Portugal’s Algarve is liberally festooned with top-class golf courses, and you can choose from an array of gems if you’re planning to holiday in the region.
However, if you want to push the boat out just a little, then you simply have to sample what Monte Rei Golf & Country Club has to offer.
It is just a half-hour from Faro Airport and 10 minutes from the pretty town of Tavira. Set among 400 hectares of countryside, it has an air of exclusivity that is well-earned ¬– after all, when Jack Nicklaus designs a layout it is sure to attract aficionados from all over the globe.
This pretty-as-a-picture course is the centerpiece of the resort, and word of mouth alone about the standard has seen Monte Rei rapidly losing its ‘best kept secret’ status.
If quality is top of your priority list, then Monte Rei will tick all the boxes ¬– and then some. The course itself is always in immaculate condition, with greens faster than a billiard table and sweeping fairways that require serious course management. With greens this slick, it can be tough if you’re not on top of your putting game, but there are a variety of tee boxes so that even higher handicap golfers can get around without being too daunted.
It’s the type of course that could bring you to your knees if you go out with the intention of ‘shooting the lights out’, but if you just accept whatever score the course gives you it will be one of the most enjoyable rounds you could hope to have. Anywhere.
Every hole here is well designed, and every shot must be thought-out (a word of warning about the Index 1 15th hole, which has a voracious appetite for golf balls. Well… mine, at least). The penalty for wild abandon is severe around here, but getting a ‘boring old par’ will never feel as exhilarating. A birdie? Sure, you may as well turn pro!
There are plenty of food and beverage options available at the resort, from the laid-back clubhouse bar and grill to the upmarket Vistas Restaurant, which specialises in fine dining and is under the watch of celebrated Portuguese chef Albano Lourenco.
Also set among the stunning villas on site is the Veranda, which has more of a contemporary pub feel about it and is at the heart of the mini village O Miradouro which overlooks the tennis courts.
Whether it’s an informal snack or some haute cuisine you’re hungry for, you won’t be found wanting here.
No luxury resort would be complete without a spa/steam room/sauna experience, and it’s all here too ¬– along with gym facilities for those not brought to their knees by the course itself.
The villas are drop-dead gorgeous, and decorated with bang-on-trend colours and décor. As you would expect, every amenity is at your fingertips – state-of-the-art kitchens, flat-screen TVs, DVD players, free Wi-Fi, laundry equipment, etc ¬– and some have outdoor dining areas, terraces and private pools.
While certainly grand in design, the superb villas have a very fresh and modern feel to them. Everything from the stone-floored bathrooms to the gadget-filled kitchens and comfort-drenched bedrooms whisper ‘class’ in your ear. Believe me, you won’t want to go home.