Travel Guide: AlgarveJanuary, 2013
The original golf holiday destination remains a highly attractive option
The Algarve might only cover an area around the size of one eighth of the rest of Portugal but this tourist friendly region bordering the Mediterranean in the south has more hotels, holiday apartments, villas and tourist facilities than all the rest of the country.
The most common attraction is the glorious climate as there is over 3,000 hours of sunshine every year – and even in winter the average temperatures hover around the 15˚ mark.
The Algarve, therefore, is the perfect destination for year round golf as it combines these virtues with a location relatively accessible to British tourists.
All along the coast and a few miles inland are courses to satisfy any budget and palate. In the extreme west – which via the superb N1 motorway – lies Parque da Floresta which offers typically beautifully presented parkland golf.
Nearby is the Boavista resort which offers the best-value golf holiday in the Algarve. The course is perfectly pleasant and will entertain you all week, but what is especially good about Boavista is the all-round package. You can stay in one of the villas and play golf for a variety of packages without breaking the bank. You can eat and drink on site as well as relax in the spa or work out in the leisure centre. The practice facilities are also superb – and chipping a few balls under a setting sun is so much more attractive than it usually is… so you may even return a better golfer as well as a tanned one.
Continuing to move east to the centre of the Algarve and you come to Penina Continuing to move east to the centre of the Algarve and you come to Penina, where the Algarve golf boom began when Sir Henry Cotton laid out the Old Course. Penina has grown into a beautiful resort and offers world-class practice facilities as well as a stunning hotel.
Palmares has recently been refurbished by Robert Trent Jones Jnr and is now a fabulous complex boasting three contrasting nines. The loop along the bottom, next to the sea, is fantastic and combines beautifully with the wooded inland sections on the hill – which offer sensational views.
By now we are close to Vilamoura, where the famous Old Course has been joined by lots of other first-rate tracks such as Vila Sol, San Lorenzo – the Algarve’s No 1 which winds through pine woods with fairways bordering lagoons and offers views of sandy beaches – Pine Cliffs, and the Victoria, Faldo and O’Connor courses which are in the Oceanico stable.
Vilamoura can be expensive compared with other parts of the Algarve but you get what you pay for and you get guaranteed quality on and off the course.
The eastern Algarve is often neglected but has attractions of its own, whether the premium golf at the Jack Nicklausdesigned Monte Rei or the great value on offer at Benamor, Castro Marim and the Quintas de Cima, do Vale and da Ria.
YOUR QUICK GUIDE
When to go: It is lovely May to September, nice in the late autumn and then milder over the winter.
Time difference: GMT +2
Must-play courses: Penina, Vilamoura (Old), San Lorenzo
WHERE TO STAY
Dona Filipa Hotel is just 10 minutes away from the Algarve’s No 1, San Lorenzo. It boasts 154 rooms, magnificent scenery and amenities galore.
00351 289 357200