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The popularity of Greece as a golfing destination has risen sharply over recent years thanks largely to Costa Navarino, an eco-friendly luxury destination in the Peloponnese boasting the country’s two best golf courses. Here’s why it’s the perfect place to begin your Greek golfing odyssey.
Costa Navarino is located in the region of Messinia in the Peloponnese area of southwest Greece. Kalamata airport is only 45 minutes’ drive away. Athens airport is just over three hours from the destination, along a fantastic new highway financed by the European Union.
The opulent, eco-friendly resorts at Costa Navarino on the pristine coastline of the Peloponnese is blessed with panoramic sea and mountain views and are surrounded by miles of unspoiled greek countryside. There are two five-star hotels and the facilities, including a spa and excellent dining options, are everything you would expect from an award-winning resort. Its two golf courses, The Dunes and The Bay, are now considered the two top layouts in Greece.
The first course to built at the resort was The Dunes, situated next to the main resort hub. It opened in 2010 and was designed by two-time US Masters champion Bernhard Langer in association with European Golf Design. Set in diverse natural scenery with spectacular sea views, it takes its name from the tall dunes that separate several holes from the nearby beach. Undulating large greens, wide fairways and strategically placed pot bunkers provide a links feel set in a typical Greek landscape of olive trees and citrus groves. The par-71 course, measuring 6,581 yards from the back tees, has a great variety of memorable holes. It also features a full-size driving range and a short-game practice area.
About 15 minutes from the main resort hub, The Bay Course opened a year later and was designed by legendary architect Robert Trent Jones Jnr. More hilly than The Dunes, this 6,000-yard, par-70 layout places emphasis on straight hitting and course management and offers spectacular views over the historic Bay of Navarino. Two holes run right alongside the nearby beach before the course heads up and down through beautiful canyons, hills and groves. Both courses are enjoyable for players of all levels with plenty of risk-reward holes. They are also challenging, especially from the back tees, with the wind coming in off the ocean.
Before or after play, the Navarino Golf Academy offers professional tuition to players of every skill level, supported by the latest technology.
Costa Navarino, resting on a breathtaking stretch of sandy beach along the coast of the Ionian Sea, currently has two five-star accommodation options.
The Westin Resort Costa Navarino has more than 400 rooms and suites in the form of low-rise villa clusters inspired by old Messinian mansions, which have been constructed tastefully with local natural stone. 123 of them come with private infinity pools, while the others have access to an extensive common pool area. Living areas are sumptuously furnished and spacious, and are equipped with all modern amenities.
The Romanos, a Luxury Collection Resort, adjacent to The Westin, has 321 modern, elegant rooms, suites and villas, all with private terraces with views of the sea or gardens. Rooms vary from deluxe rooms, to infinity rooms with individual pools, to grand suites. Both hotels open out into the Agora, an authentically recreated village centre with a variety of bars, shops and restaurants.
Visitors can enjoy the luxurious thalassotherapy spa, tennis courts, water park and outdoor cinema. There are also plenty of choices for excellent food with 13 restaurants on site. Highlights include the Barbouni restaurant for seafood on the beach, and the Flame restaurant at The Dunes clubhouse, which overlooks the 18th green and specializes in steaks.
The facilities were built with a vision to become a model eco-friendly sustainable destination for the 21st century. The main Dunes beach at the resort is a nesting area for loggerhead turtles and the resort management company maintains a monitoring and protection program to ensure that eggs and hatchlings are protected.
The new clubhouse at The Bay also has the local environment in mind. An innovative structure, it’s built into the hillside with an earth-covered roof. Longer term, two new golf courses have already started construction and are due to open in 2021. Two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal is on board as a designer.