If you are looking for a truly luxurious destination for a golf break that’s only a short-haul flight away, Carly Frost believes the exclusive Arabella Golf Resort should top your list.
When planning a golf escape to Spain most golfers will automatically look to the courses on offer in the Costa del Sol for year-round sunshine. Yet there’s a more picturesque, little talked about alternative, that offers an enticing break, the sophisticated island of Mallorca.
This Mediterranean idyll boasts 19 golf courses, several ranked amongst the finest layouts in Europe. It takes a mere two hours by air from London to arrive in the historic capital Palma and just fifteen minutes to drive to the Arabella golf resort, where a cluster of luxurious Starwood hotels and world-class courses are hidden in the foothills of the steep mountains.
For a truly five-star experience a stay in the Castillo Son Vida hotel is an absolute treat. This magnificent converted castle occupies a lofty position within an ancient 13-century estate and has welcomed many a VIP guest, including the Spanish royal family. No expense has been spared in the clever fusion of traditional and modern features.
Take a stroll around the hotel corridors and you’ll marvel at the ancient artwork and valuable antiques, relax by the outdoor pool or indoor spa and you’ll be offered a refreshing cool towel, some freshly squeezed fruit juice and suntan lotion on hot days. Such is the level of service here!
You will feel like a queen sleeping in the enormous grand bedrooms and dining on the hotel’s gourmet cuisine, while the friendly Castillo staff are always on hand like discreet personal butlers to attend to your every need. A sumptuous morning breakfast buffet and a la carte evening meals are taken in the Es Castell restaurant, which boasts one of the best views in Mallorca - a panoramic vista over the bay of Palma and the coastline beyond.
Guests staying here can choose to play on one of three 18-hole courses, as well as a 9-hole pitch and putt, all under the Arabella umbrella and linked by a convenient courtesy shuttle bus. The fantastic variety on offer means that there’s no need to hire a car and travel elsewhere.
Son Muntaner is the signature course, with a large floodlit driving range, several short game practice greens and a big putting green allowing you to warm up or work on your game. The course layout is of true championship standard yet without overwhelming you.
From the red tees it is very fair, with lots of interesting doglegs, elevated tee grounds and sweeping mountain vistas. Although hilly in parts, the distances between the greens and tees are comfortable enough to make walking enjoyable. There are lots of picturesque views and also some history to take in.
Take time to admire the thousand-year-old olive tree “Sa Capitana” on 15, it’s the oldest registered on the island. It marks the start of a very strong stretch of visually stunning finishing holes.
Son Muntaner has recently undergone major renovation work changing the grass to Bermuda to bring it up to very high modern day standards and is presented
and kept in immaculate condition with perfect greens.
The sister course next door, Son Vida, is the oldest course on the island and a former host venue to the Spanish Open. Past champions include the late, great Seve Ballesteros. It is easy to see why Seve’s creative shot-making skills served him well and why for the very same reason it is popular with shorter, more accurate lady players.
Son Vida is hilly and tight which makes it a strenuous walk and easier to take a buggy, but nevertheless great fun to play. There are a couple of particularly tough tee shots where you feel like you are driving through a tunnel of trees. The par-3s are nearly all played from elevated tees down to little greens, short enough to be reachable by all standards of player, yet with a tricky drop making club choice a challenge.
Clever doglegs force you to plot your way around to manage a score, rewarding the player that doesn’t always hit a driver but rather a club well-placed for position.
The newest addition to these foothills is Son Quint golf course, which is best described as a blend of the styles of both the bigger, tougher Son Muntaner and the
shorter, tighter Son Vida.
If you choose to stay in the very modern, luxurious Sheraton Arabella Golf hotel, the rooms have lovely sunny balconies overlooking Son Vida’s 18th. One of the big attractions of this hotel is the sumptuous spa with an indoor pool, jacuzzi, steam room, sauna and treatment rooms, providing the ideal relaxation post-round.
There are several outdoor pools too, set in tranquil gardens, and the water has a special salt content that is supposed to help cleanse and rejuvenate the skin.
The beauty of Arabella’s location, aside from its convenience to the airport, is that you are only ten minutes by taxi from the bay of Palma and the coast. This historic town has so much to explore, from the striking cathedral, one of the finest I have seen in the Mediterranean, to the sophisticated marina, where there are plenty of open-air restaurants and bars to choose from if you want a night out.
Shopaholics will be in heaven with designer brands galore, whilst the bargain hunters can find the copy-cat handbags being touted by the street sellers. Arriving in Mallorca I had never considered it to be worthy of classification as a top golf destination, but rather for its reputation as a popular holiday island. However, in four short days this Mediterranean idyll completely won my affections. So much so that I can’t wait to return again and tee off on some more of Mallorca’s fairways, explore the many sights to see and pretty coastal beaches.
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