“Río Real is a standard bearer for tourism”

Until a few months ago manager of Aloha Golf Club, Luis Navarro recently joined the management at the Rio Real golf course and hotel, also in Marbella. Navarro has had an extensive professional career in the world of golf...

“I began years ago,” he recalls, “ mainly because I enjoyed playing golf, sharing ownership of the Añoreta pro shop.

“I was an agronomy engineer and then I had the chance of doing a greenkeeper’s course with the Royal Andalucian Golf Federation. That gave me the opportunity of taking on that job at Alicante Golf, where later I became manager for five years. After that I moved on to El Bosque Golf Club, where I only remained for a few months because Aloha contacted me – I stayed there for eight years as manager.

“Now,” he says, “I’m starting a new era with great enthusiasm at Rio Real, probably the best commercial course there could be for visitors, with a fantastic hotel and superb amenities in an incomparable location, just five minutes from Marbella town centre, in the heart of the Costa del Sol.”

- Does your move to Rio Real mean changes for the club?

My job will entail continuing the work of Juan Cantos. I’ve joined this company because the golf manager, Juan, decided to retire. Logically, the owners have had to think about his replacement, and to that end they set their sights on me. So I am taking on the responsibility for all the club’s current and future operations. I’m not coming here to make changes, but rather to consolidate Rio Real as what it already is – a great club, a great golf resort, with a very attractive hotel – and to ensure we continue to grow and become even more well established. Our aim is for the club to remain a standard bearer for tourism in one of the finest areas of Spain, Marbella.

- In any event, there are some projects on the immediate drawing board…

Rather than immediate I would say in the near future. The plan is to develop a top-level beach club. And with that project we will be able to complement the resort’s amenities: a charming boutique hotel, a first-class golf course, designed by Javier Arana, possibly Spain’s finest golf architect, and the beach club.

- For when is it planned?

The project is now ready and the licence applied for. When we have that, we’ll schedule the work and carry it out as soon as possible.

- In 2015 Río Real will celebrate its 50th anniversary. How is it going to celebrate the milestone?

It’s an important anniversary, as we are one of the few courses on the Costa del Sol to reach this total, together with Guadalmina, Sotogrande and the Parador. So we want to do many things to celebrate it, although we don’t yet have a complete schedule of activities. We have all this year to prepare it, but we must do it very well.

- Have you contemplated carrying out any finetuning to the course?

Not much – because it’s actually in magnificent condition. We recently opened up for play two greens that had been renovated, the 5th and 13th, which are more undulating now to make them more interesting. We are also adapting the irrigation system to use recycled water. Acosol’s pipeline now reaches us and I believe that very soon we will be able to have recycled water available, which is the objective for all courses on the Costa del Sol.