Michelle Obama faced a fresh wave of attacks over her lavish break in Spain with 40 friends, which could reportedly cost US taxpayers £50,000 a day.
The First Lady has been criticised for her extravagance at a time when the US economy is still struggling. And her critics will have a lot more to say when they learn that the president's wife had a Spanish beach closed off Thursday so that she, her daughter and their entourage could go for a swim.
Spanish police cleared off a stretch of beach at the Villa Padierna Hotel in Marbella after the Obamas had finished a busy day of sightseeing.
Cordoned off: Police officers keep onlookers away from the site where US First Lady Michelle Obama and daughter Sasha are staying at the Beach Club of Villa Padierna Hotel in Marbella
It is unclear whether the police presence was paid for by Spain - or whether an invoice could be landing in the lap of the American taxpayer.
The exact cost of the trip is unclear as Mrs Obama, 46, and her friends are footing personal expenses themselves.
For a start, they will be paying for the 60 rooms booked at the 129-room Hotel Villa Padierna. With basic rooms starting around £380 each, the nightly bill will be no less than £22,800. Meals will also be picked up by the Obamas and friends.
Spanish newspaper El Mundo detailed the Obamas' dinner on their first night in Spain. The meal cost about £40 a head, according to El Mundo - which means a bill topping £1,600 would have hit the table if all 40 friends dined together.
Stretched over five nights that's £8,000 for dinner alone.
Whether or not the taxpaying American will be paying for meals, they will definitely be footing the bill for the First Lady's 68-strong security detail, her personal staff - and the use of presidential jet Air Force Two.
The per diems for the secret service team runs at around £172 each, which amounts to nearly £60,000 for the length of the summer break.Use of Air Force Two, the Air Force version of a 757, comes in at £91,900 for the round trip. This does not include time on the ground.Mrs Obama's personal staff, of which there are an unknown number and who might cost considerably more per day, also have to be taken into account.
The American public will also cover the cost of the only official part of the holiday, a visit to the Spanish royal family on the island of Majorca.
This will involve transport there and back for the entourage - as well as travel, accommodation, food and expenses for all while on the island. Conservative estimates already put the total cost at £150,000. With Majorca to come, the bill will be more like £250,000.
People had turned out in their hundreds to welcome the American First Lady and her daughter. A crowd of several hundred people shouted 'Obama!' and 'guapa!' (beautiful) as the Obamas entered the cathedral with a large security detail in tow. The party also had time for ice cream in the main street Gran Via.
Mrs Obama later attended a flamenco performance by Juan Andres Maya where other members of the audience were delighted when she tried out some dance moves at the end.
The First Lady was surrounded by burly Secret Service agents as hundreds of locals sought to catch a glimpse of her in the Costa del Sol resort.
Wearing black trousers, a black and white top and dark sunglasses, the 46-year-old walked through Marbella's cobbled streets, nipping into a number of shops before having dinner in an Andalusian restaurant.
Mrs Obama arrived by plane at Malaga airport on Wednesday morning and was driven in a 14-car convoy to the five star Hotel Villa Padierna, where her entourage has reserved 60 of the 129 rooms. She told owner Ricardo Arranz she had come to 'relax and unwind'.
The hotel is nestled in the hills overlooking Marbella, and at 6.30pm she and nine-year-old Sasha were driven to the historic centre for their shopping trip.
Locals and British expats and holidaymakers crammed the streets or leaned out from balconies to get the best shot of the First Lady on their cameras. Some even climbed orange trees to get a better look.
Mrs Obama bought two white Egyptian cotton dresses for 84 euros (70 pounds) from a shop called Blanc du Nil after asking shopkeeper Irene Aivar for advice on styles and sizes.
President Barack Obama, who turned 49 on Wednesday, is not expected to join them in Spain, and oldest daughter Malia, 12, is at a summer camp in the US.
Reports in Spain said Mr Obama telephoned his wife at the restaurant, and she sang him Happy Birthday down the phone.
(Source Mail online)