Holmes Travel offers a fine selection of villas to rent or there is the NH Almenara, a lovely hotel set high within the resort with wonderful views down to the sea and its own 27 holes. The attraction for me is the year-round sunshine, the social life of the beach clubs and the chance to explore the white washed mountain villages of Andalucía.
A Fairway to Travel Written by Kathy Churchill
hen played well, golf is a majestic game and sometimes, just sometimes when I stand on the driving range with the wind in my hair I can glimpse just a hint of its appeal. To hit the ball cleanly so it soars up and away, a small fleck of white against the pale blue sky is indeed intoxicating. But more often than not my own effort is rewarded with an arm juddering thud as the ball spins off at an alarming angle. For many people this pursuit for golfing excellence is addictive and they happily hand over their soul to this powerful, subtle, infuriating, exhilarating and beautiful game. My husband is one such victim and I have come to recognise the success of his ‘round’ by the sound his golf bag makes as it hits the kitchen floor. Will he saunter into the room,
generous and effusive from a solid back 9 or will head be down, shoulders sagging, as once again that tricky par 3 at the 5th has defeated him. Perhaps I should have come along to offer my support, advice and understanding but 18 holes on a rainy Sunday afternoon in March is not really my idea of quality together time. However golf courses have now sprung up in the most exotic of destinations and are a much more tempting prospect. There are a few golfing holiday specialists but if you are looking for firsthand experience and knowledge Holmes Travel, based near Woodbridge, is the place to go. Directors, John Ferguson and Martin Churchill, being avid golfers themselves have combined a love of the game with their passion for travel and know some of the
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world’s most exciting courses. As Martin’s wife I therefore find it my duty, when possible to come along, if not for the ride in the golf buggy, then for the après-golf and to see what some of these destinations also have to offer the ‘non-player’, a word only whispered in club houses of old! Marrakech in Morocco is the perfect place to start. This exotic city, bursting with life, has become a luxury destination with a wonderful selection of boutique hotels and traditional riads in which to stay. For golfers it boasts three championship standard courses, the Royal Marrakech, the Amelkis and the Palmerie. Opened in 1923, the Royal Marrakech is one of the country’s most celebrated golfing venues and a favourite of Winston Churchill, a frequent visitor to this vibrant
city. With the golfers happily teeing off beneath the snowcapped peaks of the Atlas Mountains that leaves plenty of time to lose yourself in the narrow streets of the souks. The shopping here is a real treat, beaded kaftans, leather satchels, antique lanterns, slippers and carpets of every colour. Reunited for supper to discuss the perfect drive off the 13th and to gloss over your spending spree there are rooftop hangouts, glamorous contemporary restaurants and chic courtyard cafes to tempt you. Marrakech makes for the perfect long weekend. Sotogrande in Southern Spain is another popular destination for a short golfing break. The courses here speak for themselves, Valderrama, Sotogrande, The San Roque Club and with Alcaidesa nearby you are spoilt for choice.
Shopping in Marrakech
Venturing further afield Mauritius stands out as ‘the’ long haul destination for golfers but with turquoise seas and soft white sand this tropical island hideaway has lots to offer. The Paradis Hotel and Golf Club is an outstanding family resort and is a sporting paradise, offering every kind of water sports, tennis, various sized swimming pools, kids clubs and of course a choice of three championship golf courses. The Constance Belle Mare Plage is another luxury resort of great character that is excellent value with the green fees included in the price. But for me just the warm Indian Ocean lapping at my toes, a good book and perhaps the occasional visit to the Clarins Spa are enough to keep me very, very happy. South Africa, a wonderfully diverse country, is home to some spectacular golf courses, especially along the Garden Route, a scenic drive of long sandy beaches and expansive bays east of Cape Town. Here
Paradis Hotel and Golf Club after a quick 18 holes you can throw your clubs in the back of the Land Rover and set off on safari through the game reserves around Port Elizabeth. Further east you reach the magnificent Drakensberg Mountains and tucked amongst the towering peaks you will find Cathedral Peak Hotel. This family run mountain resort is steeped in history and as well as being a perfect family retreat has the most beautiful 9-hole course. The panoramic views from the
greens are breath taking and the mountains offer hiking, pony trekking, bike trails and climbing for the whole family to enjoy. And finally how about a trip to the Legend Golf and Safari Resort where you are flown by helicopter to the Extreme 19th Hole on top of Hanglip Mountain. From here you teeoff from the edge in an attempt to hit a hole-in-one on the 19th located at the bottom of the cliff. It is the longest par
3 in the world and a winning shot will earn you US$ 1m in prize money. Perhaps it is time to dust off my clubs after all! If you are interested in learning more about any of these locations or prices for golfing packages please contact: Holmes Travel 42g Barrack Square Martlesham Heath Suffolk IP5 3RF T: 01473 610 666 E: firstname.lastname@example.org www.holmestravel.co.uk
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