If you love golf, you may have already heard about Finca Cortesin's world famous course. There is, though, more to this resort than the dynamic facilities for the 18-hole sport. Opened in 2009, the hotel spa takes luxury to a whole new level, applying a standard of excellence to all aspects of its operation.
Golf as an art form
Spread over 215 hectares, prestigious Andalusian club Finca Cortesin was the host venue for the 2023 Solheim Cup ladies golf event and is also home to the Jack Nicklaus Golf Academy, which provides golf instruction to pros and novices alike. Spanish player Pablo Larrazábal and British star Justin Rose are just two golfers who like to practise here. Along with top notch coaches, the academy has invested in cutting-edge golf simulators and launch monitors worth tens of thousands of euros, that allow players to analyse every aspect of their game in real time.
The course is one of Europe's longest layouts with a dynamic design that offers a mixture of par 5s, par 4s and par 3s. Set in rolling countryside with immaculate greens and glorious views of the Estepona Mountains, it is an elite place to play at all levels and is noted for its attentive service and exquisite landscaping. You'll sense the exclusivity: club rules dictate that a maximum of 100 players get access to the course each day, plus there's a generous 12-minute gap between tee times.
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Décor and service
The resort is the soul of discretion. Sprawling gardens planted with luscious indigenous plants and ancient olive trees are perfectly maintained, yet there's never a gardener in sight. Go for a quick dip, there are a number of pools to choose from, including an indoor heated pool within the spa, a 35m outdoor pool with an open grill restaurant and an Olympic-sized basin in the grounds – and each time you'll find a fresh, perfectly folded towel on your lounger. Ineffably, the staff work smoothly in the shadows, so that everything seems effortless.
Similarly, you'd be hard pressed to find a cushion out of place in the hotel's main lounge, a grand atrium with huge columns and a glass roof, where earthy tones and bright Andalusian fabrics set the tone for an interior design that feels fresh yet historical rooted in this area's rich Mediterranean and Moorish cultures.
Undertaken by interior decorator Duarte Pinto Coelho, the hotel's shared spaces blend elegant modern furniture pieces with heritage finds such as stone flooring and decorative wooden doors sourced from old Portuguese and Spanish monasteries. A pretty Moroccan courtyard features an inlaid carved ceiling crafted by the same artisans who maintain the vaulted ceilings of the Alhambra in Granada.
Despite its palatial proportions, the estate has a relatively small capacity: 67 hotel suites along with seven rental villas for larger groups. Well-being is defined by the luxury of space whereby architecture of striking proportions welcomes nature in. Suites – most with terraces – are designed by Bilbao-based sisters Ana and Cristina Calderon who have added pops of bright colour, traditional Spanish prints and fabrics along with local contemporary art to an otherwise muted palette of creamy caramel tones.
Beds are huge and dressed in soft white linen with perfectly firm pillows that are substantially longer than the standard Oxford size for extra comfort. Bathrooms are finished in Travertine Italian marble with oversized bathtubs, walk-in showers and twin vanities. Each room has a giant plasma TV screen, though staff maintain they're hardly used. Come evening, guests prefer to lounge in the plush Blue Bar which serves delectable cocktails. Try the mango and chilli mezcal mixture for a fiery kick.
The hotel has three main restaurants. Don Giovanni is twinned with an award-winning sister restaurant in Madrid founded by Sicilian chef Andrea Tumbarello whose recipes strongly benefit from Finca's coastal location. The tagliatelle with king red prawn is oven heated with a pizza dough "lid" which is then served up as a thin base to soak up all the rich tomatoey juices. Diners are given their own cotton bib so they can truly get stuck in.
Finca's Spanish fine dining restaurant, El Jardín de Lutz, produces artfully assembled dishes packed full of fresh and deeply layered Iberian flavours. A simple and perfectly seared highlight is the Galician entrecôte for two served with a buttery potato fondue and greens from the hotel's own vegetable patch.
Rei is the resort's sophisticated Japanese restaurant which specialises in classic dishes with a subtle Spanish twist. This is more intuitive cooking than fusion cuisine using local ingredients that simply marry well together. For example, tiger prawns are carefully seasoned with paprika and yuzu, and Galician beef is infused with thyme and ponzu.
Things to do
With so much to do at the resort – there are also tennis courts, beauty therapies galore and a private beach club less than 1km away – guests often stay within its luxury quarters. For those who want to explore the region, the historic town of Ronda is a 30-minute drive away, even closer is Casares, a typical Andalusian white village or "pueblo blanco" which offers spectacular hilltop views.
Party people have plenty of choices too. Puente Romano Beach Resort, which includes the stylish Nobu hotel and restaurant, is a short drive away and offers non-stop entertainment: there's the beach, tennis club, 17 restaurants and plenty of late night drinking with live DJ sets throughout the year.
Finca Cortesin can arrange all excursions big and small from fishing, kitesurfing and windsurfing in the sunshine, to skiing in the Sierra Nevada come winter.
Alexandra Zagalsky was a guest of Finca Cortesin. Carretera de Casares, 29690 Casares, Málaga, Spain; fincacortesin.com
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