Ten minutes from the big city, 20 minutes from the airport, two luxury hotels, three major courses and a short taxi ride to the new European Tour. Join us at Mallorca de luxe!
Arabella, Majorca’s largest golf complex, is located just a few miles west of the capital Palma. The Son Vida, Son Muntaner and Son Quint golf courses are filled with tourists from the five star hotels Sheraton Arabella Golf Hotel and Castillo Hotel Son Vida. And from several of the hotels in Palma Nova and Magaluf.
Massive investment in Mallorca
What we see and meet is a massive and big investment in luxury tourism. An investment that seems to have succeeded.
Already the driveway to Castillo Son Vida says that this is something more than a regular golf hotel. The castle was built in the 13th century, and transformed into an exclusive hotel just over 60 years ago. And upgraded to spa hotel in 2006.
The Spanish royal family, Aristotle Onassis and Maria Callas are among those who were here both before us as well as great number of other golfers.
Every half hour the shuttle bus transfers guests between the courses and the hotels. There are heavy traffic on the golf courses with around 40,000 greenfee guests a year on each of them. Which are more than any other courses on the island.
Costly Mallorca luxury
But luxury comes at a cost. To stay at Castillo Son Vida, you might have to cough up 310 euros per night in a double room. However, via the Trivago website, we found a double room for around 250 euros per night.
Golf wise Arabella is a mix of old and new. Son Vida (pictured above) is Mallorca’s oldest course. It was opened in 1964, with Prince Rainier of Monaco being the first person to play the course.
In the 1990s, the European Tour visited Son Vida with the Baleares Open. Won by the legend Seve Ballesteros in 1990 after a play-off against the swede Magnus Persson.
Cut into the woods
Most of the course is cut into the woods, with old trees and bushy scratches in play. Off target drives requires you to hit art like shots back to the fairway. And the terrain goes up and down with beautiful par-3 holes. At one hole, we play from a high-lying tee down to a green in a green little grove far down there.
There are scars number of bunkers, the course is by tough enough anyway. The signature hole has a small bunker next to the fairway, and two by the green.
On the first 12 holes, the forest is close and often impossible to play from for anyone but Seve. In addition, areas other courses would label as water hazards, are marked as OB here. From hole 13, the course opens to something more park-like. Some holes are even forgiving for wild shots with the driver. And instead of the forest, water is now in play.
When the new clubhouse was built, the last hole was redesigned and moved to where the driving range was earlier. When we were there in February the greens were excellent, both quick and difficult to read. We were part of an international golf group with more than 30 people. After the first round there was almost a competition among us who had the most three and four putts.
When we played the second round, most us left the drivers in the bag. If you choose to drive a golf cart, be aware that it can only be used along, not on, the fairways. Which requires you have to walk quite a lot. Green fees are between 94 and 120 euros.
It’s time to move away from the 60’s to modern design. Son Muntaner is essentially an open park course, with slightly wider landing areas and playable surfaces also between many of the holes.
It immediately looks much more inviting. But it’s easy to be fooled. The course runs through the same kind of forest as Son Vida. Along several holes there are OB sticks in the woods. On a couple of holes you have water along the entire right side. In addition, water comes into play on two more holes. Fairway bunkers are found occasionally, and almost all are located about 200 meters from the club tee. Therefore, driver is the natural choice from the tee for many players.
The biggest challenge of the course is undoubtedly the greens. When we played there in February they were not as fast as at Son Vida. But they were rolling smoothly,. Also these are difficult to read through the levels and the ondulating green surfaces.
Accurate approach shots are important. Sometimes it is better to prepare for a little chip short of the green. If the approach ends up past the stick, it may yield a return of several meters. Son Muntaner is definitely a course you are more than happy to play more than one round of during a week.
A journalist colleague from Central Europe actually thought that 17-year-old Son Muntaner is better than the new European Tour course, Son Gual. But it’s possible that was in response to his own quite impressive score that day …
During the fall last year, the course went through a major upgrade. The greens were extended and new Bermuda celebration grass was sown on the fairways. When we played there it was still some yellow grass to be seen. But with spring the colour returns. 12 minutes between tee offs make the game flow without too many interuptions.
“It’s better with higher green fees and less hustle and bustle,” said Golf Director Bernat Llobera. Green fees are between 117-150 euros.
Arabella’s third course, Son Quint, has an 18-hole course and a short nine hole Excecutive course. It is reminiscent of Son Muntaner, but is easier and quite okay to play.According to British and Swedish colleagues. The green fees range from 86 to 110 euros.
European Tour course Son Gual
20 minutes from the Son Vida hotel, and with the airport as the nearest neighbor, we find the track that has taken over the European Tournament from Pula Golf, and before that the Santa Ponsa course.
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300,000 golfers have voted for ten year old Son Gual as the second best course in Spain, after Valderrama. The television pictures and the prestige of having the pros visiting here have certainly helped. But nevertheless, this is a golf experience created by dirt moving bulldozers.
Here, a thousand of the old olive trees still grow, and also some protected parts of the vineyard. But the ponds and waterways are man made. That together with the bunkers and ondulated greens create a certain touch to the course. It is modern and nice with wide fairways and open terrain that inspireto full steam from the tee off. 30-40 meters deep greens require you to check the course guide or pin sheet for information about the flag locations.
This is varied, challenging and fun golf. Besides, it is beautiful with the Palma skyline as a back drop. Every ten minutes a plane feeds over our heads for landing at the nearby Palma airport.
Son Gual does not have a hotel, but works with Arabella Golf Castillo Hotel Son Vida. Taxi from Arabella is about 30 euros each way. Green fees range from 85 to 135 euros.