Lynne Edward tees off and takes in the sights at the luxury Emporda Golf Resort in the Costa Brava
Winter in the UK can be depressing: dark, cold evenings and the prospect of seeing very little sunshine until at least spring. As a result I grabbed the opportunity of having a last week in search of some European sunshine and flew to the Costa Brava. Whatever you may have thought about this part of Spain is possibly inaccurate: the area surrounding Girona and the northern coast of this region is simply beautiful, and the beaches are largely unspoilt. In fact, I previously visited this area about 15 years ago and was surprised to find it even better than I remembered!
This time I was here to visit the golf resort recently voted as the 15th best in Spain (by Golf World magazine), which is no mean feat given the number of beautiful courses in the country. Emporda Golf Resort offers the keen golfer two great 18-hole tracks, the Forest and the Links, directly on site, and they are absolute gems.
The Links in particular is a testing but beautiful course with dunes, lakes and views of the Pyrenees, while the Forest meanders among pines and also has plenty of water hazards. Ladies will love the fact that both courses are very “girl friendly” in the sense that they are around 5,500 yards in length off the red tees.
The Emporda Golf Resort hotel opened in 2006 with 87 bedrooms in a contemporary boutique-style format and lies adjacent to the clubhouse and first tees. We wanted to spoil ourselves so we chose to stay in a beautiful junior suite overlooking the course, with every imaginable comfort and a huge balcony. A particular feature was the luxury bathroom with jacuzzi bath, which was very useful post golf!
In recent years I’ve been a little unlucky with the mid-winter weather in Spain, which is hardly surprising as it is not far enough south to guarantee uninterrupted sunshine during these months.However, after a misty, unpromising start I had the most perfect week of weather – around 21°C and getting a little cooler in the evening.
“It was the sort of clear blue skies and temperature most of us would order in the UK year round if we could”
It was the sort of clear blue skies and temperature most of us would order in the UK year round if we could. This area of Spain really enjoys the perfect climate all year long, as it is a little cooler than the popular south, but seems to have a great micro climate during the autumn/winter months, which may have something to do with the close proximity of the Pyrenees.
At any time of the year there is also lots to do, and with Barcelona only 90 minutes away, this magnificent city should also be on your agenda.
We made the most of the trip, getting out and about, exploring the area when we weren’t playing golf. The historic hilltop walled town of Pals is the nearest, but there is an abundance of historic towns and villages to explore with charming restaurants and shops.
The coastline is also fabulous and only about 20 minutes away. Llafranc is a lovely small cove linked to Calella by a delightful coastal walk with dramatic scenery. Even in winter, several bars and restaurants are still open, and we found a nice choice in Calella where we enjoyed beachside drinks followed by a grilled sardine lunch and local wine. (This gave us the perfect opportunity to spare a thought for our poor work colleagues back home enduring the weather in the UK!)
It was hard to beat the hotel in the evening, as it offers its guests a lovely area in which to just relax, or enjoy a drink at the bar, and the restaurant has a wide and varied menu and reasonably priced wine.
I did manage to squeeze in a visit to the hotel’s spa – a serene and chilled space with a thermal water circuit and swimming pool, together with sauna and steam rooms. The more energetic among you should try the well equipped gym, which overlooks the golf course.
Most days were spent enjoying the delights of these two superior golf courses, and I actually recorded my best round ever, an accomplishment made all the more satisfying by the tricks and treats provided by famous American golf course architect Robert Von Hagge. If you love golf in gorgeous surroundings on quality courses, you must visit Emporda. I will certainly be returning.
The Emporda Golf Resort is perfectly situated to provide easy access to all that is on offer on the Costa Brava, and with cheap flights from Gatwick, what are you waiting for?
Resort Empordà Golf, Tel +34 972 78 20 30, www.empordagolf.com