Monday, 17 July 2017

Follow ME

Oh dear, follow me has only just jumped onto this page!
If you like what you are reading, please do follow me on the right of this page
In return I promise to keep providing new content in my usual way
Please follow me....

Costa Blanca - Alicante airport access to some great golf

As a member of IAGTO, International Association of Golf Tour Operators, Red Tee Breaks is often invited to visit countries that want to show their products to us as people who can sell them to our clients.  A recent trip to Alicante did just that.  Alicante Airport is one of the most accessible airports from airports in the UK making it a quick pop over for some sun, sea and of course golf.

Whilst we saw many venues, for the sake of this article my focus will be on two resorts - La Finca Golf and Spa Hotel and Barcelo Asia Gardens Hotel and Thai Spa and its surrounding courses. 


La Finca Golf and Spa Hotel is a modern quality hotel with 18 holes of great golf on site.  The clean fresh feel about La Finca immediately hits you as you walk through the door, the reception staff neat in their uniforms set the standard for the rest of the resort.  We arrived hot and sweaty having just played golf in the sunshine, methodical friendly check in proceeded until everyone of us was catered for with ease.  Entering the hotel on the first floor meant that it was a bit of an upside down hotel spreading its far reaching wings to enhance that illusion of clean space.  Despite its modernity it wasn't out of place in the Spanish sunshine.  The outside space lends itself to a large outside pool for the guests to relax on the comfy sun beds with further relaxation being offered by a quiet moving  water channel of turquoise blue surrounded by rich vegetation and ice white paving to set the mood.  The rooms are clean cut and comfortable offering everything a good quality hotel should. My room overlooking the pool with the golf course in the distance - there to tantalise the inner golfer in me whilst fighting for my inner desire to just sit and relax and take in that view; a good start for a few days at La Finca.
La Finca actually has three golf courses in its portfolio.  La Finca being the 18 holes on site to the hotel - a beautifully maintained golf course of a high quality, easy to play bunkers, wide fairways without them being too silly and readable putting greens.  As a stand alone golf course, it can certainly hold its own, but as one of the three on offer in the group, it can offer even more choice for the visiting golfers.
Las Ramblas and Villa Martin make up the trio package.  Las Ramblas, a golf course whose identity if taken from the pine trees guarding and protecting the course.  A hillier course with character and a menacing stream plotting its way around the course to bring itself in and out of play makes for a good test for strategic golf.
Campo de Golf Villa Martin is one of the oldest courses in the region.  Host to European championship competitions Villa Martin is well regarded as no walk in the park where skill will reward your golf, but not totally unplayable for higher handicaps, so long as they don't get too greedy!  A pretty course offering a good round and sense of achievement whilst nursing a glass of wine in the bar afterwards.

Whilst in the area, other places to visit are the historical centre of Orihuela, a beautiful traditional city boasting architecture depicting its chequered history from the Romans to present day.  Take time to wander the narrow streets and locate the Baroque church of Santa Domingo.  It is on these steps that we were treated to the all male choir singing stories of history of the city, with every tone and pitch of their voices being reverberated around the ancient stone buildings enhancing history with each note sung.

Alicante and especially it’s neighbouring Benidorm are known as party towns, hen and stag parties flock in their thousands to sample the 24/7 offerings, however there is more to this part of Spain, a side that is rich in a very different way, a way that offers luxury hotels and golf with thought provoking views across to the deep blue sea.  

The Asia Garden Hotel and Thai Spa is a little oasis of calm amongst the bustling towns.  A deceptively large complex with areas of rest strategically placed around the site to contemplate that great shot of the day.  Easter Island style heads with water trickling down into calm pools of fish happily swimming along create the ambient tranquility  further enhanced by the various swimming pools, private thatch roof lounge areas and rich vegetation.  Tropical flowers edge the various restaurant walls which in turn overlook the pools, the stark contrasting red of the building somehow blending into the overall serene scene with ease with the odd glimpse of the high risers to bring you back to reality.  Spacious rooms have varying views but each room is decorated to a high standard with emphasis on quality fittings and comfort.
Courses to play in the area are Golf and Spa Bonalba; a rich terrain course beguiling its newness in age, good sized putting greens with subtle movement to catch the unexpected errant putt.   A course of two nines with the back nine having the reputation as the harder of the two.  Large expanses of water and tricky bunker positions compliment the wide fairways culminate in a good all round golf course.
Melia Villaitana Golf Course  sets itself above all others - literally, with its panoramic views of Benidorm, a skyline bringing high rise buildings of varying shapes and sizes set against the backdrop of the Mediterranean sea, demanding and intimidating equally, the sight is one to bemuse, if you can tear yourself away from the golf course that is!
A quality golf course which gently winds itself around with ease, wide fairways and playable greens add Villaitana as a must play in Alicante.

One to watch out for - currently a nine hole course is emerging as a good test of golf, over rugged ravines, across water and playing good condition fairways and greens despite its youthful age.  Puig Campana is undergoing major renovation - not only the golf course but the club house too.  A large panoramic clubhouse dominate the spot to maximise the views across the valley to the ocean in the distance. Not quite finished but still imposing in stature, should the current thread of good quality continue to the second 9 holes and the not yet completed clubhouse, this golf course will be one to look out for.  

Benidorm may not be every ones cup of tea, but take time to go to the old part of town and wander along the beach, or better still get electric bikes and explore in this unique way, gently pedalling along in the comfort that the motor is taking on most of the hard work and hills!

There are 21 golf courses in the Alicante area, all within striking distance of this hub airport.  Having such an array gives choices for a varied golf holiday for any golfer of any level and budget with four and five star hotel to choose exactly what you want from your golf break in Costa Blanca.  


Interested in Alicante for golf? Contact sarah@redteebreaks.com

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Tunisia IS coming back for golf


So I’m minding my own business  getting on with some work when I get a call out of the blue from the Tunisia Tourist Board in London inviting me  to participate in their inaugural journalist golf tournament in Tunisia a few weeks later.  My gut response - yes please.  I’m a bit of an adventurer,  I keep an eye on world affairs but also I’m a journalist and I feel it is my duty to go to various destinations to report my findings. Two weeks later meeting my fellow journalists and the colourful Tunisian Tourist Board representative who made it all happen, Moncef at the airport, we were set to go.

Arriving in Tunis airport, we transferred to El Kantaoui (el - can- too-ee), a bit late for dinner but ready for a welcome rest after the journey - after a quick drink in the welcoming bar! I quite like arriving in the dark to hotels, crashing on the bed then waking up to you don't know what when you open the curtains the next morning. To my delight it was the large turquoise pool with vacant contrasting blue sun-beds, clean fresh and poised waiting for their next guest to take up their spot for a day, enjoying all The Concorde Green Park Hotel has to offer.  A U-shaped purpose built 5* hotel right on the beach with stretching tiered views from the room to the pool to the sea and sky beyond, a beautifully decorated new hotel not without charm yet still developing its character and colour of Tunisia.  The staff smiled constantly and were incredibly willing to please. In fact that was the theme of the whole time in Tunisia - all the people smiled as they went about their days, they seriously couldn't do enough for you, in many respects we were treasured like individual jewels in their precious crown. The Concorde Green Park with it’s fine sandy beaches in the Port of El Kantaoui, Sousse, next to the famous El Kantaoui golf course - host of the Tunisian Seniors Open and oldest course in Tunisia, offered everything a holiday golf venue should. I was there for a Media Golf Tournament, I was one of two representing Great Britain and I hadn't played well for a long time, so I had to dust off my summer golf shoes and get on with it, I was here on business, not pleasure! but playing well was part of it.  El Kantaoui is a 36 hole golf complex housing the Panorama and Sea Courses.  The tournament was played on the Panorama (but we did sneak a further 9 holes on the Sea Course after lunch for good measure! ) 

Things were hotting up - people were actually practicing before play, on the extensive outdoor range, on the short game area and on the putting surface - I began to wonder and panic at the same time what standard of golfers these people were.  Maybe I’d been put into the wrong group!  Chastising myself for getting ‘het up’ a welcome thought popped into my head- any golfer of any standard can play another of any standard and still win or loose.  Despite knowing this, a little gurgle in the pit of my stomach developed as I stood on that first tee, a similar kind of feeling when one holds a card with that dreaded word ‘Medal’ on it!
The Panorama Course meandered around the houses on this 130 hectare plot of land with the first taking you up the side of the road to feast my eyes on something I expected to be everywhere in Tunisia - a camel.  OK I may have been a bit naive with my expectations but I was equally delighted when the chap paraded the camel along the road side past the golf course whilst we prepared for our games.  I felt as though I finally arrived in Tunisia.   Little did I know that would be the first and last sighting of a camel because believe it or not, but the Tunisians drive cars!  Albeit badly and through gritted teeth with tourists hanging on for dear life!
We set off down the first tee, I saw my competition and relaxed!  Two challenging yet different golf courses offering links style golf with open fairways and good greens - what else could one want from their golf - oh yes, good play.…  The course meandered upwards for the majority of the holes to be played before dropping back down for the closing holes; a good all round challenge.  Elevated tees in places with wide welcoming fairways add to the delight of this course.  On offer for lunch in the club house afterwards was a varied menu, being part of a group we were given two options - meat or fish, no further description just meat or fish.  Opting for the fish I was delighted with my colourful tasty choice of fish - I still don't know what type it was but trusted my judgement (and the chef’s!) and being slightly righteous by not wanting to looking like a pig on our first meal together, fish was a good option for me, however I didn't really expect it to be as delicious as it truly was.  Overlooking the golf course eating lunch with its panoramic views soaking up the sunshine, it was difficult to tear myself away for the second game of 9 holes - thankfully not part of the competition!  The Sea Course differed to the Panorama in so far as and as the name suggests it is by the sea for holes 12 to 15 which we played giving the best view of the course, with these holes wrapping around the hotel.  Other than that it was quite difficult to say which one was better - both were in good condition and played really well - you’ll just have to make time to play both!

A welcome second night at the Concorde Hotel allowed us to sample the vast buffet, everything one can image was on offer, from salads to weird and wonderful  delicious deserts. Buffets of such variety have their pros and cons - great for a diet if you have will-power, otherwise a disaster in the nicest possible way of course!  But the choice was outstanding.  Seated in large refectory style room was a bustling, noisy and jovial affair.

An early start to day two at Golf Citrus.  An established golf course whose condition was fantastic.  Just a few minutes away from the gulf of Hammamet, trees abundant on this beautifully laid out golf course.  We played La Foret Course a reasonably hilly course lined with pine trees, one of two 18 hole choices on site, the other being Les Oliviers.  Well kept yet in places narrow fairways and gently undulating greens are a treat for the visiting golfer. Being told the wind could be in play to ruin a good shot I was looking for a strong wind to blame that day!  A delightfully different layout and play to El Kantaoiu thereby offering a great combination together for the ultimate golf break in this part of Tunisia, especially if taking in the sights of Tunisia are on your agenda when visiting this beautiful country. It is always difficult to comment too much on condition of the golf course, as it may change the following week, but the course layout is a varied one with well placed hazards and playable fairways to good sized putting greens.  Food choice after the golf - fish or meat.  Meat being my choice this time (Not so conscious by now, I  ordered the biggest and most filling option this time!) I was treated to the most delicious steak cooked to perfection, again something I wasn't really expecting for golf club food in Tunisia.


Checking into Sinbad Hotel after golf, a different and quirky hotel in so far as it ‘spiders’ in corridors from the central lobby like an octopus of many legs reaching to the far ends of the site to maximise the plot of land  Simple, sprawling irregular shaped yet comfortable rooms greet you, with a little seating area outside the ‘back door’ for the late sun worshippers amongst us.  Pre-dinner drinks in the outside bar with its infinity pool tricking the eye of an illusion of cascading into the sea below was a particular highlight of the evening.  A little cooler at night by the sea we drank local cocktails and chatted until dinner before being hustled into yet another large dining room and waited on by attentive and friendly waiters falling over each other to please.  

A rest day from golf allowed us to visit Carthage (cart-age) and Sidi Bou Said (sid -e - boo -say).  Carthage with its wonderful rich colourful history dating back to ancient Carthaginian times and the centre of Tunisia at the time.  Evolving from the 9th Century it was force to be reckoned with at the time in the Gulf of Tunis.  An equal force to be reckon with was our incredibly enthusiastic guide, who to be honest did go on a bit, but listen and we were treated to the history of the area and its governance during this evolving period of time, a time of dominance and history making.  Mosaics line the entrance to the museum and whilst a little dull in colour as time takes it tolls, you can see the richness of bygone days with each little piece able to tell it’s own story.  Ruins abound, this is a must visit for visitors to Tunisia to understand the countries evolution into what it is today.
Sidi Bou Said is a tourist area known as the blue and white town - every building has to be in particular shade of blue and white which coupled with its location overlooking the sea makes the village stand out against the camel brown earth.  A monument to Roldolphe d’Erl
and and his foresight to apply this strict colour scheme in the 1920’s.  Local artists sell their wares along the streets of Sidi Bou Said where you can indulge your retail therapy for ornately decorated small pots to large artefacts as your luggage allowance prohibits.  A lovely lunch in a local restaurant in Sidi Bou Said followed our day of sightseeing.


The final couple of nights we stayed at the Movenpick Hotel in Gammarth.  Reputed to be the best hotel in the area we were treated to a Hamman - a large steam room with off-shoots for privacy if required, and an incredibly cold pool - which I did not partake having seen my colleague turn a Sidi Bou Said shade of blue upon exiting.  Good sized, rich,  dark rooms overlook the outside pool to the rough sea beyond exaggerated by the dull day which it had unexpectedly turned out to be. Excited to be going to a local Moroccan restaurant, we were served with - you guessed it fish - for all courses.  Delicious.

The last day dawned for the golf tournament, now it has to be said I was nowhere near the prizes, but still enjoyed the game on the final day playing The Residence - a Robert Trent Jones junior design tackling the natural landscape of the water inlets as only a good course designer can achieve, and one he is known for internationally.  Working in harmony with the local flora with Gazania in their masses lining the fairways which in turn plot themselves between the sea and the salt water lake make for a strategic yet pretty (viewing I might add!) game of golf in this natural nature reserve.   A links style course with its sand base and grass being cut short, with open fairways and enticing large greens a course that once again compliment Citrus and El Kantaoui varying styles.

Finals night and we were really treated, no holds barred. A restaurant where locals go to eat where all of the hosts over the last few days, dignitaries from the Tunisian Tourist Board, and of course ourselves the lowly golfers, photographers, and journalists sat and enjoyed each others company for the final night whereupon the winner was announced, a worthy French journalist who spent an obscene amount of time on the driving range before (and after) his golf whilst we were in the clubhouse enjoying the various wines (a welcome by-product of the French influence in Tunisia!), toasting our bad rounds of golf and chatting over the shots of the day.

Three different golf courses, over four days with more to choose from at some venues which provide more than 18 holes, a great choice of varying hotels to choose from, and history to get you thinking, with people so eager to please Tunisia should be in your bucket list for your next golf trip.

Personally, at no stage did I feel threatened, unsafe or uncomfortable during my visit to Tunisia and as the Tunisian national anthem eloquently states :

Inflict defeat on foes,
Offer peace to friends.

And in true Tunisian form, this is exactly what these wonderful people do.

Contact

Freelance journalist whose views are her own and are not intended to insult but spoken from the heart based on true experiences.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Red Tee Tour 2017

Women's golf has never been so good in the UK as it is right now.

At Red Tee Breaks we were the first in the UK to focus on the travelling lady golfer - and guess what we are now the leading company and still going strong

We have our own ladies golf tournament,  in its third year the Red Tee Tour is one of the most fun days to attend - this is real feedback we have from our guests.  You make us feel welcome, we always have a laugh and we can show you some of the best golf course in the country for ladies golf.
2017 brings three more exciting properties who want you to experience their venues:

Tuesday 26th September 2017
Welcombe Golf Hotel near Stratford.
With an onsite hotel this choice of venues is great for the ladies, with its established spa area and golf course, it is worth considering an overnight on the back of the Red Tee Tour.





Upgrade your Red Tee Tour for a stay and play package for £129.00 per person.  This included dinner bed and breakfast and an extra round of golf the day before - a practice round to fit in with your arrival and availability.
All prices based on twin share



Monday 2nd October 2017
Murrayshall House Hotel and Golf Course, Perthshire
Two 18 hole golf course await the visitor to this pretty panoramic golf hotel, playing the Championship course for the Red Tee Tour you can upgrade your entry for the event to a stay and play package to either play their other course or practice on the same course.

For only an additional £80.00 per person, you can have an overnight stay, dinner bed and breakfast and an extra 18 holes of golf.  Feeling in need of a bit more - then we can give you two nights dinner bed and breakfast and an additional 18 holes of golf for only £140 per person you really can have your cake and eat it.
All prices based on twin share.


Wednesday 4th October 2017
Another firm favourite with the ladies, Formby Hall sits in the heart of Englands Golf Coast.  An 18 hole golf course awaits the ladies at

Formby Hall Golf Resort, near Liverpool.  With a spa on site, this 
is bound to be another reason to enter.

Upgrade your Red Tee Tour entry for an additional £89 per person dinner bed and breakfast and 18 holes of golf.
All prices based on twin share


The Red Tee Tour is open to all lady golfers with a CONGU or equivalent handicap and is priced at only £40 per person.  Format of play is pairs betterball - we will endeavour to accommodate single ladies by pairing them up where possible, so don't be shy if you think it isn't for you, it most likely is!

For £40 you will get 18 holes of golf and lunch, not bad when you look at some green fees alone - however thats not all you get - now I sounding like a commercial for Big Abs!  You will also get entry into the Red Tee Tour and have the chance of winning some of our amazing prizes and the chance to mix with like minded ladies on the golf course and in the clubhouse afterwards.  All for the amazing price of you've guessed it £40 per person (Big Abs- couldn't resist!!)

We fully understand that there are many charities out there, all amazing and worthy charities, we have chosen Breast Cancer Care for a third year and hope to build on the money we have already sent to this worthy and relevant charity, just from this tournament alone.

Ladies come and join us by contacting sarah@redteebreaks.com in the first instance for an application form

Limited numbers apply to all venues.







Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Red Tee Tour 2016 winners

Hello Ladies,
Nivo Sports have been amazing at sorting out a meeting problem and have sent some absolutely lovely clothing for our ladies who qualified to play in the finals of the Red Tee Tour last year.

Here are a few pictures of our lovely ladies who qualified and who are now wearing the 2017 range of Nivo Sports clothing - perfect timing for 2017 golfing season ahead




Winners from the South the duo of Viv Williams and Suzie Hale, enjoying their new Nivo Clothing







Our winners from the North East, Cath Oxley and Jacquie Fennon.  Not only enjoying their new wardrobe but also the sunshine in April 2017


More images to follows:

Like what you see and want to get involved int his years tournament, please contact sarah@redteebreaks.com for more details

Monday, 23 January 2017

Amazing ladies golf, plus some, in Costa Brava


Contemplating what makes Spain on the journey North from Barcelona, being driven through the concrete jungle glancing around the cars from all over the world; Japan, Germany, American, Italian, one could be anywhere in the world.  Relaxing back enjoying the ride, the real Spain starts to flirt with the eyes, tantalising you with glimpses of the country between the harsh concrete lines with its splashes of colour dancing in the sunshine.  Multicoloured traditional flat top buildings tumbling down the hillside like a spilt bag of dolly mixture candy replace the grey uninspiring roadside blocks as we speed towards the Pyrenees.   The scenery takes on a different appearance, monuments replace buildings sitting atop hillsides bathed in sunshine.  Spain is vast, buildings blend into the brown earth, despite their bright colours, they just merge together as one, buildings with tiny windows, coppices of trees gently dotting the landscape like freckles on a child's face, to give you simple beauty.  Tall Cyprus trees give the roadsides structure, waving gently with purpose if only to give the roadside an end and the countryside a start.

Passing through villages we reach Torremirona Golf Club, you almost stumble upon Torremirona with its low rise building spreading out to welcome you into this landscape lending itself as a great watering hole and a place to catch up on some local food.  A gentle start to the few days in Costa Brava, Torremirona has an 18 hole golf course in the heart of Emporda an unfussy Spanish lush oasis.  A large terrace overlooks the par 3 10th, and strip of water to the left of the hole menacing in appearance but easy to avoid, its simply purrs not barks warnings to the approaching golfer.  Lunch consisted of the local Catalan dish, similar to paella but with noodles rather than rice; fideuĂ   showcases the variety of fish available in the region.  A relatively flat course with a backdrop to die for.  The pyrenees in the background make the most stunning backdrop, almost false in appearance; like a ‘poster’ on a boring office wall of the mountains covering the old bits of sticky tape to try and brighten up the dull office walls of magnolia paint.  But these are real, and stunning with shades of grey to purple back to grey contrasting with the foreground of the lush green golf course.  Long straight fairways, tree lined in places and water to navigate around the golf course offered a true test for our new to golf ladies as well as those who have played many times before.  It has to be noted that golf balls do not float, neither do they pop over the other side of the bank despite taking on Barnes Wallis tendencies. Island green par 3’s, subtle doglegs Torremirona golf course offered the arriving visitor a fair test of golf.

Next stop Hotel Peralada Wine, Spa and Golf resort, a 5* resort known to me as a golf resort already, so it was fantastic to see what else it offered.  Big sliding doors open in front of you as you enter through the sweet smelling Jasmin, the open doors envelope like a friendly hug.  The scene has been set and doesn’t disappoint thereafter.  Once checked in we had a yoga class.  Yoga not only nourishes the body and sole but is designed to bring peace and tranquility into ones life of chaos and disorder.  Some unnatural positions were held for what seemed like an age then we’d endeavour to bend the other way - all done with a smile.  The young lady teaching us enthused confidence and her ability to speak English clearly delighted her (and us) as we did what was asked.  The direct translation of toes from Spanish to English is feet fingers, being fully grown, worldly-wise adults this made us giggle, and decided that actually that is a much nicer description than toes anyway.  Feeling stretched yet relaxed a quick shower was followed by dinner in the main restaurant.  The most Northerly golf course in Costa Brava and only a short drive to France and Girona Airport it is easily accessible.  Offering a vast variety of ‘activities’ Hotel Peralada is a must when golfing in the area, following recent renovations the hotel has had a total revamp.  The new decor doesn't scream opulence; no gold menacing looking statues following your every step with wandering eyes it  simply emits a relaxing welcoming feel to the hotel with an understated earthy opulence. The spa facilities are one of the best and are open to guests of the hotel offering not only a pool, sauna and steam rooms, but a variety of treatments to indulge in.  There is a separate area where you can have ‘parties’ everything is in double, - so small intimate parties!  The outside pool relaxes the eyes with the backdrop of the Pyrenees, a subtle reminder of life
outside this haven.  For golfers there is an 18 hole golf courses on site, leaving the hotel at the first and returning after 9 and 18, the course meanders itself around the landscape passing traditional buildings.  A challenging yet playable 18 holes golf course which is fairly flat didn't let you walk away with birdie after birdie, it is enough to challenge the visiting golfer without it being unfair and giving rewards for good play.  Open holes to have a good hit, par threes over water (save yourself for the 18th hole!) We were joined by the golf Pro for the back nine.  Of course my game went down the drain, but my playing partner, Kaia held the team together.  Paul, the friendly French (with a bit of Irish mixed in) is the golf pro at Perlada, his approach to playing mirrors the golf resort - relax and have fun.  After play Paul joined us for lunch, and what was the topic of conversation? Fawlty Towers - what else would you speak to a French Man about!  There is a par three 9 hole golf course as well as a driving range with the mountain range in the background, in fact the gym overlooks the driving range which has the Pyrenees in the background, layers of delight to satisfy the eye.
Eating food in the main restaurant the previous night was by way of a small carefully chosen menu to showcase the local area and the specialists of the resort, lunch in contrast was tapas, a smorgasbord of mini this and mini that with taste explosions of their own happily colliding together.  
Perlada has its own castle, a vin yard selling quality wine and cava worldwide, and a casino.  We didn't get the opportunity to visit these elements of the resort, and probably as well as I know very little about gambling thinking that backing a horse each way, meant it had to run back again!  


Fully fed, nicely relaxed and feeling pretty happy (maybe that was the cava?) we left Peralda with promises to return and made our way to PGA Catalunya for a show around their newly decorated and renovated hotel passing the golf courses with lustful glances.  The PGA Catalunya Hotel has now moved from its original 4* category to a 5* by doing some simple tweaks and an awful lot of decorating.  Sat in amoungst the two golf courses, its a great location for a quick weekend of golf with  your buddies.
Silken Park Hotel San Jorge a 4* coastal hotel was our next stop arriving just in time for a body treatment synonymous to the area called Gerunda Fuga.  We only has a taste of the treatment which is the story of a girl making her way from the Pyrenees to the coast the ‘massage’ is designed to experience the elements on her journey.  With the story playing in the background, it is difficult to listen to as you do get engrossed in the treatment, but sadly it was over too quickly.  Interesting the Gerunda Fuga massages are not the same at each hotel you  might visit along the route from the Pyrenees to the coast, with each hotel adopting their own ‘take’ on the story.

Relaxed and ready for dinner we were taken to Espai del peix the Museum of Fish in Palamos.  Not having any preconceived ideas about what this might be we were taken into a small cinema room and watched a short video about the history of fishing in the area, it was actually really good flicking back and forth from present day to bygone days of fishing.  Opening the big doors in a disney way, the group was shuffled into another room which can only be described as a slightly upmarket school cafeteria with long tables set for the diners.  Cameras poised over the chef preparation areas we were given demonstrations of the preparation for dinner, which came in a number of dishes, a good experience as we not only got amazing food but got shown how to prepare the food by the ever capable chef.  An experience worth considering.

The next morning the sun was shining through the window and you could really appreciate the vista views over the ocean from the balcony.  Cleverly designed the hotel rooms all seemed to face seaward being built on tiers without losing privacy.
Transferring to Club Golf d’Aro- Mas Nou took us up into the hills to the highest course of the area.  I played Mas Nou a few months previously and to be honest was less than impressed as it was grey and raining, however this day to was blazing sunshine and what seemed like a relatively ordinary course previously took on a whole new life.  It just goes to show that one cannot judge a book by its cover and you really do need to read into the various chapters to get the full feel as the story unfolds.  Simply stunning is a phase I use quite often, why because its appropriate and one I can use for Mas Nou.  Buggies are recommended as it is quite hilly in places, but being high up affords the most delightful views.  I played a golf course in Colombia once, it has always been etched in my mind as a good play and a beauty, Mas Nou is now challenging my senses and vying for top spot in my list.  It is important during ones game of golf to stop and take stock of that view - each turn it seems to improve and you have a feeling of being swallowed up in beauty.  A pretty course itself with monoliths to circumnavigate not to mention the usual bunkers which were pretty hard but very ‘putable’!! it really didn't matter as they were just a by-product of an amazing setting, a  little stunner.
Lunch on the terrace of Mas Nou was tapas - love tapas, love Spain. Postcard cats being a bit cheeky came close for food, keeping us entertained throughout lunch as we sat on the sun soaked terrace watching the golfers come up the 18th.
The final night drew to a close with dinner at the Silken Park Hotel San Jorge we were treated to an extensive menu to choose from, being served more cava pre-dinner watching the Ryder Cup on the TV, I realised life was pretty good in this beautiful part of Spain, Costa Brava.  An area where couples could come and relax, a get-away from the hum drum of busy lives, a place where the girls could come and be treated to some the best golf, food and cava or a place when all golfers can challenge the big named courses whilst appreciating some of the lesser known ones.  A place where friendships are cemented, a place for golf, a place to try new things and really get what you want from your golf holiday.  This is Spain.

Monday, 28 November 2016

What about Andalusia?



The Andalusian Tourist Board have been the main sponsors of the ladies Red Tee Tour for the past two years, tantalising us with their great courses and places to stay and play in this vast region in Spain. It is only recently that I have had the chance to go along and see first hand some of the lesser known golf courses and resorts. Sitting just at the bottom of the country the climate is good all year round offering a nice reprieve from our great British weather. 
This whistle stop tour was a pleasant surprise - why, because I haven't been to this part of Spain for a long time. At that time we had the opportunity to drive the length of the country and headed South to Costa del Sol. Driving such distances in Spain at that time was a real eye opener - the boom had only just started to hit the country and it was just becoming popular with the British public as a place to invest in. My lasting impression from that holiday was not great, the concrete jungle of Torremolinos didn't float my boat, high rise building dominated the roadside, it was like driving through a concrete tunnel. Maybe for this reason we didn't venture that way for many years, never considering it as a family holiday destination or latterly one for the golfer when the children had flown the nest. 
Now 30 year later I return to Malaga, looking forward to seeing what changes had been made to this part of Spain - and what an amazing transformation. Tropical trees line the streets, softening the harsh concrete, built up areas turned to green spaces for eye softening appeal and as the sun shone I began to wonder why hadn't I been back for so long.
I had a hire car and drove through the Ronda Mountain Range to Cadiz whilst a lovely drive it was a bit hairy in places on those narrow roads, bending and twisting and twisting again in dance floor fashion, but it was stunning. The views were beautiful, passing through villages I wished I had more time to stop and embrace the atmosphere; villages where the children played in the street and the locals wandered around chatting with not a care in the world in the warm sunshine. Popping out the other end and dropping down in Cadiz for just one night to stay at Elba Costa Ballena. 
The Andalusian province of Cadiz is known for Sherry production and is reputed to be the origin of Tapas. Sweet sherry would attract the fruit flies, so in an attempt to stop the flies getting in and spoiling the drink between sips bread, ham or chorizo was placed on the top of the drink as a practical measure - tapar in Spanish means to cover. With the introduction of salty ham, bartenders made more sales! As it evolved tapas became more sophisticated and diverse and is now a major part of socialising in most parts of Spain. 
The next morning I set about completing the loop and drove back to Marbella.
My mind wanders to paper umbrella spinning, fruit laden cocktail drinking David Jason of Only Fools and Horses fame saying - “Mar - bel - la Rodney, Mar-bel-la” deliberately emphasising every letter ‘’l’ . I was staying in the three star Hotel Pyr. Ive got to be honest with you - I don’t often stay in 3 star places, not because Im a hotel snob, I just haven't been invited to many. But the Hotel Pyr is a very good three star, under new management the hotel doesn't strive to be something it isn’t and in my opinion sits towards the top of the star rating. Investment is being made in this 500 plus bedroomed hotel and with its location in Puerto Banus, it has a lot going for it. The breakfast was plentiful and whilst Im not a lover of big open dining rooms, Hotel Pyr made up for it by the food selection befitting a hotel of more stars. My room had been recently refurbished and had everything I needed (even a little kitchenette)- it was very clean and comfortable with plenty of space, even a wrap around balcony to capitalise on the distant views of the Sierra Blanca. Surely I couldn't be in the centre of Marbella? Yep - right in the middle of Puerto Banus 
Puerto Banus conjures up party town, bars and scantily clad youths wandering around - these television programs have a lot to answer for! In fact it is lively and yes there are bars alongside some amazing restaurants and of course the harbour front which is very pretty. There is a lot to offer in Puerto Banus. Tango is an Argentinian Steak House, if you're a meat lover and like good quality, then Tango is the place to be. Investment in the restaurant with clean-cut monochrome 
decor and amazing food by way of a good selection of steaks, as you’d expect but also a good selection of other dishes too.
The Italian restaurant Jam is also worth a visit with the owners delight at showing you his best Italian dishes from family recipes, homemade pasta cooked perfectly accompanied by a whole host of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes. My suggestion when visiting Jam - don't have any lunch as the pasta comes in bowls big enough to wash your dishes in afterwards - only fancier. Puerto Banus certainly knows how to entertain when it comes to dining but it also has shops aplenty all just a short walk from Hotel Pyr. I was impressed by the diversity of what was on offer. 
A short drive from Puerto Banus towards Estepona is Atalaya (pronounced at-a-lie-a) Golf course. A golf complex who's clubhouse welcomes the visiting golfer opening to vista views over the two on site golf courses towards hills in the background. Hills full of blocks of predominantly white buildings vying for position for the all important sea views. Both the Old and the New Courses are undergoing a major program of regeneration with new tee boxes, fairways being repositioned and in truth whilst a bit of a navigational challenge whilst there, it will be great once finished in the coming months. In fact the only slight disruption to the game was my DMD was not on the correct hole some of the time - but that all adds to the element of surprise (when I hit the green that is!) 
I would rather see a golf courses investing with the inconvenience short term than seeing no investment at all. The new greens played well, not a particularly hilly course with the odd stream or ditch and tight greens Atalaya Old was quite playable. A parkland course with wide enough fairways and perfectly positioned bunkers Atalaya is one of the oldest courses in the region and worth a visit. 
The following day and in an attempt to continue to identify quality local golf courses I had the opportunity to play Dona Julia. A small golf business with bigger named neighbours overshadowing this little gem, Dona Julia doesn't have the big flash clubhouses, it is simple yet honest. The staff are the organisation, they seem to enjoy what they do and relish in the positive comments made. And positive comments were plentiful. The menu was basic, the food good. The clubhouse was spartan, yet the golf course packed a punch with a gradual climb up the hill offering views towards the sea this golf course is a great compliment to Atalaya parkland offerings, playing similar to a hilltop links - or maybe that was just the sea views! Again proving that golf in Costa del Sol doesn't have to costa packet. 
Driving 50 minutes to Malaga I was heading for Lauro Golf the following day. Lauro have given a prize for the 2016 Red Tee Tour winners, so I was quite keen to see what it had to offer. Not really knowing what to expect as the website gave little away, I was greeted by Fran, an enthusiastic young man studying Tourism and a budding golfer, Fran is pretty much involved in every aspect of this family run resort, and a valued asset too. We played holes 19 to 27, the newest addition to this golf complex, but not showing its tender years. There are hills to walk up and down- it is a walking course but that 9 is a test of ones fitness! Sat at the base of brown hills the lush green of the course added depth and contrast to the overall view only hinting its location close to Malaga. This back nine are a bit up and down but there are some good holes too - getting to the par 3 green is a challenge over a ravine to a fairly long yet narrow target green you need to hold your nerve on this one. Coming back down the hill towards the clubhouse gives you the jubilant sense of being able to whack the ball a country mile from its elevated tee box. A good start to my Lauro experience. We sat in the half way house watching the sun go down after play - we only just made the sunset as we putted out loosing the light! Being shown to my room was a pleasant surprise, they were not hotel rooms, they are units of accommodation over two levels, a full kitchen and two bedrooms, one with en-suite. Holiday homes are often a little impersonal, and whilst the base colour of the units was neutral, the units had been spruced up with artwork and added bits of a homely items to make you feel welcome and less like a visitor to someones place. 
Breakfast the following morning was in the main typical Malagan walled courtyard. Breakfast is a la carte and sitting eating you can watch the locals come and go, enjoying their breakfast before going about their daily chores, the family atmosphere is evident here more than anywhere on the resort, with guests visiting for their food and a friendly catch up. 
Playing the original 18 holes of golf after breakfast, I played with two members of staff, a nice touch to welcome the visiting golfers, and who better than the staff to really showcase the resort. The original 18 holes, whilst they do have a few hills, was flatter than the new 9 hole played the 
previous evening. Not easier I hasten to add, but again offering just rewards for good play with receptive greens and well maintained parkland fairways Lauro is a good all round golf resort. 
That evening I was taken into Malaga - I was surprised how beautiful Malaga is. We wandered around the port, saw the incomplete South Tower of the cathedral, with locals regaling the story of the cathedral with the lost arm, it does look strange to see it only half built yet full operational in the centre of this beautiful part of town. For dinner we visited the famous local restaurant El Pimpi.
El Pimpi is unusual - I don't really know how else to describe a place where courtyards with hanging flowers meet a crowed bar with a mass of photos showing proudly the famous visitors to El Pimpi, alfresco dining where entertainment could be by way of flamenco dancers or poets as the mood takes, such is El Pimpi -a sprawling mass of wonderment. We settled on a table upstairs, in a sophisticated bar area serving the local fried fish delicacies. WOW. 
Andalusia is a nice part of Spain, to suit your budget, and with many airports in the UK flying into Malaga, you might want to re-think the Brits Abroad reputation, it really is pretty good. The Tourist Board are great supporters of ladies travelling to play their golf, but don't take our word for it, 2015 winners Rebecca, Jane and Linda have recently been to take up their golf prizes winnings from the Red Tee Tour and say: 
“An extremely enjoyable time in Andalusia playing golf on some incredible courses in glorious November sunshine! A huge thank you to Red Tee Tour for an amazing prize.”
“We were delighted when we made the finals (of the Red Tee Tour), the whole event was perfect, and we loved playing the course (in the UK) to finally win the prize of a golf holiday in Andalusia. We went with two friends and played some the best golf courses and would like to go back again to play some more” “To give such a brilliant prize for your Red Tee Tour is absolutely brilliant” 

Want to experience these courses see www.redteebreaks for golf packages in Andalusia or contact sarah@redteebreaks.com for your next golf trip, or join us next year for the Red Tee Tour. 

Golf packages available with Red Tee Breaks1. Hotel Pyr and play Don Julia or Atalya Golf courses, or one of the other 15 on offer in this package from a s little at £299 per person, based on twin share for 4 nights B&B2. Lauro Golf, from just £315 per person in a two bed room self catering unit for 5 nights and unlimited golf3. Hotel Elba Costa Ballena for 4 nights, 2 rounds of golf
Half Board from £229 per person


Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Red Tee Tour Finals

Winners Jane and Lynn
5th October arrived with the promise of sunshine at The Nottinghamshire Golf Club, the day was however balanced by a cold wind.  Not that it deterred the ladies who were intent on having a good game, in good company.  Eight ladies qualified to play in the finals, but we could only have one pair of winners, and romping home with a clear win were sisters Jane Monk and Lynn Lambert from Links Newmarket Golf Club
Delighted by their win of a golf holiday to Lauro resort in Andalusia, Spain they take with them a pair of Sundog Sunglasses each, clothing from Nivo (we are still waiting to get this!) and a massive smile upon their faces in anticipation of a lovely few days at Lauro Golf a 27 hole golf resort - more to follow about golf in Andalusia in the coming weeks.
Sabbot hat winners Gilly and Maria
Runners up Gilly Stimpson and Maria Conner of Hazelmere Golf Club won a token prize of the lovely Sabbot Hats, now a convert to hat wearing, the ladies were delighted with their hats.
Any event is all about bringing people together, a good event is more than that, it is about brining like minded people together to have fun which will transpire into some good golf relaxed in with their playing partners.  Red Tee Breaks is all about giving these ladies the chance to play some different golf courses, play in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and to go home feeling as though they have won, one way or another.  Cath Oxley commented that whilst she and her playing partner Jaci didn't win, they felt as though they had as they had such a lovely time at the finals.

But we could not do it without our wonderful sponsors.
The Andalusian Tourist Board sponsored the Red Tee Tour for a second year, without their unwavering support, this event would no happen.  Their commitment to bringing more ladies to play their lovely golf courses in Spain is apparent and we would love to be able to repay their support of the Red Tee Tour by sending some ladies to experience, first hand the great golf in the sunshine region.
Three golf holidays were up for grabs, we had the main one, Lauro Golf for the winners.



We also had Dolce Campo Real near Lisbon and El Prat La Mola near Barcelona.  Both resorts known to us at Red Tee Breaks as great retreats for the women with golf courses to test and play and being so close to wonderful capital cities make an ideal short break.  As the Red Tee Tour supports Breast Cancer Care, we offered these two prizes as charity raffle prizes where the  ladies bought tickets to win, courtesy of Srixon the ladies also received golf balls once they entered, so they had something at least to treasure and remember their day but the overall winners were Jenny Cockill from York Golf Club - Jenny won a golf holiday for two people at La Mola Hotel and El Prat Golf Resort, near Barcelona and Janet Burdis from Tyneside Golf Club who won a golf holiday at Dolce Campo Real near Lisbon.  We are sure the ladies will love these golf resorts as much as we do.

Next years plans are under way for another Red Tee Tour, as lady golfers in the UK, you would be most welcome to join us and support Breast Cancer Care - who knows where your small entry fee will take you with this ever popular competition.  Register your interest on
www.redteebreaks.com