Beaches, spas, wine, food, more wine, sunshine and relaxing by a pool are all things that you would associate with the idea of a classic girls’ holiday.
Most of us will have experienced one at some point. You might live for them, hate them, or simply rather not remember the painful hangovers that that accompanied them.
However, if you are happiest striding the fairways on exotic and exciting golf courses, the idea of going away without your clubs might seem a bit pointless.
But equally, for those of us who still find golf quite hard at times, the idea of playing a full week of intense golf can sound very daunting. Not to mention totally exhausting.
As much as you might love the game, play too many rounds and you’ll come back needing another holiday to recover from it (yes I am speaking from experience).
The dream is to find something inbetween the two.
Somewhere that involves indulgent food, beautiful beaches and interesting culture, but also the opportunity to play amazing, sun-soaked courses. That way there’s something for everyone.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has friends who don’t play golf. There’s no way I could convince them to go on a ‘golfing holiday’, but a holiday that involves all of the above, plus ‘maybe some golf if we feel like it’, is a much easier thing to sell.
So when I saw words like ‘gin and tonic tasting’, ‘yoga’, and ‘Wine Spa’ on the itinerary for my golf trip to Costa Brava, I was confident that I had found this dream location.
After flying into Barcelona on a beautiful sunny day in April, we were straight into our first round at Club Golf Costa Brava. Here it began to dawn on me that I really hadn’t done as well as I intended with my promise to carry on playing golf through the winter.
Plus, when you’re still really not very good, there’s always cause for a small amount of fear and trepidation as you step up to the first tee.
‘Can I still remember how to hit a golf ball?’, was the unhelpful question that came into my head as I looked at the tiny flag in the distance.
The 1st hole was indeed a disaster, but luckily it all came back to me by the 2nd.
At this point I could stop panicking and start to appreciate the surroundings, which were something quite special. With the sounds of birds singing and surrounded by wild flowers and gently sloping hills, it was immaculately maintained and very attractive.
It was so quiet and peaceful it felt like we had the whole resort to ourselves. Which when you perform as many embarrassing shots as I do, is a blissful relief.
Perhaps most importantly, it also wasn’t that difficult or overly narrow or long. Which was great for preventing my ball collection from diminishing.
Golf Costa Brava isn’t the most well-known course in the area, but if you’re not yet an amazing golfer, or simply want to ease yourself into your golfing break, this is a perfect first round.
The road to our next round at Golf d’Aro took us around numerous, impossibly tight hairpin turns as we headed 300m up into the hills.
But this stomach churning ride was soon forgotten about as we settled into our yoga lesson out on the grass near the clubhouse.
When your limited yoga experience has all been in the local leisure centre, practicing it in the warm sunshine of northern Spain is a vastly different and far superior experience. We came away feeling relaxed and content, which I’m sure helped me play better.
Like the yoga lessons, the dramatic setting of this course is a big draw for non-golfers. Set within the wild and beautiful Gavarres National Park, the course is surrounded by electric fences to ward off wild pigs and other larger animals. There are no houses to be seen and the whole area is protected from future developments.
We played the championship course, where the 4th, 5th and 15th holes held the most spectacular views over the luscious vegetation and rolling hills.
The par 3 course is also ideal if you are pushed for time or simply don’t want to tackle a long course.
Travel north from here and you’ll find Hotel Peralada Wine Spa & Golf near the town of Figueres. Narrow in places and perhaps the trickiest of the tracks I played, the 18th challenges you to hit over a stretch of water, while somehow managing to ignore the racket from the excitable geese that live there.
The course has hosted the Catalonia Open in 1995, and also the Senior PGA qualifying school. But that doesn’t mean it is overly difficult, even I managed a par. Embracing the current European trend, there is also a popular Pitch and Putt course.
Unfortunately, it started to pour as soon as we teed off at our final stop at nearby TorreMirona. But as the mist cleared, the fresh and dramatic view that treated us from the clubhouse balcony was unforgettable.
Lakes feature heavily in this pretty course and the island green on the 5th will certainly test your precision.
Even if there were no golf courses in this vibrant region, there would still be countless things to do.
The obvious draw is the beaches and pretty coastline, so the fact that fresh and flavoursome seafood makes up a major part of the local cuisine won’t come as a surprise to anyone.
Every seafood lover must try these local dishes, and there’s no better way to do this then through a cooking demonstrations at the Fishing Museum in the quaint fishing town of Palamos.
Here you can learn the correct way to prepare these tasty recipes and best of all, sample them afterwards. My mouth still waters at the thought of the vermicelli, pickled herring and fisherman’s stew that was prepared for us by the characterful chef, who himself was an ex-fisherman and ship’s cook. To give you an idea of just how fresh the fish is, you can witness the village’s fish auction in the same building.
The weird and wonderful Dali museum is another unique experience. Here you can browse through some of the artist’s most brilliant pieces of work and gain an insight into his bizarre and genius mind. The collection is fascinating and insightful but at the same time totally baffling.
The Peralada casino is perhaps almost as unforgettable. Housed inside a majestic, fourteenth-century castle, the original inhabitants surely won’t ever have imagined that this imposing building would one day be full of fruit machines and an extensive selection of gins.
Located in Platja d’Aro, this clean and stylish hotel is home to a small yet perfectly formed private beach and luxury spa.
Just 200 yards from Port Bo beach in the idyllic fishing town of Calella de Palafrugell, this is the perfect base for a relaxing break.
Hotel Peralada Wine Spa & Golf
A hipsters paradise, the minimalist and clean interior is influenced by nature, with a big emphasis on wood and wicker. The walls of wine bottles alone are worth a post on Instagram. The wine therapy spa includes a treatment that involves bathing in actual red wine. Enough said.
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