Golf resort

Holidays in Portugal: why the Vale do Lobo golf resort in the Algarve is a hole-in-one

Fly to Portugal: With acres of rolling fairways and a gorgeous beach, this Algarve golf resort is a hole-in-one

  • Mark Jones travels to Vale do Lobo, near Faro, for a lesson with a professional golfer
  • The 1,200-acre complex includes 1,500 villas, townhouses and apartments
  • Families will enjoy relaxing on the resort’s sandy beach, which faces the Atlantic

Lunch was in full swing on the terrace of U&Co, a restaurant on the Praça, a beachside square in the Portuguese resort town of Vale do Lobo. Then panic broke out.

A storm suddenly blew in from the Atlantic. Splashes of heavy rain soaked diners as they grabbed plates and ran for cover.

I stayed where I was, briefly noticing the pretty color of the sea. My mind was elsewhere. I was thinking about golf.

Departure time: The spectacular golf course of Vale do Lobo. “Most of the guests were British and most were golfers,” Mark says of the resort.

Golf is like the measles, the writer PG Wodehouse once observed: “It should be taken young, for if carried over to more mature years the results may be serious.

I have a severe case of middle aged golf.

The crisis came as I was dodging a course in the Scottish Borders. On the 7th hole, as a corner shot headed sideways towards a silver birch tree, I had come to that dreaded choice that all trash golfers fear: either sort out your game or start fishing.

That’s what brought me to Vale do Lobo and a meeting with Steve, the professional golfer.

My experiences with golf coaches are mixed, but I liked Steve right away. His accent helped. My family straddles the border between the East and West Midlands, and I know a boy from Coventry when I hear one.

The Portuguese resort is just a 20-minute drive from Faro, pictured, the capital of the Algarve

The Portuguese resort is just a 20-minute drive from Faro, pictured, the capital of the Algarve

Vale do Lobo, a 20-minute drive from Faro, is huge: 1,200 acres, 1,500 villas, townhouses and apartments, a long sandy beach.

A free shuttle service will take you from your accommodation to the beach and the golf course. Most people here rent villas and houses – or own one, like John and Jan from Stratford, who were visiting the place they bought pre-Covid for the first time. Was this the one that looked like a cross between an art gallery and a presidential palace, I asked them. They admitted with a laugh that theirs was more humble.

The resort feels five star but it is not a hotel. Some villas are owned and rented; others, like mine, belong to the station. There was a barbecue, a large kitchen and a small swimming pool. But there is no one to carry your golf bag to the door.

A bird's eye view of the station, which Mark describes as

A bird’s eye view of the resort, which Mark describes as “five star”

There is, however, a big advantage. This is your home, and whether you’re a group of friends on a golf vacation or a family just wanting to relax on a quiet, clean Atlantic beach, you’ll soon feel right at home.

Most of the guests were British and most were golfers. After our second lesson, Steve took me in a buggy to a quiet part of the course. I kept my legs rooted as instructed, my eye on the ball…and played like a god (for three holes, anyway).

But I observed Steve’s number one rule: don’t overtighten the club. On a scale of one to ten, my take was nine. I needed to relax at three. As soon as I relaxed, the club swung elegantly towards the ball.

At the airport, I realized that Steve’s one-to-ten scale was a good life lesson. I clutched my carry-on until my knuckles turned white, so I relaxed to a three. My shoulders relaxed, my head cleared – and I walked through security with a smile.