Portugal’s Algarve has a new golf resort – it’s stunning even in this star-studded region, writes Sue Farmer
Western Algarve’s Palmares has long been referred to as one of Europe’s golf gems. Indeed, for many years, it remained a diamond in the rough – an object of immense potential beauty, but only with the right investment and in the right hands.
In stepped Onyria Resorts in 2006 and since then the new owners have released that potential and recreated the original into something outstanding, even for golf in Portugal.
When Onyria (pronounced “o-knee-riah”, from the Greek word meaning “dream”) closed the course in 2009, many mourned what they believed would be the loss to the Algarve of one of its most beloved golfing venues. There were, however, many things going on behind the scenes – most significant perhaps, was the purchase of two impressive tracts of land to the east and west of which was already Palmares golf course and which provided the extra space for the building of a further nine holes.
Investment in the Western Algarve by Onyria Resorts has helped ensure some of the most impressive scenery in Europe can still be enjoyed by golfers with five-star facilities complementing the three nine-hole loops at Palmares.
Add to that a “sympathetic” attitude to the existing natural beauty of the location, together with engaging the services of one of golf design’s premier names – Robert Trent Jones Jr – and you have all the ingredients necessary for an outstanding project.
Golf at Onyria Palmares is played on three outstanding loops. Two of the three nine-hole loops are a combination of undulating parkland, heathland and woodland; the remaining nine are at sea-level and provide links golf on a par with the best of Scotland or Ireland.
The views around the course are – incredible as it may seem – even more impressive than before, stretching some 180 degrees from the Lagos to the west, around the sweep of the bay into the Alvor Estuary and its marina, then eastwards past Praia da Rocha and Portimão along the coastline to Cape Carvoiero.
In addition to the golf courses, club house, driving range and academy, the resort features a five-star hotel, spa and wellness centre, leisure and sports centres, and a beach club within easy walking distance.
Onyria Palmares offers substantial plots, ensuring low-density housing (5.5%) and architectural designs which carefully blend with the topography of the site, keeping visual interruption over the land to a minimum.
The group’s track record is already guaranteed by the work it has undertaken in Portugal at Cascais’ Quinta da Marinha, near Lisbon. (www.quintadamarinha.com)
On an international front, Onyria Resorts became involved in the beautiful Château des Vigiers project near Bordeaux in France, (www.vigiers.com), and last year expanded its interests into the ownership and management of a beachfront hotel near Izmir in Turkey. (www.carpediemclaroshotel.com).
Onyria Palmares is, without question, a dream location and under the creative genius of all involved, this former “rough stone” has finally revealed its full, multi-faceted potential.