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We are always looking for the next new golfing destinations for our clients, the ongoing search for that elusive undiscovered spot where the sun is always shining, the golf courses deserted and the service is second to none, all for an affordable price and not too far from home. Is there such a place?
We were invited to discover the delights of Morocco and in particular the city of Marrakesh, it’s an area that has been drawing quite a bit of attention in the travel market since it won the 2010 IAGTO golf destination of the year for the Africa, middle east and Indian ocean region, beating some extremely good opposition in the process. Morocco has been an established destination for the European travel market for many years, its seaside resorts of Casablanca and Agadir have been a favourite with both the French and Spanish markets with visitor numbers toping over 2 million from these two countries alone in 2010, Marrakesh is set inland close to the Atlas mountains where in winter the snow toped mountains make a perfect backdrop to this ancient walled city.Marrakeshis set away from the mountains on the plain but is fed year round from underground rivers via the ancient Khettara irrigation system; it would be easy to forget that you are in a desert asMarrakeshis known as the garden city.
Marrakeshboasts a history dating back to its Moorish roots and its ancient city walls still circle the old town. At its centre is the natural theatre of Djemaa El Fna Square where magicians, acrobats, storytellers, and fortune-tellers gather to entertain you. Extending north from the square is the medina within which lies the imperial heritage of Marrakech. Wandering the Souks in the Medina is like travelling back in time, some shops glittering with jewellery, some festooned with richly coloured carpets and all around you the sounds of bargaining for that all important “best price”! Standing proud above all is Marrakech’s architectural landmark the “Koutoubia” dating back to the 12th century its minaret can be seen all over the city.
In the summer temperatures can easily top 40 c with little respite at night. During both autumn (Oct – Nov) and spring (Mar – May) the temperatures range around the 25-30 c with pleasantly warm evenings. In the winter (Dec – Feb) daytime temperatures 18-23 c with sunshine on most days but expect cool evenings, so some warm clothing is needed at night. Much of the rain inMoroccofalls during the winter in the north of the country on the hills facing the Mediterranean coast and the high Atlas mountains that borderAlgeria. As with any location the weather is as hard to predict at certain times of the year as your golf game. One thing we recommend when visiting a country likeMoroccois to ensure you stay well hydrated. The heat is very dry here so expect to drink 2.5 litres of liquid per day without having to rush to the loo ever half an hour.
Marrakeshhas 6 courses within a 20 minutes drive from the town centre, three of which are 27 hole complexes and Three 18 hole. Combine this with another 3 clubs currently under construction around the city there is enough variation to keep the most ardent golf fanatic content. Moroccan golf in general has an aim to double the number of golf courses in the country to more than 40 by 2015.
The Marrakech Royal Golf course is one of the oldest golf courses inMorocco, It is a course of extreme beauty – Winston Churchill, David Lloyd George and General Eisenhower have played here. The course is fairly narrow and winds through a profusion of cypress, eucalyptus, palm, olive, orange and apricot trees. It is a course of extreme beauty. It is located at the feet of theAtlas Mountains. This course will offer you a test of your shot making skills
27 Holes (9 Holes x 3): Par 72 (18 Holes) – Length: 6086 Metres
Blue Course: Par 36 – Length: 3072 Metres
Yellow Course: Par 36 – Length: 3014 Metres
Green Course: Par 36 – Length: 2939 Metres
Opened in 1995, Amelkis hosted a European Tour event within its first five years, the 2000 Moroccan Open. Originally 18 holes, a further 9 holes have now been added giving three loops, unimaginatively named the Red, Blue and Green loops Set in a beautiful landscape – near the Royal Golf Club – and with wonderful views of the snow-covered Atlas Mountains. The club house, an ochre coloured traditional Kasbah style overlooks the links and creates a muted atmosphere ideally suited for relaxing after a game. This course is testing for any golfer with a number of water features and bunkers but set beautifully amongst palm groves and Moroccan architecture. The course has integrated the “Khettaras” – An 11th Century irrigation system built by the Almoravides Dynasty
27 Holes (9 Holes x 3): Par 72 (18 Holes) – Length: 6657 Metres
Green Course: Par 36 – Length: 3417 Metres
Red Course: Par 36 – Length: 3301 Metres
Blue Course: Par 36 – Length: 3356 Metres
This Robert Trent Jones Sr. designed course is my personal favourite, the celebrated Palmeraie (Palm Grove) at Marrakech and the majestic Atlas Mountains, Trent Jones created an 18- holes masterpiece: The Palmeraie Golf Course. The course is dotted with 7 lakes and covers, beautiful fairways among palm trees with an unforgettable panorama of the highAtlas Mountains. The club house is sumptuous and offers many facilities including an excellent restaurant. A new 9 holes were opened in October 2009 to be played with the back nine of the Robert Trent Jones course. The new course features some impressive water features and has upgraded the complex to a modern championship venue.
27 Holes (9 Holes x 3): Par 72 (18 Holes) – Length: 6214 Metres (original course)
Samanah Golf Club is located 8Km fromMarrakechInternationalAirporton the road to Amezmiz. The complex covers more than 300 ha and benefits from an open view of theAtlasMountain. Over a Hundred Hectares are dedicated to the golf course which was created by Nicklaus Design. Samanah is a “Desert Type” golf Course: the choice of vegetation and plants was realised in this spirit (Cacti, Palm Trees, Olive Trees…). The course measures 6800m from the back tees with a par of 72, but can be played by all standards of player thanks to the wide fairways and different tee positions. The quality of the greens is the key point of the course, although large most have different levels to make some tricky pin positions. The impressive Clubhouse has its architecture inspired by the bulwarks of Marrakech and decorated with ponds and fountains. The Clubhouse includes players bar, TV lounge, Restaurants, Bridge Room, Locker rooms, Proshop and Caddie Masters.
18 Holes Par 72 – Length: 6800 Metres
Al Maaden is situated near the fascinating historical and cultural center of Marrakech, with the majesticAtlas Mountainsas a backdrop. This 18-hole golf course is designed by Kyle Phillips. The golf course has been designed in grand rolling terrain, placed at the foot hills of the nearbyAtlas Mountains. Strategically placed bunkers give players multiple lines of play from the tee and tightly cut spill off areas around the greens gather errant shots, providing a variety of exiting recovery opportunities. Keeping with the traditions of golf, AI Maaden is designed as a walker friendly course, with a surrounding designed landscape and geometric water features that give a feeling of playing through a Moroccan garden
18 Holes Par 72 – Length: 6249 Metres
Opening on the 1st March 2012 Assoufid’s 18-hole, world-class golf course has been designed by Scottish golf professional Niall Cameron. Idyllically set on amazing natural contours against a stunning backdrop of the Atlas Mountains, it features an inviting Club House andGolfAcademy. TheGolfAcademy offers cutting-edge technology, including computer studio suites and club-fitting analysis, plus a dedicated driving range with shaded tees and practice area.
Elsewhere in Morocco Rabat/Casablanca coast line hosts 7 different clubs and resorts. The most famous being Royal Golf Dar Es Salam, home to the Hassen II Trophy on the European tour. The club houses an impressive 45 hole complex. Two 18 hole championship courses the Red & Blue designed by Robert Trent Jones Snr and a nine hole shorter green course, all three offer tree line fairways and are always in superb condition. Other courses worth a mention here are El Menzeh Royal, Mohammedia Royal (both clubs are nearing their centenary years),BouznikaBaywhich has 9 floodlit holes and the new Mazagan golf resort designed by Gary Player and managed by Troon golf.
Further south along the coast another newly opened Gary player designed Mogador Golf Club has been widely acclaimed as one of the best in the country, combined with the on site Soffitel hotel this tailor made golf resort makes a popular destination or combined with a twin centre Marrakesh trip.
Finally the coastal resort of Agadir has also a number of good courses, two 27 hole complex’s Golf des Dunes and Golf de l’Ocean, 36 holes at Golf du Soleil and the 9 hole Golf Royal. All feature spectacular views of theAtlantic Ocean, some great water features and well manicured greens.
There is no question Moroccois a great holiday destination, the Atlantic coast resort of Casablancaand Agadir give some respite from the inland heat in the summer months, Marrakeshhas the history and fascinating culture to keep those non golfing days and evenings full of excitement. The golf, with the exception of a few established courses, is relatively new and will only improve with time as the courses mature. The level of service at each and every club we visited was excellent. Club houses are well appointed and in some cases spectacular (does your course have an infinity pool overlooking the 18th green?). The price of golf is very competitive at around £40 per round compared with its Spanish and Portuguese neighbours across theGibraltar straits and all clubs have caddies for around £10 per round. For me the caddies made the golf here a little bit different from Europe, you can save a couple of shots a round by hitting the putt’s on the lines they give you and with all the courses being pretty flat it’s an easy walk when your not carrying a golf bag. All clubs also have buggies which are best booked in advance especially at the older courses (expect to pay around £25-30 per buggy).
Accommodation is generally very good, many of the hotels have been built or refurbished over the last few years, all the main international chains of hotels can be found here with exactly the same standard as you would expect anywhere in the world. The local hotel star rating as with many countries around the world may need to be taken with a pinch of salt, it probably should be on a scale 1-7 inMorocco. If you see a price that’s too good to believe for a 5* hotel it likely to be more of a 3 to 4 star hotel by European standards. We ensure that all our hotels are shown at there European star rating rather than the local standard.
So what about the Camels, Kasbah’s and Bandits, well there are plenty of camel’s around (usually outside your hotel) The Medina in Marrakesh is still straight out of an Arabian knights movie especially in the evening and the Bandit’s? Well thankfully they are confined to the golf course these days, unless you want to buy a carpet! (But that’s another story).
Either way the one thing we can guarantee is a great golfing holiday in a fascinating region of Africa, whether it is a short winter sun break or a longer summer holiday we believe you will not be disappointed.
7 night Marrakesh packages start from only £499 including HB accommodation, 5 rounds of golf and all airport and golf transfers*
* Flights not included
If you would like more information about the region please give us a ring 01782 510800 and ask for Rachel, Rob or Neil. Alternatively email Rachel@qualitygolfdestinations.com or Rob@qualitygolfdestinations.com
We are often asked by clients who love the Algarve to offer an alternative venue for their winter golfing break. Fans of Portugal are drawn back year after year to the Algarve with its excellent beaches, great climate and of course an unbelievable range of golf courses, but if you ask any Portuguese if the Algarve is a fair reflection of there country they will say no!
With that in mind we decided that in 2011 the Lisbon area ofPortugal would be added to our ever growing list of destinations. Lisbon,Portugal’s capital is a fascinating city in its own right (which will be covered in a newsletter very soon) but our focus was on the Estoril golf coast. This region covers the seaside towns of Estoril and Cascais and the hillier inland region of Sintra. The country side in this region is both varied and spectacular from Cascais wind swept dunes to Sintra’s forested hills, valleys and villages. The region has been populated for 1000’s of years and the diversity in the towns span back to historical eras of the Romans, Moorish and Medieval Portuguese. All this set only 30 minutes drive from downtown Lisbon.
The Seaside towns of Cascais and Estoril are iconic Portuguese resorts which are also the homes of many of the wealthier Lisbonites with some of the most expensive real estate in the area being housed on the coastal roads. From Estoril’s famous Casino (the original inspiration for Ian Flemings Casino Royal) to the Marina of Cascais there is as much “chic” found here as the South of France or the more fashionable resorts on the Costa del Sol. A huge selection of Bars and Restaurant line the streets many overlooking the sea and with the towns not being totally dependent on the tourist trade many stay open all year to cater for the locals with inside seating for the winter period. The Seafood restaurants in the coastal towns will not disappoint but if you would like some fine dinning try the restaurants at the Penha Longa resort as it houses the best Japanese restaurant in Portugal “Midori” and a Michelin 2* restaurant “Arola” both are advisable to make a booking before you travel the 7km from the coast. If you are a wine buff try the wines from the local vineyards in any of the restaurants, much of the Portuguese wines are kept for the home market so trust your waiter and you will find some great wines at very reasonable prices.
The choices for accommodation in the region are vast, from self catering apartments overlooking the golf courses, Luxury 5* resorts and great value tourist hotels in the resort towns. On our visits to the region we have stayed and visited a great variety of hotels and apartments all have been of excellent standard. Whatever you require the area has the range of accommodation to meet the most demanding needs or budget.
Eight great courses at seven locations make up theEstorilGolfCoast. All are located within a short drive of each other and the courses are well signposted and easy to find. Roads in the region are modern and well maintained, although some are toll roads the fees are very reasonable (1.25 euro) and the benefits of using the toll roads outweigh the charges. The professional tours have visited many of the courses in the region. Three have hosted the Portuguese Open but can still be played without breaking the bank, indeed one of the best way’s to play the region is with the Estoril Golf Coast passport which allows either 5 or 3 days unlimited golf on seven different courses at discounted rates. The only course not on the passport is the superb Oitavos Dunes. We have included a brief overview of the courses below:
Belas Clube de Campo
Situated north west of Lisbon this championship course undulates along scenic valleys with panoramic views around the course, Belas is acknowledged as one of Portugal’s best constructed layouts measuring 6270m from the back tees the par 72 demands both skill and tactical play.
Golf Do Estoril
The oldest course in the region and has hosted the Portuguese Open 20 times as well as many other professional and amateur events. The course has a reputation of always being in immaculate condition with a friendly clubhouse and bar. With views of theAtlantic Oceanand Estoril this par 69 5313m course is a gem to play, not the longest but then size is not always the best judge of quality.
Lisbon Sports Club
The Lisbon Sports club was originally formed in 1922 with a nine hole layout, the club moved to its present location in 1964 and for many years was only a 14 hole course, this was rectified in 1992 when the final four holes were completed. The course is said to have a Scottish feel to it as its 18 holes are accompanied by a narrow winding brook through beautiful green pine woodland. Not a long course by modern standard but one a visiting golfer will enjoy. Par 69 5285m.
Overlooking the Atlantic near the town of Cascais, Oitavos dunes is one of the regions golfing jewels. Listed in the world’s top 100 courses by Golf magazine the US PGA official magazine, and the only listed course in Portugal is currently the home of the Portuguese open. As well as a world class course the complex also boasts excellent practice facilities, a five star hotel and a top class restaurant/clubhouse. Its par 71 stretches 6303m from the back tees, a real test when the wind blows.
Penha Longa Hotel & Golf Resort
A 27 hole Golf complex, the 9 hole Monastery course and Championship 18 hole Atlantic course.
Host of the Portuguese Open on three occasions, this great course is played through the valleys of the Sintra hills. There are times when you could be forgiven in thinking you were playing a course in the Alps instead of Portugal with its Pine tree lined fairways and raised teeing grounds, water comes into play on a number of holes and position off the tee is key to scoring well. 6313m from the championship tees Par 72.
This course spreads around the historical heart of the resort and is a perfect complement to theAtlantic. Ideal for guests who arrive in the late afternoon but who would still like to play a round of golf. Par 70 5176m
Quinta Da Marinha Golf
The beautifully maintained course was designed by Robert Trent Jones jnr. It offers a great challenge along its umbrella pine lined fairways, crossing 3 large lakes and the occasional ravine; players are consistently made to think off the tee. Although the course measures 5870m in its par 71 it has 6 par 3’s that require precision off the tee.
Pestana Beloura Golf
The verdant foothills of the Sintra Mountains offer a breathtaking backdrop for the Quinta da Beloura Golf Course that will stretch both player’s imagination and ability while providing an enjoyable challenge to golfers of all levels. 5846m Par 73.
Costs of playing in the region vary depending on the season you travel, indeed one of the best way’s to play the region is with the Estoril’s Golf Coast passport which allows either 5 or 3 days unlimited golf on seven different courses at discounted rates. The only course not on the passport is the superb Oitavos Dunes.
As a rule the prices are similar if not slightly cheaper than theAlgarve, what you will find is less congested courses and with the quieter courses you can expect an excellent standard of course condition.
Quality Golf Destinations Recommendations for the Area
There are two main ways to play the region. The first is to base your self on one of the golf resort complexes such as Penha Longa, Pestana Sintra or Belas and enjoy reduced green fees in either the resorts hotels or apartments while still only being a 10 – 20 minute drive from the resort towns and beaches. The second is to be based in or around the resort towns Cascais or Estoril. 3 courses Quinta da Marinha, Golf do Estoril and Oitavos Dunes are close to town and take only a few minutes to transfer to by taxi and give the flexibility of the town’s nightlife in the evenings. Both Cascais and Estoril have a great selection of hotels and apartments to suit all budgets. Either way the one thing we can guarantee is a great golfing holiday in a beautiful region of Portugal, whether it is a short winter sun break or a longer summer holiday we believe you will not be disappointed.
If you would like more information about the region please give us a call on 01782 510800 and ask for Rachel, Rob or Neil. Alternatively email Rachel@qualitygolfdestinations.com
5 * Penha Longa Golf Resort – Estoril, Portugal
5 nights B & B – unlimited golf on 9 hole Monastery course, 6 days car hire or Private airport transfer, Dinner in hotel on 1st night.
5 night’s Half Board – unlimited golf on 9 hole Monastery, 2 Rounds on Championship Atlantic course, 6 days car hire or Private airport transfer.
- Accommodation and car hire use based on twin share.
- Not included – international flights.
Valid only for holidays booked for the period 1st OCTOBER – 31st OCTOBER 2011
• Supplement double for single use per night: £55
•Offer on request and subject to availability of the Hotel and Golf Course
•Additional Golf at other local courses can be booked at additional cost
•Private car transfer to resort instead of car hire can be substituted
•Half board is based on our Chef’s Daily Suggestion at Restaurants “AssaMassa”, “Midori” or “Arola”. Beverages not included. Please note that options are subject to schedules and opening hours of restaurants.
To book please ring Rachel or Rob on 01782 510800 or email Rachel@qualitygolfdestinations.com
7 nights all-inclusive – unlimited golf, 8 days car hire, 6 rounds buggy hire.
From £ 650*
5 nights all-inclusive – unlimited golf, 6 days car hire, 4 rounds buggy hire.
- Accommodation, car hire and buggy use based on twin share.
- Not included – international flights.
• Supplement double for single use per night: £20
•Offer on request and subject to availability of the Hotel and Golf Course
•All Inclusive description: Breakfast, lunch and dinner. National selection of alcoholic drinks, soft drinks, herbal tea, mineral
water, from 11:00 am until 23:00 pm. Lunch and dinner could be buffet or à la carte according to the season. 1 hour Tennis
Court included (daily).
To book please ring Rachel or Rob on 01782 511667 or email Rachel@qualitygolfdestinations.com