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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Fancy a winter escape? Lisbon’s Calling 

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It has been almost two years since I was fortunate enough to be asked to attend the launch of a little known (at the time) golf course in Lisbon called West Cliffs; Cynthia Dye, Dye Designs Group course, set along cliff tops on the Silver Coast.  

I was recently asked to come back and see it again and I couldn’t have imagined that a year or two could have made much of a difference to it… how wrong I was.   

For those who have not been to Lisbon, it’s a place you really need to visit. It is bursting with activity and culture and there is a friendliness to the city and the people that isn’t easy to find. It’s welcoming, warm (not just in temperature) and you get the feeling that the people there really want you to visit and enjoy it, not something that can be said of all destinations. 

On this trip I flew from Dublin with Ryanair, left the clubs at home and picked up a rental set at the golf club which were more than adequate for a couple of days golf in the sunshine. All in all, it was a threehour flight and a 60 minute transfer from Lisbon airport which had me at Praia d’El Rey. Add another 45 minutes and I was on the first tee. Not too shabby. 

Praia d’El Rey Golf & Beach Resort is a lively place and the golf course is one of the busiest I’ve seen. To this end, they employ a TagMarshal system for monitoring pace of play and tracking golfers on course. It’s a brilliant system and while you may be put off by the ‘busiest I’ve seen’ comment above, don’t be, as you won’t notice any traffic and my experience was that pace of play was managed brilliantly. 

Golf at Praia d’El Rey is quite leisurely. It’s not overly long from the ‘holiday tees’ but it can be played as long as 7,100 yards if you really want to challenge yourself. While there are demanding tee shots, it’s a course which allows you to recover reasonably well from the odd errant one too!   

Large green complexes with gentle run off areas offer the ability to chase the ball into the green, particularly in the summer months on hard turf, which makes for a more links style of play, perfect for us Irish golfers looking for a getaway. 

There are plenty of trees, particularly on the front nine, but with wide fairways and generous visibility, you’ll find it difficult to lose too many balls and you’ll be recounting every shot in your mind as you relax on the terrace of the clubhouse, beer in hand, after your round. 

As for the hotel at Praia d’El Rey; it’s simply marvellous. The bedrooms are large, spacious and comfortable with all the facilities you’d expect, and the public areas are spectacular, particularly the reception bar which offers extraordinary views of the ocean.  A spa and small gym mean you can be as active as you wish and with swimming pools and a variety of dining experiences available, you’ll not be bored après golf. 

Then there’s West Cliffs. Usually on a golfing holiday my friends and I would choose a couple of gentle courses to allow for some R&R but there’s always one course that has you tucked up in bed early the night before and sitting on the bus 10 minutes ahead of schedule the next morning you’re so eager to get there.  Well, in this scenario, that’s West Cliffs. 

When I first visited two years ago, the course was a little rough around the edges and while it went straight into the top-20 courses I’ve played, it needed some work to make sure it stayed there. Suffice to say, this work has now been done and in my opinion, West Cliffs has to be in any conversation about the number one course in Portugal. It’s that good. 

From the first tee to the 18th green the course is a challenge. It doesn’t let up in any way and just when you think you’ve got it figured out, another challenge pops up, like the 585yard par-5 7th, which has a ravine that comes into play off the tee if you’re a long hitter. Or there’s the par-4 360yard 9th hole, which is a dogleg with water in front but you can see the green tantalisingly on the other side and the temptation is to bite off more than you can chew and go for it! The list goes on and on, right the way through the back nine too, so you’ll have to think strategically if you’re to shoot a good score here. 

There’s plenty of undulations at West Cliffs also and you’d be well advised to take a buggy, or if you want something a little different, they also have golf boards available where your clubs are on the back and you ride them like an electric scooter. Great fun but make sure you have both hands on the steering! 

Of course a golf trip wouldn’t be a golf trip without a casual beer and the bar & restaurant at West Cliffs afford wonderful views over the golf course while providing a luxurious and relaxing atmosphere. The food is simply outstanding and the restaurant is based on a steakhouse concept with an international twist so make sure you leave enough time to give it a try. 

Of course there are many ways to enjoy both Praia d’El Rey and West Cliffs, and there are also plenty of other great courses nearby such as Royal Obidos and Bom Successo etc. But if you’re looking for recommendations, then staying at Praia d’El Rey Resort is something you’ll not regret. If you’re after a more permanent optionthere are plenty of houses and apartments on offer for both rent and sale in the area and from what was presented to me, the pricing isn’t out of this world.  

Designer’s comment: 

Cynthia Dye commented that, “This has been an incredible project to be involved in, right from the moment when I first visited the site and saw what was possible 14 years ago. 

“With its amazing location and terrain, West Cliffs is the most fantastic natural golf course site imaginable. The course was really already there for us, and it was our job to shape the holes to create an incredible dramatic experience for everyone that plays it. 

“With a number of different ways to play each hole and the wide choice of tees, we believe that we have designed a course that golfers will want to play time and time again, and it’s a real pleasure for us to receive such great initial feedback.” 

PACKAGES: Praia d’El Rey Golf & Beach Resort 

        3 nights’ accommodation in a Garden/Golf view room at Praia D’El Rey Marriott Hotel 

        Daily buffet breakfast at the Hotel 

        2 green fees at Praia D’El Rey or West Cliffs 

        Possibility to play extra 9 holes free of charge, upon availability 

        Free access to Health Club with Gymnasium, Jacuzzi, Turkish bath, indoor and outdoor swimming pools; 

        Free Transfer between the golf courses 

        Complimentary WIFI. 

Price sharing a double/twin Garden/Golf view room: from €280pp with 1 Free in 8 booked 

There are also options for The Village which is apartment rental and the golf package includes: 

  • 4 or 7 nights accommodation in a T2 apartment  
  • 3 or 5 green fees at Praia D’El Rey, West Cliffs, Royal ObidosBom Sucesso Campo Real 
  • Possibility to play extra 9 holes free of charge, upon availability and on the golf course played on the day 
  • Free access to outdoor swimming pools at the condominium 
  • Free Transfer between the golf courses, on share base (except Campo Real Golf Course). Pre-Booking with the reservation is required. 

Price sharing a T2 apartment are from €249 pp based on 4 or 6 sharing. 

For more information visitwww.praia-del-rey.comAND www.westcliffs.com

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