La Manga Club is located in the region of Murcia in southeast Spain within a delightful valley, surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea and the Mar Menor (the country’s largest salt-water lagoon). The most convenient way to fly to La Manga Club is via Murcia-San Javier Airport (19 kms) or Alicante International Airport (90 kms). The luxury 1,400-acre resort opened in 1972 with unrivalled, world-class facilities catering for all discerning visitors.
La Manga Club offers a diverse range of accommodation options. The distinguished and centrally located 192-roomed Principe Felipe 5-Star Hotel is the connoisseur’s choice. And for the most discerning guests, the sumptuous Royal Club, with 26 superior level rooms and 3 suites, is positioned in a private wing of the hotel. The 4-star Las Lomas Village Apartments, located near the Wellness Centre, are designed for families or groups who prefer more freedom while still enjoying all the resort’s outstanding facilities. Individual rental villas with landscaped gardens and private pools (located alongside the North and South courses) are also available for those who prefer the ultimate vacation home from home.
La Manga Club currently boasts no fewer than seventeen bars and restaurants, serving a wide range of cuisines from Mediterranean to the avant-garde trends. Classical food is available in the hotel’s Amapola restaurant and also at La Bodega and La Cala. Asia, Dharma and Luigi are three other restaurants that provide alternative and tasty culinary experiences without needing to leave the resort. At Las Lomas, The Village menu takes the diner on a journey around the world and La Princesa restaurant on the West course serves tapas, hot stone-cooked meat, salads and snacks to cater for all tastes. In the heart of La Plaza, Mulligan’s Irish pub (open every day from 7pm until 2.30am) is a popular tavern, while The Piano Bar, located in the heart of the hotel, provides a more sophisticated evening’s entertainment. Opening times at some restaurants are subject to seasonal changes.
The owners of La Manga Club have gone to extraordinary lengths to provide a vast range of facilities onsite. The majority of resort visitors do not leave the property for the duration of their stay – La Manga Club is nearly four times larger than Monaco. However, for those that wish to explore the region outside La Manga Club, a car is essential. The Murcia region of the Costa Cálida is a two seas (Mediterranean and Mar Menor) water sports paradise, so it’s a heavenly location for those who enjoy sailing, windsurfing and many other water sports. The nearby Calblanque Regional Park extends to nearly 6,000 acres, where long golden beaches and hidden bays remain relatively undiscovered. Horseback riding along the sandy shoreline might just be the perfect way to end the day, or perhaps some may prefer an evening stroll around the ancient city of Cartagena.
It would be far easier to list the facilities that La Manga Club doesn’t have than those it does. Apart from the three 18-hole golf courses and 18-hole pitch-and-putt course, the Tennis Centre is one of Europe’s best, having hosted events such as the Davis Cup, Fed Cup and ATP tournaments. The facility boasts twenty clay courts (including centre court, which seats up to 1,200 spectators), four hard courts, four artificial grass courts, two padel (paddle) courts and a squash court. The Wellness Centre houses the Spa, Fitness Centre and High Performance Centre, while the Football Centre incorporates an academy and eight FIFA-standard pitches, which have been used by top international clubs and national squads. There’s even a Cricket Performance centre used by the Irish and Scottish teams as a training base. La Manga Club is also sporting heaven for triathletes, with its onsite semi-Olympic pool, open water swimming nearby and a huge variety of on and off-road cycling and running routes. Click the link for full details of La Manga Club’s Sports & Leisure facilities.
A gorgeous valley setting, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea and the salt-water lagoon of the Mar Menor (not to mention more than 300 days of sunshine per year), might well have been the reasons why a consortium of American businessmen, led by the visionary Gregory Peters, chose this ideal site for the development of La Manga Club. The dream was to build the best sports holiday facility in Europe, and at its heart were two golf courses.
Robert Dean Putman, a California-based architect, was commissioned to design two contrasting 18-hole layouts for the ambitious fledgling project within the enormous 1,400-acre property. In October 1971, Putman’s two courses, named North and South, opened for play. Both courses were built in record time because La Manga Club had agreed to host the Spanish Open for five consecutive years from 1973. This sponsorship arrangement placed La Manga Club prominently on the international golfing map.
Despite being built at the same time, both the North and South courses are markedly different in character. The shorter North course is more undulating than the South and features natural storm gorges known as barrancas, placing a premium on strategic play. The South course is flatter and longer than the North, where water comes into play on more than half the holes on the card. Both courses have generously wide fairways often flanked by palm trees, large greens and expansive bunkering.
The South course was the stage for the Spanish Open where a number of famous winners emerged victorious, including Arnold Palmer, who returned in 1996 to oversee the redesign of the South course – La Manga Club named one of the lakes in The King’s honour.
The West course is La Manga Club’s new kid on the block and for many it’s the jewel in the resort’s golfing crown. The course started out as a 9-holer in the mid 1980s, designed by Dave Thomas, and named Atamaría after the nearby village. Soon after, the name was changed to La Princessa. In 1991 Dave Thomas was recalled to design a second 9-hole course immediately adjacent to La Princessa. It also had two names (Las Sabinas and then La Princessa II) before the two nines were eventually joined to create the 18-hole West course.
You’ll need to take the shuttle bus (free for for hotel and apartment guests) to reach the West course’s clubhouse, which is tucked away in the hills a couple of kilometres to the west of the main resort complex. The short trip is totally worthwhile as the West course is engaging to say the least and also very challenging, with numerous elevation changes, tight sloping fairways and many barrancas, particularly on the front nine. The back nine is more open and is set dramatically in the hills. It reaches its climax at the 18th tee which is perched high on the hillside from where the panoramic views across the resort to the sea beyond are simply sensational. The wide home fairway is set a hundred metres or so below the tee, so it’s time to grip and rip and watch your drive soar and hang. It’s perhaps the most exhilarating closing tee shot in Spanish golf.
La Manga Club is probably Europe’s most illustrious golf resort, and for good reasons. The three 18-hole courses are varied, both in terms of challenge and style – there’s also an 18-hole pitch and putt course designed by Seve Ballesteros, coupled with a world-class practice centre. The non-golf facilities are unrivalled, and the accommodations are exceptional in both quality and diversity. Has the original 1970s dream to build the best sports holiday facility in Europe been realised? Absolutely.
Here are a few review comments from golfers who’ve played the highly acclaimed La Manga courses:
“The best course at La Manga – drama, great views and great holes. Be aware that this is very tough and I advise higher handicap golfers to think twice before playing the West.”
“The West course is completely different to the North and South. Gone are the views of the La Manga complex, villas and condominiums (except on the 18th tee) and in come the hills, barrancas and pine trees. For me, this is La Manga’s best course by far, simply due to the variation of holes and the more natural setting.”
“Of the three La Manga Courses the West course was the biggest surprise. It’s a smallish course full of relatively short but interesting holes that run through a very hilly property. It’s a tricky course and care needs to be taken to plot your way around it.”
“The South is their Championship routing, the longest and perhaps the course you might most expect at this type of resort. It’s fairly open and generous off the tee but still requires solid shots. Since it’s so open wind has a huge impact on the game. The greens run fast and the course plays fairly firm and fast as well. Bermuda grasses add very much to the challenge if the fairways are missed. It’s a fun and relaxed golf course.”
“The South can be described as the strongest of the three courses here, although this does not mean that it will be all golfers favourite. My opinion is that whilst it is probably the toughest test it will probably be the better golfers that have the South at the top of their list of the three.”
“The North has similarities to both the West and the South courses at the resort; some of the fun and variety of the West and some of the strength of the South.”
“The North is very enjoyable holiday golf. It’s fairly open, not overly long and offers plenty birdies if you strike it well. It’s the sort of course you would happily play on a regular basis”