As we looked to grab some last minute winter sun our eyes were drawn to Vilamoura where golfers are treated to year round sunshine and some of the best golf courses in Europe. Our accommodation was in the Vila Gale Ampalius which is a superb hotel, couldn’t fault anything. The staff were so friendly and happy to do anything for you which made such a difference compared to that of the Dom Pedro Golf Hotel. We were lucky enough to get two suites which were huge. A large lounge with tables and chairs, sofa’s, armchairs and balcony with sea view overlooking the beach.
Huge bar area with pool table and a good restaurant, buffet breakfasts with everything you could possibly need. Facilities are great, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, spa facilities, tennis courts etc. Ideal location walking into town and the usual Vilamoura golf shuttle facilities.
Our first round of golf was at Quinta do Lago South (pictured top left), which is a stunning golf course and probably the favourite amongst our group for the weekend. Great layout and in superb condition for the time of year and amount of traffic it receives. The greens were quick and considering we were all close to sober on the day of arrival we scored the fewest points of the weekend here – maybe testament to its layout. Long walks between tee to green in places and relatively busy it was the slowest round of the weekend at 5 hours.
Our second round was at the famed Oceanico Victoria (pictured left) which is another top golf course and easy to see why it hosts the Portuguese Masters. It’s not a typical Algarve course, it’s slightly more open than you’d expect from most in Portugal so you can spray it a little off the tee without being penalised. Be warned though it’s very long off the back tees and water comes into play quite a bit on the back nine. We were given buggies which were definitely needed because of the hangovers and again long walks. Complimentary balls were provided for the range and considering we didn’t use them due to hangovers we all played really well! The course was fully booked all day but the marshall’s did a great job in keeping the speed of play going and the buggy bar is probably sporting alloy wheels after the amount of money we pumped into if for bottled water!
Our third round was at former Portuguese Open venue, Vila Sol (pictured left). This is a tough course that ran Quinta do Lago in being our favourite of the weekend. We were reliably informed by everyone that has ever played it that whilst there are 27 holes to be played (3 loops of 9 – The Prime, Challenge and Prestige) the original 18 (Prime & Challenge) are by far the best holes. We took buggies again due to only 2 hours sleep and were charged 50€ a go but we couldn’t have done it without them due to the usual long walks. Some brilliant holes and the course was in great condition.
Nice touches were Jo the photographer who takes professional group and individual photo’s on the 1st tee and the fact that she is absolutely stunning probably helps her sell them afterwards! She can provide framed photos or DVD’s etc and for large groups visiting that we spoke to they thought it was a good memento. There was also a charity group on the amazing par 3 15th where you could win some pro v1’s for hitting the green, whilst only 2 out of our group managed to successfully do this we all had a bit of fun for charity.
As for après golf, Vilamoura and the marina it surrounds provides plenty for golfing groups. We found whilst the prices were reasonable, the cheapest place for drinks was the casino of all places, under 10€ for 4 beers and 4 espresso’s (just to keep us going!). Also Shakespeare’s bar next to the Olympus Suites Hotel, only open till 18h00 but only 1€ a pint!
We headed to Albufeira one of the nights and this was brilliant. Better nightlife than Vilamoura and a much better selection of bars and clubs. A taxi was only 18€ each way which when split between 4 is no major problem. La Bamba’s, Reno’s and Kiss nightclub all great places!
Already looking to book another Algarve golf holiday with Your Golf Travel.com so will be in touch shortly!