Holiday properties - Monte Rei Golf & Country Club, Algarve, Portugal
PUBLISHED: 00:00 07 December 2018 | UPDATED: 12:35 18 December 2018
Who hasn't been on holiday, fallen in love with the location and wished they owned a place there? This dream can be a reality at Monte Rei in Portugal's eastern Algarve
I’m not a golfer. I have had a couple of lessons and swiftly decided there were easier ways to give myself a nervous breakdown and I’d be less likely to hit somebody with a long metal stick in the process. I admit to enjoying watching it on TV, a wicked enjoyment of missed putts and game-saving eagles on the tenth. I was therefore interested to know why the team at Monte Rei felt that I would enjoy a trip to what I imagined to be no more than a golf resort – albeit a rather luxurious one.
It turns out they knew precisely what they were doing. I spent a long weekend feeling uber-chilled in luxurious surroundings - and not a golf stick in sight. Well, maybe a few, but none in my hands.
Monte Rei is a purpose-built golf resort, meaning that its Jack Nicklaus-designed course is complemented by a collection of rather fabulous villas as well as a club house (obvs), spa and some very fine dining. The owners have grand plans to create a destination for those seeking sunshine in Portugal’s prettiest part of the Algarve where the playing of the Scottish sport is not the sole reason for going. Indeed, I am told that this summer many of the families taking villas there had absolutely no interest in or intention of giving it a whirl. The course - with a second one in progress and open to members, owners and selected guests in 2020 - providing a glorious backdrop of green against the blue skies and the free entertainment of watching the golfers pass by, some more successfully than others.
Our small group stayed in a four bedroom detached villa with its own pool, with views right out to the ocean. Each room is en suite, there’s a fully fitted and brilliantly equipped kitchen, an outdoor kitchen and BBQ, a dining room and TV room. The floors are marble clad, the furnishings are high-end contemporary luxe and the bathrooms supplied with Molton Brown goodies. Just as if you were staying in a hotel, the rooms are cleaned daily and turned down in the evenings – with chocolates on the pillow, a tradition I hope never changes. You can cook if you want to, but you can also choose to dine at the Club House or head to the nearby villages and beaches for a full selection of local options, or even pop over to Spain, a bare 15 minutes drive. The nearest town, Tavira, is a delight – packed with churches, ancient narrow streets and contemporary shopping options. I can’t think of a box that isn’t ticked.
On my arrival, following an unfeasibly early flight from Manchester, I was thrilled to be able to book myself a massage in the resort’s Spa. It’s small, but smart. A sauna and steam room are no doubt heaven for golfers who have swung that little bit too hard and the treatment, a deep tissue massage, was heaven. I was quite glad, in the end, for my early flight. It may be a shock when the alarm goes off at 3.30am, but by 10am I was gazing at blue skies and wide open spaces, with the sun on my face and whole day of all-about-me ahead. Bliss.
Lunch was taken in the Club House. You can dine all day, from breakfast through to dinner in The Grill, a relaxed and informal space with a fabulous terrace. The menu may not be complicated, but it was designed by the youngest chef to win a Michelin star in Portugal, Rui Silvestre. He’s been head-hunted by Monte Rei to head up their fine dining restaurant, Vistas. He’s a win, too. We enjoyed a tasting menu experience at Vistas that was utterly delicious and perfectly balanced. From a gazpacho of beetroot with a goat’s cheese filo roll to soft and sweet duck to the lightest of puddings, it was all just dreamy.
Monte Rei has a lot going on this winter. As well as the current offering of two, three and four bedroom villas, they are building a collection of two and three bedroom apartments and will soon be breaking ground on a luxury hotel and a second golf course. It will be another Jack Nicklaus Signature Course, designed by the man himself, making Monte Rei the only resort in Portugal with two. You might think that all this building would change the character of this wide open and attractive landscape, but it’s of considerable acreage before you even consider the two courses and the plans are very sympathetic to the environment (the team have become quite the experts in the moving of trees - and wild pigs, apparently, who occasionally like to take in a spot of golf watching) so there are no concerns about overcrowding.
They’ve pretty much thought of everything any holiday maker could want. And the most exciting bit? You can buy your own place, use it whenever you want and, if you wish, rent it out to holiday makers and let Monte Rei manage it all for you. I rather fancy one of the top floor penthouse apartments; fabulous views and gorgeous contemporary interiors, from a Lisbon-based designer. They’re sold however, so I shall have to put my dream on hold. And keep buying the lottery tickets!
Monte Rei Golf & Country Club
monte-rei.com | +351 281 950 959
Prices for two-bed Clubhouse Residence apartments are from €825,000