Reviewing The Complete Quinta do Lago Golf Experience
Review by Golf Writer Andy Waple
I’ve been visiting since I first played the old B & C nine hole courses many years ago and it’s fair to say I’ve seen a few changes.
The resort has developed considerably from those early days yet I still get a thrill when crossing the threshold and seeing the courses and properties whilst driving down the main road to the clubhouse.
Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, the resort has developed with additional residential properties, numerous restaurants and a host of outdoor lifestyle activities. All tastefully done and to a high standard to the strict criteria laid out in the original vision.
From the beginning Quinta do Lago set itself out to become and remain a timeless, luxurious lifestyle metropolis, guided by environmental best practice and at one with its natural environment.
While it has grown over its half century it has stuck to its guiding masterplan and still seems in tune with its initial ambitions. There are a couple of building projects underway, but then development will be over and keeping everything pristine for the future will be the priority.
Top quality golf was always at the heart of the plans and in its 50th anniversary year it’s fair to say that it offers some of the best designs and playing conditions in Europe.
You don’t have to be a property owner or guest in the hotels, apartments and timeshares to play here; but once visited, many dream of winning the lottery for this really is a special place to live and play.
Reached from Faro’s airport on the sunny Algarve in about 20 minutes, it is easy to see the appeal to golfers and families looking for a venue that offers everything in a glorious location.
Thanks to a combination of superb golf, stunning Atlantic views and an absolute host of accommodation, dining options and a full range of sporting activities it is a self-contained paradise complete with a few shops, a family medical centre and chemist.
There are 54 holes over the three contrasting layouts. As a 10 handicap player I would say the South course is the best, most challenging and blessed with the greatest views. Laranjal is also testing thanks in particular to tricky greens, while the North is probably the most suitable for higher handicappers. Each is immaculately maintained and a joy to play. They all come Highly Recommended by the Golfshake Community in our Golf Guide and it is easy to see why.
A 7m euro investment during lockdown has significantly upgraded the South, the course most players favour when visiting this revered resort. All of the bunkers, tees and fairways have been improved and a great deal of work has been spent opening up vistas between holes by the removal of tangled self set scrubland plants.
Playing surfaces have been enhanced by reseeding with a Bermuda hybrid so the ball runs smoothly throughout.
The Achilles’ heel - the 8th hole - once criticised by tour pros as unfair, has been reworked with the removal of some pines and a levelling of the fairway, while subtle changes to the surrounding of the lakes has added a new sense of drama.
Great views of the Rio Formosa Natural Park set the scene and some of the surrounding properties are simply jaw dropping. There are people who don’t like to see swanky villas on each side of the fairways but to me they add to the interest.
I hit my first ball in Portugal down the first here in the early 80s and while some of the holes look familiar there have been plenty of changes in recent years, particularly since it was totally redesigned in 2014 at a cost of 9 million euros.
Quinta do Lago say this is a course that demands precision and strategy but most fairways are generous and in my opinion it is the easiest of the three.
There is only one hole with water on the front nine although the course shows its teeth with some smallish, undulating greens.
Every player will remember the 12th, a dogleg left around a lake, which gives a choice off the tee. Dangerous play is to hit driver tight to the left taking off distance while hoping to avoid the drink, yet it might be a better strategy to play right and pray to miss the fairway bunker. A rollercoaster green completes a hole to remember and talk about among friends at the 19th.
Everybody I met had good words to say about this course.
Built on a former orange grove a short distance from the main Quinta do Lago resort this lovely course offers a tranquil contrast from its siblings.
The expensive properties that line the South and North are conspicuous by their absence and you do get the feeling that you are way from it all.
This is the third course to be built on the estate, but it is by no means an afterthought.
The layout here has been switched in recent times so it may feel unfamiliar at first to those making a return visit.
Its abiding feature is the demanding putting surfaces. Many are elevated from the pristine fairways, and most are contoured to test the best of putters.
It offers some real challenges, none less than the par 5 7th which well merits its stroke index 1 due to water running down the right and also in front of the green.
Earlier in the round the 3rd requires a very well hit drive to avoid the ditch running horizontally across. The 4th crosses the same stream in the distance before a pitch to an elevated green.
Quinta do Lago is much more than a golf destination. Its ambition laid out 50 years ago was to create an exclusive self-contained community of residents and visitors with a myriad of sporting and leisure facilities supported by bars and restaurants to suit all tastes. Regular events are organised include family picnics, live music dinners and junior programmes and camps.
It contains the most luxurious properties to buy or rent as well as a small number of hotels and time shares.
A 3.5km beach is a summer highlight reached via a scenic walk across a wooden bridge over part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park.
There was once a time when dining options seemed limited but now there is a wealth of choice from the Michelin-recommended , the to a range of seafood and family dining and snack bars. The latest concept is a top notch Asian restaurant specialising in Japanese dishes.
Great choices to suit all pockets is available. Special mention goes to , a collection of 26 luxury apartments available to buy or rent, and The situated just outside the resort with 74 bedrooms, seven cottages, pool, tennis courts, complimentary bikes. This is a good base for golfers and the breakfast is highly recommended.
It is easy to see why Quinta do Lago attracts non golfers, particularly those with a passion for other outdoor pursuits. While some prefer leisurely nature walks and bird watching others head to , a new multi-sports complex. A hive of activity it offers a place for families to play tennis and padel as well as providing elite coaching and training. It’s even got a high performance gym, rehabilitation suites and a huge Desso pitch aimed at professional sporting teams. If lucky you might encounter a sports star for a selfie.
To say ’50 years old and still going strong’ would be a compliment for most resorts but for Quinta do Lago it would be a bit of an understatement. Quinta has continued to invest in its amenities and millions have been spent on the courses in recent years alone. It continues to be a destination others aspire to and for golfers the courses are a must-play.
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