‘One of the finest examples of an all-inclusive resort that I have seen’

Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire September 1, 2019 18:24

The Golf Business reporter Sarah Forrest has visited one of the world’s most famous golf resorts to find two outstanding courses, a ‘driving range on steroids’ and non-golfing entertainment for the whole family. 

Where am I?

• Formerly the land was designated as a Formula 1 track

• Unimaginatively, its golf courses were originally called the Green and the Red

• It was built with the vision that the venue would host the 1997 Ryder Cup (but was unable to meet the deadline)

• Gallardo says this is ‘one of the finest golf venues in the world’

• It is situated on mainland Europe.

If you haven’t guessed by now it is of course PGA Catalunya, Spain and one of the finest examples of an all-inclusive resort that I have seen. 

Being part of an exclusive ladies-only journalist trip to this great resort, just an hour’s transfer from Barcelona airport, opened my eyes to what a family resort can be.

A 230 hectare plot of land was up for grabs when the Royal Automobile Club of Catalunya decided it wasn’t the right site for its new Formula 1 track, but it is a perfect spot for a golf resort which, like a good wine, matures and gets better with each passing year to emerge as one of Europe’s finest golf resorts.

Angel Gallardo, former European tour player and visionary who is at the helm, saw what this waste land could be, and he, together with Neil Coles, ensured the Stadium and Tour courses was constructed. With two 18 hole golf courses, the better known Stadium Course (formerly the Green Course) has consistently ranked in the top 10 in Europe since it opened in 1999 and was recently voted number one in Spain. It is a regular haunt for PGA European Tour events. It is also a bucket list course with its gentle-on-the-eye layout, undulating its way around the landscape with a natural flow of green to tee.

The Tour Course complements the Stadium, but that doesn’t mean it is less of a challenge – just glance right as you enter the resort if you need that reaffirming! Pitched as a kinder golf course, I think that would depend on whether you play well or not! Especially with plenty of water and pine trees tormenting your wayward shots.

PGA Catalunya’s owners have thought outside the box and are not providing a resort, they are providing an experience, with clever additions to embrace the whole family.

Grandparents and children alike are catered for to the same high standard of professionalism and care, with a myriad of activities to chose from outside golf. For a start, while there are two hotels on site, a five and a four star, there are also units and houses to rent for complete flexibility, couple this with the usual and expected quality swimming pools and children’s entertainment, then throw in zip wires and with more being planned for the ultimate retreat to satisfy the whole family; whether golfers or not.

However with golf being the main attraction, and in many cases the main reason for visiting, rest assured that the two courses are thoughtfully backed up with carefully replicated bunkers to those of world renowned golf courses globally, with sand being imported to satisfy those peculiarities – I didn’t think I’d be playing St Andrews in Spain! The performance centre, not just a driving range, but a driving range on steroids with all the toys to boot and is a must visit.

Cava or Champagne?

Seriously, who cares! But what an experience it was to taste different Cava and Champagnes, and the conclusion was … well, it was your own personal taste, I do know that I might need to remortgage the house to buy the one I liked though. A great way to enjoy the ever present tapas too and a very enjoyable pre-dinner activity before being served with delicious food in the restaurant.

On yer bike

Something I was really looking forward to was a cycle ride to the local and historic town through woodland and over dirt tracks; it soon became apparent how unfit I was! Despite this, I would definitely recommend a cycle ride, what better way to see the true countryside, bump along the cobbled streets to the local watering hole (no I don’t mean a pub, I really do mean a tap for all to enjoy the cool fresh water before jumping back on your bike to cycle back and jump into the pool at PGA Catalunya)?

When in Rome, or is it Paris!

PGA Catalunya has embraced this naturally historic location and encourages guests to take a tour of Girona. An ancient city thousands of years old with romantic colourful buildings wishing to impart their stories to you in whispers as you tour around this beautiful city. Despite it being the capital of Girona, it is not a big mass of concrete, the Onyar River dissecting its very heart to give an alternative dimension as you walk across the Pont de les Peixateries Vellesbridge, which is strangely familiar as you glance through the network of crisscross iron … images of the Eiffel Tower spring to mind – there is of course a connection. Our tour was hosted by Girona Food Tours.

A walking tour through this beautiful city embracing the equally colourful and diverse local food on offer – I think we stopped seven times in different restaurants, from the traditional Iberico ham to the black salty squid rice to the selection of deserts setting the senses on fire with taste and a riot of colour. And to finish, a quaint story of the modest ice cream cart. The famed and talented chefs, the Roca brothers, wanted to give something back to the city of Girona and applied to have a traditional hand-pulled cart traversing its twisted and, in places, cobbled streets selling ice cream. The local authorities said no, so the brothers bought a small, out-of-the-way shop and simply parked the ice cream cart in there! You chose your ice cream, your topping and your receptacle from a selection of regular – and not so regular – flavours! A great way to finish this delightful tour before jumping into the taxi, feeling very full, back to PGA Catalunya for a good night’s rest.

Sarah is a knowledgeable and well travelled freelance golf lifestyle journalist, marketer and new product business development specialist.

 Collaborations available.

sarah@golfgurugroup.com

Instagram sarah.forrest360golf

 

Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire September 1, 2019 18:24
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