PLAYING: Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. and home of two past Portuguese Opens, Penha Longa Golf Club is situated in the beautiful foothills of the Sintra Mountains. Measuring almost 7,000 yards from its tips, the challenging, championship, par 72 Atlantico Course is a layout for the very good, all-around golfer, accustomed to using every club. Penha Longa’s second layout, the 9-hole Monastery Course, is only slightly kinder than the five-star biggie.
INFORMATION: (800) 542-8680; penhalonga.com
spain—costa del sol
STAYING: Located at the heart of the Costa del Sol and among the first luxury golf resorts in Europe, the Almenara Golf Hotel & Spa sits in the Sotogrande hills, overlooking the fabled Valderrama Golf Club, and surrounded by its own 27 holes of incomparable golf. Each of its spacious 148 rooms and suites has a terrace with views to the gardens or across the course to the Mediterranean. Guests have a choice of two award-winning restaurants, as well as the state-of-the-art, luxury Elysium Spa. While golf is the focal point at Almenara, other activities are available: tennis, an equestrian center, and two beach clubs with windsurfing, sailing and waterskiing.
PLAYING: Designed by David Thomas, the Almenara Golf Course embraces 27 holes, allowing golfers to enjoy up to three different 18-hole combinations, all par 72. The fairways wander among gorgeous landscapes, around two large lakes framed by pine and cork oak trees. A short walk from the resort is the Sotogrande Golf Academy, with 90 practice fields, three practice holes, and private, group and kids lessons. Golf International offers a 7-night Cream of Costa del Sol package, with luxury hotel accommodations, daily breakfast, five rounds of golf, and a rental car. Four nights are spent at Almenara Golf Hotel & Spa and three nights at Gran Hotel Guadalmina-Banus. Golfers get to play five once-in-a-lifetime courses: Valderrama and Sotogrande Old Course (both designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr.), San Roque, Santana, and Finca Cortesin. The cost per golfer starts at $3,775 dbl; $2,800 dbl for a non-golfer.
INFORMATION: nh-hotels.com and golfinternational.com
STAYING: On the eastern end of Costa del Sol is La Cala Golf & Spa Resort, set on a 1,000-acre estate in the foothills of the Mijas Mountains, just east of Marbella. This is Spain’s largest and perhaps most complete golf resort. La Cala, a traditional Spanish resort, has 73 luxury rooms and suites overlooking its championship golf courses. Its guest amenities include a full-service spa, two bars and the La Terraza Restaurant. Activities include horseback riding, gym, squash and tennis. Among the many packages to recommend is the Three Nights Hotel & Golf & Dinner offer, priced from $356 pp dbl and including three nights B&B, two greens fees and one dinner; for non-golfers, one spa treatment and one Swedish massage are included. Packages are also available for four to seven nights, as well as family golf packages.
PLAYING: La Cala Golf Resort boasts three true championship layouts (and all are hilly), plus a David Leadbetter Golf Academy with its own 6-hole par 3 Executive Course. Designer Cabell Robinson (star pupil of Robert Trent Jones, Sr.) has managed to give each course its own special character: the Asian Course—300 yards shorter than the America Course—is set in spectacular rolling countryside, and water hazards come into play on three holes. On the higher America Course, the 15th hole affords a breathtaking view of Mijas. Offering the least hilly challenges is the newest course, the 18-hole, par 71 Europa. However, there is nothing easy about any course at La Cala. The clubhouse has a pro-shop, gym, saunas and a restaurant.
STAYING: On the western end of Costa del Sol is the Barcelo Montecastillo Golf Resort, 50 minutes from Seville and 10 minutes from Jerez de la Frontera and other interesting Andalusian attractions. The hotel’s spacious and well-appointed accommodations range from deluxe and superior rooms and suites with golf course views and sitting area, to villas with kitchens and gardens. All have heating and air conditioning, mini-bars and stylish bathrooms. Guests have a choice of three restaurants; bars and lounges; a spa with indoor pool, jacuzzi, dry and wet saunas, four treatment rooms and gym. Additionally, there are two outdoor pools, tennis courts and jogging trails. Golfers are offered a Golf & Relaxation package featuring two nights in deluxe room accommodations, breakfast, Wellness Club admission, one relaxation treatment pp, and one unlimited greens fee. The price is $210 for two, although when booked with breakfast and dinner, the cost is $265. Packages are available at all room and suite levels.