Monarchy?
It is very positive, after the crisis with the abdication of King Juan Carlos we had a certain fear about what could happen, but today King Felipe VI has been a reinforcement for the Monarchy. Due to his preparation and his character, due to his very strong royal blood on both sides and also a descendant in some branch of the Emperor of Germany, in short, few people in Spain have had his preparation. Above all, I admire his sense of duty, knowing what his obligation is, and perhaps that is what helps monarchies the most. Kings have many obligations and very few pleasures. He solves problems on a daily basis and handles them great as government changes etc.
– What do you think of the current Queen Letizia?
She has human values and that is very nice, she follows the suggestions of her mother-in-law and her husband and helps where she can help and in her own way, she does not try to be another Doña Sofia and I hope that she enters into the memories of the Spanish Monarchy as a great Queen.
– Returning to the Marbella club, 62 years later, is there a time that you look back on with nostalgia?
This place has been wonderful, I look at everything with nostalgia. I remember when I arrived on a plane to a runway full of cattle that had to be thrown out in order to land and I was a young hotel manager who was very green and here I was able to develop all my dreams. My life has been a dream.
– How much does Marbella owe Count Rudi?
(Laughter) love… I don’t think Marbella owes me anything, Marbella knows that I am one of them and that is my greatest reward. It doesn’t matter which politician or party is in government, they all appreciate my presence and treat me as one of their own.
– Do you have any dreams pending?
I just want to fortify everything that I launched here so many years ago, so that it is so established that even if I am no longer at the Marbella Club, whether it is because I am in heaven or retired, everything we have planted continues to bear good fruit. We did things with such idealism… both Prince Alfonso and I, as I was his right hand. I would not like manners to be forgotten, for it not to degenerate into something else, for people not to forget style, for class to be maintained. Today I would not require etiquette, well only at Christmas and New Year.
– You have been recognized by the Spanish and German governments for the development of tourism.
And because of the union between nations, tourism makes people move to different areas and I have put my part in this big soup that is being made in Europe. I ‘ve been very lucky.
– What would Count Rudi say to a young businessman who has a dream like his in mind?
If you have chosen this profession, you must be in love with your work because if not, the hospitality industry can be slavery, you have to pay attention to so many small details!
On the other hand take care of the quality that is number one. The client must find more than what he expects. And to finish, the word family is the most important thing for me, the staff feel part of the hotel, the clients feel part of the hotel and I am also the Marbella Club without having a financial part.
While steeped in history, the Marbella Club is far from being outdated. This remarkable resort consistently delights its loyal guests with fresh and exciting experiences, effortlessly staying current and attuned to the latest trends. It maintains a noteworthy sense of relevance and remains as vibrant as the newest, most talked-about hotspots that capture the attention of the chic and sophisticated crowd.