25 Mar

Kristina Szekely: queen of the social scene

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THEY ARE A SELECT GROUP. Costa del Sol personalities whose names have become synonymous with Marbella glamour… one-time Puerto Banús resident Sean Connery; the late Deborah Kerr and James Hunt; Kevin Keegan; Julio Iglesias, Dolph Lundgren and Málaga-born Antonio Banderas (who still own homes in the area)…

And Kristina Szekely who, as others move on, has not only taken over the mantle of queen of Marbella society but also consolidated her reputation as one of the Coast’s most resilient real estate entrepreneurs.

Born in Hungary, Kristina came to Spain as a young girl in the late ´60s after studying languages in Sweden. Those early years establishing a real estate business were not always easy.

“Because I was a woman in a man’s world it was difficult,” she recalls, “but I built it up bit by bit with a lot of hard work.”

The personal element has also always been just as crucial as hard work and business flair.

“Human relationships are very important in my business, with staff, clients… It’s seen as a hard business but it’s not; it’s an intimate business. People tell you about their needs, their dreams; they go into their private selves. Our relationship can become very close. Discretion is the key; it’s like going to a doctor. You provide a better service the closer you get to a person.

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“Owners selling their homes must feel comfortable; they give you their keys, allow you to enter their home, so they need to know that you’re going to take care of them. It’s all a matter of trust.”

Kristina is well aware that for most people buying a home is the biggest investment in their life. “Maybe it’s the only investment,” she says, recalling one German couple who came into her offices after working for 35 years without a holiday. “The whole focus in their life, their dream, was to find a home on the Costa del Sol and start enjoying life. We were thrilled to be able to help them do that.”

Kristina has a broad portfolio of business interests in Spain, Europe and as far afield as the US and Latin America. Now a Spanish citizen, she is one of that rare breed of Costa del Sol resident who moves effortlessly between the local Spanish and foreign communities – a true woman of the world.

Kristina Szekely-Sotheby’s International Realty

Main photo above: Toni Cochrane

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The Oz Questionnaire

What smells do you remember from your childhood?

Fresias – my mother loved them.

What was your favourite subject in school?


What person, still alive, do you admire most?

Locally in Marbella, my friend Marie Claude Radziewsky.

And not alive…?

My ex-husband Antonio Cienfuegos.

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What’s your idea of perfect happiness?

When you’re doing something you really enjoy.

What element of modern life gives you the most problems?


What’s the worst thing about being a woman?

I’ve never found anything bad about it.

What word or phrase do you use most?


What scares you most?


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What book would you always have in your library?


What’s the last film you saw at the cinema?

One of the last… Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

What’s the last CD you bought?

Mario Mendes, who performed at the Haiti benefit concert at Incosol.

What’s the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?

Am I going swimming, walking or just getting ready because I have things to do?

And the last thing you think about when you go to sleep at night?

I look back at how the day or night went.

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What section of the paper do you read first each day?


How much time are you connected to the Internet each day?

Best to leave that one!

What’s one thing you don’t leave home without?

Mobile phone, handbag, my dog…

What alternative profession would you like to have taken up?

Architect, because they’re very creative; doctor, as they become very involved with the person, like we do; even a lawyer, though a bit ambiguous about that because they have to defend people who have done bad things.

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If you could travel in time, what era would you choose?

Any elegant era, like that of Louis XIV in France, with beautiful gowns, pianos playing, tea parties…

What’s the most exotic place you’ve visited?

There have been many but to name one… La Digue in the Seychelles.

What is your idea of heaven?

Travelling with friends.

What is your worst nightmare?

I don’t really have any.

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What is it that most appeals to you about Spain?

The people, the way of life, having a break during the day and being able to stay up and do things till late; and specifically in Marbella… the freedom of life, the lack of formality, doing what you want to, when you want to and how you want to, the open-air lifestyle, the sunshine in the morning, the stars in the evening, everything’s a dream, so different from city life which can be so stressful.

Do you personally prefer living in an apartment or villa, and why?

I’m out a lot so an apartment is easier; my dog would like a garden but he jumps up on the flowerbed on the terrace and can see what’s going on.

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Number? 8

Colour? Fuchsia

Animal? Dog

Flower? Orchid

Sport? Skiing (in Aspen!)

Meal? Seafood

Hobby/pastime? A never-ending list….dancing, travelling, friends, theatre, opera, music, art, sport…

Luxury? A safari I took by balloon in Kenya – and I would have liked to have travelled on the Concord.

■ Star sign

Sagittarius (29 November)

Favourite joke?

I’m not good at jokes – I prefer listening to them.

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