Looking out my window on a dull dreary day my mind drifts back to playing golf on the sun drenched fairways of the Algarve. With over 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, a low annual average rainfall and of course just a short flight from the UK and Ireland, the Algarve is the perfect destination for a golf holiday in any season.
Earlier in the year I travelled to the Algarve with fellow members of E.G.T.M.A. It’s always more fun going with a group on a golf trip, especially if you’re the competitive type, which of course most of us are are!!
The hotel had been refurbished since my last visit and I was happy to see that it had not lost any of its traditional Portuguese elegance and charm. The welcome was as warm and friendly as I had remembered, it felt great to be back.
The luxurious rooms and suites decorated in typical Portuguese style are elegant, comfortable, bright and airy. Some of the Classic rooms are interconnecting, which is the perfect option for families or golfing groups. All guest rooms have balconies with views either over looking Vale do Lobo Golf Course, the Atlantic Ocean, the beautiful gardens and Val do Lobo villas.
The excellent facilities include swimming pool and three ATP floodlit all weather tennis courts. If you feel the need to unwind after a round of golf, tennis or simply want have few hours to chill, I can thoroughly recommend a visit to Dolce Deluxe Spa, any of the wellness or beauty treatments will leave feeling wonderfully relaxed. The Vale do Lobo Royal Spa, which is close to the hotel offer special rates for Dona Filipa guests.
Dona Filipa has an exclusive area on the beautiful Vale do Lobo beach which is situated 200 metres from the hotel. The Beach Club is open exclusively for hotel guests during the Summer months. Sun loungers, parasols and towels are available courtesy of the hotel.
Normally when I am recommending a hotel the first thing I am usually asked is what the food is like. Well I can honestly say without a doubt, food at the Dona Filipa’s is top notch. The exclusive Kamal restaurant is open all day providing wonderful buffet breakfasts and superb themed buffet evening meals including international and regional dishes.
[ Made from local wild berries and herbs ]
The name Kamal fittingly has the literal meaning of perfection, balance and peace.
After a most enjoyable stay at Dona Filipa we moved a little bit further along the coast to The Five Star Penina Hotel and Golf Resort.
Penina was one of the first luxury hotels on the Algarve, the resort is set within a magnificent 360 acre estate of natural beauty. As well as having three golf on-site golf courses including, The Henry Cotton Championship course, there are five floodlit tennis courts, a full size football pitch, cycling, archery, fitness centre, swimming pool and kids club. The perfect luxury retreat for every sporting family.
There is a great choice of restaurants, depending on your mood you can choose from fine dining at the fabulous Le Grill, to authentic Italian cuisine at L’arlecchino Restaurant. The more casual main Sagres Restaurant will not disappoint either. Delicious breakfasts and themed evening meals are provided from the fabulous buffet. All created by Penina’s expert chefs, using the freshest local produce and the best ingredients.
Afterwards when feeling chilled one can repair to the patio or Bar Monchique for a cocktail or a Penina G&T. While on holiday quite a few years ago with family and some friends, we were in the bar listening to the wonderful piano player. As my friends will confirm I never need much coaxing to sing when I’m chilled, however, this fine gentleman decided to join me at the piano, when I turned around I couldn’t believe my eyes as it was, non other than the late great John Jacobs, now that was one memorable evening!
San Lorenzo Golf Course is one of the Algarve’s most beautifully designed golf courses. Gentle rolling fairways that wind through a scented woodland of umbrella pines. Many of the holes border the Ria Formosa nature reserve, the scenery is simply spectacular. This protected environment is the habitat of over 70 bird species, including herons, hoopoes, white storks, coots, black-winged stilts and the rare purple gallinule.
Playing San Lorenzo was challenging, enjoyable and memorable. A course for players of all abilities. Even though I was in the lake, literally, in many bunkers I still managed a respectable score.
Pinheiros Altos Golf Course is also located in the Ria Fermosa National Park in Quinta do Lago. The 27 hole course is presented in three circuits of nine holes making it enjoyable, exciting and challenging. Each nine holes is a Par 36 and are named:
The Pines (Pinheiros) named after the abundance of pine trees, this 9 includes 4 of the new holes. One thousand additional pine trees were planted to blend the new with old.
The Corks (Sobreiros) is the longer of the three nine holes at Pinheiros Altos and regarded as the most demanding, especially due to the difficulty of the eighth hole.
The Olives (Oliveiras) was the original back nine and has remained unchanged since the island green eighth hole was constructed in 1995 and has one of the golf courses signature holes.
Each of the nine holes start and finish at the beautiful Pinheiros Altos Clubhouse.
Penina Hotel & Golf Resort is the only resort in Portugal to offer three golf courses, The Sir Henry Cotton Championship Course, which was the first 18 hole course to have been constructed in the Algarve. The 9 Hole Academy course and The 9 Hole Penina Resort Course.
The Sir henry Cotton Championship Course is one of the most historic on the Algarve. The course was built by Sir Henry Cotton back in1966 on land that was originally used for growing rice. Cotton planted hundreds of trees and shrubs creating a magnificent woodland course. The land is relatively flat, great for those of us who prefer to walk. With the many streams, lakes and trees that line fairways one’s course management skills are put to the test.
ThePenina Golf Academy practice facilities include a driving range, chipping green, practise bunker and putting green. I watched some very good golfers spend time at the academy before tackling the Sir Henry Cotton’s Championship Golf Course. I have made a mental note to make sure I take that course of action next time!
The Algarve is one of the worlds leading golf destinations and with its warm sunny climate, luxury hotels it is an absolute paradise for golfers.