So will it be Next Stop Hollywood for Castellar de la Frontera? If actress Salma Hayek is buying a large chunk of it, that’s a definite maybe.
The sultry Mexican movie star and her billionaire husband chartered a €10,000 helicopter ride to view the threatened country estate of Almoraima, up for grabs for €300million, adding an unexpected twist to a saga that’s dominated local headlines for weeks.
(Perhaps Salma reads the Olive Press. How else would she have known about a place most people couldn’t find on a Spanish map?)
But will all the locals be queuing up for her autograph if their finca gets ‘Hayek-ed’…?
In a battle as fierce as any witnessed by Castellar’s 13th century castle, they have campaigned to save Almoraima from being turned into a 5-star resort for the hunting, shooting and partying elite. Who’s to say the Hollywood set will be any better?
Environmentalist Salma may be into saving dolphins and anti global warming. But her business-minded hubby, Francois-Henri Pinault, might have other plans for a finca that lost €1.2 million last year harvesting cork and growing crops. He’s CEO of a group which owns Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent; and heir to a family who buy Picassos and Mondrians like other people buy eggs … by the dozen!
Sexy Salma has brains as well as beauty so it’s fun imagining what she might do for the place if she ever becomes Queen of the castle.
Filming at the Finca At 14,000 hectares, Almoraima’s the ideal backlot for Ventanarosa, Salma’s film company, which made the Oscar-winning Frida and specialises in Latino flicks. For authenticity, she could plant giant cacti, and turn them into a cash crop with a tequila bodega. Casting would be no problem. Antonio Banderas, her co-star in the Mexico Trilogy movies and Puss in Boots, lives just up the road in Marbella.
Cleaning up the Convent Salma’s a convent school gal herself, so she’ll feel right at home. And, heaven knows, the hotel occupying Almoraima’s stunning 17th century convent could do with some stage direction and a sprinkling of Hollywood stardust to attract the punters; anti-palm weevil powder, too, to save the dying trees.
Firing Up the Feria The local wolves would be howling for more of smouldering Salma at Castellar’s Full Moon Flamenco Festival in August – and not only for her singing and dancing skills. Being all ‘frontera’ herself, those voluptuous curves would look fab in a flamenco dress.
Queening it at the Castle This best-kept Moorish fortress is a tailor-made location for historic movies, with trained eagles for stunt work courtesy of the resident Bird Man of Castellar, who puts on shows for tourists.
Saving the Local Wildlife Salma’s California ranch is filled with rescue animals (nine dogs, five horses two alpacas, five parrots). So she and daughter Valentina would adore Castellar Zoo, a sanctuary for mistreated and abandoned exotic species, including tigers. The zoo’s pretty pushed for space and funds – a great cause celèbre for Salma; and Almoraima could take the overspill.
Promoting the Local Cuisine Who better than Salma? Pork and red wine are her favourite food and drink and her name sounds uncannily like another Andalusian speciality: salmorejo!
There’s one quirky spot to pop in for a copa in Viejo Castellar but it’s a secret club. Admittance is by recommendation only (or you might ask one of the locals). There’s no menu, you just pay the owner what you think your meal’s worth – after you’ve eaten it! At weekends there are often impromptu jamming sessions, with instruments provided for those who can play them. It’s curiously clandestine but you’ll have to do your own sleuthing. I’ve been sworn to secrecy!