The Ultimate Travel Experience at Monte Rei Golf & Country Club
The Eastern Algarve is often overlooked by golfers who flock to Portugal in their droves from the UK and continental Europe to enjoy a few rounds in the sun.
That oversight may well be a mistake - turning right from Faro Airport instead of the usual left is very worthwhile as this area hosts a number of fine courses and the overall experience is more typically Portuguese.
The number one destination among the cluster of venues is Monte Rei Golf and Country Club, which features one of the finest courses in Europe, complemented by a range of top quality accommodation and dining options. With another 18 holes about to break soil it’s hard to imagine that it will lose its crown.
No effort is spared to make guests feel special at Monte Rei - with a concierge, welcome hamper, daily turn-down service and dedicated housekeeping, it’s like staying in a five star hotel yet with the flexibility provide by its luxurious self catering villas and apartments.
While it’s the Jack Nicklaus Signature Course that gets all the plaudits, it is worth remembering that Monte Rei is a resort destination in its own right. Everything needed for a relaxing luxury break is found on site - and being close to the coast and the other courses in the area it’s a great base to explore the Eastern Algarve.
There was a panic throughout the region in August 2021 when a huge forest fire that started near Castro Marim swept for miles through the surrounding countryside.
Monte Rei was caught when the wind changed direction and the blaze threatened the course, clubhouse and accommodation. Fortunately the extensive sprinkler system saved the course and the only thing lost of significance was the halfway house.
Evidence of the blaze was visible in the scrubland during my visit in March 2022, but Mother Nature had already sprung into action. Regrowth was much in evidence, with an abundance of wild flowers carpeting the undergrowth.
A round of golf at Monte Re is not cheap but the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ certainly rings true.
Players arriving at the clubhouse are met by a member of staff who load clubs onto your buggy, a requirement at Monte Rei, which is included in the green fee.
An hour’s pre-game warm up on the very-well equipped driving range is also included. Wise players will make use of the practice bunkers, rather than bash balls out of sight, because they know that sooner than later they will be in one of the many very large expanses of sand that dot the course. The course planner refers to the huge bunker complex surrounding the par 3 9th as ‘a circle of defiance’ which gives a clear indication of the strength of the course’s defences.
There is nothing to fault the Jack Nicklaus Signature layout which is both stunning in appearance and a pleasure to play.
Rolling fairways are generous yet there is plenty of water to test players of all abilities and those bunkers are huge, deep and penal.
The course plays pretty long and you need to think carefully to ensure the best strategy is adopted. With 12 minute teeing intervals you will have the time to do that without worrying about holding up the field. Making note of and using the plentiful bail-out areas is a good tactic.
There are many memorable holes starting with the 1st; a downhill drive is required to a rolling fairway pitted with the customary bunkers.
Water comes into play early - a lake runs the entire length of the right hand side of the 2nd, and again at the 3rd where the green appears to jut into the water.
You will have played plenty of demanding shots before you reach the nerve-jangling 12th, a testing short par 4 which may be wisely played with a three wood off the tee followed by a short to mid iron over water.
From here the beauty of the course and its surroundings moves up another gear with the 13th and 14th both protected in different ways by a gorgeous natural lake.
These are the standout holes and they need to be seen to be believed. The setting is spectacular - rolling hills in the background add to the appeal and it is easy to imagine you are in a wilderness, not a mere 7k from the coast and the bustle of Tavira and other seaside resorts.
The course continues its scenic route back towards the finale, the par 5 18th where it is essential to keep well left to avoid the lake that extends the full length of the fairway.
In summary, if you don’t enjoy your golf here you need to take up a different sport.
There are three self-catering options each offering a high degree of comfort, flexibility and different styles.
The traditionally furnished 1,2 and 3 bed Linked Villas with private terrace, are set in mature open plan gardens adjacent to the Veranda bar/restaurant, large pool and tennis courts. They are popular with groups, families of golfers and non golfers alike, and have a great welcoming community feel.
The second option are a small number of large, private detached villas with their own pools.
Recently added are the spectacular and spacious Clubhouse Residences with up-to-the minute architectural design features. All are extremely well equipped, include high spec kitchens and have views over the course from floor-to-ceiling windows and their private terraces.
The two and three bedroomed apartments and penthouses can be configured to suit all preferences and each en-suite bedroom can provide the privacy of a top ranked hotel room - a great option for groups of friends who enjoy a social environment but require their own personal retreat.
A gym, steam room, sauna and large heated pool set in private gardens complete the guests’ experience.
These really are high end apartments and are proving extremely popular.
Restaurants and Bars
Three choices offer a complete range from snacks to a Michelin starred gourmet experience.
The Monte Rei Grill is an all-day restaurant situated inside the clubhouse and on the terrace serving favourites such as club sandwich, caesar salad or a steak.
The focal point of activity for the Linked Villas is the Veranda bar/restaurant providing poolside snacks, light meals and drinks.
Within the clubhouse, celebrated chef Rui Silvestre oversees the Michelin starred Vistas restaurant creating memorable tasting menus inspired by local ingredients, especially those from the sea.
A cluster of courses here are worth exploring. Monte Rei recommends the Seve Ballesteros designed Quinta do Vale, while nearby Quinta da Ria and adjacent Quinta de Cima are quality tracks. Other courses include Benamor and Castro Marim.
There is plenty of interest off the golf course in this part of the Algarve to suit all. The beaches are huge, secluded and a visit to the ancient town of Tavira is a must for its restaurants, bars and typical Portuguese architecture. It’s a great place to wander around, night and day.
A stylish, sophisticated, luxurious resort with a top quality golf course to match. Golfers looking for the ultimate experience in an authentic Portuguese setting must put Monte Rei on their radar. Impeccable service levels, high quality, flexible accommodation and dining make this the ideal base to stay and play the top course in Portugal.
For more information, please visit https://www.monte-rei.com/ and our travel partners Golfbreaks.
Monte Rei North Course Feature Review
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