COSTA CÁLIDA TAKES OFF INTO EXCITING NEW ERA

The sky is now the limit for the region of Murcia as its new airport has put the jets under the UK tourist numbers.

The Region de Murcia airport in Corvera, officially opened by King Felipe VI in January, is expected to bring an influx of 20-25 per cent to the number of visitors to the region thanks to an increased flight capacity.

The previous airport – based at San Javier around 30 miles away – was limited in its ambitions for tourism growth as it shared flight capacity with military flights. But as from April, the new site serves 22 commercial destinations in six countries with additional flight routes set to be added later in 2019, while Jet2 has already confirmed two new routes (each flying three times per week) from London Stansted and Birmingham for the summer of 2020.

There are now regular flights to and from London Gatwick, London Stansted, Luton, Leeds-Bradford, Glasgow Prestwick, Bournemouth, Nottingham, Bristol and Manchester with Ryanair, Easyjet and Jet2 among the airlines to have moved their operations to the new airport.

And that is expected to see a significant growth of visitors with 1.3m passengers set to use the new terminal during the course of 2019.

In its first full month of business for February 2019, more than 45,000 passengers used the new airport – an increase of 2.5 per cent from the corresponding month in 2018 recorded at San Javier. Of those passengers, more than 84 per cent were flights between the UK and Murcia.

The UK continues to be the strongest market for Murcia with more than 400,000 visitors in 2018 (around 41 per cent of the total number of tourists to the region.)

However, the number of UK visitors has seen a huge boost in the first two months of 2019 with a 30 per cent increase on 2018 figures for the same period and that upward trend is expected to continue throughout the year.  

A spokesperson for the Instituto de Turismo de la Región de Murcia, said: “The new airport provides many more flight options and convenience for our guests. It will make a huge difference to the region and will make it even more attractive for UK holidaymakers. New flight routes and services are being added all the time so it is an exciting future for the region.”

For more information, visit www.corveraairporttravel.com and www.murciaturistica.es/en

JUSTIN ROSE SPONSORS TELEGRAPH JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP AT QUINTA DO LAGO

Justin Rose has announced that he is to sponsor this year's Telegraph Junior Golf Championship, with the finals to be held at the exclusive Quinta do Lago resort in Portugal in November.

Regarded as the unofficial ‘major’ of junior golf, the 54-hole stroke play event will see 24 finalists – 12 boys and 12 girls – compete at the award-winning Algarve venue from November 10-15 for the opportunity to join an illustrious list of previous winners.

World number two Rose won the prestigious event back in 1997, while the roll of honour also includes the likes of Ryder Cup colleagues Tommy Fleetwood and Matt Fitzpatrick, as well as Ladies European Tour stars Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Melissa Reid.

Rose said: “I am delighted to announce my sponsorship of the Justin Rose Telegraph Junior Golf Championship, a tournament close to my heart since I won the title back in 1997. 

“It's great to be involved in the championship and to have the opportunity to encourage and grow junior grass-roots golf. I can't wait to see some of this year's talent and good luck to everyone taking part!”

The Justin Rose Telegraph Junior Golf Championship is open to any juniors aged under-18 at midnight on January 1, 2019, and the finals – which will be televised by Sky Sports – will be returning to Quinta do Lago for the fifth time in the last six years.

Qualification for the competition, which is supported by the R&A, European Tour and England Golf, is now open and details on how to enter or how clubs can get  involved can be found at www.telegraph.co.uk/juniorgolf .

Adam Sills, head of sport at The Telegraph, said: “It’s great to have a player of Justin’s calibre backing this year’s championship.  As a former winner who has gone on to be a world number one, he will provide plenty of inspiration for all this year’s junior competitors. I’m looking forward to another great championship in Portugal.”

Sean Moriarty, CEO at Quinta do Lago, added:  “We are very proud to be hosting the Justin Rose Telegraph Junior Golf Championship at Quinta do Lago this year. Golf has always been at the heart of the resort and it is fantastic to be growing the next generation of champions as part of our legacy.

“Justin is a former winner of the event and went on to become the world number one. The tournament will be a great opportunity to inspire and educate young people, as well as a fantastic event for the whole family to enjoy.  We look forward to welcoming everyone to Quinta do Lago and wish all the young hopefuls the very best in the tournament.”

Located just 15 minutes away from Faro airport, Quinta do Lago is renowned among Europe’s elite golf, sports and family destinations and, with a combination of world-class golf and lifestyle facilities, is the perfect choice for a sporting break.

As well as three 18-hole championship golf courses – the North, South and Laranjal – and outstanding practice facilities, guests can stay in shape at the state-of-the-art performance centre The Campus, a world-class sports hub designed for professionals and amateurs alike to keep fit.

Complementing the golf facilities is a choice of 13 first-class bars and restaurants that deliver a range of delicious world cuisines – including the acclaimed Bovino Steakhouse and recently-opened Dano’s Sports Bar & Restaurant – with accommodation on offer at the resort’s recently-acquired boutique Magnolia Hotel.

www.quintadolago.com

WEST CLIFFS SCALES NEW HEIGHTS WITH WORLD GOLF HONOUR

West Cliffs Golf Links has further enhanced its reputation as one of the leading lights of world golf after claiming a leading accolade in Golf Inc. magazine’s prestigious ‘2019 Golf Development of the Year’ awards.

Portugal’s newest golfing star beat off fierce international competition from a collection of golfing venues around the world to be chosen as one of the three main winners in this year’s contest.

Entries were judged across a variety of different categories – including the success of the overall business model, achieving the vision of the architect and the level of sustainability of each development both environmentally and economically. The winners will be recognised at a special ceremony at the Golf Inc. Strategies Summit in Georgia in September.

The accolade is the latest in a growing list of international honours that West Cliffs has won since opening to widespread praise in June 2017 – including being ranked second in the Top 100 Golf Courses website’s latest list of the top golfing layouts in Portugal and being voted as the ‘World’s Best New Golf Course’ at the 2017 World Golf Awards.

Keith Carter, managing editor of Golf Inc magazine, said: “In recognising West Cliffs Golf Links as one of the best new developments of the past year, the Golf Inc. judges pointed to the incredibly scenic location and outstanding design by Cynthia Dye as key factors in their selection. The project team's outstanding commitment to environmental stewardship should serve as a model for the golf industry in Europe.”

Francisco Cadete, director of golf at West Cliffs Golf Links, said: “It’s an honour to receive any award, and to have been acknowledged in a renowned international competition amongst such esteemed company makes everyone at the resort immensely proud.

“The first 18 months have been outstanding for West Cliffs and the course is developing and maturing all the time. The feedback that we continue to receive from golfers from all over the world is incredible, and the most exciting thing from my point of view is that the course is going to get even better in the years to come as it reaches its full potential.”

Managed by Praia D’El Rey Marriott Golf & Beach Resort, West Cliffs has been created over 200 hectares of natural landscape and rolling sand dunes, and offers sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean from each hole.

Situated less than an hour north of Lisbon on the Silver Coast, the par-72 layout – which was designed by Cynthia Dye, her first course in Portugal – has wasted no time at all in making a name for itself across the golfing world, earning rave reviews from golfers and the media alike.

Its growing worldwide reputation was borne out by golfers from no fewer than six continents and 34 different countries – including USA, China, South Korea, Brazil, South Africa and New Zealand – visiting in its opening year, and its popularity has been reflected in green-fee bookings, with the number rounds played expected to reach its target of 28,000 in 2019 – helping to generate golf revenue of €3m a year.

The instant impact made by West Cliffs has also helped Praia D’El Rey cement its status as one of Europe’s elite golf resorts, and the leading golf and lifestyle venue in Portugal.

As well as featuring two 18-hole championship courses, Praia D’El Rey offers an array of other world-class sports and leisure facilities including remodelled five-star ocean front and ocean premium accommodation at a cost of more than €1m and an upgrade of its restaurant facilities.

www.westcliffs.com | www.praia-del-rey.com

FREE BEER SETS THE PACE AT PALMARES

Golfers at Palmares Beach & Golf Resort, in the Algarve, raised a collective glass after winning an important battle in the war on slow play.

The stunning five-star resort in Lagos, which boasts 27 holes, is keen to make its latest tournament –Eradicate Slow Play – a regular event after a successful debut.

As well as introducing the new R&A rules and recommendations, which are designed to speed up play, the philosophy behind the event was embraced by the participants – spurred on by some radical local rules to act as an extra temptation to complete the nine holes of Texas Scramble as quickly as possible.

One incentive in particular – the prospect of free beer in the clubhouse up until one and hour and 45 minutes after the shotgun start – certainly did the trick for the winning team from the UK as they toasted their success.

It meant Brad Walker, Steve Smith and Derek Sanders – with an average age of 62 – enjoyed an hour of quenching their collective thirst with complimentary hospitality after tearing round nine holes in just 45 minutes. Although their score was immaterial, it was still impressive as they posted a one-under-par gross total, while their nearest challengers joined them at the bar just a few minutes later after posting times of 50 and 55 minutes respectively.

Aside from other incentives of replacing all lost balls with a brand new sleeve, the threat of punishment also served its purpose with one-shot penalties handed out for: searching for lost balls, practice swings, hitting provisional balls or reading greens from both sides.

The resort’s operations director, António Pinto Coelho, believes the tournament will now become a fixture at the multi award-winning course, which was extensively redesigned by Robert Trent Jones Jnr in 2011.

He said: “It was a big success. Everyone got into the spirit – especially with a complimentary shot of Medronho before the start. It was just a great time and got back to golf being fun.

“Most people said playing faster made them have more fun and didn’t affect the final score – not that the score mattered for this tournament.

“Seeing some of the participants in their 70s running between shots was quite a sight and we’ve already had many requests to repeat the experience. It will be back again in the near future and perhaps we will come up with a few extra local rules to enjoy!”

www.onyriaresorts.com | www.onyriapalmares.com | www.onyriabeachhousehotel.com

LA MANGA CLUB TO HOST NEW EUROPEAN CRICKET CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Spain’s prestigious La Manga Club has been selected as the official venue partner for the eagerly-awaited new European Cricket League (ECL), which will launch this summer and has been hailed as cricket’s equivalent of the UEFA Champions League.

The famous sports and leisure resort will host the event for the next three years, with the inaugural tournament taking place in Murcia, south-east Spain, from July 29-31.

Played over 17 matches in a T10 format, ECL 19 will feature the domestic champions of Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Russia and Spain competing for the chance to be crowned as Continental Europe club cricket’s ‘Kings of Europe’.

And interest in the new competition is set be huge, with all the games being televised live in Europe and India across a combination of broadcast, digital and social channels to 160-plus countries and an estimated audience of more than 142m people. 

Nick Montgomery, general manager at La Manga Club, said: “The European Cricket League is a fantastic new initiative, and we’re thrilled to be playing such an important part in helping to launch such an exciting project. 

“The facilities that we can offer cricket teams are on a par with some of the best in the world, and partnering with this new competition will give us the opportunity to showcase the resort to a truly global audience.” 

La Manga Club is widely-known as the home of cricket in Spain and features an outstanding range of first-class cricket facilities ideal for hosting teams and staging tournaments – including the continent’s only European Cricket Performance Centre. 

ECL 19 will feature sides from Dreux (France), Rotterdam (The Netherlands), Svanholm (Denmark), Bremen (Germany), St. Petersburg (Russia), Brescia (Italy) and Cluj (Romania). Teams will be split into two groups of four with matches being played on a round-robin basis, with the top two from each progressing to contest the semi-finals and final. 

The first league will be limited to eight champion clubs from official ICC member federations, but event organisers plan to increase the number of qualified teams in the coming years. 

Daniel Weston, founder of the European Cricket League, and who plays for the German national cricket team, said: “We are delighted to have La Manga Club on board as the official venue partner for the Champions League of cricket in Europe. 

“Featuring southern Europe's best cricket facilities, the resort is the perfect destination for cricket fans and champion clubs to combine world-class cricket and entertainment in equal measure. 

“There has never been a European-wide league of this nature and it’s our desire to make the ECL the flagship competition in Continental Europe. The team behind the league has vast experience of organising and promoting events of this nature to a global broadcast audience, and we can’t wait to get started.” 

La Manga Club’s European Cricket Performance Centre has been designed to help international teams, counties, schools and colleges, as well as assisting with the development of players and coaches. Its extensive facilities include six first-class grass pitches and two artificial wickets on two existing grounds, plus 23 grass and five artificial net lanes – all with 25-yard run-ups.  

In addition, there are also specialist grass fielding, catching and wicket-keeping areas and, with the final phase of the centre having been completed this winter with its new grass pitches now fully bedded in, La Manga Club is already attracting significant interest with Hampshire, Northamptonshire, Glamorgan and Gloucestershire all confirmed to visit ahead of the start of the new season. 

Also the official overseas training base of the Lawn Tennis Association, La Manga Club’s unrivalled other facilities include three 18-hole golf courses, a 28-court tennis centre and a 2,000sqm Wellness Centre. It also offers the choice of a five-star hotel, four-star serviced apartments and more than 15 bars and restaurants.  

For more information on the European Cricket League, please visit www.ecl.cricket/league

COSTA NAVARINO PARTNERS WITH AZALEA

The multi-award-winning Costa Navarino, in Greece, has appointed Azalea to spearhead its global golf and sports PR, and to support the destination in its enhanced guest offering.

Two-time Masters champion and Ryder Cup legend José María Olazábal was recently announced as the designer of two new golf courses at Navarino Hills, which will open for play in 2021.

The new Olazábal designs will take the Costa Navarino golf offering to an impressive four layouts, alongside The Dunes Course – designed by Bernhard Langer together with European Golf Design – and The Bay Course, created by the legendary Robert Trent Jones Jr.

Further developments at the destination will upgrade the sporting facilities, with an emphasis on tennis, alongside the opening of a unique, sustainable earth-sheltered clubhouse at The Bay Course, which will add further drive to Azalea’s mission for worldwide recognition for the destination.

One of the world’s most sustainable destinations, Costa Navarino is renowned for its pristine coastal location, breathtaking landscape, cultural heritage, luxury hospitality and real estate. A commitment to the highest standards of environmental and social responsibility exist throughout its operation, as well as a desire to promote the entire region of Messinia, while protecting and preserving both its natural beauty and heritage.

Luke Frary, Azalea account director, said: “This is a fabulous opportunity for us to communicate Costa Navarino across the marketing spectrum in order to heighten its status within European and global markets, and to spread the word about the unique proposition that the destination has to offer.”

www.costanavarino.com

RBH DOMIN-EIGHTS IN NEW GOLF WORLD RANKING  

All eight RBH-managed golf resorts have made it into Golf World’s new top 100 GB&I ‘Ultimate Stay-and-Play’ venues – with Slaley Hall, pictured, named England’s fourth best resort.

The Hexham, Northumberland venue was 24th in the list, with Aldwark Manor, York, also creeping into the top 50 at 46. Oulton Hall, Leeds, was 58th, Belton Woods, in Grantham, was ranked 62nd and Forest Pines – now rebranded as DoubleTree by Hilton Forest Pines Spa & Golf Resort – in Broughton, Lincolnshire, was a further three places back.

Norwich’s Dunston Hall was 76th, Doubletree by Hilton Glasgow Westerwood Spa & Golf Resort was ranked 81st, while the Telford Hotel & Golf Resort, in Shropshire, was 88th. It’s an outstanding success for the group, which has more resorts in the top 100 than any other hotel group.

And Alan Foley, RBH’s director of golf and spa sales, was quick to praise staff at the resorts for their consistently high levels of performance.

He said: “What is a fabulous success for RBH is down to the hard work and dedication of every member of our resort teams, from the general managers down to the part-time workers. Their attention to detail and helpful ‘can-do’ attitude has been rewarded with all eight of our resorts in the top 100. It’s a fabulous feat and we thank them all for their commitment to the group ethos.”

As the largest golf resort operator in the UK, RBH – the UK’s leading independent hotel management company – manages eight championship and tournament golf courses across the UK, in a diverse collection of more than 70 branded and private-label hotel properties.

www.rbhmanagement.com

ALCANADA ENERGISED BY NEW SOLAR TECHNOLOGY

Club de Golf Alcanada is basking in the glow of a new solar-powered link-up with one of the world’s leading environmental technology companies, DAS Energy GmbH.

The stunning golf course in Mallorca has teamed up with the Austrian company and fitted state-of-the-art, flexible solar panels to all of its buggies to harness the sun’s power and further reduce the club’s carbon footprint.

It’s the latest progressive step for the club and the solar panels will increase the range of the buggy by up to 35 percent before it needs recharging, while battery life will be extended by up to 2 years with the lightweight roof additions. The module’s biggest advantage is the light weight of 5.7kg which is realised through high-tech compound materials. As a positive result, the buggy’s centre of gravity is not negatively influenced.

Director of golf at Club de Golf Alcanada, Kristoff Both said: “We all need to be more conscious about the environment and it is always at the forefront of our thoughts at Alcanada. DAS Energy is a professional company with a great product and we were keen to get involved with them. We are really pleased with the end result and it was a quick and easy installation process.

“As a club, we have eliminated the use of plastic straws, we will introduce bee hives to unused areas of the course and we will also be installing charging points for electric cars in the near future. They may seem like small changes but it all adds up and can make a real difference to the bigger picture.

“In Mallorca, the law states all golf courses must already use recycled water for irrigation but we are hoping others will follow our lead and look at some of the other ways to reduce our impact on the environment.”

DAS Energy’s innovative panels can be installed on the existing roof of almost any golf buggy on the market without the need for any special tools and the fiberglass-reinforced plastic modules are durable and robust.

Alcanada, the only layout on the Balearic island that is next to the sea, boasts stunning views of Alcudia Bay and iconic lighthouse from which the Robert Trent Jones Jr-designed course takes its name.

And it’s the latest investment in the future for the Mallorcan favourite, which will undertake an ambitious renovation project to all its greens this winter as part of a stunning €600,000 revamp.

Porsche-owned Alcanada, a member of the prestigious World of Leading Golf collection, is home to a centuries-old Mallorca clubhouse, which offers guests the opportunity to sample regional specialties in its first-class dining facilities on a sun-baked terrace that enjoys spectacular views.

www.golf-alcanada.com

EARLY SUCCESS FOR DUBLINER IN RACE TO QUINTA DO LAGO

Dubliner Peter Early saw off the challenge of 23 other golfers from across Europe to emerge victorious in Clubs to Hire’s Race to Quinta do Lago.

The competition – in association with Quinta do Lago, Irish Golfer magazine and retailer American Golf – was open to all golfers who held an official and regulated golfing union (or similar) handicap. And Early, a member at Royal Dublin GC, was one of more than 110 golfers to reduce their handicap by the desired 10 per cent before the end of September.

Those names were entered into a draw to determine the 24 grand finalists – from five different countries – who enjoyed a complimentary stay at the prestigious Portuguese resort.

The 53-year-old, who works for Aer Lingus, said: “This event was an inspiration for me to try to reduce my handicap. I started the year at 4.0 and managed to get my handicap down to 2.6. Even on days where I was not playing well and heading for a point one back, the thought of a trip to Quinta do Lago was very appealing and kept me focused. I look forward to competing again in 2019.”

As a reward for his endeavours, Early returned to Dublin the proud owner of a new TaylorMade M4 driver, while the prize for all 24 finalists included 18 holes on the Laranjal  course at Quinta do Lago, a night’s accommodation at the four-star Magnolia Golf & Wellness Hotel, complimentary club hire courtesy of Clubs to Hire, a gala dinner and prizegiving at the renowned Bovino restaurant, use of the practice range and complimentary buggies.

Clubs to Hire co-founder, Tony Judge, said: “The event was a great success and we were able to witness some very good golf. It was heartening to hear the really positive comments from the finalists who clearly really enjoyed the experience – and the opportunity to play on a world-renowned golf course.”

“We had more than over 3,000 entries of which 110 hit their target. The event is very much aimed at golfers who are keen to reduce their handicap and improve their overall game. We and our partners look forward to making the 2019 version bigger and better.”

Clubs to Hire handles more than 300,000 annual visits to its website and more than 80,000 bookings for rental clubs at 28 locations worldwide, including popular golfing regions in the USA, Thailand, Australia, South Africa and five countries across the Mediterranean, offering the latest clubs on the market, from leading brands such as TaylorMade, Callaway and Mizuno – for men and women, left- or right-handed – from just €35 per week, a potential saving of up to €125, with none of the hassle.

www.clubstohire.com