The Algarve, Portugal’s southernmost region, is renowned for its year round mild and sunny climate, beautiful beaches, quaint fishing villages, fantastic hotels and not least its world class golf courses.
Our golf adventure to began with a two day break at fabulous Hilton Golf Resort and Spa, Vilamoura. The resort is located close to the beach and within walking distance of Vilamoura’s great shops and restaurants. My friend and I were booked into a two bedroom luxury apartment, which was perfect for us and ideal for golfing groups and families. Rooms are spacious and comfortable all have balconies either overlooking the gardens or the prestigious Pinhal golf course.
Set in five acres of beautifully landscaped gardens are six pools, some with cascading waterfalls, a gym and Portugal’s largest luxury spa.
The 7 Seven Spa and wellness centre is popular with guests for the wide range of luxurious treatments. Facilities include an indoor thermal pool, whirlpools, jet pools, sauna, and a relaxing zen garden.
Dining at the Hilton was everything you would expect from a five star establishment. Whether you choose formal or casual dining you won’t be disappointed.
Feeling completely chilled after an amazing couple of days at The Hilton we were ready to hit the fairways of some of The Algarve’s best courses and were looking forward to our stay at the beautiful four star Dom Pedro Hotel, Vilamoura.
Once we settled in we strolled down to the beach which was just a five minute walk from the hotel. Sunshine, warm sea breezes and the sound of the wild Atlantic waves lashing over the sand, just what the doctor ordered.
After our Zen experience it was time to meet the group and the fantastic team from Tee Times Golf Agency. In the evening we all dined at the Hilton’s Cilantro Restaurant where we enjoyed an excellent gourmet meal paired with some superb Portuguese wine.
The course is set among magnificent umbrella pines with views over the Ria Fermosa Natural Park. This wonderful Championship course provides a challenging round for golfers of all abilities. There was quite a mix of handicaps in our group, we all loved the course and the experience.
The Ocean Course, Vale do Lobo is an incredibly beautiful course which is composed of the two original 9-hole golf courses. The gently undulating fairways which run alongside a nature reserve before leading down to the shores of the Ocean. Two challenging and spectacular Par 4s. are the 11th and the 14th. The Par 3 15th which runs alongside the beach is also a beautiful hole.
The Dom Pedro, Old Course often described as the Grande Dame of the Algarve is the second oldest course in the region. There are lots of interesting and challenging holes to test the amateur and more experienced player but overall is a really enjoyable golf experience for everyone. The fairways are quite narrow and are bordered by beautiful umbrella pine trees.
Leaving Vilamoura we headed toward the Spanish border to the exclusive Monte Rei Golf and Country Club. Monte Rei is located in the hills northeast of the historic town of Tavira and is the only Jack Nicklaus signature course in Portugal.
The course is everything you would expect from a Jack Nicklaus course. It is designed to be a challenging and enjoyable experience for every player. Green fees may be a bit higher than other Algarve courses but you do get what you pay for.
The magnificent clubhouse sits high above the course offering breathtaking views of the Serra do Caldeirão Mountains to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the South.
Monte Rei’s state of the art luxury villas and apartments provide an enviable place to live and stay in a peaceful and private location. Also on the resort is an excellent golf academy, heated swimming pool, gym and tennis courts.
From East to West and to Morgado Golf Club which is located in the beautiful Algarve region of the Barrocal. Morgado is a fairly flat course set at the foot of the Monchique mountains. While the course is fair and testing for the amateur, it provides an enjoyable challenge for the more experienced player. I guarantee you will enjoy and appreciate the setting as the course is surrounded by natural flora and fauna, ranging from citrus and olive trees and fantastic wild life. You will definitely feel at one with nature when walking these fairways!
Onyria Palmares Golf Resort. Palmares is composed of three nine hole courses that can be played in any sequence. Alvor, Lagos and Praia courses were an absolute joy to play, each course has its own character and uniqueness, the resort has stunning views of the Ocean and Alvor estuary.
Espiche Golf Resort is situated within a nature reserve. The course was enjoyable and challenging but not at all difficult for the higher handicap player. Espiche’s magnificent clubhouse is perched high on a hill overlooking the course and the nature reserve.
Penina Hotel and Golf Resort is one of my favourite resorts on the Algarve. There are three courses, The Sir Henry Cotton Championship Course, which is the first 18 hole course to have been built in the Algarve. There is also The Resort Course and Academy Course. Other facilities include five on site tennis courts, a large outdoor pool and a well-equipped fitness centre.
We didn’t have time to play any of the courses on this occasion but we did have an amazing meal in the elegant Le Grill restaurant.
Finding a good place to eat on the Algarve is never a problem as there are so many restaurants. Most days we dined in the club house restaurants. Espiche, Monte Rei and Morgado golf club restaurants were especially good.
There is no better way to finish a round of golf than relaxing over a few glasses of wine, having a meal with friends followed by some good and not so good post-mortems.
The Wyndam Grand Hotel, known to many as the old Monte da Quinta Hotel has been magnificently refurbished and is now one of the best luxury hotels in Portugal. The hotel is ideally situated on one of the Algarve’s top golf resorts, Quinta do Lago. After playing The South Course we enjoyed a fabulous lunch at The Wyndam Grand. This was indeed fine dining at its best!
Another fantastic restaurant and a most memorable gourmet experience was Peppers Steakhouse at the Tivoli Marina Vilamoura. Starters was an amazing selection of cold cuts served on large platters to share.
For the main, straight from the grill and again on large sharing platters was Black Angus entrecôte, grass fed from Nebraska; succulent lamb from New Zealand and beef loin from Spain served with a choice of delicious sauces. Dessert was a delicious spiced creme brûlée
The Portuguese wines accompanying the meal were amazing. After dinner Chef Alex and Sommelier Eduardo were given a huge applause.
Located by the sea on the Eastern Algarve is Eurotel Altura. This superb hotel is ideal for families and groups. Eurotel features a Spa, an outdoor and hydrotherapy pool, tennis court, restaurant, bars and a kids club.
The hotel has direct access to the beach and is close to the historical towns of Tavira, Castro Marim, Cacela Velha, Vila Real, de Santo António and Spain.
Going west again and to The five star PESTANA ALVOR PRAIA HOTEL. The iconic hotel is situated on a cliff top overlooking the Três Irmãos beach, which incidentally is one of the best known beaches of the Algarve. The hotel’s interior decor is inspired by the natural surroundings of the region. There are eight golf courses and five tennis courts all within driving distance of the hotel.
The hotel is ideal for couples, families, golfers, If I wasn’t playing golf I would park the car, unpack my suitcase, stay a while just to enjoy the tranquillity and uniqueness of this wonderful holiday destination.
Tivoli Carvoeiro Algarve Resort is an absolute stunning resort. This newly refurbished hotel over looks the Atlantic Ocean on the Vale Covo cliffside.
The beautifully furnished rooms all have balconies with amazing panoramic ocean views. Facilities at Tivoli include a Spa, pool, and a state of art fitness area. There are beautiful walks from the hotel along the cliffs toward Carvoeiro village. One evening we walked along the cliff path to one of the viewpoints where we waited with some locals and watched a spectacular sunset.
The Algarve is full of charming towns and villages that are often overlooked when on a golf holiday. On this occasion we had the opportunity to visit some of the Algarve’s best kept secrets starting with the12th century moorish village CACELA VELHA. The idyllic and historic village sits on a cliff overlooking the Ria Fermosa. Walking around the village was like taking a step back in time. The old telephone kiosk in the square, a relic of the sixties or seventies is now a book lending library. Behind the 16th century church are the most spectacular ocean views.
The historic town straddles the Gilão River, and reaches the sea through the inlets and lagoons of the Ria Formosa Natural Park.
Traditional Portuguese houses with its Moorish influences line the narrow cobbled winding streets. There are lots of restaurants along the river including an Irish bar. Of course there is!
Olhão is a traditional fishing town also in eastern Algarve. Although Olhão is a bit more commercial than most of the villages it’s a great place to visit, you can watch the boats come in with the daily catch and experience some of the best seafood restaurants in the Algarve!
When we were staying near Lagos we visited Ponte Da Piedade, the name translates to Piety Point. This is one of the most dramatic and scenic places on the Algarve. The limestone coastline is formed of sea pillars, fragile rock arches and hidden grottos. There are coastal paths with steps leading down to the inlets, the boat tours are probably the best way to explore the headland or for the more adventurous there are kayak and paddle board tours.
Aer Lingus and Ryanair both fly into Faro Airport, but during the off-season Ryanair is the only airline flying from Dublin.
I can thoroughly recommend Clubs To Hire at faro Airport. Top of the range Callaway and Taylor Made clubs, just perfect. We found that hiring is so much easier than bringing your own clubs and cheaper.