What's trending in golf travel
The June opening of the Lavida Hotel within Spain’s prestigious PGA Catalunya Resort introduced a new affordable option on the grounds without sacrificing quality. Equally important, the lodging created more golf and activity options for enthusiasts.
Markus Laahanen, Lavida Hotel director of operations, spearheaded the launch of the 50-room alternative lifestyle boutique hotel on the resort’s 741-plus acres. The resort is located roughly 45 minutes from Barcelona, nestled along the eastern Spain coastline.
Owned by Irish businessman Denis O’Brien, PGA Catalunya Resort is one of 26 golf facilities in the portfolio of European Tour Properties, a network of top-class golf venues across three continents that have a close association with the European Tour.
Lavida Hotel rooms are based on the premise of sleek design, high-tech features and buzzing communal spaces. Equally important, direct access to the resort’s amenities — like cycling, tennis, fishing and a zip line adventure park — are selling points. None more so than the golf, though. The two stunning 18-hole courses are at the forefront.
While the Stadium Course winds its way through the Girona hillside, the par-4 13th hole, which features a semi-island green, is considered the signature hole. (Photo: PGA Catalunya Resort)
The Stadium Course, ranked No. 1 in Spain by Top100GolfCourses.com, opened with the resort in 1999 after more than 10 years of planning by the European Tour. It was created by European Golf Design in association with Neil Coles and Angel Gallardo. Their purpose was to create something similar to a PGA Championship layout that would rival TPC Sawgrass. Since opening, the Spanish Open has been conducted three times. And, in 2014, the Stadium Course was named as a candidate to host the 2022 Ryder Cup before losing out to Rome.
The 7,108-yard layout winds through scenic hills. Each hole is framed by lush vegetation, green fir trees and purple heather. The 13th hole, a 421-yard par 4, features a semi-island green and “is the signature hole that the resort is known for,” said Manuela Whitaker, planning director for Landmark Golf Marketing and Communications.
In 2005, the Tour Course was completed by the same Stadium design team. It’s a bit shorter than the Stadium course, but it also can be equally unforgiving. Need more proof it’s tough? Since 2008 it has co-hosted the European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage.
“The Lavida Hotel will attract both serious and leisure golfers, with facilities that are suitable for both seasoned players and beginners,” said Laahanen.
Although another hotel, villas and apartments are on the PGA Catalunya Resort property, Lavida Hotel takes pride as a cheaper alternative. The idea to develop the Lavida Hotel “arose from our desire to open up the PGA Catalunya Resort to a younger demographic,” such as “millennials,” said Laahanen.
Or in other words, the Lavida Hotel appeals to those who would prefer not to compromise on quality. Twin beds adorn each room, along with high tech and audio gadgets, fast Wi-Fi, golf club storage and a balcony with breathtaking views. Lavida Hotel also showcases a stylish and contemporary aesthetic feel.
Technology helps drive the experience, ensuring a seamless journey for guests from the point of arrival. Traditional check-in practices have given way to patrons being able to do so prior to arrival through a hotel app or at the iPads placed in the bar. Guests can gain access to a digital room key and they don’t need to check out at the end of their stay. Not to worry, guests can still communicate with hotel services at the touch of a button.
There are various golf specials, too. The latest promotion, the Getaway Packages, includes one night, double sharing, with breakfast and an 18-hole round on the Tour course for €149 per person (until June 30); €135 per person (July 1 – Sept. 6); €149 per person (Sept. 7 – Oct. 31); and €123 per person (Nov. 1 – Dec. 31). Tour tax is not included.
At the moment, it’s up in the air whether the Lavida Hotel concept will expand to the United States, if only because it’s an emerging trend in Europe.
The overall focus is on “providing guests with everything they need and nothing they don’t,” said Laahanen. It’s the first hotel of its type to open outside of a city location.
“Created in response to the needs of the modern-day traveler, the boutique hotel will provide a new view on the resort experience,” Laahanen said.