Looking for a place where you can play 27 holes as three different configurations of 18 holes? Palmares Ocean Living & Golf Resort has exactly that!
There aren’t many places in the world where you can play three very contrasting nine-hole loops. There are also not many places you can stay in the world where you have the glorious greens of the golf course and the beautiful blues of the ocean in the distance.
At Palmares Ocean Living & Golf, however, you get all of that wrapped up in one incredible resort.
The joy begins before you even get to Palmares. Having visited from the United Kingdom in November, just the thought of landing in the warm climate at Faro Airport was enough to bring a smile to my face.
That smile got even bigger upon arrival at the resort, with the views out over the Atlantic Ocean providing a stunning backdrop for the golf course and its accommodation.
Palmares Golf Course
The golf course at Palmares Ocean Living & Golf is split into three stunning nine-hole loops, with the great Robert Trent Jones Jr being the man behind the lay-out.
The three loops all have localised names. The Alvor nine is mainly played towards the town of Alvor, with the second nine being named Lagos due to the same reasoning. The third loop is known as the Praia loop. This nine is the closest to the beach and the Atlantic Ocean, with ‘Praia’ being the Portuguese translation for beach.
We started our visit to Palmares on the Monday evening, with the setting sun providing a glorious backdrop as we played the Praia nine on the beachfront.
The view from the 19th tee looks out across the Praia nine and to the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean. It is the highest point of the nine-hole loop.
From there, the course drops down, and after the opening hole of the loop, it takes on a links-style form. Although not a proper links track, the wide sandy areas and the train line that runs through the Praia loop really gives that links feel for golfers.
Holes 20 to 23 play on the other side of the railway line, with a nice run of par-5, par-3, par-5, par-3. Although my scoring on this day was somewhat shoddy, bogeying all four holes, I really enjoyed this section of the course.
Hole 22 is a stunning par-5 with a wide fairway that welcomes long drives. The large sandy waste area to the right of the fairway is there for any errant shots, and it is a penal one with wispy grass that can snag your club in an instant.
The par-3 23rd hole measures at more than 200 yards from the back tees and is one of the hardest shorter holes on the property. Anything right of the green is gone, but the view, which looks out over the Ribeira de Odiaxere and towards Alvor, is amazing.
After a short drive in a buggy underneath the railway line, you come to the final few holes on the Praia loop. The 26th hole, the final par-3 on the loop, is a special hole. It is the shortest hole at the resort, and shares a double green with the penultimate hole on the Lagos loop. The closing hole takes you back up the clubhouse, and although we played this in near darkness, you could still see the beauty of the uphill 27th hole.
The Alvor/Lagos 18-hole combination came on Tuesday, and after playing the stunning links section of the resort the previous evening, I had high hopes for the more parkland loops at Palmares Ocean Living & Golf.
The Alvor loop is at the northern side of the resort and has some serious elevation changes. Luckily a buggy comes with every round of golf at the resort!
The first three holes are all tough, but I did manage to birdie the par-3 2nd hole which was a nice surprise. After those tough opening holes, and a short drive down the road to the 4th tee, you are in for a treat with this view.
The hole itself is a cracker, a narrow par-5 that requires an accurate drive. Hit the fairway and the ball will go miles thanks to the elevated tee. Go for the green in two or lay-up short of the big bunker that lies in front of the green?
The next two holes are also downhill and offer great views of the Atlantic Ocean in the distance, with the par-3 7th hole being the low point of the loop.
The 8th is the second par-5 on the Alvor, and it is an incredible hole. A slight dog-leg right from the tee is followed by a slight dog-leg left towards the green, which features an array of undulations to make putting tough.
The closing hole on the Alvor is also a stunner, with the backdrop of the Signature Apartments. These amazing buildings provide an incredible finish to the first nine holes at Palmares.
The Lagos nine, which incorporates holes 10 to 18, also has three par-3s, three par-4s and three par-5s. It has a unique run of six holes without a par-4.
From 12 to 17, you play par-3, par-5, par-3, par-5, par-3, par-5. The first of those, the 12th, is perhaps the most beautiful hole at Palmares.
It is one of just two holes on the entire property which features a water hazard, which stands between you and the green from the tee. The bunker at the back right of the green is another tricky hazard to try and avoid, and just adds to the drama that this hole can cause.
The 14th and 16th both offer up their own challenges, with the former sitting at almost 240 yards from the very back tees. Although it plays downhill, a lot of club is required to what is a very small target. The 16th is the last par-3 on the Lagos loop and is in the links section of the golf course, intertwined with the Praia loop.
The three par-5s on the Lagos nine are all very different as well. The first of those comes at 13, which has a blind tee shot and a blind second shot if you’re going for the green. 15 also features a blind tee shot, but if you hit the ball straight and long, over the crest of the fairway, then the drive will roll forever.
The second and final water hazard on the course comes into play on the approach, with the contours of the hole shaping towards the hazard, which sits to the left of the green. Avoid that, and there is a great chance of birdie or even eagle!
The last par-5 on the loop is the 17th and what a hole it is! A steep downhill tee-shot to a wide fairway amongst the dunes, while looking out over the Atlantic Ocean and to the cliffs of the Lagos – it does not get much better. Find the fairway and you can reach in two, but there is plenty of space to lay-up as well.
Like the Praia loop, the Lagos nine finishes with an uphill climb back towards the clubhouse. It is a great way to finish the first 18 holes at the Palmares Ocean Living & Golf resort, before driving back up to the clubhouse for a well-earned drink.
Palmares Ocean Living & Golf Resort
Not only is there a stunning 27-hole golf course, but the Palmares Ocean Living & Golf has incredible accommodation options, with a little bit of something for everyone.
The 5-star Palmares Beach Hotel is incredible, providing a range of 20 rooms and suites with balconies that look out over the golf course and the Atlantic Ocean in the distance. It has its own swimming pool, which is open to guests of the hotel, along with a glorious restaurant with its own balcony.
The Signature Apartments, of which some back onto the closing hole of the Alvor loop, provide a luxurious stay for larger groups and families.
The first section of these apartments have all been constructed and purchased, while Phase Two of the operation is well underway. Due to the demand for these properties, which are available to buy and then rent back to the resort, Phase Three is now in the works.
I stayed in one of the Signature Apartments during my time at Palmares, and it was an amazing place to relax in. Each Apartment comes with a beautiful living room.
Like the rooms and suites at the Palmares Beach Hotel, each Signature Apartment also comes with its own balcony. Mine had a view of the 9th hole on the Alvor loop, along with the relaxing pool and seating area in front of the row of apartments I was in.
The resort is also the home to a newly-built clubhouse, which provides a wonderful social space for golfers to relax in following a round at Palmares. The clubhouse was designed by RCR Arquitectes – a Pritzker Prize winning company – and it blends in with the Signature Apartments beautifully.
It is the home to two restaurants, including AL SUD, which is the Michelin-star offering at Palmares. There is also a glorious bar and stunning changing rooms, along with those aforementioned views of the course and the Atlantic Ocean from the outside seating area.
One thing that I do have to point out about Palmares is that during our time at the resort, there was a rather big issue with the turf on the greens.
Due to a lengthy period without enough rain, salt water had been getting into the irrigation system at Palmares. That meant that the greens were not at their best. However, the resort is in the process of spending a substantial sum of money to get the problem sorted with the right technology.
It is safe to say, though, that when the greens are back up to their former standard, then Palmares is certainly a top-10 location for golfing holidays in Portugal.
I really enjoyed my time at the Palmares Ocean Living & Golf, and would certainly go back and visit in the future. The
You simply cannot turn down the opportunity to play at Palmares – a place that can offer three 18-hole loops depending on how you split your round.
A three-night stay which includes breakfast and two rounds of golf can be as little as €327 per person, based on four people sharing a two-bed apartment. How can you say no?