Insiders guide to Sicily

This week’s blog is an insider’s guide to Sicily and the fantastic golfing resorts there which are perfect for your next Italian golf escape. Although Sicily may not be the destination that springs to mind for your next golfing holiday it is definitely one to be considered with its beautiful scenery, historical culture, glorious golf courses and fantastic food and wine!

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Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean and although golfing may be your main reason for choosing Sicily as the destination for your next golf break in Europe you cannot forget about the breathtaking landscape and classical heritage that awaits you on this stunning island.

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The Verdura Resort is situated on the South West coastline of Sicily bordering the beautiful sea side town of Sciacca. On the resort is the fabulous Rocco Forte Hotel and two fantastic golf courses. The Rocco Forte Hotel is situated amongst 230 hectares of olive groves and traditional Sicilian countryside providing the perfect backdrop for this five-star hotel. All rooms are spacious and feature king-size four poster beds with roomy bathrooms and beautiful views of either the golf course or the sparkling blue Mediterranean. With a four fantastic restaurants and five wonderful bar areas with terraces and views of the sea or the Sicilian countryside there is never a shortage of places to relax, drink and dine at the Verdura Resort either pre or post round! If you’re looking for further relaxation then look no further than the Verdura Spa which features extensive treatment rooms, four outdoor thalassotherapy pools, an indoor pool, a double-height steam rooms with Finnish and infrared saunas as well as a gym and fitness studio! This hotel is fantastic and is the perfect destination for a luxurious and relaxing golfing holiday.

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Verdura Resort offers two superb 18-hole championship courses which hosted the 2012 Sicilian Open. With world-class facilities such as a double-ended driving range, tuition from PGA-qualified professionals and an exceptional golfing academy for those budding golfers this is an unbeatable resort.

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The first course at Verdura Resort is the West Course. The West Course has a more out-and-back layout compared to its sister course, the East Course. If you’re looking for a course which provides a challenge with a wide variety of scenery, then there is no better course for you than this one. With the scenery changing from Sicilian countryside, to an old railway line, to the Mediterranean Sea before finishing up on the 18th with a spectacular view across the cliff line of stunning countryside combined with the sparkling Mediterranean – simply breathtaking! The highest point of the course is reached at the 5th hole where the views from the tee are incredible. You can see the gleaming Med with the properties of the resort to your right seemingly lying over lovely orange groves. It can be said that although the course starts off friendly and inviting by the time you approach the 8th hole things are getting a little trickier and concentration is required to score well on the back holes! This is a great course which provides a challenging and certainly scenic round!

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The East course is laid out in two returning loops of nine holes and is far more undulating than the West Course. The East Course provides a stern challenge with plenty of change in both elevation and direction whilst maintaining the stunning views across the Sicilian coastline and beautiful countryside. With bunker protected greens and strategically placed water hazards – especially on the 5th and 6th – this is a great challenge of golf to those of all abilities. The 6th hole is called “Verdura’s Postage Stamp” and as a par three of 112 yards it isn’t hard to see why! Another fantastic hole which is marks the change ins style of holes from the front nine to the back nine is the 12th hole which is a long par three at 260 yards making this the longest one shotter on the course with spectacular views to match this challenge. The course features a multitude of fabulous holes but ends with the best – the 18th is a great par four which starts at the highest point of the course before crashing down then coastline! This is a fabulous course not to be missed off the itinerary when you’re planning your next golf break to Sicily.

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A little different to the Verdura Resort is the five-star Donnafugata Resort located in the South East of Sicily. This is a fantastic place for a golfing holiday with two fabulous 18-hole golf courses on site which were actually the hosts of the Sicilian Open in 2011 – the year before Verdura Resort hosted. With a great Spa with all the amenities you could wish for as well as three restaurants and two bars to choose from there is always a great place to unwind and relax in the resort either pre or post round! This great resort set in Sicilian countryside is perfect for your next golf escape to Sicily.

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With both a Links course and a Parkland course on site guests cannot be disappointed with the variety of golf offered here! The fairways of the Links stretch out around a couple of lakes that lie within two large valleys whereas the Parkland course winds through typical Ragusa countryside formed of carob and olive trees giving a traditional feel to the player. With water playing a feature on both of the courses on a few of the holes as well as strategical placing of other hazards such as trees and bunkers these courses can prove a stern challenge to even the most discerning golfer and are worth a shot on your next golfing break to Donnafugata Resort.

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We hope that this blog has inspired you for your next golf break to Sicily and that you will choose either the stunning Verdura Resort with its two fabulous championship golf courses or the lovely Donnafugata Resort with its two superb 18-hole golf courses on site. We are sure that Sicily is an up and coming golfing destination for those looking for that little bit extra on their golfing holiday – make sure you don’t miss out on experiencing all the beauty and culture that Sicily has to offer!

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5 best courses in Europe for a low handicapper…

This week’s blog is a guide of the top European courses for those of you with a low handicap. For those of you golfers who pride yourself on your low handicap and are always searching for the next brilliant golf course to challenge your refined golfing skills, this is the blog for you to help plan your European golf holidays around some of the best and most challenging courses around.

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First up on the list is the stunning course at Finca Cortesin which is situated on the Costa del Sol. With over 6,800 metres of fabulous golf course combined with natural Mediterranean scenery and environment there is no need to question why this course has such a fantastic reputation. Putting aside the beautiful and tranquil surroundings, this course is certainly a challenging one with tricky, fast undulating greens and when the sea winds are blowing scoring well can be almost impossible. With some superb holes it is hard to choose a shining star but the par 4 13th hole which you drive into a wide fairway over water and then over another water hazard on your approach to the green whilst bunkers and trees surround you – an exciting and tricky hole to say the least! Although the green fees are a little steep here this is one of the most fantastic and most challenging courses you will ever get the opportunity to play on the Costa del Sol and is not to be passed up on.

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The course at Royal Obidos Golf Club is the next course on the list which is in Portugal. There is not a bad hole to be seen on this fantastic course and with a wide variety of spectacular holes it is always an exciting and challenging round of golf. With fabulous views of Lagoa de Óbidos, strategically placed bunkers, various water hazards and beautiful landscape this is a picturesque and difficult round so make sure to maintain focus throughout the round! With six of the holes meandering through an ecosystem of lakes and the par five 10th hole features water so heavily that is essential to bring at least several more balls than you would usually bring along with you! On this course, even the most discerning golfer may choose not to play off from the back tee! This course is a must for the best of golfers when taking a golf break to Portugal as although you may score a little worse than usual and lose a few more balls it is more than worth it here!

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Next up on the list for those golfers with a low handicap is the Thracian Cliffs course which is located on the Northern Black Sea Coast of Bulgaria and is unlike any other golf course in the whole of Europe. Thracian Cliffs is a one-off experience with some stunning tee shots and some where you may lose your ball forever! This is an extremely tough and challenging course but is most spectacular and is well-worth the embarrassment of a poor scorecard! All of its 18-holes run along the cliff of the Black Sea which is a unique feature of this course and it is easy to say that this could well be the best course that you will ever get the chance to play and enjoy! This world-class golfing experience is not to be missed and the brilliant holes combined with the pure setting will provide you with an unforgettable experience.

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Fourth on the list is the Oceanico Faldo course, situated in the Algarve. With desert scrub bunkers, rocky outcrops, wandering water hazards and olive trees which are all lying in wait for errant shots this course is a tricky one which players have to play strategically in order to score well. The course winds between the rocky hills of the Algarve and is a real masterpiece from Nick Faldo where golfers get to experience beautiful views and undulating greens all in the surroundings of natural terrain. There is no denying that this course is certainly a challenge but even if you walk away with a poor scoresheet you will not have had a dull round. This is definitely a course to add to your golfing bucket list as a discerning golfer looking for a challenging and exciting round when on a golfing holiday to Portugal.

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Last, but not least on the list of top European courses for those golfers with a low handicap is the Montgomerie Course in Belek, Turkey. With eight lakes on site it is no surprise that this course is certainly a tricky one with water heavily featuring, especially on the front nine holes. Although there is a lot less water on the back nine the holes are no less challenging here meaning that this is an extremely difficult round even for the best of golfers. The greens undulate a lot which means that it is tricky to land your ball where you are aiming for it to land. This is especially the case on the 8th hole where there is a mound before the green which can throw your ball off in any direction! The 18th is a spectacular finishing hole where you need to hit off the tee through a narrow stretch of pine trees before having to avoid a strategically placed bunker as well as a final water hazard! This round is exciting and picturesque – a perfect combination!

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We hope that you enjoyed this list and are considering at least one of these fantastic courses to play to give you a spectacular challenge as well as a beautiful round in the case of all of these courses! These courses are the best in Europe to give even the best golfer a tricky round on their next golf break.

 

 

Valentine’s Day…

Valentine’s Day creeps up on us every year and if some of you with other halves which are golfing fanatics or would just enjoy a relaxing break in a beautiful hotel then here is our list of the best Valentine’s Day retreats for those looking for a little rest and relaxation as well as a few rounds on a fabulous golf course!

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Set in amongst beautiful Cypriot scenery as well as being just a short five-minute drive from some stunning beaches is the Aphrodite Hills Resort. The hotel boasts some spectacular deluxe rooms and villas which feature panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea or the great golf course. All rooms are fully-fitted and also come with a lovely private balcony or patio which means that you can enjoy the views in private. This hotel is decorated with an elegant and contemporary design in mind and provides guests with the ultimate five-star treatment and facilities making it a great golfing getaway destination in a beautiful area. With an 18-hole championship golf course – which features beautiful ocean views – on site as well as a spa which features over 27 treatment rooms as well as the option of several different outdoor pools – all with lovely poolside areas, where could be more perfect for a Valentine’s Day retreat holiday to Cyprus?

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Situated in the old Emporda region and surrounded by its fabulous on-site golf course is the stunning five-star Hotel Peralada. Not only is the hotel surrounded by the great Peralada golf course but also by a nature reserve making for some incredibly scenic views both on and off of the golf course! This hotel is a smaller, luxury hotel so is perfect for an intimate Valentine’s retreat holiday in Spain. Even though it is small, there is still plenty to do, amazing golf (of course!), a wine spa to enjoy as well as two restaurants and a lovely bar area. If you are looking to explore then the small city of Figueres is just a short 15-minutes drive. The rooms are all beautifully decorated, with free Wi-Fi and stunning views of the golf course, the village of Peralada and the Albera mountain range. For a relaxing and scenic Valentine’s break with a fantastic golf course on site then look no further than the lovely Hotel Peralada.

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A little further afield is the magnificent Oubaai Resort and Spa which is situated in the Cape Provinces in South Africa. This five-star resort is set in an area of beautiful nature reserves and pristine beaches creating a lovely natural atmosphere and setting – perfect for a couples golfing break! All the rooms are decorated in a stylish and modern design and all with beautiful rain showers and separate baths in the ensuite bathrooms. This hotel is the ultimate five-star resort with top-class service, three fabulous restaurants to choose from as well as a stunning spa. The spa features traditional African and European remedies which are used during treatments in the Freesia Spa and if you are looking for a great gym or indoor pool then the Oubaai Resort offers that too with some of the latest technology as well. This is the perfect place for a golfing break to South Africa with your other half where you can enjoy a wide range of activities in a stunning and naturally beautiful area.

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Situated in Dubai, facing Palm Island bay and overlooking the Arabian Golf course is the One&Only Royal Mirage Hotel. If you’re looking for a couples golfing holiday filled with plenty of activities and things to do and see, then this is perfect for you. The Hotel is just 20-minutes drive from Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa. The Resort is split up into three residences which means that there are plenty of choices over the type of room or suite you stay in whilst at this magnificent resort. Most of the rooms are decorated with a classic theme whilst integrating modern and contemporary designs and technology into the rooms and all have a patio or balcony from which you can enjoy the scenery. There are eight restaurants which all serve gourmet food from all over the world – there is always something for everyone here! With fantastic pool areas, fabulous golf, lovely food and great surroundings there is no place better for a busy and exciting couples golfing holiday.

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The five-star luxury Finca Cortesin Hotel and Spa is situated at the foot of the Andalucian mountains. With a great 18-hole championship golf course on site as well as two outdoor pools, a private beach club with an infinity pool, a spa, a restaurant and a bar there really is no need to leave the hotel which is ideal for a couples golfing holiday. The Finca Cortesin golf course is a well-established course and has held the Volvo World Match Play Championship in 2009, 2011 and 2012 and is an excellent round of golf. All suites include a private balcony and a flat screen TV as well as a fully-fitted ensuite. The Cortesin Spa maybe more your style than the golf course but it will not disappoint. There is a beautiful Turkish Bath as well as a unique snow cave and a range of treatments available to suit anyone and everyone. The signature restaurant serves wonderful Mediterranean cuisine or the beach bar is great for cocktails and lighter meals. Look no further than Hotel Cortesin for a beautiful and serene couples golfing holiday in a beautiful area of Andalucía.

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We hope you enjoyed our list and that it gave you inspiration this Valentine’s Day for your next couples golfing holiday abroad to somewhere where you can enjoy a romantic getaway!

The insiders guide to the Pestana Collection on the Algarve…

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This week’s blog is an insider’s guide to the group of Pestana hotels in the Algarve and the golf courses too. Although the hotels are all similar in terms of quality and location they all offer something different and unique to offer so make sure you are choosing the right one for you on your next golf break to the Algarve.

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The first hotel is the Pestana Vila Sol hotel which is just 7-minutes from the bustling town of Vilamoura. With 27 holes of fantastic golf on-site this is perfect for those looking to play all the golf that they could possibly want – and for it all to be on their doorstep during the holiday! The hotel is very modern and all the rooms are decorated with a contemporary design and are all fully-fitted. There is also a beautiful garden area around the pool which adds to the relaxing atmosphere at this hotel and is a great place to relax after a day on the course!

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If you’re looking for the best value package in the Algarve, then you cannot go wrong with a golf break to the Pestana Dom Joao II! This stunning 4* hotel is situated directly on one of the prettiest beaches and is just a short walk into the great town of Alvor where guests can find copious amounts of bars and restaurants. This Pestana hotel is very popular with Golf Escapes clients and with its fabulous location and stylish interior that is certainly not a surprise!

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The Pestana Alvor South Beach Hotel is a beautifully modern and colourful boutique-style hotel also situated on the beach. The hotel is always very light as it is built with so much glass making it feel very spacious and open. It is the same distance from Alvor as the Pestana Dom Joao II Hotel is and so you can also enjoy the great town of Alvor and the restaurants and bars it has to offer if you choose to stay here too. With three swimming pools and the beach on the doorstep this is the perfect destination for a relaxing golf break.

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The Pestana Delfim hotel is a great all-inclusive hotel and perfect for those groups who are looking for a fun holiday on the beach where it is possible to play rounds and rounds of golf and drink and eat as much as possible! This hotel is also right on the beach which means that after a few rounds on the golf course there is a great place to relax before taking advantage of the all-inclusive bar!

 

Not only do Pestana offer some fantastic hotels but there are also five fabulous golf courses that guests can play when staying at any one of these hotels.

 

The Pestana Gramacho course has been the host of the Portuguese Ladies Open many times which makes it recognised as a championship course but is playable also by those with a higher handicap! This is a fabulous course with a wide variation of greens which means you can play again and again and have a different experience every time. The course is fully incorporated into its surroundings which make it a stunning course to play with beautiful but challenging hazards!pestana_blog05

 

The Pestana Alto course is very similar to a U.K parkland course but feature views that couldn’t be found in the U.K! Players enjoy a beautiful view across to Lagoa Bay for the first nine before returning back inland. This course also features what is said to be the longest hole in Europe (the 16th hole) at just over 600m. This hole and the entire course are a challenge but a worthwhile one!

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The Pestana Vale de Pinta course is a hilly course with some spectacular views and challenges along the way. With fast, well manicured greens and strategically placed bunkers there is no doubt that this course is a challenge but it is also well-respected for its playability by those of all handicaps! Beautiful lakes, rolling terrain and fig and olive trees are combined to make up this stunning course and present you with one of the best-designed courses in the Algarve.

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The Pestana Vila Sol golf course is made up of 27 holes and is often the most requested course to play! The course is set amongst 75 acres of natural beauty making this one of the finest courses on the Algarve. The 18-hole Championship Golf Course is truly spectacular with a setting of natural trees, flowers, lakes and streams all contributing to the actual greatness of the golf course. The course features narrow fairways which of course means that your drives have to be accurate and with the strategically placed hazards there is little room for error!

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Last but not least is the Pestana Silves golf course. Although those with low-handicaps will definitely find it hard to come in under par, those with high-handicaps will be able to enjoy their game (with much concentration!). Being set at the foot of the Monchique mountain offers some fabulous mountain views throughout the course and with the natural surroundings there is a great feeling that you are playing a proper, authentic Portuguese golf course. The greens are fast and true and straight from the first tee you are hit with a challenge but it is a truly enjoyable round nonetheless!

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We hope that with this insider’s guide you will be able to choose the Pestana hotel and golf itinerary which is the right choice for you on your next superb golf holiday to the Algarve!