“Alferini is the perfect challenge for the Andalucía Costa del Sol Open de España”
The summer 2010 holidays of then US “first lady” Michelle Obama and her daughter Sasha effectively put Villa Padierna on the global map. Images of both leaving the resort – and the young girl swimming in the sea in front of the resort's beach club, where Michelle was relaxing in a hammock sheltered from prying eyes – travelled around the world.
It was a pity that Barack Obama could not accompany them on that occasion, as he would surely have thoroughly enjoyed his great sporting passion, golf, on one of three courses at the Costa del Sol resort, which is located just 10 minutes from Marbella’s renowned Puerto Banús.
Now Villa Padierna is once again making the news, although for strictly sporting reasons this time. Its Alferini course will host the Andalucía Costa del Sol Open de España from November 24 to 27, the final event of this year’s Ladies European Tour season and the third year in a row that the event will not only crown the tournament champion but also the winner of the Race to Costa del Sol order of merit.
Hosting a tournament of these characteristics involves a variety of issues. “Not only that the course is at a professional level”, says Felipe Arranz, managing director of Villa Padierna Hotel & Resorts, “but also that it has the infrastructure to accommodate a significant number of spectators, logistics for television broadcasts, and other characteristics that Villa Padierna is fortunately able to provide.”
The resort has three 18-hole courses, two of which could be used for the tournament. Why has Alferini been chosen?
Each course has its own special features and characteristics, which is why the resort can encompass all types of golf, so to speak. Flamingos is our commercial, or flagship, course – a fairly gentle and friendly course, although not without its difficulties. Alferini is our championship course, currently one of the longest in Spain, a premium course with narrow fairways and fast greens. And Tramores is our short course (par-63) and it is mostly focused on teaching and practice.
We decided on Alferini because it has the ideal characteristics to pose an appropriate challenge for the high level of play by top women pros, which is what this tournament aims to do. Alferini is the perfect venue in this sense, and we are also positioning the Alferini brand at the same time. It is the type of course that international golfers – our main clients – especially like.
What challenges are the participants going to face in the Spanish Open?
They will find a very long course, one that stands out on the Costa del Sol because it has absolutely nothing built around it. The par-3s are very long, many par-5s are quite difficult, there is water, the greens are fast…
Going into the tournament, the main change we are going to make is to the layout of the holes. Our course doesn't comprise two circular routes; it's linear, so to speak, because of the way the resort is laid out. The idea was to change the order of the holes in the future because we are going to build a clubhouse, which is a four-year project, and we are going to take advantage of this tournament to make that change. The television area and catering tents will be next to hole 14, which is in a certain way the nerve centre of the course. The layout will start on hole 6 and we will finish on hole 14 as the last hole. Unfortunately it is a par-3, which is not what we would have liked most, but as it is a complicated par-3, requiring a fairly long shot and with water surrounding the green, it is going to be a par-3 that has a significant impact on the tournament and it will provide a gripping finale.
Speaking of the resort, what makes Villa Padierna different from other big major resorts?
We have opted for a luxury product, which is what is being developed right now in the area with the creation of several five-star luxury hotels. The Costa del Sol has all the ingredients to be a luxury tourist destination where golf is one of its main attractions. As a resort, we have Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas, part of the Minor Hotels chain (600 establishments in more than 50 countries). It is a reference brand throughout south-east Asia and in Arab countries that arrived in Europe three years ago with Villa Padierna as its flagship.
Our plan is to expand the gastronomy options at Anantara. When they arrived we already had six restaurants, and now we have eight. Sushi 99 especially stands out – it is one of the most successful Japanese restaurants on the Costa del Sol, and it is sometimes difficult to get a free table. Now we have set up an Indian restaurant, which is one thing that was missing from the resort. Variety is, after all, what our target customer is looking for, the one who wants a resort with a luxury hotel, three golf courses at their disposal so they can play a different one every day, diverse gastronomic options, an extraordinary spa, a magnificent beach club, a racquet club with 16 pádel and tennis courts and soon with a large gym, and two croquet courts, which are proving to be very successful. Like pádel tennis, croquet is a sport that is attracting a growing number of players. All these facilities will allow us to transform the Villa Padierna golf resort into a country club where you not only have a fantastic golf offer but also a wide variety of services so that our clients can enjoy all kinds of leisure activities.