Rob

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Barcelo Montecastillo

Barceló Montecastillo Golf Resort

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Barceló Montecastillo Golf Resort – Jerez

A little water with your Sherry

We continue to look at the often ignored region of Spain the Costa De la Luz, the western region of Andalucía and one that seems to get better on every visit we make.

Barceló Montecastillo Golf Resort - 18th Hole

Jerez – Barceló Montecastillo Golf Resort

We again flew in to Malaga Airport (Gibraltar Airport is only 45 minutes away) and travelled the 2 hour drive along the always quite Spanish toll roads this time stopping for a bite to eat on one of the many service stations that run along the route. Their main purpose is for fuel but they have the very Spanish versions of something approaching a little chef, the main difference being you will probably get a welcoming smile as we attempt to order in our very poor version of school boy Spanish. It’s a sad state of affairs that I can speak more words and phases of Thai than I can of most European languages. Watered and refreshed we soon found ourselves approaching Jerez which is amazing well signed posted, with the Barceló Montecastillo resort also easily found being located adjacent to the Jerez race track which hosts the Spanish Moto GP race each May. This week, usually on the May Bank holiday weekend is generally best avoided for the golfer as up to 250,000 bike race fans flock to the area. Although the track is only a couple of hundred metres from the resort you only see it once or twice on the course as it lies on the opposite side of a small hill.

Barceló Montecastillo Golf Resort - Clubhouse  Barceló Montecastillo Golf Resort - Hotel

 

The Golf at Barceló Montecastillo Golf Resort

The golden days of the Montecastillo course were probably from 1997 to 2001 when it hosted the Volvo Master’s the flagship end to the European Tour Season for 5 years. Winners during that period include Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Padraig Harrington. The only other venue for the tournament’s 22 year history before the end of season event moved to Dubai was its not so distance Andalucía neighbour Valderrama. The course up to a few years ago could have been accused of resting on its laurels and not making the best of what is in our opinion one of the best Nicklaus designed courses in Europe. However that cannot be said of the course today. Barceló Group have to be applauded at the time effort and not to mention the amount of money spent on the course to bring it back to fantastic condition. Considering its position away from the main golfing tourist track of the Costa del Sol it’s a pleasure to play a golf course of this quality. The project is still on going with excellent plans to improve the course and facilities here further, don’t be surprised if you see this venue gracing the professional ranks again in the coming years.

Barceló Montecastillo Golf Resort - Golf

 Barceló Montecastillo Resort and Hotel

As well as a fantastic golf course the rest of the resort has been fully renovated in 2013. The 5 Star hotel which was originally built in the early 1900’s as the retreat of the Earl of Garvey is everything you would expect of a hotel of this class and is one of Barceló Premium range of Hotels. The original building now houses the clubhouse, the adjacent main hotel building has a selection of wonderfully appointed rooms with views over the golf course which are extremely comfortable and of a good size. Some very nice touches such as the expresso machine and luxurious bathrobes give the finishing touches together with some exceptionally quick Wi-Fi. The hotel has only 121 rooms and suites and 20 Villas overlooking the 18th Fairway. 3 restaurants are distributed around the resort, together with 2 outdoor swimming pools, an indoor swimming pool housed in one of the best spa’s in the area and a wonderful terrace area too sip a well-earned drink after your round of golf or before dinner. The Resort also has a convention centre with its own self-contained 4 star hotel

Barceló Montecastillo Golf Resort - room  Barceló Montecastillo Golf Resort - Bar

 

Resort Overview

As a destination in its own right you should put Barceló Montecastillo Golf resort on your places to golf bucket list. It’s a great location for either small or large groups or that quite golf break as a couple. The course is fantastic both in design and condition. It’s a challenge off the back championship tees for the better players at over 7,000 yards Par 72 but is also playable and more importantly enjoyable by all level of golfer with a fair selection of tee positions. We would recommend using a buggy at Montecastillo as there are some considerable yardages between some of the greens and the next tee. We especially liked the water fountains positioned in shady areas around the course every few holes, another good touch as keeping hydrated while golfing in the sun is a topic in its own right.  The hotel has the style and service you would expect of a five star resort. Its Spa is exceptional and a perfect place to rejuvenate after a round or for the non-golfer to enjoy while you are enjoying the fairways. If you have visited and enjoyed 5 star resorts such as Penina or Penha Longa in Portugal you will enjoy Montecastillo.

Away from the resort Jerez is only a few miles away and is a fascinating town to visit and of course the centre of the countries sherry wine producing region. There are a number of excellent vineyards to visit and of course sample the local product. The city of Seville is only an hour’s drive away by car or Train and is a fascinating city to explore with its architecture and history. Beaches are plentiful and only a few miles away from Jerez.

And finally on to the important thing the Golf head to head around the Championship course against Rachel for the Quality Golf bragging rights. I stood confidently on the 18th tee with a one point lead playing the last, but the Pressure was on after a wonderful approach shot on the 18th by my opponent and as many great players before me I hit what looked a great shot in the air but unfortunately came up a yard short and found the water. Hence the title of this Newsletter and in my defence it was defiantly a Sunday pin position, well played Rachel !!!!!

Barceló Montecastillo Golf Resort - 18th Tee

 

 

For more details and packages at Barceló Montecastilo Golf Resort please give us a call or visit our website

Barceló Montecastillo Golf Resort

At Quality Golf Destinations we tailor make the golf package to meet your needs, if you are interested in a Golf Holiday, Contact Rachel or Rob on 01782 510800 or email

info@qualitygolfdestinations.com

Penina Summer Holiday Offer

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PENINA SUMMER HOLIDAY SPECIAL OFFER at  

JJW Penina Hotel and Golf Resort

Penina Hotel and golf resort         

To celebrate Summer Penina Hotel and Golf Resort are pleased to present this fantastic Summer Holiday offer. Normally retailing at £865 pp we can now offer this package at an amazing price. All our rooms are upgraded to superior rooms with views over the pool and 18th/9th greens

 

7 nights NOW ONLY £ 715 p/p

16 July – 24 August Unlimited Golf at Algarve’s premier 5* Golf resort

4 nights NOW ONLY £ 440 p/p

 

 

Based on 2 persons sharing a twin or double Superior pool view room with daily breakfast, Unlimited golf is included on the resorts golf courses with return private airport transfers or car hire. (Flights not included), Single Supplement £75/night

Valid for new bookings up to 4th July 2014

OFFER EXTENDED 6th AUGUST 2014

For stays up from July 16th – August 24th 2014

 

 Penina Hotel and Golf Resort - Championship course

 

Golf included in Package

Golf available on Sir Henry Cotton Championship course, Penina Resort course and Penina Academy course.

Golf must be pre booked; handicap certificates are required for the Championship course only

 

 

 Penina Hotel & Golf Resort - Pool  Penina Hotel and golf Resort - Restaurant

 

 

Penina Video tour

 

JJW Penina Hotel and Golf Resort

 

Penina Hotel and Golf resort - classic roomLocated in a magnificent 140 hectares estate, JJW Penina Hotel and Golf resort reflects its culture through a natural fusion of English architecture, Portuguese hospitality and high standards of service. 188 rooms and suites totally renovated offer comfort, relaxation and stunning views over the pool, golf courses, gardens and Monchique Mountains. Five restaurants and two bars invite you to taste the international or Mediterranean cuisine and creative cocktails.

All guestrooms and suites have telephone with international direct connection, LCD screen TV, Hi speed internet access, automatic mini bar and in-room safe, individually controlled air conditioning satellite TV, pay-tv channels, tea and coffee making facilities and hairdryer.

Penina hotel and golf resortThe hotels privileged location allows you to discover the local sandy beaches, the Monchique Mountains or simply enjoy a round of golf. Golf facilities include 36 holes; the 18 hole Sir Henry Cotton Championship course which has hosted the Portuguese open 10 times, two 9 hole courses, The Resort and Academy, Golf Pro shop, 2 chipping greens, 4 putting greens and bunker practice area. The main practice range is widely renowned as being one of the largest and best in Europe.

The JJW Penina Hotel and Golf Resort has managed to retain the elegance of this iconic golf resort while still maintaining an exceptional standard of service, great facilities and superb attention to detail.

 

 

 

Penina Championship Golf Course

Penina Championship coursePreviously The Penina, but known as the Sir Henry Cotton Championship Course, the main 18 holes provide the most demanding test of a player’s skills in the Algarve, if not in Portugal. With the inevitable difficulty that a flat landscaping and terrain creates with club selection, the holes are crossed and flanked by a series of streams, ditches and water hazards, demanding precisely executed shots to avoid trouble and achieve par. The course is beautifully maintained, winding past tall stands of eucalyptus and clumps of palm to mainly elevated greens which have subtle slopes and sometimes treacherous speeds.

18 holes, Par 73, 6912 yards

To book please quote “Penina Summer JJW Offer” Contact Quality Golf Destinations by phone on 01782 510800 or email info@qualitygolfdestination.com

Sancti Petri Hills

Novo Sancti Petri Cadiz – June Newsletter

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Novo Sancti Petri – Cadiz – Rediscovering the lost art of losing a golf ball

Just when you think you know something you visit part of a region that totally changes your opinion. We were lucky enough to be invited to the west of Andalucía to inspect the golfing areas around Novo Sancti Petri Cadiz. The Costa de La Luz, not Andalucía most famous golfing region and our first visit to the area. To many people golf in Andalucía is golf in the Costa del Sol, but the region stretches all the way from Spain’s border with Portugal in the West to Almeria in the East, a good 7 hour end to end drive along everyone’s favourite Spanish road the A7.

Novo Sancti Petri - Hills

Cadiz – Novo Sancti Petri

We flew in to Malaga Airport and it was a very pleasant 2 ½ hour drive along the A7 and AP7. I enjoy the toll roads on the continent, they are relatively cheap (around 10 euros for a 250 km trip) and no one drives on them. The scenery changes quite dramatically once you pass Gibraltar to a greener rolling hills landscape with vineyards on the best slopes, with river valleys and small lakes in between. If you can ignore the large amount of wind turbines on the hills you would definitely call it a pleasant land scape.

  Novo Sancti Petri - Cadiz  Novo Sancti Petri Beach  Novo Sancti Petri - Cadiz at night 

For those of you not wanting such a long drive the region is well supplied with flights to Gibraltar, usually slightly more expensive than Malaga flights (but not always) for the more adventurous of you Ryan Air fly into both Jerez and Seville which is also close by and an option from London airports. Novo Sancti Petri is one of the main summer resort centres for Cadiz, only 15-20 minutes’ drive away and well worth a visit with its heritage going back to Phoenician times, ancient city walls and the old town/harbour area. The beach at Novo Sancti Petri stretches for an amazing 8 miles of picture perfect sand and is known as La Barrosa Beach, also and slightly surprisingly, is an area of unspoilt dune land between the hotels and beach. This gives anyone lucky enough to have a sea view an amazing sight when they open the  curtains each morning.  

Novo Sancti Petri Beach

The View from the Hotel of the Beach

  Novo Sancti Petri is a Spanish tourist resort, in the summer the hotels and beaches are packed with the inhabitants of Madrid on their family holiday (think of it as a very sunny Devon). There are a number of large resort hotels on the beach, Villa’s and apartments around the golf courses and a purpose built commercial centre with shops, bars and restaurants for those people who want to escape the “entertainment” the beach hotels insist on hosting in the evening. We were visiting both the Resorts Iberostar Hotels, Royal Andalus and the Andalucía Playa both excellent 4* hotels and only a few minutes’ walk from Iberostar very own 36 hole Novo Sancti Petri golf club with its excellent practice facilities.

Iberostar Royal Andalus pool

The Iberostar Royal Andalus at Novo Sancti Petri

  Both the hotels have had recent refurbishments, with the Royal Andalus literally finished weeks ago, the majority of rooms have either some sort of sea or pool views, with a few at the Andalus overlooking the golf course. This has helped give both hotels an excellent feel, the feature that stands out more than the room décor or pools was the excellent food available through the complexes. I usually only opt for a buffet restaurant when there are no other options available or you have just arrived in a resort and have not got your bearings yet. Iberostar have for me reset the bar on an exceptional buffet dinner. With a superb range of choice, multiple show cooking and deserts that tasted every bit as good as they looked the cuisine went way above what you would have expected in any 4* hotel. Breakfast was almost as impressive as dinner and continued the five star gourmet treatment with HP sauce available (the true measure of a star rating in my book). The two Iberostar hotels at Novo Sancti Petri both have very different feel to them, the Royal Andalus caters for a more family market while I would describe the Andalucía Playa as more of a couple’s hotel, both however are excellent beach resorts that we would happily return to on holiday ourselves, always a bench mark when reviewing a hotel.

 

The Golf Overview at Novo Sancti Petri

Novo Santi Petri golf club is owned by Iberostar and as you would expect has excellent resident’s rates. The club has two championship 18 hole courses the A & B, designed by Seve Ballesteros. Water and Pine trees dominate the features of both golf courses, nice greens give you confidence to go for puts and despite its length if your eye is in you can score well on the greens. As well as the golf courses the club have a superb golf range with separate par 3 area and putting and chipping greens as well as a Jack Nicholas golf academy with its own dedicated facilities. The Academy area has its own mini club house/bar El Chozo, across the road is the main clubhouse with the normal full facilities including Restaurant, Proshop and Caddy Master.

A course Par 72 7064 yards, B course Par 72 6639 yards

Novo Sancti Petri Golf Club

 

As well as Novo Sancti Petri Golf Club there are a number of other clubs close by we recommend.

 

Logo_Sancti_Petri_Hills_golf_03The Sancti Petri Hills course which is situated behind the Novo Sancti Petri Golf club is a great par 68 course, designed by Manuel Pinero what it lacks in length it makes up for with strategically placed bunkers and water features. The driver can only be used on selective holes but its position that counts here. Don’t be put off with the Hills title of the club, this refers to the elevation as the land climbs gently away from the sea, it’s definitely not a hilly course and well worth a visit. Also don’t be fooled by the length of the card here there are 7 par three’s on the course the last two both around 200 yards and played over water

Par 68 5,211 yards

 

 

Novo Sancti Petri - Hills Golf Club

Sancti Petri Hills Golf Club 10th hole

 

 

Novo sancti petri - Campano golf clubcampano_logoCampano Golf club is one of the oldest courses in the area. The original nine holes was laid out in a clockwise loop by Robert Trent Jones, and the quality of the design is easy to see and is a mature layout, there are some large pine trees that have to be avoided. The club was extended to 18 holes in 2006. The new nine is set inside the original course and has some interesting water features and plenty of olive trees but it allows you to open your shoulders on certain holes. All in all a gem of a golf club with a very nice bar and restaurant to relax in after your round.

Par 72 6,514 yards

 

 

Novo Sancti Petri – Area overview

Novo Sancti Petri is a great place to go on a golf holiday, there are more than enough golf courses to keep you happy for a week’s holiday. The beach is a wonderful endless stretch of sand and the City of Cadiz makes a great day out on a non-golfing day, as are the local wine and sherry vineyards that are famous the world over. Accommodation at both the Iberostar hotels is extremely comfortable with everything you would expect from a four star resort hotel. If I was being picky Wi-Fi in public areas for guests is pretty much a norm in hotels of this class around the world these days, it is lacking here but the hotel management are looking to rectify the situation in the near future, saying that a couple of minutes’ walk to the local bars will get you hooked up for some free Wi-Fi as you enjoy a coffee and brandy while keeping up to date with Facebook or Twitter accounts.

The golf is very enjoyable here and the courses were all in great condition (especially the greens) when we visited the region (May 2014). Be sure to bring a good supply of Golf Balls here, as with many resort courses, the designers love to put water features which make the holes look spectacular on the photo’s but can quickly ruin a golf score card. Also beware the old adage of tree’s being 90% air it does not hold true here, hit a ball in to the foliage and if you don’t see it bounce out the likely hood is, it’s still up the tree. Hence the title the lost art of losing a golf ball, we both only brought a few balls with us on this trip in a vague effort to keep within baggage limits on the last day despite playing some good golf we were feeling the real pressure of only having one ball left in the bag!!!

Quality Golf Destinations visited Novo Sancti Petri in May 2014, Hotels stay during the visit were the Iberostar Royal Andalus and Andalucía Playa. Golf Courses visited Novo Sancti Petri GC A & B courses, Sancti Petri Hill GC and Campano GC

Example package at 4* Royal Andalus – Novo Sancti Petri

7 nights HB, 5 rounds of golf March/April 2015 from £520pp

4 nights HB, 3 rounds of golf from only £280pp

 

WINTER SPECIAL 21/11/14 – 8/2/15

7 nights HB & Daily Golf only £385**pp upgrade to All inclusive only £135

A great range of other dates and durations are available

**supplements apply Christmas & New Year’s Eve

Novo Sancti Petri - Royal Andalus Novo Sancti petri - room  Novo Sancti Petri - Royal Andalus

 

For more details and packages please give us a call or visit our website At Quality Golf Destinations we tailor make the golf package to meet your needs, if you are interested in a Golf Holiday, Contact Rachel or Rob on 01782 510800 or email info@qualitygolfdestinations.com

 

novo sancti petri - iberostar logoLogo_Sancti_Petri_Hills_golf_03campano_logoNovo Sancti Petri - Golf Club Logo

In our Next Newsletter we feature Barceló Montecastillo Golf Resort in Jerez

La Manga Club Special offer

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La manga Club logoQuality Golf Destinations have teamed up with La Manga Club golf resort to offer an exceptional 5 star golf break for bookings during May. Your stay must be completed before the end of June.

La Manga Club - Hotel

 

Staying at the resorts award-winning 5 star Hotel Principe Felipe guests enjoy daily breakfast before your pre booked tee times at your choice of the resorts 3 championship golf courses. Also included each night is a two course dinner in a choice of four different restaurants.

la manga club room    la manga club - hotel pool

 

Package includes:

3, 4 or 7 nights’ accommodation in the Hotel Principe Felipe 5*.
Daily breakfast at the Amapola Restaurant.
2, 3 or 5 rounds of golf at any of the 3 golf courses.
Dinner every night at any of the following La Manga Club restaurants: Amapola, La Bodega, Luigis or Asia. 2 course dinner menu, drinks not included (Main Course or Starter + Dessert)
2nd Drink free at the Piano Bar. Same as the first one. * Conditions apply.

3 Nights + 2 Rounds = £316 per person per stay twin occupancy room.
4 Nights + 3 rounds = £433 per person per stay twin occupancy room.
7 Nights + 5 rounds = £749 per person per stay twin occupancy room.

 

Extra Special for groups: 1 in 8 can be applied to a maximum of 16 guests.

Why not let Quality Golf destinations arrange your Car Hire or Group transfers. We can also arrange your flights to complete the package. All packages including flights are covered by ATOL guarantees as well as our 100% secure TTA bonding

LaMangaClub_South_Course

 

For more information about the “La Manga Club” Click here

For more information or to book contact us on 01782 510800, Please quote “La Manga Club Offer”

La Manga Club - Hotel Terrace at night

The packages above can be tailored for your exact requirements please ask if there are any additional elements you would like.

Booking button

 

 

 

Coming soon from Quality Golf Destinations

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Newsletters coming soon in 2014- For those of you who enjoy our monthly newsletters here are some of our feature topics for the next few months.

 

Coming Soon - Thailand on a shoestringThailand on a Shoestring – We examine how Thailand’s vast range of budget hotels compare with the more traditional tourist chains, is it worth taking the risk of dropping down a Star or two. A few tips to help you be able to chose the right hotel and bring what you thought was a destination beyond your means into your budget.

 

 

 

 

 

Coming soon - Dream Golf Itinerary'sDream Golf itinerary’s – its five star all the way as we examine some of our personal favourite luxury itineraries of 2014 for the travelling Golfer. The feature includes destinations including the USA and Southern Africa in some exceptional tours.

 

 

 

 

 

Coming Soon - Golf in ChinaGolf in China – We pay our first in-depth look at the Chinese Golf Market- focusing on Hong Kong and the Haikou and Shenzhen regions of the county and the Mission Hills Golf Resorts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming soon - Plan aheadPlan ahead to make the best savings – despite TV ads telling you that last minute hotel bookings give you the best deals. We tell you the best way to save your hard earn money and get the best holiday for your money, especially the best ways for deals on flights.

 

Penina Hotel and golf resort

Penina Hotel and Golf Resort Special Offer

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Portugal Hotels - JJW PeninaSUMMER & AUTUMN SPECIAL OFFER at  

JJW Penina Hotel and Golf Resort

Penina Hotel and golf resort         

To celebrate Penina Hotel and Golf Resort joining the JJW brand of luxury hotels we are pleased to present this fantastic opening offer. Normally retailing at £685 pp we can now offer this package at an amazing price. All our rooms are upgraded to superior rooms with views over the pool and 18th/9th greens

 

7 nights NOW ONLY £ 585 p/p

Enjoy a golf holiday at the Algarve’s premier 5* Golf resort

4 nights NOW ONLY £ 370 p/p

 

Based on 2 persons sharing a twin or double Superior pool view room with daily breakfast, daily golf is included on the resorts golf courses with return private airport transfers or car hire. (Flights not included), Single Supplement £40/night

Valid for new bookings up to May 2014

For stays up from Mar 1st – Oct 31st 2014* Exclude school summer holiday dates

Great prices Summer Holiday prices available for 2014 please ask.

 Penina Hotel and Golf Resort - Championship course

 

Golf included in Package

Golf available on Sir Henry Cotton Championship course, Penina Resort course and Penina Academy course.

Golf must be pre booked; handicap certificates are required for the Championship course only

* Supplements apply for Christmas Period

 

 

 Penina Hotel & Golf Resort - Pool  Penina Hotel and golf Resort - Restaurant

 

 

Penina Video tour

 

JJW Penina Hotel and Golf Resort

 

Penina Hotel and Golf resort - classic roomLocated in a magnificent 140 hectares estate, JJW Penina Hotel and Golf resort reflects its culture through a natural fusion of English architecture, Portuguese hospitality and high standards of service. 188 rooms and suites totally renovated offer comfort, relaxation and stunning views over the pool, golf courses, gardens and Monchique Mountains. Five restaurants and two bars invite you to taste the international or Mediterranean cuisine and creative cocktails.

All guestrooms and suites have telephone with international direct connection, LCD screen TV, Hi speed internet access, automatic mini bar and in-room safe, individually controlled air conditioning satellite TV, pay-tv channels, tea and coffee making facilities and hairdryer.

Penina hotel and golf resortThe hotels privileged location allows you to discover the local sandy beaches, the Monchique Mountains or simply enjoy a round of golf. Golf facilities include 36 holes; the 18 hole Sir Henry Cotton Championship course which has hosted the Portuguese open 10 times, two 9 hole courses, The Resort and Academy, Golf Pro shop, 2 chipping greens, 4 putting greens and bunker practice area. The main practice range is widely renowned as being one of the largest and best in Europe.

The JJW Penina Hotel and Golf Resort has managed to retain the elegance of this iconic golf resort while still maintaining an exceptional standard of service, great facilities and superb attention to detail.

 

 

 

Penina Championship Golf Course

Penina Championship coursePreviously The Penina, but known as the Sir Henry Cotton Championship Course, the main 18 holes provide the most demanding test of a player’s skills in the Algarve, if not in Portugal. With the inevitable difficulty that a flat landscaping and terrain creates with club selection, the holes are crossed and flanked by a series of streams, ditches and water hazards, demanding precisely executed shots to avoid trouble and achieve par. The course is beautifully maintained, winding past tall stands of eucalyptus and clumps of palm to mainly elevated greens which have subtle slopes and sometimes treacherous speeds.

18 holes, Par 73, 6912 yards

To book please quote “Penina JJW Offer” Contact Quality Golf Destinations by phone on 01782 510800 or email info@qualitygolfdestination.com

 

    

Madagscar - Chameleon

Wild about Madagascar

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Here at Quality Golf Destinations we are always looking for something new.  We have started looking at activity based holidays (non golfing).  With this in mind we were delighted to accept when the Madagascar Tourism Office invited us to attend the Madagascar International Tourism Fair and go on a fact finding visit. 

Madagascar is the 4th biggest island in the world and has lots to offer to all kinds of traveller. it is especially famous for its wildlife, so much so the BBC commissioned a 3 part natural history documentary aired in 2011 and presented by Sir David Attenborough. We had an office meeting and Rachel our operations manager drew the short straw!  Here is her Diary of what proved to be an unforgettable trip.  Thank you Madagascar Tourism! Madagascar - Title image

Bon Voyage

 Day1 I took an evening flight from Manchester to Paris as the early morning connecting flight with Air France was not available. Not ideal but it saved me getting up at frog o’clock on Tues (I will explain frog o’clock later!) I then had to get to my hotel close to the airport. There is a free shuttle bus, the black bus from the airport but as I discovered the signs in Charles de Galle Airport are not great so no joy trying to find the bus stop! As it was late and I was travelling alone I decided a taxi was the best option. It’s was only 10 minutes to me hotel, the Ibis Roissy. It was pretty basic but the staff were all very helpful and gave me a timetable for the shuttle in the morning. Off I went to bed looking forward to the next week I was to spend in Madagascar.

Day 2 Not too early a start, my flight left at 10:45 so I needed to be at the airport before 9. Breakfast was canteen style but did the job and was perfectly adequate. The location of the hotel was more important than anything else. The shuttle bus back to the airport was on time and free so that is always a bonus. As I discovered everything seems to take ages at Charles De Gaulle airport so allow plenty of time. I just about had enough but no time to look around or do any shopping, not a bad thing I hear my husband saying! The flight departed on time and was not full so I was delighted to discover that I had 3 seats all to myself. It made for a quite pleasant flight. The in-flight entertainment on Air France was good with a wide choice of films and games to keep you entertained for the 10 hour flight to Madagascar. I arrived feeling quite fresh at 10 in the evening and was greeted by Roger, our guide for the stay in Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital city. The airport is typical of these places. Not too big, a bit chaotic but it does a job. The trip through customs took a little while but the visa is issued for stays of 30 days and is free of charge. We then made our way to the hotel which only took about 20 minutes. Our hotel for the stay in Antananarivo was the Hotel Louvre. It was only 3 star but first impressions were very good. We were shown to our rooms; mine was very comfortable with air con, mini bar and international TV. So of to bed I went. All in all, a comfortable journey to the other end of the world.  

Madagascar introduced

Day 3 Madagascar - City ViewMy first full day in Madagascar! Roger meet us after breakfast and off we went for a city tour. The city is huge, about 2 million inhabitants and is built on a very large hill. The city is split into 3 areas, the lower, the middle and the top. We were in the middle of the city and started our tour with a walk down the steps to the lower end of the city. It was very busy and all the way down the steps, there are hundreds of them, there were people selling anything and everything from food to toys made from recycled cans. The Malagasy people like to recycle everything! At the bottom off the steps there is a long avenue with gardens in the middle which is in a very French colonial style. At the end of the avenue is the railway station, but it is a private station and only used for freight trains although it is a very grand building. We were then collected by our driver and taken across the city to a place with a fantastic view across the roof tops. Only then did I get a real impression of how big and hilly the city really is, it is vast! Our next stop was at an artisan shop. The Malagasy people make all kinds of beautiful things, wood Madagascar - City stepscarvings, raffia work and many other wonderful things, and I did have to make a few small purchases. This was my first real experience of the money, the Madagascan Ariary. The exchange rate is approximately 3300 to the £ which makes working out the cost a bit confusing. I am not too hot on the 3300 times table! Our next stop was the top of the city, some of the roads are very narrow and very steep but the views from the top are spectacular. After a rather late but very good lunch we headed back to the hotel with a little free time before the opening of the tourism fare. I had time to have a better look around the hotel and take a quick swim. For a 3 star hotel the facilities are excellent. We then headed of the Carlton hotel which hosted the fare. The opening was a little difficult for me as it was all in French but I just about managed to follow what was going on. There were a few speeches and some local singing and dancing. An interesting evening but it would have been more fun if I could understand all that was going on! We then headed back to the hotel for dinner. The restaurant was very pleasant and I had my first try of the local meat, zebu, just like beef really but from the local zebu cattle, which I was to discover during my trip are found everywhere and are very important in Malagasy culture. Off to bed after a long tiring and very interesting day. Antananarivo is a vibrant, bustling, African city with a hint of colonial Europe. Quite an experience.  

Madagascar International Tourism Fare 

Day 4 Madagascar - Travel ExpoToday was the real work of the week! We attended the International Tourism Fare. It was great! I meet lots of people from ground handlers to hotel owners and many in between. There was a section of the fare for the regional tourist offices who gave me loads of information and maps about what you can do, where is the best place to do it and when the best time to travel is. I then moved on to the rest of the fare, if you want to go to Madagascar, I’m your girl. There are still lots of things I don’t know but now I have lots of people to ask. Madagascar has a good network of tour guides and national parks and has lots to offer to everyone. After the show we went to visit some hotels in the capital city. It is always interesting to see what is on offer and there are certainly some very good hotels in Antananarivo. After dinner in the hotel it was an early big as we were leaving at frog o’clock for our flight to Fort Dauphin in the South of the Island. Many Malagasy people do not have clocks and have interesting ways of telling what time something will happen. Early in the morning, sometime between 4 and 6am the frogs begin to croak so the locals call this the time of the frog. We christened I frog o’clock so next time you have to go somewhere really early frog o’clock it is!

Down South to the Sun

Day 5 Madagascar - Craft WorkThis is where the adventure really begins. Our flight from Antananarivo to Fort Dauphin departed at 8am so we were up early and off to the airport. A big thank you to the Hotel Louvre who had made breakfast for us before we left even though the restaurant was not open. The flight is a local hop which first goes to Toliara where it stops for about 20 minutes before continuing on the Fort Dauphin. We were joined on this leg of the trip by Nika who works for the Madagascar Tourist Office. She proved to be not only good company but also a mine of useful information as she used to be a tour guide. We headed to our hotel, the La Croix du Sud which is beautiful. All the rooms are a little different and mine even had a sea view. Perfect. After lunch we set out for a city tour. Fort Dauphin is in the south east of Madagascar and was once a French settlement hence the name Dauphin. We went to the fort although to be fair there isn’t really much of it left! After looking round the town a bit more we visited a project which gives jobs to local women weaving and making things from raffia and sisal. Gosh those ladies work hard. They have a number of portacabins and they sit on the floor to produce some beautiful items. Of course at the end there is a shop but having seen how hard these ladies work and how skilled they are it would have been rude not to buy something, it was only a shame my suitcase was not bigger!     Our final stop of the day was the local daily market. Oh my, what an experience, noisy, smelly, bustling and a wonderful experience. Nika was a great guide and explained what it was all about. Most of the stalls were selling food, fruit, vegetables, rice and so on. Many people do not have electricity or fridges so they must go to the market each day to get fresh food. We even tried some local donut type of things which were delicious. It was brilliant, certainly not like the markets I know. All the people were happy and friendly and were as curious about us as we were

about them. Brilliant!

Madagascar - Market seller  Madagascar - Market Stall  

Berenty Private Game Reserve

Day 6   Another early start for the journey to the wildlife reserve at Berenty.  It is only about 60km but everyone kept warning us that the roads were not very good Madagascarand it would take a long time to get there.  They weren’t joking!  We did stop lots of times as there were many wonderful photo opportunities but the journey took us almost 4 hours!!  It was generous to call it a road in some places.  Apparently parts of the road were tarmacked in 1972 and have never been repaired since.  It was more of an adventure than a journey but wonderful to see the countryside and people going about their everyday lives.  We arrived at Berenty I time for lunch and then went off on our first wildlife walk.  Berenty is home to five species of Lemurs some are rather shy and others are not.  We saw lots of these amazing creatures during the afternoon, a real privilege.  After dark we headed off into the spiny forest for a nocturnal walk and again managed to see lemurs although spotting them in the dark was a little more challenging.  It is fantastic to be able to see nocturnal creatures in their natural habitat.  We then returned to the camp for dinner.  Berenty is a private game reserve and is pretty basic but has everything you need and the setting is beautiful.  We were very well looked after and enjoyed the hospitality of the staff.  It was just a shame our stay was so short

. Madagascar - Lemur  Madagascar - Ringtail Lemur

Loving the Lemurs 

Day 7 Madagascar - Flying LemurAnother early start for a last look at the lemurs and also a chance to see some very old and very big Baobab trees before the long and bumpy journey back to Fort Dauphin.  We were very lucky to see some lemurs jumping from tree to tree, which is an amazing site and also another Chameleon before we left.  The journey back was very interesting but we did not stop too many times as lunch was back in Fort Dauphin at yet another hotel!!  The Kaleta has some great views over the ocean and I was lucky enough to get one of the rooms with a view.  After lunch we visited Saiadi Garden which is a private park cum nature reserve, home to some lemurs and crocodiles and lots of interested plants and flowers.  As usual we were running a little late so it was getting rather dark by the time we finished looking around the park but it was certainly very interesting and good place to stop for a couple of hours.  

Beachcombing Madagascar style

Madagascar - Beachcombing

Day 8

Our last full day in Madagascar and we were given the opportunity to try one of the local day trips, and see more of the local area.  We left the hotel and were taken to a fresh water lagoon where we boarded our boat for the trip to the coast.  The lagoon joins a salt water lagoon and there is a lock which connects the two.  After passing through the lock we continued to a local fishing village where we meet the locals and had a look around before walking over the hills to the coast for a picnic on the beach and a quick swim before the walk back.  On the beach we were greeted by a local fisherman who had caught some lobsters which he was only too happy to sell to us, he then built a fire and cooked us fresh lobster for lunch.  From the sea to our plates in less than an hour!  You don’t get fresher than that and they were delicious.  Another lady appeared over the hill with a bucket on her head.  When she put it down, bottles of beer!! Excellent.  What more could we want, fresh lobster, cold beer, beautiful scenery and all for about £6!!  We then walked back to the fishing village and took the boat back to the car for the trip back to the hotel.  It was a fantastic day out with a chance to meet some local people and see how they live, so different to our lives but everyone we meet was smiling and made us feel welcome.  It was great.

  Madagascar - Lobster dinner  Madagascar - Sea View    

 

Day 9 Unfortunately back to reality today. We did a number of hotel inspections in the morning before heading to the airport for the flight back to Antananarivo.  There are a good range of hotels in the Fort Dauphin area with excellent levels of service and very friendly and helpful staff.  Back in Antananarivo there was just time for a quick shower and dinner before returning to the airport for our flight home.  Once again I was lucky with 3 seats to myself which provided a great end to what had been a very memorable trip to the other end of the world!

Madagascar Airport  Madagascar - Sunset  

Madagascar overview

  Madagascar - Rachel   imagesSo my overall feeling, well Madagascar is amazing!  The people are very friendly and welcoming; the standards of accommodation are great, even the basic ones are clean and comfortable.  It is a country which has so much to offer from beautiful beaches to rugged mountains and curious creatures, I only scratched the surface but I am sure one day I will be back to see more.  It is not a country for the faint hearted, the roads are often terrible and the journeys long, but there is always something amazing too look at on the way, the bumps are soon forgotten and replaced by memories of sights, sounds and smells unique to this wonderful country. if you have a passion for wildlife or Photography and enjoy an adventure to see some truly unspoilt locations Madagascar could be perfect for you.

At Quality Golf Destinations we tailor make the holiday to meet your needs, if you are interested in visiting Madagascar or anywhere else, Contact Rachel or Rob on 01782 510800 or email
Algarve sunday special offer

Algarve Sunday Special offer

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5* Algarve Sunday Special offer

 

 

Come and play at San Lorenzo this September and stay for 3 nights at the wonderful 5* Hotel Dona Filipa with this great Algarve Sunday Special offer.

 Algarve sunday special offer

San Lorenzo is one of the most exclusive private members golf clubs in Portugal’s Algarve. Combine this with the newly refurbished Hotel Dona Filipa you have a truly five star short golf break this September. Arrivals must be on either a Sunday or Monday through out September to qualify for this Algarve Sunday Special offer.

 

  Algarve Sunday special offer Algarve Sunday special offer

 

3 nights twin/double share in a Classic room

With daily breakfast at the 5* Hotel Dona Filipa

Free daily round of golf at San Lorenzo Golf Club

Golf transfers via hotel shuttle bus

ReturnAirport transfers

 

Price: £285 pp

    

 Algarve Sunday special offer Algarve Sunday Special offer

 

 Algarve Sunday special offer

From 1st September to 30th September 2013

Single Supplement: £200 per person

Upgrade to Superior room with sea or pool view: £20 per room per night

 

Notes:

Prices include accommodation in a classic room with breakfast buffet,

Minimum 3 nights break, arrival must be on a Sunday or Monday

International flights not included.

 

Hotel Dona Filipa & San Lorenzo Golf Resort

 

Magnificently located overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Dona Filipa & San Lorenzo Golf Resort welcomes guests of all ages with a touch of glamour combined with an essence of true quality. This Portugal Hotel offers 154 rooms and suites uniquely complimented by professional staff that value the true notion of personalised service.

Dona Filipa Hotel provides guests with a vast variety of services and facilities, the prides itself in its excellent service and tries to exceed each and every guests’ expectation from the moment of reservation to the last minute of check-out. The Hotel’s swimming pool area, with mesmerizing views to the Atlantic Ocean, is the ideal place, not only for a tan, but to read a book, relax or simply have a drink or snack.

Dona Filipa & San Lorenzo Golf Resort caters for tennis enthusiasts as well as golfers with three ATP floodlit all weather hard surface tennis courts. It also has an exclusive area and Beach Club on the Vale do Lobo beach for hotel guests, situated a mere 200 metres away. Dona Filipa Hotel provides guests with 2 alternatives desiring a stay orientated to relax, revitalize and unwind: our in-house facility; the Estetica or access to the Vale do Lobo Royal Spa

 

 For reservations please contact: info@qualitygolfdestinations.com or call 01782 510800

Please quote “Sunday Special 2013” Offer with any correspondence.

 

 Algarve Sunday special offer     Algarve sunday special offer    Golf Holidays - Travel Trust Association

 

 

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Lisbon Golf Special Offers - Ribagolfe

Lisbon Golf Special offer

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Lisbon Golf Special offer

 

Come and play Ribagolfe I & II this Autumn

European Tour Qualifying School Stage 1 venue  

Lisbon Golf Special Offer - Ribagolfe  Lisbon Golf Special Offer - Ribagolfe

 

Ribagolfe is a 36-hole golf resort 20 minutes south of Lisbon and offers two great championship golf courses. Ribagolfe is one of Portugal’s golf’s hidden gems, This Lisbon Golf Special offer is a great price and you will not be disappointed with the courses as they are always in superb condition. Staying a few minutes drive away at the 3* hotel Alfoz in Alcochete, the hotel offers comfortable accommodation with views across the Rio Tejo to Lisbon. Alcochete offers plenty of well priced restaurants and bars but is still only a short drive across the Ponte Vasco da Gama Bridge to access Lisbon town centre and the Airport.

For group booking we have the added bonus of 1 in 8 going FREE.

Each day of golf you also get lunch free at the Ribagolfe Clubhouse.

 

 Lisbon Golf Special Offer

3 nights

Unlimited Golf

Free lunch every day at the Clubhouse

 Price: £199

 

 From 1st September to 31st October 2013

Supplement for single occupancy: £49 per person

Lisbon Golf Special offer 

Notes:

Prices include accommodation, breakfast buffet, lunch at the Clubhouse and

Unlimited golf;

3 nights break from Thursday to Sunday;

All groups have 1 free in 8 players;

All groups have 10% discount at ALFoz restaurant;

 Lisbon golf Special Offer - hotel Alfoz   Lisbon Golf Special offer - Hotel Alfoz room

For reservations please contact: info@qualitygolfdestinations.com or call 01782 510800

Please quote Lisbon Golf Special Offer with any correspondence.

Lisbon Golf Special offer - Alfoz breakfast

Lisbon Golf Special offer - Ribagolfe Lisbon Golf Special offer - ALFOZ

 

 

 

 

4 years ago

Golf Safari – Into Africa, Golf on the Wildside

South Africa is a big country, just how big we were about to find out.

Golf Safari - Stellenbosch 

Its history has intertwined with that of Britain for well over 100 years, they drive on the left, speak English as a matter of course and share our passion for all things competitive. South Africa is a country whose people delight in its name of ‘Rainbow Nation’ which signifies its multicultural outlook.  For so long an outsider from the international community, South Africa has gleefully been accepted back, due almost entirely to the work of one man, Nelson Mandela, the father of free South Africa. Wherever you travel in the country you will never be far from his influence and how he is loved by his people.

 

Quality Golf Destinations Managing Director, Neil Adams, has always been struck by their infectious enthusiasm for their country, their golf and life in general.  Indeed Neil will tell you that if you want a quiet night out stay well clear of South Africans!  It was with great anticipation that Neil and his long suffering wife headed for some winter sun and a golf Safari.  After her experiences as freelance reporter we had to get Sue to recount her trip.  Over to you Sue:

Golf Safari - Raddison Blu When Neil told me he was going to South Africa last year it’s the first time that I’ve said “that is not work it’s a holiday!”   When Neil got back he wouldn’t shut up (nothing new there), but all he would talk about was South Africa. So I knew the inevitable would happen that we would be heading down there sooner rather than later.

Now let’s get a few things straight first, I have a lot to say about where we go on holiday and I know Neil’s organisational skills, I was really reassured that Rachel was handling our end and Warren, Director of Giltedge Golf and Sport (Quality Golf’s travel partner in South Africa) was doing the planning over there.  I was therefore delighted to be presented with my travel pack by Rachel. The Golf Safari itinerary looked fantastic and the pack was so well presented, (obviously Rachel’s work me thinks).  So leaving behind freezing England we boarded the flight for sun, fun & adventure.

 Getting There

To visit South Africa you can fly direct from London with several national carriers.  Airlines such as South African Airlines, BA and Virgin all fly into a variety of cities.  You can fly from regional airports via Dubai, Paris (Air France) or Amsterdam (KLM), a longer route but sometimes more convenient than travelling to London.  We flew Manchester to Dubai and then Dubai to Cape Town as Neil is an Emirates groupie, he has some sort of Skywards card that gets people to carry him on and off the planes. Flight times were 6 hours to Dubai and 8 hours to Cape Town. (Direct flights are in the region of 11 hours).

South Africa & love affairs

I had to confess to Neil that not only had I not been to SA, I had never been in the southern hemisphere, something the South Africans found most amusing.

Golf Safari - Cape townGolf Safari - Cape PointOn a more personal note I have another confession to make; it’s one thing to fall in love on holiday, but another if your partner is with you!  That’s what happened to me and before everyone thinks this some racy newsletter, I’d best qualify that with the fact I fell in love with South Africa.  Neil kept saying “you will love this place”, so much so I was worried it would be anti-climactic.  Neil was right it was love at first sight and the sights, the sounds and the people we met will life in my memories for ever.

Cape Town is simply beautiful.  We arrived at night and having picked up our rental car complete with sat navigation; together with Warren’s directions off we went.  After a quiet drive with only 1 mistake we found our first hotel,

The Last Word Constantia Hotel situated in a quiet suburb of Cape Town.  A chic boutique hotel with the feel of a very large modern house rather than a hotel.  All the hotel staff were wonderful (that saying will keep cropping up) and couldn’t do enough for us. We needed an early breakfast both days we stayed there.  It was never any trouble, they even had time to make us delicious omelettes each day. This is a must stay hotel that has lovely gardens, swimming pool and the bedroom we had was brilliant.

The next 4 days were spent playing golf, touring around TableMountain and visiting Cape Point, all in beautiful sunshine and warmth, marvellous!  Cape Town feels like home and everyone you meet from hotel staff to taxi drivers are so friendly they will tell you their life stories and also get yours!  This is a beautiful city, easy to get round with so much to see we only scratched the surface.

          Golf Safari - Table mountainGolf Safari - Cape town waterfront

The Radisson Blu Waterfront Hotel as it says on the tin, this hotel is on the waterfront in Cape Town and is very convenient for the marina with its great selection of bars and restaurants. This is a truly sensational modern hotel of real high quality that can pamper your every need. Again all the facilities were excellent and to eat your breakfast on the outside decking watching dolphins play in the bay was you, guessed it, amazing.

No trip to Cape Town is complete without a visit to Table Mountain and a trip to Cape Point. Table Mountain is as good as it looks.  The cable car ride is great, queue’s for the cable car can be busy at weekends but was not too bad for us, and the scenery at the top is breath-taking. We walked up there for a good 4 hours (make sure you take fluids with you as it can get seriously hot).  If the weather’s good while you are in Cape Town go to Table Mountain at the first opportunity.  If the wind blows from the wrong direction Table Mountain wears its famous cloud top hat and there’s nothing to see.  Cape Point was a wonderful drive and then a short walk the final few hundred yards.  To stand and look at Atlantic Ocean one side and Indian Ocean on the other was spectacular.

Golf Safari in Cape Town

The golfing twins, Warren & Neil wanted to play some golf and I fancied taking some money off them!

Golf Safari - Golf in Cape townThe first game was at Royal Cape Town Golf Club, Warren’s home club so I was sporting and let him win. Somehow Neil sneaked in to second place but not to worry. This was a beautiful golf course with a real traditional feel to it. The course was easy to find and once again everyone at the club was so friendly.  The next day we played at PearlValley, a course Neil played last year and insisted we play it again.  I paired with Warren and we saw off Neil and his partner for the day Patrick (a lovely German guy who lives in Sweden, come on please keep up!!).  I holed out from a bunker to administer the coup de grâce.

The cool beer after was so much sweeter knowing you know who had to pay for it.  As before the golf course was magnificent, surrounded by beautiful houses (Geoff Boycott has a house here) & according to Neil he used to play cricket for England apparently.

Stellenbosch is the home of South African wine and also rugby.  When you look around you could be in any European town with the back drop of vineyards.  I was very keen to sample the South African Sauvignon (actually to be truthful I had been practising that for a few days). Stellenbosch did not disappoint with its wineries, superb restaurants and a beautiful gust house to relax in.

Golf Safari - WedgeviewOur base in the wine lands was the Wedgeview Country House.  This is a 5 star guest house run by Dave Bakker (an ex Dutch international cricketer so Neil told me, where does he pick up all this trivia from, and more importantly is anyone interested?).  This is a wonderful thatched property with all the facilities of a 5* hotel (including pool, spa centre & games deck) and surrounded on all sides by vineyards.  Again we were looked after like royalty.  The next day Neil managed to sneak off to play golf at De Zalze.  He can back raving about his caddy, a man called Smiley.  Smiley apparently sorted out Neil’s golf game, his course management and his head, (now that is a feat) and all inside 5 hours.  Smiley is probably collecting his Nobel Prize for Care in the Community as we speak.  Neil said De Zalze was great fun, but my spa and poolside therapy were better.

It would be rude not to visit a couple of wineries whilst in Stellenbosch.  We booked a three vineyard tour, which included transfers, lunch and plenty of wine tasting.  The quality of the wine was excellent, so good we only managed 2 out of the 3 tastings.  We never got passed the second, Ernie Els’s winery where an 8 wine tasting with a superb South African steak saw us all off.  We still managed to somehow visit the working part as they were bringing in the harvest.  The first winery we visited was wonderful and noted for its port.

The Garden Route is a spectacular journey between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. We took the coastal route and saw wonderful rugged coast-lines.  This is a route you could take weeks over, stopping at each bay and journeying inland to see many interesting places.  We stopped to look at Arabella Golf Club which is well worth a visit.  Continuing on along the coast we were staying for a few nights at the Fancourt Hotel and Country Club.  Being married to a golf tour provider means we have to visit golf complexes.  Fancourt is some complex.  Fancourt states it is South Africa’s premier leisure and business resort.  I can say it certainly lives up to its claims.

Golf Safari - Fancourt Golf Resort

Fancourt Golf Resort

The resort has 3 golf courses: Outeniqua, Montagu and the world famous Links.  We played Outeniqua on the first day, then as a challenge Neil switched us to the Links course.  Wow even I was impressed.  What a golf course.  The scoring wasn’t great, I won, and Neil lost a few balls as normal, I didn’t, happy days.

Golf Safari - Pumba Game Reserve Golf Safari - Safari

 After the few days of Safari Golf at Fancourt we continued our journey/adventure past Port Elizabeth and headed inland to the exquisite Pumba Private Game Reserve.  This to me was real Africa and real Safari.  I expected David Attenborough to come round the corner saying lets go and look at elephants.  This game reserve was all inclusive (you can’t walk down to the pub at night!). You get up early as the sun rises for a morning game drive, a lot of the action takes place at dawn and dusk so it’s not a place for a lie in.  After the game drive is breakfast and plenty of time for relaxation. Another game drive takes place in the late afternoon/evening this time accompanied by sundowners in the bush, very civilised.  All other times are your own.  On our game drives we saw so much wildlife, practically everything but water buffalo and leopards. We witnessed a lion kill and, far rarer, a cheater kill.  This is not a gruesome as it sounds, but it is real life and to see all these magnificent animals in the wild was, (I’ll say it again) amazing. Pumba was Africa as you expect it and probably the high-light of my trip.

 Golf Safari - Rhino   Golf Safari - Cheeter's

South African Hospitality

As Neil has said before, South Africans are party animals and we were welcomed as long lost friends.

The day after we arrived in Cape Town was the largest amateur bike ride in the world, 35,000 cyclists took over Cape Town, what an atmosphere!

My overall reflections were of a country so big, with so much to see that we must go back and soon.  The happy smiling faces the openness of the people was something that will stick in my memory.

Finally thanks to Rachel & Robbie for making the UK end work, Warren for putting together a wonderful Golf Safari package and putting up with Neil.  Natalie and Claude for the great evening in Cape Town.  Special thanks to Dave and Jan for being such great company (Ernie’s winery will never be the same).  Finally thanks to all hotel, golf staff, taxi drivers and Smiley. Last but not least thanks to Sarah, how we cope with Warren and Neil I’ll never know.

 Golf Safari - Ells Winery

The Golf Safari Itinerary was a 14 night trip to Cape town and along the Garden Route to Port Elizabeth

Cape Town (4 days), Stellenbosch (4 days), Fancourt (3 days), Pumba Game Reserve (2 days) and a final night in Cape Town.

 

Golf Safari Packages are available on a similar itinerary to Sue’s trip from £1995 p.p twin share for 10 nights in a mixture of 4 and 5 star accommodation with daily breakfast and include car hire for the duration of the trip and 3 rounds of golf.  Flights are available from £550 (Economy).

To learn more about South Africa visit our web page Why South Africa?

 

Pravets Golf & Spa Resort

Trophy Hunting at Pravets Golf and Spa Resort

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Pravets Golf and Spa Resort – June Newsletter

 

Bulgaria is one of a number of countries in Eastern Europe where golf is growing rapidly and is attracting more and more visitors. Last month it took a major step in reaching a wider audience with the staging of the Volvo World Match-play championships at Thracian Cliffs. Quality Golf Destinations Managing Director Neil Adams has been to Bulgaria a few times and visited all the courses. But not since Pravets Golf and Spa Resort had opened all 18 holes and St Sofia’s redevelopment had been completed. So when we received an invite to visit both courses and play in the annual Braemar Challenge at Pravets Golf and Spa Resort our intrepid hero was off like a shot!!!

 Pravets Golf and Spa Resort

Neil’s trip:

I have visited Bulgaria 3 times and loved every minute. It has taken a while to get a couple of courses within commuting distance of Sofia, but with the renovation of St Sofia Golf Club at last completed it has joined Pravets Golf Club in making a golf break based in Sofia possible.

I was invited to visit Pravets to take part in the annual Braemar Challenge, (Braemar manage the golf club), by an old friend Alan Rouget Golf Director at Pravets Golf and Spa Resort. Alan is originally from South Africa so I knew we would have a lively time!! How lively, we were about to find out.

 

We stayed at the RUI hotel (which is opposite side of the lake to the golf course). The hotel is stunning and contains a spa, swimming pool, gym, 2 restaurants, a bowling alley next door and a piano bar in the basement and even a Casino.

 

Pravets Golf and Spa Resort

 

Pravets Golf and Spa Resort

When we arrived we were met at Sofia Airport and shuttled directly to the Pravets Golf and Spa Resort. The journey took around 50 minutes and takes you through some beautiful countryside. Upon arrival we were quickly booked in and shown to our rooms. My room was excellent and very well appointed. The Hotel chain RIU has a great reputation and this hotel only enhances it, especially with a great view over the lake to the golf course.

We all convened in the bar and sat on a wonderful terrace by the lake, re-introducing ourselves to old friends and getting to know new friends. I felt I needed to ease the journey out of my system and so headed for the gym, there I tried at least four types of sauna. All facilities were excellent although I resisted the swimming pool, as I did not want to be over-trained.  After an excellent meal in the main restaurant as guests of Golf Director Alan Rouget we were all relatively well behaved and headed for bed.

 

Next day we got down to the serious business of investigating the golf course. Wow, I was blown away. You start off with a tricky par 5 (more of this later) and a front nine that’s a great test of golf. The back nine was well, amazing. The 10th hole has a difficult drive off the tee and by the time you get to the 16th you are ready for a break. Unfortunately it’s a par 5 over water with a narrow landing area. 9th and 18th are both long par 4’s, uphill to the biggest double green I have ever seen. (If you end up by the wrong flag you will probably dislocate your shoulder trying to put to the other hole!)

Pravets Golf and Spa Resort

9th and 18th greens at Pravets Golf and Spa Resort

 

 

 

That night at a gourmet dinner in the aptly named Gourmet Restaurant, hosted by Braemar Golf’s Managing Director, Keith Haslam, we were told about the competition we were playing in next day, “The Braemar Challenge”. This is an annual open pair’s competition commemorating the opening of the course. The pairings were announced and much to my French friends Damian’s surprise we were paired together Surprised, because Damian doesn’t play golf. Hmmm now there are lots out there who will be thinking, that makes two in that pair then. However with a few phone calls I soon had a partner lined up. So it was early to bed (1.30am is early isn’t it)? I didn’t sleep well as I kept dreaming I was playing 10th and 16th (neither very well).

When we arrived at the course and saw what appeared to be hundreds of people warming up, people arriving by helicopter to play and realised this was quite a big event. I did my usual bit of putting and then not wanting to overdo the practice hit 6 balls on the range (all well, crikey am I still dreaming!).

I met my playing partner Krasimir Panayotov, (Krasi for short) on the 10th tee (Oh why are we starting there?). Krasi was helpful with where to aim my tee short, he simply told me to aim over corner of bunker and let ball roll into middle of fairway leaving myself with an 8 iron to the flag. (He obviously doesn’t know my mantra of 1. hit the ball and 2. move it forward!!). I was helped with the obvious nerves when in the group in front one player moved the ball 6 inches backwards on the tee.

 Pravets Golf and Spa Resort  Pravets Golf and Spa Resort

 

Now Krasi works for Braemar Golf in their teaching academy and proceeded to give me an armchair ride around the course, he was brilliant. I’d like to feel I contributed, if only with my lively banter and cheering. Crikey it was hot and my caddy the afore mentioned Damien, (he wasn’t going to get out of this so easily), was getting redder & redder. When we got to the 1st (our 10th) Krasi said use your 3 wood and lay-up before the stream, wedge into the green and give yourself a birdie chance. I followed it to the letter but lipped out for birdie (phew what a pest I said!!). Anyway with Krasi playing like a pro we signed off for a respectable 43 points and found ourselves in the joint lead, wow. After an excellent lunch a couple of sherbets we had been joined at the top of the leader board by another group.  So unbelievably we were tied for 1st but lost on count-back, but a 2nd place was beyond my wildest dreams.

The whole day was well organised and the course in excellent condition. Thanks to all at Braemar and Pravets Golf and Spa Resort for the great event. Keith, Alan for being fantastic hosts. Jonathon, the head professional at Pravets, for releasing Krasi to play. Damien for being such a great sport. Finally thanks to Krasi for being absolutely brilliant.

We rounded of the day in the Piano bar drinking whisky out of the runners up cup whilst listening to Alan playing piano and singing. (See what I mean about staying away from South Africans if you want a quiet night in).

 Pravets golf and Spa Resort - Breamar Challenge Trophy   Pravets Golf and Spa Resort - Runners up Breamar Trophy 2013

 

All in all a trip to Bulgaria, (be it the Sophia region or Black Sea Coast) is worth putting on your must do list. If you want a resort with everything including sight-seeing, spa and golf then Pravets Golf and Spa Resort is the place for you. (Just don’t have nightmares about that 16th tee shot!!).

 

 

About Bulgarian Golf

Bulgaria has 7 international standard golf courses and in 2012 won the IAGTO Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year.

Black Sea Coast

Three are on the Black SeaCoast, (Thracian Cliffs (hosted the Volvo World Match Play May 2013), Black Sea Rama GC & Lighthouse GC). These are three great courses designed by Gary Player (Thracian Cliffs & Black Sea Rama GC) and Ian Woosnam Lighthouse GC. All are reached via VarnaAirport, which has direct flights from a number of UK airports. Lighthouse has a hotel alongside it & all courses are within 20 minutes of hotel. Transfers from airport to hotels & back are included in any packages.

 

Pirin Golf & Country Club

Pirin Golf & Country Club is an exclusive international 5-star resort located in the stunning Razlog valley, in the foothills of the PirinMountains, and only 5 km away from the world famous ski resort of Bansko. It is approximately 2 hours from Sophia. The mountain back-drop is really exciting

Pirin Golf & Country Club has two golf courses. The championship course designed by Ian Woosnam, is a par 72 course that is really challenging

 

St Sofia Golf Club & Spa

St. Sofia Golf Club & SPA is located just 25 minutes from Sofia city center. It has an 18-hole golf course recently re-designed by Paul McGinley & a golf academy. The course offers a challenge to all standards of golfers with clever use of tee box placements. The courses is relatively flat with generous wide fairways, but beware of the par 3’s as nearly all are over water & some are virtually island greens.

The clubhouse is huge, with well-appointed locker rooms, great eating facilities & a lovely spar centre. It also has 5 hotel rooms at the top of the clubhouse.

 

Pravets Golf and Spa Resort

Pravets Golf and Spa Resort is a magnificent new course designed by Peter Harradine, its 18 holes are cleverly created for all standards of golfers alike, and it is set in idyllic surrounds, ideal for both the elite and tourist golfer alike. The resort feature a four star RIU hotel with restaurants, piano bar, casino, superb spa and fully equipped fitness centre, all round sporting facilities including water sports on the lake surrounded by attractive woodland and the mountains of Stara Planina.

 IAGTO AWARD BULGARIA  BGA  Pravets Golf ClubPravets Golf and Spa resort - Braemar Golf  Riu Pravets

Airline baggage trolly

Travellers Advice – Airline Baggage

1

Airline Baggage – TO PACK OR NOT TO PACK, THAT IS THE QUESTION?

Airline baggage trolly  Airline baggage - plane  Airline Baggage - Teddy luggage

JANUARY NEWSLETTER – Airline Baggage  

Travelling around the world sounds like a glamorous life, but living out of a suitcase on a regular basis or just on your annual holiday can be a problem when you are restricted by the Airline baggage policy.

Here are our best tips, things to avoid and which carriers have the best Airlines baggage rules. 

 

You’re going away on that hard earned two week annual holiday or a short weekend city break and as you queue at the airport check in you regularly see people who have large amounts of bags to check in. I often think what on earth have they packed and do they really need everything in there Samsonite travel suitcase the size of a tea chest which they struggle to place on the bag drop conveyer belt.

I am not one to boast as a travelling golfer and a Professional dive instructor there are times when my Airline baggage has looked more like a six month expedition rather than a 10 day trip but I for one make sure nothing I take away with me is not used.

 

Tip 1 – Cabbin baggage

Invest in a good quality usable carry on travel bag. This in the long run will save you time looking for things at the airport, have room for all your needs for a short break and gives you options for a few extra kilo’s leeway for a longer trip.

What makes a good travel bag?

Airline baggage - carry on bagsThere are two main options, wheeled bag or rucksack. The wheeled bag usually gives the best packing options for clothes packing and easy transportation around airports and any other well paved areas.

Rucksack are often more practical if you are travelling to a more far flung destination or any situation where you know you will need to have your hands free or may have to hurry between forms of transport. Whichever one you prefer one of the most important features is to have a secure pocket where you can store your travel documents and passport safely but still have access to them when needed.

 

 

Things to consider?

  • Dimensions of bag – Strict Cabin baggage dimension limits on many of the low cost carriers.
  • Weight of bag when empty – remember you will have to lift into an overhead locker.
  • Document pockets – to keep you Passport safe and sound
  • Able to be locked – any added security is a benefit (but don’t lose the key)
  • Are you carrying toiletries or Liquids in your hand luggage, if you intend to consider buying in the departure lounge or on arrival in your destination (most  good hotels supply complimentary toiletries)

 

Most Airline baggage rules work on either a weight basis or dimension basis on average this equates to something between 7 – 10 kgs. Many low cost airlines restrict passengers to 1 cabin bag per person, a restriction brought in after the airborne terror attacks; the majority of Schedule national airlines allow 1 main cabin bag plus a laptop bag or handbag.

Important note

Please remember all airlines have restrictions on amounts of Liquids you can take through Airport security control.

If you do take liquids in your hand luggage then:

  • containers must hold no more than 100ml
  • containers should be in a single, transparent, resealable plastic bag, which holds no more than a litre and measures approximately 20cm x 20cm
  • contents must fit comfortably inside the bag so it can be sealed
  • the bag must not be knotted or tied at the top
  • it is limited to 1 plastic bag per person
  • you must show the bag at the airport security point

For more details and changes in current regulations follow the link here

https://www.gov.uk/hand-luggage-restrictions/overview

Liquids bought in the departure lounge of UK airports comply with all regulations,

Tip 2 – Checked Baggage

Airline baggage - excess baggage 

Exciding your baggage allowance on a flight can seriously damage you wealth!!!

 

The first thing when choosing your flight either long or short haul is to consider the free Airline baggage allowance given by the airline. Even on a short haul flight when taking bags into consideration the so called “low cost carriers” can be more expensive than a national airline (the national airline will probably give you a free drink as well). If you are restricted to 20kgs for your trip, firstly think about the bag you are taking. Most wheeled bag are great to move around but unless they are of a modern low weight construction the chances are that will take up to 25% of your “free” Airline baggage allowance before you start to pack.

Don’t assume that all airlines give the same baggage allowances. Standard free Airline baggage allowances can range in economy class from 30kgs per person to a miserly 15kgs. The other consideration is if your Free weight allowance is calculated on a weight of piece restriction. Why is this important? Well a 30Kgs allowance on a weight bases will allow you to take maximum 30kgs over a number of bags (this is usual on most USA Bound transatlantic routes) so for example you can take a set of golf clubs weighing 13kgs and a case 17kgs and be fine. On a piece restriction you can check in the number of pieces of luggage allowed (often only one) to a maximum of the permitted allowance, so please read the small print!

 

Airline baggage - iflybagsIf you want a great way to compare or check baggage allowances across the airlines and see what the potential costs of excess baggage could be there is an excellent website especially for this iflybags.com

http://www.iflybags.com/

Airline baggage - Carosel  Airline baggage - Quality golf destinations  Airline baggage - tags

 

Make sure your bag is easily identified! As you stand waiting for your bags to arrive on the luggage carousel how often do you see someone peer at your bag, or you wonder if you can actually recognise the old black square bag you packed your prized possessions in. Tie something easily recognisable on your bag or handle or even purchase a bag that stands out from the rest. Always make sure you have a baggage tag with your contact details or forwarding address on and if the worst comes to happen and your bag disappears the bag can be forwarded to you or returned to your home address. Please also make sure your check in bag receipt is kept in a safe place this is the first thing they will ask you for when a bag goes missing.

 

Take what you need! Make a list, it sounds basic but a lot of people take things they don’t need and forget some pretty important things they do. Remember where ever you are travelling too in the world most day to day items are readily available (toiletries etc) in local supermarkets, nearly all Hotels offer a clothes washing service for you (Overnight if needed). Weigh your bags if possible before you leave, check in staff will sometimes be able to grant a few extra kilos grace so again it pay’s to be pleasant and smile at the baggage drop, if you are over consider an item you could put into your hand luggage, an offer to do so is often enough to allow your bag to go through, especially if it’s a piece of electrical equipment.

If you travel on a regular basis with the same airline, join there frequent flyers club, although you may have to circumnavigate the globe a couple of times to get a free flight they give you extra benefits, this may well be complimentary additional baggage allowance! What it will do when you present your card at check in or bag drop is let the staff know you are a regular customer of the airline, you will be far more likely to be given a few kilos grace on a busy flight, or that extra help if you are late for a flight.

 

Tip 3 – Sports Equipment (or other large items)

 

Airline baggage - golf coverThis is the point when many airlines’ start taking the “Mickey” especially the low cost carriers, some charging more for a sports bag than for the seat itself, we all know who they are but £25-£30 is the normal rate per leg of your flight, however go long haul and you may find it costing you far more than that. There are exceptions to these of course. Both Emirates and Ethiad Airlines allow free carriage of golf clubs, but not other sports equipment. TAP the Portuguese national carrier allowed until a few months free golf club carriage; however they now charge 20 euro a leg which over the last few months has been a discretionary charge at check in. The best advice before you book a flight is to check with the airline or tour operator as different rules and charges apply to different routes. Thomson’s charter flights should also be given a pat on the back at this point, yes they do charge for a set of golf clubs but at only £15 for a return flight its pretty good value in the sector they operate in.

Airline baggage - luggage labelsIf you’re a certified diver a number of airlines will allow a top up allowance (usually 5kgs) on production of a current “cert” card but you still have to pack it all into whatever the bag limits are on the flight. If you take an extra bag the chances are it will cost £££££.

When travelling with golf clubs remember to invest in a good travel cover for your clubs, a well padded bag is better than an unpadded bag with wheels especially if you want your prized possessions to arrive in the same condition you carefully packed them when you left home. If you regularly travel with golf clubs or plan to travel regularly in the future, spend a little more on your golf travel bag. Most budget bags although they come with an impressive list of features rarely manage to survive more than 4 or 5 trips, that’s fine if you only travel every other year or so, in the long run you will save money.

 

Things to remember?

  • Good quality bags – Carry on, checked luggage or Golf travel covers.  Buy the best while still being most suitable for the type of travel you do.
  • Make a list. It will help you pack what you need.
  • Make sure you can easily identify your bag and its luggage labels are correct for your journey.
  • Check the baggage allowances and baggage rules before you book, if in doubt ask the Airline or your tour operator.

 

Finally whatever you are doing, enjoy your hard earned holiday.

 

At Quality Golf Destinations we tailor make the golf package to meet your needs, if you are interested in a Holiday Golf based or not, Contact Rachel or Rob on 01782 510800 or email

info@qualitygolfdestinations.com

 

 

                 

 

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