The Magic of Golf in Mallorca
Article by Clive Agran
If it’s good enough for Porsche then it’s probably good enough for me, is a simple maxim by which I try and live my life. Sadly, however, the opportunities to apply it are regrettably few and far between but a happy occasion arose recently that served to confirm than the basic principle underlying it is entirely sound.
Tucked away in the hills in the rural north-east corner of Mallorca is a fabulous hotel that Porsche chose last year to launch their latest model. Part of the reason it was selected was the picturesque drive from the airport up into the Llevant hills, usually a journey of around 45 minutes but doubtless considerably less in a Porsche. The scenery is precisely the sort so beloved of art directors shooting car adverts; rocky and remote with a road snaking through it.
And what will have greeted the weary motoring correspondents and assorted Porsche-people at the end of their less than half-hour drive will certainly have soothed their souls and fatigued right feet. For perched high in the hills is a magnificent old manor house that has been tastefully and luxuriously converted into the fabulous five-star Carrossa Hotel.
The estate pre-dates the Model-T Ford by more than a couple of centuries, let alone the first prototype Porsche. The present owners understood the authorities’ reluctance to grant planning permission for a hotel in such a rural location and displayed great patience before realising their dream. However, it was well worth the wait as the Carrossa is pure class and comfort.
There are numerous rooms and suites in both the Manor House and in purpose-built blocks on the estate. If these aren’t sufficiently luxurious for you, there are four fab villas where you might reasonably expect to bump into ‘Porsche’ and Becks or the occasional oligarch.
There are a couple of swimming pools, a gym and a super spa and wellness centre. More importantly, there’s a glorious bar and two sensational restaurants. There is only one thing lacking, you guessed it, a golf course. But don’t panic as there are plenty in the area.
If you fancy following in the spiked footprints of the famous then Pula will appeal. A pretty and fairly undulating course, it has entertained the European Tour and Rafa Nadal, who lives nearby, hosts an annual tournament here. On no fewer than 14 of the holes, you can see the green from the tee which makes me wonder if there is any course in Mallorca, or anywhere else for that matter, where all 18 greens are visible from their respective tees. Only when I slogged up the hill of the par five tenth did I realise why it’s mandatory to take a 10-minute break at the turn – to catch sufficient breath to ensure you make it to the green. It’s worth the effort if only for the view. Take a buggy? Never!
Canyamel is pretty close by and is a course that has sensitively retained many of the features that provide personality. A little uninhabited house on the ninth, for example, has been preserved as have a series of typical dry stone walls. The front is regarded as the tougher half with the fifth providing particularly splendid views across to Minorca.
I’ve held the best two courses back simply to reward those of you who have found the stamina to get this far.
Alcanada is a cracker. Right on the coast about half-an-hour from the Carrossa Hotel, it sweeps around pine and olive groves with the sparkling sea an ever-present attraction. The lighthouse that features on the club’s logo is a striking landmark that enables me to namedrop. You see, the course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr with whom I played a round in Portugal about three years ago. “Clive,” he said, “look upon bunkers as if they were lighthouses warning you to keep away.” Wise words, eh? Anyway, Robert, you did a great job at Alcanada.
Another sensational track is Son Gual. Sadly, it’s not near the hotel but you should do what I did and play it as you travel to the airport on your way home. If your flight takes off at 7am, that’s probably not such a good idea. Anyway, it’s only five minutes from the airport (three in a Porshe) and is so good it’s almost worth missing your flight. Designed by an amateur golfer, which I think is refreshingly brilliant, it’s simply superb. I’ve played it or, rather, struggled around it, three times and it’s always been presented in immaculate condition. The seven lakes, numerous waterfalls and cascades will drown a few of your balls but, look on the bright side, you’ll have less weight to shlep home.
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