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Star Power in Spain | California Golf + Travel


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By Jo Maes, EGTMA

Northern Spain and Girona is the land of Salvador Dali, the Spanish surrealist where nothing is what it seems. The region touches the French border and the Pyrenees separate the two countries. At certain times of the year, the snow capped mountains provide a glorious backdrop for two fantastic golf resorts. There is nothing surreal about the magnificent and five-star Peralada Golf & Spa Resort. 

Four generations of the family Mateu have built something incredibly spectacular. Damian Mateu is the founder of one of the world’s most luxurious car brands and aeronautical company Hispano-Suiza, once rivals to Rolls Royce and Bentley, and the family has elevated Peralada to one of Spain’s most prestigious wineries. 

This is an all encompassing resort, a five-star hotel with an extensive wine themed spa, a Michelin Star restaurant, a casino all centered in and around a medieval castle and also some of the best golf facilities. The course architect Jordi Soler Peix has created a meandering layout of 6,600 yards. The first hole is not representative of the other holes as the course in general is tree lined, slightly undulating and well matured. Some of the holes have hints of Valderrama with the umbrella pines framing your shot. It’s a very playable golf course but requires the right shots and will challenge any player regardless of handicap. It presents you with different challenges and beautiful views over the surrounding landscape. The closing hole is a long Par 3 from a peninsula tee which is unusual. 

Peralada Castle, Michelin Star Restaurant and Casino
Michelin Dining at Peralada

The on site five-star boutique hotel is modern and with an earthy color scheme which has a calming influence. The rooms are big and comfortable but what really stands out at Peralada is the quality of the food and, of course, the wines. There is a choice of restaurants, both in the hotel, the winery and with the Michelin Star Castello restaurant as the epitome of the culinary offering.  

Prepare yourself for 17 tastebud tantalizing courses prepared by young chef Javi Martinez showcasing local produce, from Fried egg airbag with cured Iberian bacon and shrimp over Creamy scallop cream, Pheasant and Foie Gras galantine and Sweet potato, mandarin orange and liquorice. Then there is the cheese board, hand picked by Toni Gerez, a selection I have never seen the likes of. It’s an experience not to be missed but if this is all too much, the quality of the food at the hand of head chef Paco Perez continues in the hotel from breakfast onwards and also in the Cellar 1923 at the winery itself. 

Peralada Winery

The Peralada wine tradition dates back to the 14th century monastery on site and was revived in 1923. There are 5 vineyards across the North of Spain all producing different grape varieties. The new winery, a design marvel by Pritzker award-winning RCR Architects, has received the highest certification for sustainability in Europe. A tour of the winery is an experience not to be missed as you get immersed in the different vineyards through light and sound which makes the tasting all the more real. 

There are different wines for different budgets but we ended up tasting the 1923 Commemorative bottle which is priced at €250 and probably not your daily tipple. A mix of Syrah and Gamatxa Negra and aged 12 months in French Oak barrels, it is an elegant wine with great aging potential. Peralada also produces a lot of Cava sparkling wines which are made from the 3 typical and local grape varieties, Xarel-lo, Macebeo and Parellada. 

Torremirona 4* Golf & Spa Resort

On the other side of Figueres, you can find the four-star Torremirona Hotel and Golf Resort. Not as fancy as Peralada but nevertheless very much worth consideration depending on your budget. Peralada’s architect Jordi Soler also had a hand in the design of this course. Intersected by the main road, the front 9 is tight and tricky where the back 9 yields more scoring opportunities. The signature holes are no. 10, a Par 3 with not only water lurking but also overseen by golfers having a beer on the terrace. The 18th is a downhill Par 5 where only a very good drive will tempt you into going for the green in two. 

The starting holes on both courses are very close to the hotels so you can walk straight from your room onto the first tee. This is a very cozy hotel for groups of golfers that want to play a comfortable round of golf, have some great food and spend some quality time at the bar. The rooms are large and well appointed, there is a private spa one needs to book in advance and it’s a 15 minute taxi drive from the center of Figueres where I can recommend visiting the Dali museum to get your senses challenged.

The region itself is spectacular with the backdrop of the Pyrenees, the mountain range between Spain and France. What the Spanish do ever so well is preserving their heritage towns and the medieval fortified town of Besalu is no exception and only 15 minutes away. 

Origins date back to the 10th century and what stands out here is the romanesque bridge with seven uneven arcs and two guard towers. The town also has one of Europe’s only surviving medieval Jewish purification baths. The pure beaches of the Mediterranean are only 20 minutes away so the region has plenty to do outside of golf, great food and excellent wines.

There are three airports, Girona is the regional airport (1 hour) but for US flights, the Barcelona El Prat airport is about 90 min away. There is a motorway all the way to Figueres and once you are onsite, let the tranquility of the experience embrace you.

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