Updated: Jun 12, 2018
More pictures at https://www.linksgolfphotos.com/lumine-and-bonmont)
This was a 4 day trip across 3 courses, all in the North-East of Spain, the Costa Dorada, booked through Golf Breaks (www.golfbreaks.com) we stayed in Salou, and were based at the Hotel Belevedere.
The first day was an arrival day for only 2 of us with the remaining 8 arriving the following day. I flew into Barcelona El Prat (direct from Edinburgh) which is about 75 mins drive from Salou and my friend flew from Manchester into Reus, both via Ryanair. The drive was on the limit of my “reasonable” distance for this type of trip, and I hired a car to make the drive south easier rather than look at public transport options. Thanks to google maps for an easy trip, and to Spain for easy driving (possibly due to all the tolls the roads were excellent) – UK take note !
The two of us ventured out on the ubiquitous “reckie” mission to see what Salou had to offer and to find a bar to watch the champions league (although as a Newcastle fan I have very little interest in any European football these days).
To say Salou is quiet at this time of year is perhaps being kind, the one bar we found with any life was called “Danny Boy”, an Irish bar with a couple of young Dublin boys playing guitars and singing all the old favourites – it wasn’t long before “Whiskey in the Jar” was cranked out. Not to our taste, although I like the song it’s so over played (anyway I digress) so we headed back to the hotel.
Breakfast at the hotel was an experience – now for those not familiar with it the Spanish government run a subsidised holiday scheme for pensioners called “immobilier” (I believe) which basically pays them to stay in holiday resorts of the winter/quite period. So at breakfast the retired majority took over the dining facilities and made the most of the extensive, if average, buffet. The market is there to be served but we made uncomfortable bed fellows.
A quiet morning as we waited for the rest of the group to arrive (all from Barcelons El Prat) and then take the 20 minute drive up to Bonmont for our 2pm tee time.
By this time my expectations were low, the trip hadn’t started well, but I was pleasantly surprised by Bonmont Golf Club, up in the hills high above Salou the course has the most spectacular views down to the Mediterranean. The club house is also modern and we’ll set up (one of the on this trip would be that features on this trip would be that all the clubhouses were better than the courses – it should always be the reverse, of course !)
Bonmont is a tight and tricky layout (think West course at La Manga) where strategy off the tee is critical, evidenced by the short par 4, 10th and par 5, 17th where a 5 iron is definitely sufficient to get you in position. The course has a good feel and a couple of excellent par 3’s test the short game sufficiently. Sadly my game wasn’t up to this kind of technical accuracy so my score was poor but a couple of 30 point scores from others in the group suggested the course wasn’t beyond a good score.
The group was truly mixed ability and I would say that all the courses were playable for all handicap ranges.
An excellent meal on the second evening at “Castillo De Javier” (recommended by the nice representative/agent from clubsforhire.com) and then back to see what the pensioners were up to at the hotel.
Weather wise the forecast hadn’t been great and although day one was decent, the outlook for days 2 and 3 was distinctly mixed and as we elbowed our way through the dining room for breakfast on the second day we could hear the rain battering down on the roof. Not good I thought !
We took the short 10 min shuttle from the hotel to Lumine Golf Resort to play the first of our 2 games here on the “Lakes” course, a flat track set around a number of man made lakes – the rain was now so heavy that I invested in a new umbrella and waterproof trousers (not exactly why you visit Spain to play golf, but we were told he weather was normally better in April – not sure I believed that) and we headed for the first tee. The young lady in the starters hut kept us well entertained with machine-gun one liners for a short while as we waited for the weather to improve. Two holes of rain and miraculously against all odds and the met office predictions the weather cleared – I began to rue my waterproofing purchases, still there was always tomorrow !
The Lakes is clearly the second course at Lumine and whilst perfectly playable will never attract anyone back for a 2nd go in my view, flat and set out around a couple of small stretches of man made water it’s ok for a 20 euro holiday knock but nothing more. The views of the petrochemical works and the roller coasters at Port Aventura (picture above) add nothing to its appeal - however the clubhouse is very nice and we sat happily for a couple of hours after our round, musing on our luck with the weather, wondering why our shuttle bus was late and enjoying some fairly typical golf club fair (burgers, club sandwiches etc).
The 3rd night we took the hotel concierge's recommendation on a local restaurant about a 10 minute walk from the hotel (Xanter) where we were the only patrons for the evening – the staff were excellent and the food even better so we made a plan to return the following evening.
This trip was rapidly becoming more about the food and hospitality than the golf and sunshine – note : always be prepared to adjust your expectations to make the most of trip. Mine were now low on golf quality but high on food and clubhouse facilities.
Onto our final day and back to Lumine for the better rated “Hills” course. I was out of contention now so set my sights on a respectable score over 30 points.
The weather was still very mixed (light rain and cool) so I was happy to try out my new waterproofs again and feel vindicated about the purchase.
The Hills was definitely the best of the three with a feel of the Old Course at Villamoura but about only 70% of the quality – the fairways were also wider and more forgiving than the previous two days and the greens bigger and faster, which really suited my game so I was able to hit my points target (if only just)…
Some excellent par 3s, 3 of which featured in the lowest 6 stroke indexes, including the stroke index 1, 8th (hardest hole on the course ?) – my game was clearly improving as I managed to get 2 inside 10 feet for a couple, of closest to the pin victories although holing any putts was still challenging.
There was also a couple of really picturesque holes on the back 9 with they’re a carved in to the base of large quarry area creating a dramatic backdrop.
Now the bad news – we returned to the clubs house to find that one of our group (and also a member of a Swedish group ahead of us) had there golf bags pick pocketed somewhere on the course presumably by some locals hiding in the bushes and looking for opportunities where the buggies were out of site.
Lumine must do something address this as, as everyone knows the Barcelona, area is notorious for this type of activity but you expect that a golf course will be safe and secure.
After a short visit to the local constabulary to report the crimes we headed back to wrap up the tour – a winning score of 98 points was an excellent return
Lumine hills was standout of the 3 courses, but not good to justify a return visit
Lumine Hills – 6/10
Bonmont – 5/10
Lumine Lakes – 4/10
Accommodation – 3/10 – we booked 3* accommodation so we got what we booked, but the mix of demographics meant the experience was not great. Bingo and Thai Chi are not good bedfellows for golfers and whilst there was other golf groups in the hotel, it clearly want geared up to cater for them. We seemed to be a commercial add on to the Spanish government winter subsidy
Location 3/10 Salou is too quiet at this time of year and whilst, if we accept we were unlucky with the weather, the resort was still far too quite even for a bunch of over 55s
Restaurants – 8/10, the saving factor on the trip, from the clubhouses to the restaurants all were excellent.
Special mention- one of our group used clubs for hire (www.clubsforhire.com) and the service was excellent, they delivered and collected brand Taylor Made clubs on time and the agent provided some excellent local recommendations .
Would visit again – a resounding NO, although if was in the area I would quite happily play either Bonmont or Lumine Hills again. The Costa Dorada (PGA Catalunya aside) is nowhere near the South coast of Spain resorts or the Portugese locations of the Algarve, Cascais or Prai Del Rey for organised trips catering for golf groups - not yet !