Exclusive interview with the Queen of Marbella - Olivia Valere22-08-2011
She knows half the world and all the world knows her - i-Marbella met the queen of Marbella's nightlife, Olivia Valere(64), at her gorgeous villa for an up, close and personal interview.
The Moroccan born night club hostess made her name in Paris, where she went from working as the PR for French senate to running an exclusive club "Apocalypse". In 1984, she baptised the club Olivia Valère, enlarged the disco and opened a restaurant with a piano bar. She even recorded 4 songs between 1988 and 1993, the first of which, Cantinera de Cuba, sold 400,000 copies. Each disc entered the Top Ten and Olivia appeared on 30 television shows all around Europe. The jump to the Costa del Sol happened thanks to the singer Kimera in 1984, date which chartered an airplane so that her friends passed her birthday in Marbella with her. That is when Olivia fell in love with the life here and decided to stay her to live here and fulfil her destiny.
Today the Olivia Valere disco is one of Marbella's most elegant nightclubs. It's a playground of royalty and celebrities, and housed in a hybrid replica of the Alhambra and the Mezquita. Every celebrity who comes to Marbella can be seen there, dining or dancing the night away. Among these are names like George Benson, Darryl Hannah, Barry White, Prince, Robert de Niro, Bruce Willis and Naomi Campbell, Chelsea Clinton, Ana Obregón, Zinedine Zidane, Enrique Iglesias, Norma Duval, Prince Harry, Princess Magdalena of Sweden, Mick Jagger, Bruce Willis...
Olivia lives the Marbella good life in a fantastic Moroccan style villa and is closely supported in all her business endeavours by her distinguished husband, Phillipe, a lawyer and her sons Arnaud, Xavier and a daughter Karen. i-Marbella met the wonderful lady for an interview and her energy and happiness radiates throughout the whole room. Given all her success and position, she is very approachable, kind and after so many interviews still willing to talk and answer all the questions you can think of. Even her age! She is the kind of woman, whose drive is contagious and success is enviable.
1. How did you get involved with the nightlife scene?
It all started in 1981 in Paris by accident actually. I met a friend in St.Tropez, who offered me to step into the nightlife and run a club. So I started with "Apocalypse" night club in Paris, which was very successful.
2. Why was Apocalypse so successful? What was so special about it?
I invented a mixture of a club and a piano bar. On one side there was a piano bar with live music and singers and the other side was the club. And in between them there was a glass wall, so people could see what was happening on the other side and it also attracted guests with different ages. And at one point there were 500 people waiting at the queue of the venue and all the celebrities loved it as well. For example Prince came directly from the airport for dinner to the club, before even checking in to his hotel! Among some other celeb guests were Elizabeth Taylor, George Hamilton, Frank Sinatra, Alain Delon, Catherine Deneuve, Barry White aso.
3. Why did you fall in love with Marbella, when you came here in 1984?
I came here in 1984 and fell in love with Costa del Sol straight away. I love the weather of course, the quality of life and the charming people, who are very open. It seemed like a paradise. I opened Andalusia's first Olivia Valère, a discotheque with a piano bar and live music in the Gray d'Albion at Puerto Banús on the 4th of July, 1985. Immediately, it was packed and remained that way for two years. At that time Puente Romano invited me to take over what was formerly Regine's discotheque in the hotel. I stayed there for nine years before moving on to realise her dream. And in 25th of July in 1997 I opened the existing Olivia Valere, that was built in only 72 days, with 100 people working non-stop night and day. The venue was created by architect Oscar de la Peña and interior design was made by Miguel Cancio, who also designed the Buddah Bar and Bar Fly in Paris.
4. What is the key to your success?
The success is actually a mixture of things and finding the right balance: beautiful venue, good music, pretty models, celebrities, excellent service, elegant people and harmonious atmosphere. And what is very important to me is that I always try to stay real - to be myself and be simple. I am also a workaholic and a perfectionist, always willing to succeed! Of course a bit of luck is necessary, to be in the right place at the right time. Overall, I think it was my destiny!
5. Why did you decide to name the club after yourself?
First of all, I didn't want to do a commercial club, because it would be my personality that would make the place what it is. It would be like a home for me, where I was going to receive my guests.
6. You have been running Olivia Valere in Marbella for 14 years. How after all these years do you manage to keep it so popular?
The key is to adapt! The nightlife scene has changed a lot, since I first started to work. In the end of 90s the music started to change, all the drug problems came and girls were getting raped and all that. So it is sad actually.
But what I try to do in Olivia is always keep it fresh and come up with new ideas. For example, I created Le Prive 4 years ago, also the Open Sky restaurant and now this summer I opened the Sushi terrace, that is run by my daughter Karen.
7. You have 3 children - Arnaud, Karen, and Xavier. Do they all work with you?
Yes, my son Arnaud and daughter Karen work with me in Olivia. The employees that work in Olivia do it because it's their job and they make their best and sometimes it's just not enough for me. But I do it because I love it and that is why I am always there looking after all the small details. I think I still get adrenaline out of it, when there are important people visiting me. And I still stress, that is why I have to be around to make sure everything is running perfectly.
8. What is your motto of life?
What goes around comes around. I want to be around my family and friends and always try to do the right thing. I think it is very important to be good to people and above all, to love!
9. Name some of your favourite holiday locations?
Santa Domingo, Brazil, Argentina for example. Actually I plan to open a new night club in Brazil, São Paulo next year.
10. How do you relax?
I never relax! My work is my pleasure! When you love what you do, it isn't hard. And I have always something to do - to send faxes etc. I don't use the computer though, I love writing, because I'm more of a romantic. I love the smell of ink! To me computer is very asexual.
11. What are your other passions?
I love to cook! Not to bake though. I have been even cooking in French tv shows. Mostly I cook in Paris and I adore French and Asian cuisine. And I love visiting the nicest restaurants to enjoy good food.
12. What is your beauty secret?
God loves me I think! I'm a child of god!
13. What advice would you give to women who are trying to make it to the top?
First, always love your job!
And if you really want something, don't compromise! I also think that talking is very important - to express your feelings and say what you really mean!
By: Annika Urm
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