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MARBELLA, SPAIN-Through its local office, Houston real estate firm Hines has secured an assignment as development manager for a resort project operated by the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. Construction is slated to begin next year, with a completion anticipated by 2010.

Mandarin Group chief executive Edouard Ettedgui calls Marbella “one of the Mediterranean’s foremost leisure destinations,” a notion shared by the project’s chief developer, Habib Bou-Habib, chairman of Las Colinas de Marbella SA. “For many decades, the area has been a magnet for sophisticated travelers, and the extraordinary facilities that this development will offer will appeal to those in search of tranquility, serenity and luxury,” says Bou-Habib.

The 153-room hotel is to be situated next to a protected environmental area that affords natural views of the Mediterranean and the Rock of Gibraltar. The resort is a short drive to historic Marbella, and also will give visitors proximity to such famous Spanish communities as Seville, Granada and Ronda. The development will feature 15 villas and 40 upscale apartments to be branded and managed as the Residences at Mandarin Oriental.

Besides spacious rooms that will have a minimum footprint of 600 sf, the hotel will have seven restaurants and bars, a library, poolside grill and grand ballrooms providing high-end function space. There will also be an expansive spa encompassing 28,000 sf and 11 private treatment rooms. The interior of the hotel is a creation of LTW Design Works, while the US-based Rockwell Group is designing the residential components. Renowned Spanish architect Gabriel Allende is responsible for the overall project design.

The Marbella venture gives Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group two properties under way in Spain. The firm now has a total of nine hotels open or in the planning stages in Europe and North Africa, both considered prime markets for future expansion. Mandarin Oriental is also active in Asia and the Americas, collectively owning or operating more than 10,000 rooms in 23 countries.

Hines also has a global development platform that includes 68 US offices and cross-border operations in 15 countries. The firm’s portfolio covers the gamut of residential, office, industrial and retail, with 416 million sf in more than 1,000 projects. The developer has been increasingly active in Spain. Since opening its Marbella office in 2005, the firm has undertaken such Southern Spain ventures as 169 apartments presently under construction and another 220 on the drawing boards.

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