Recommendations from Néstor Pérez Pérez, golf concierge, Kempinski Hotel Bahia, Estepona
With over 70 golf courses, the Costa del Sol is a top European destination for golf lovers. It’s a great place for a golf holiday with friends or family because of its combination of outstanding golfing facilities, the wide range of activities on offer and an excellent climate that means you can play golf all year round. The western Costa del Sol in particular is an excellent choice with 12 great courses in a relatively small area from Estepona to Sotogrande. We spoke to Nestor Perez Perez, golf concierge at the Kempinski Hotel Bahia in Estepona, to find out his favourite courses and recommendations to suit different budgets and skills.
How did you become the Kempinski’s golf concierge?
I love sports, playing golf a lot in my youth and winning several tournaments in my time. I also played tennis professionally and then got into hospitality, working in reservations at the Kempinski. When they found out about my love for golf, they moved me to the golf desk and it’s great to be able to share my passion and knowledge with the guests.
What is a golf concierge?
It’s our job to offer honest opinions on the best courses for our guests to play, depending on their handicap and preferences. We have agreements with 25 courses and have negotiated preferential rates for our guests, and we also make the bookings on their behalf to make it easy for them. Some of the most popular courses can be difficult to play on if you’re not a member, but they do their best for our guests, so we can get them in to play more often than not.
What are the best courses on the western Costa del Sol?
We are lucky to have a huge number of courses to choose from here; the best ones would be what we call the championship courses. These are the crème de la crème in Europe and there are four that really stand out from the crowd.
Valderrama is the most famous, with the most history for hosting tournaments, and it has been named the best course in Europe. It is a stunning course and one many golfers want to cross off the bucket list; however, I would say the best is La Reserva de Sotogrande. I prefer it as it is always in perfect conditions, with a really good design and a lower price than Valderrama. So if you only get time to play one I’d suggest La Reserva.
My other two top recommendations in terms of championship courses are Finca Cortesín in Casares and San Roque Old Course. Finca Cortesín is a fantastic course and the team look after you so well that you really feel at home. San Roque Old Course is very popular with our guests for the great quality course and design.
What courses would you say offer the best value for money?
There are two courses which combine excellent golf with very affordable prices and are very popular with our guests – Los Flamingos at Villa Padierna, which has both 18-hole and nine-hole courses, and El Paraiso in Estepona, just 10 minutes’ drive from the hotel.
Why do golfers love the Costa del Sol so much?
That’s simple really – the concentration of great courses so close together and also the weather, which means they can play all year round. Groups and families also like it, because it offers a lot more than just golf; there are great restaurants and nightlife, culture and beaches too, so it keeps everyone happy. It’s pretty hard to beat as a destination for a golf holiday!
What is the best time of year for golf?
The great thing about this area is that you can really play all year round, but the peak times are October, November, February, March and April. My personal favourite months are March and October, as the weather is perfect. You can happily fit in a round in the summer as well, but just make sure you have a hat, sunblock and plenty of water, as it is hot!
Does the hotel offer any golf packages?
The hotel is very popular for golfers because of its central locations between the Golf Valley of Nueva Andalucía and the great concentration of courses around Sotogrande. To make it easier for our guests, we have a couple of packages which can allow them to play several courses in one trip. From March to December we have the “Golf for a Lifetime” package, where guests play four amazing championship courses during their trip – Valderrama, Sotogrande, Finca Cortesín and San Roque Old. For those with a lower budget, we also have a “Keep Calm and Play Golf” package which includes four excellent courses, including Alcaidesa (the only links course on the Costa del Sol), Almenara, San Roque New and Valle Romano, for under €300.