Visit Cascais and I guarantee you will be planning the next trip before you leave or checking out property prices! Glorious sunshine, magnificent golf courses, amazing food, wine, friendly happy faces everywhere and just over two hours from Dublin, what more can you ask for!
For forty odd years I have been holidaying on the Algarve mainly with friends to play golf, I love the golf courses but they can be busy and expensive.
In the past year I have discovered a lot more of this beautiful country. The Northern city of Porto to the vibrant capital Lisbon. Our destination was the city of Cascais, just twenty minutes west of Lisbon.
The day we arrived we were booked to play Belas Golf Clube de Campo, even though my friend and I both were feeling a little jaded after the early start we looked forward to hitting the fairways.
Belas Golf course is set in the beautiful mountains between Belas and Queluz close to Lisbon. Designed by American golf architect “Rocky” Roquemore. Rocky’s superb design divides the course into two very different sections, the first crosses a naturally preserved landscape and the second is close to homes that are part of the resort development. Thousands of trees mainly pine have been planted by the developers in order to preserve the beauty of the landscape.
A hilly course so a buggy is advisable! The fairways and greens were in excellent condition. Belas Golf Championship course proved to be a challenging and enjoyable experience. The second hole, a par five named Augusta, was built in homage to the thirteenth hole at the famous Augusta golf course. The eighteenth, a memorable Par four finishing hole is named “The Big Hole”, because the green is well protected by a huge lake.
The excellent practice facilities include a driving range, chipping and putting green.
Feeling rather tired and hungry we now looked forward to chilling out at the hotel having a bite to eat and having a glass of wine to finish of the day. First impression at reception, yes I will just love spending a few days here!
An hour later feeling refreshed and somewhat human again we made our way to the hotel’s Monte Mar beach restaurant which is three kilometres from the hotel. The setting is stunning and the restaurant was buzzing with diners enjoying the great food and atmosphere of this unique place. We were lucky to get a table at the window, waves were crashing against the rocks, just a few metres from the window.
After a delicious dinner of shellfish a few glasses of the local wine the head waiter invited us on a tour of the caves beneath the restaurant to where they kept the shell fish tanks. Outside we went and down a rickety stairway into the caves below. As I stepped down lower I looked the shoes I was wearing, definitely not designed for this! What lies beneath? Beneath was a dark cave, dimly lit, to our amazement there were tanks half filled with fresh sea water in each tank were various sizes of lobster and crab ready to go! mmmmm YUM!
The hotel’s Rocca restaurant’s wonderful menu offers Mediterranean cuisine with flavours of traditional Portuguese food.
The Trent Jones bar is located beside the pool, light meals are served during the day, in the evening you will hear some great jazz playing, everyone chilling out, while enjoying a cocktail
or two as the sun goes down and long after.
A an excellent buffet breakfast is served in the Five Pines restaurant. I love to spend time over breakfast, have a few cups of Americano to kick start the day, however the days we play golf it’s not always possible due to early tee times. Usually we are rushing down to the entrance to meet the coach, golf shoes and sun screen on, clubs ready to go. The beauty of staying at Quinta da Marinha apart from it being a fabulous hotel is that it’s a two minute walk to the first tee. Seriously YES! A good start to the day, a leisurely breakfast then a walk to the caddy master’s hut, collect a buggy and back to the hotel to pick up the clubs. Is that not civilised or what!
The Quinta da Marinha Par 71 course was an absolute joy to play, the views over the Atlantic and the Sintra mountains scenery were spectacular.
The elevated greens and tees boxes, typical of course designer Robert Trent Jones, and, as one would expect many bunkers including plenty of water hazards.
One of the most stunning and famous holes in Portuguese golf is the Par 4 third hole, a photograph of this hole was used to promote ‘Golf In Portugal’ for many years. [Quinta da Marinha]
The forth a Par 3 played over a natural ravine to a quite demanding green. The thirteenth, is another tough Par 3 played over a lake to an elevated green, lost two balls here! The finishing hole is a fabulous and very challenging Par 5. A bit of good course management required here as two lakes come into play.
Quinta da Marinha offer excellent teaching packages for beginners and for those wanting to improve their game, some of these tuition packages include accommodation. There are amazing Beginner’s Golfing Holidays which include an intensive course that will allow you to get the Green Card authorisation that allows you to play many European golf courses.
The following morning, up bright and early, only time for one coffee, as we were being picked up to go and play The Pestana Beloura Golf course in Sintra. Beloura is another Portuguese course designed by American ‘Rocky’ Roquemore.
[Pestana Beloura Golf Resort]
Another incredibly beautiful course, over 40,000 eucalyptus, oak, pine, magnolia, palm and other exotic trees plants and have been strategically planted throughout the course. The undulating fairways and the streams that meander between lakes and with the Sintra mountains in the background must indeed be one of Rocky’s Gems.
Signature holes are the 7th and the 17th holes. On the seventh the lake comes into play so it’s necessary to make the carry then play short of the stream that crosses the fairway. The sloping green is well protected by bunkers. A testing hole!
Beloura was a challenging and fun course to play, we had a great match playing with our Portuguese friends, epic, as one of our friends called it!
The clubhouse is located at the centre of the resort, there is a conference room, a good restaurant with bar, Pro. shop and practice facilities.
As well as having a fabulous golf course the Pestana Beloura Resort also has two tennis courts and a football pitch.
Green fees; 90 euro
Cascais has a sense of being more a peaceful and idyllic fishing town than a city! it is so welcoming, picturesque houses, great seafood restaurants, miles and miles beaches for surfing or sunbathing, visit the Museum quarter and do try some of the famous gelato from Santini’s ice cream parlour. If you plan on seeing Lisbon you can easily do it from Cascais. Stay a week, stay a month or just move. Well Prince and member of the Royal House of France Charles- Philippe d’Orléans did!
Getting to Lisbon could not have been easier or more civilised, we flew with TAP Air Portugal, the whole experience was absolutely fabulous! The service was superb, staff friendly and they even offer a complimentary snack and drink on board.
For further information visit flytap.com or call (01) 656 9162.
Cascais Golf Passport is the ideal solution if you want to play multiple rounds in different courses in Lisbon Coast (Cascais, Sintra, Estoril).
With the Golf Passport the golfer can play 3 or 5 golf courses all within a 30 minute drive.
- Passport with 3 rounds per person: 162€
- Passport with 5 rounds per person: 244€
(must be booked in combination with hotel reservation; 1 free golfer in 8 playing)
To book contact: firstname.lastname@example.org