TRAVEL: Flights from Doncaster Sheffield Airport bring golf hotspots within easier reach

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Flights launched last year by Flybe from Doncaster Sheffield Airport opened up the fairways of the UK’s leading golf travel hotspot and brought them within easier reach.

Faro, on Portugal’s Algarve coast, was one of eight destinations added to the Flybe schedule operating from the airport in the summer of 2016. Coupled with the opening of the FARRRS link road from the airport to the M18, this was exciting news for golfers and holidaymakers in general. It now takes less than 30 minutes to drive to the airport from Sheffield’s Park Square roundabout, so the time saving is significant.

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Golf tourism is big business for the Algarve, whose 100 miles of beaches is now blessed with more than 40 courses, from Santo Antonio in the West to Quinta do Vale near the Spanish border.

It all began just over 50 years ago when British tour professional and course designer Sir Henry Cotton opened his famous championship course at Penina, just months after Faro Airport began receiving its first flights.

At the time nobody would have dreamed that the sleepy and unspoilt Portuguese coastline would grow to become Europe’s leading golfing destination. Half a century on, it’s a golfing magnet and new resorts are still opening while courses are under costly renovations to maintain their allure.

Last summer the Scottish-based hotel operator Macdonald Hotel and Resorts took over the management of a newly refurbished luxurious five star hotel in the foothills of the Algarve’s popular Monchique mountains and quickly launched golf packages to attract those looking for a tranquil getaway in the hills, yet within easy reach of the best courses of the region’s western shores.

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While it’s away from the crowds, the Macdonald Monchique Resort & Spa is only 20 minutes drive to the course at Penina and it’s a perfect base for an activity holiday whether it be walking, surfing on the wild and relatively undiscovered beaches of the Costa Vincentina, enjoying the spa and pilates, or, of course, golf. Macdonald golf packages offer play at a selection of courses, including Penina, Palmares, and Oceanico’s tracks at Amendoeira and Vilamoura. The hotel is an excellent hideaway, with first class facilities including four restaurants and a top class spa, featuring the renowed Espa brand.

Not to be outdone, the five-star Bela Vista Hotel & Spa also put together new golf packages. Situated on the clifftops at Praia da Rocha, the Bela Vista is said to be the oldest hotel in the Algarve. Based around a gorgeous mansion house built in 1918 it became a hotel in 1934.

Meanwhile, the golf scene goes from strength to strength. There were 1.2m rounds played in the region in 2015 on the famous courses that attract players from all over Europe.

The Algarve’s long standing masterpiece courses and resorts at Vilamoura, Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago have remained much sought after over the years largely due to a combination of short flight times, varied high quality accommodation, excellent restaurants, a stunning coastline and great golf courses that benefit from favourable weather virtually all year round.

Newcomers, such as Palmares, Monte Rei and The Faldo and O’Connor Jnr courses at Amendoeira have had tough acts to follow but have fitted in well.

Factbox:

Flights: Flybe departs from up to twice daily from Sheffield Doncaster Airport. Check www.flybe.com for details of Faro flights.

Golf: There are so many good ones to choose from. My personal favourites are Palmares, Quinta do Lago South; Old Course; Penina; Quinta da Ria and San Lorenzo

Hotels:

Macdonald Monchique Resort & Spa: www.macdonaldmonchique.com

Bela Vista Hotel & Spa: www.hotelbelavista.net

Car Hire: avoid the queues and opt for a local car hire company. Drive4Fun Car Rental has good quality vehicles at competitive prices www.drive4fun.info