AN IN-DEPTH INSIGHT INTO THE LUXURY FLOATING HOTEL ON OUR DOORSTEP
Since the Sunborn opened in 2014, many of us living on the Costa del Sol and Gibraltar have visited this venue, whether it was to try our luck in the casino or simply enjoy a drink in one of their bars… but not many can say that they have had the true and full experience of this quite extraordinary hotel that is literally floating on our doorstep. Home & Lifestyle Magazine – in perfect timing for Sunborn’s fifth anniversary – decided to take a more in-depth look at what they offer guests…
When the Sunborn five-star superyacht hotel moored in Gibraltar’s harbour five years ago, it certainly turned a few heads. The concept of a floating luxury hotel was unique to this part of Europe and, as large as the project was, it nevertheless made little disruption to the local area as it was built in Malaysia and then sailed over to Gibraltar – nestling itself in the heart of the vibrant Ocean Village marina. It respected Gibraltar’s infrastructure as it attracted tourists from far and wide and, as a result, created new jobs whilst raising the profile of Gibraltar and boosting the local economy.
This 465-foot cruise ship has no fewer than seven decks with two restaurants, an outdoor pool bar, several conference rooms, a casino, ballroom, spa and beauty centre, plus a fully-equipped fitness room that looks over the marina. On arrival you cannot fail to notice the enormous glittering globe orbited by two chrome rings hovering over the marble floored reception area, resembling a diamond-encrusted planet that sets the tone for this lavish world you are about to enter. The receptionists were smiling and extremely informative, as were all the staff we met working there – without exception.
The lift going up to our room had a glass rear wall offering formidable views across the north side of the marina. Walking down the long corridors of this 189-room hotel, the carpets have dramatic swirling patterns and the walls are adorned with chrome drop-like sculptures to remind the guests that you are indeed staying on water (easy to forget on such a huge vessel that is permanently anchored down with a flat underbelly).
We stayed in the Junior Suite, which consisted of a large living room, work area and WC. The living room had two sliding doors, either side of a large flat screen TV, that took us into the spacious bedroom adjoining a large, open and rather decadent bathroom with gold and white mosaic tiles and marble walls. The wood decked terrace, with a lounge and small dining area, provided views over Ocean Village so you could take in the buzzy ambience of the local environment.
We chose to dine in La Sala – the more casual of the two restaurants they house on the ship. The menu is varied and therefore would suit all tastes, with cocktails and wines that ranged from economical to high-end. Their bar area offers live music, with guests mingling and dancing into the night, and after our sumptuous meal and a quick walk around Ocean Village we found La Sala to be the liveliest venue within the close vicinity.
Breakfast was in the Barbary restaurant on the top deck – a large airy space with views out to the sea and featuring a quirky and contemporary design. The breakfast was buffet-style with attentive staff all wishing us a good morning and tending to our every need. During the day and evening, the Barbary offers a more formal dining experience than La Sala, with a Moroccan-orientated menu that could be interpreted as “fusion” accommodating a broad range of diners with hearty Moroccanspiced dishes as well as Mezze and what they call “British classics”, such as aged beef burger, surf and turf, beer batter fish and chips, and English Sunday lunches.
Also on the top deck at the stern of the ship is the Aqua Bar, where there is a small pool, sun loungers and a bar area. At the bow of the ship you will observe the Wheel House, where you can also take in the sun on loungers in a quieter environment looking out onto the sea.
To summarise a stay on the Sunborn… it cannot be denied that it comes with a price tag, but it offers something that no other hotel in the southern peninsula can provide. For a start, the obvious attraction to this hotel is that it floats… giving it the ultimate novelty factor; but with that you also benefit from the superyacht experience with glamorous décor and luxury services without having to sail away from the coastline. The service is second-to-none and you really get a sense that the staff genuinely love working there, which emanates positive feeling throughout all areas of the ship. No matter what kind of guest you are, the Sunborn offers something for everyone, which makes a stay on this magnificent vessel a very special one.
WITH SPECIAL THANKS TO BRITTA, UMBERTO AND GLORIA… SUNBORN GIBRALTAR, 35 OCEAN VILLAGE PROMENADE, GIBRALTAR
Tel. (+350) 2001 6000