First Lady Michelle Obama and her nine-year-old daughter Sasha have arrived in Spain for a brief holiday, White House officials have confirmed.
The Obama party — which consists of the two Obamas, friends and their security detail – will stay at the five-star Hotel Villa Padierna Marbella.
The Ritz Carlton property in located in southern Spain and has just 120 exclusive rooms – nearly half of which have been taken by the presidential party.
“The first lady is on a private trip,” said press secretary Robert Gibbs.
“She is a private citizen and is the mother of a daughter on a private trip.”
Mr Gibbs added Michelle Obama and her guests were paying for their own rooms, with rates beginning at $434 per night.
The Secret Service and other staff stay at Unite States taxpayer expense.
As the First Lady arrived in Spain American officials moved quickly to defuse a potential race row with the hosts.
Just hours before touchdown the US state department had removed a warning about police racism in Spain from its website.
“We have received isolated reports that racial prejudice may have contributed to the arrest or detention of some African-Americans travelling in Spain,” the bureau of consular affairs had warned on its travel advice website.
“Recently, two African-American US government employees were questioned by police in Barcelona for no apparent reason.
“One was detained and suffered physical injuries in the process.”
The message, however, was removed before Ms Obama arrived.
While the First Lady is in Spain, President Obama has been left to celebrate his 49th birthday in the White House.
He joked with reporters, saying there would be not cake this year.
“I was disappointed there wasn’t a cake,” said the president.
“Referring to the Secret Service detail that protects him around the clock, he added: “They’re probably eating it right now.”
His elder daughter Malia, 10, is at a summer camp.