CASARES, Spain - Even the most affluent, jet-setting traveler will be awestruck by the welcome tour at the new Finca Cortesin golf resort.
This luxury resort and real estate property, which opened in the fall of 2008 just off the Mediterranean Sea in the hills of Casares, is the pinnacle of Costa Del Sol luxury.
The resort's beautiful Andalucian architecture comprises white walls and arches, hallways and guest rooms with four-meter-high ceilings and Moroccan and Arabic influences (in fact, if you've been to Alhambra in Grenanda, you'll recognize many similarities in the architecture and design).
The really special part of Finca Cortesin is the staff, which backs up this property with exceptional service. Upon arrival, your car is parked, your bags are whisked away, and each guest is offered a complimentary welcome drink at the bar, complete with olives and cheeses.
You can also take a property tour. You'll visit the bar area, the breakfast dining area (which each morning serves a full breakfast, including one of the finest fruit plates you'll ever see) and the new restaurant Schilo, serving up Asian fusion cuisine from chef Schilo Van Coevorden.
Right when you think things couldn't get much better, you're taken downstairs to the spa, home to a 25-meter lap pool, thermal tubs and saunas. Here's another bonus: Spain's only snow cabin - an ice-cold room with snow - is one site. It helps refresh the respiratory system after a sauna or steam.
The 67 guest rooms vary in size from large to expansive. Ground floor suites can even have a private pool, and all rooms come with terraces offering panoramic views of the rural countryside and Mediterranean Sea.
Be sure to get a good's night sleep, because you're in the heart of the Costa Del Sol's finest golf. The resort has a four-night, "Championship Golf Experience" package pairing three of the region's top courses: Valderrama Golf Club, the San Roque Golf Club's Old Course and the new golf course at Finca Cortesin, which stands to make its mark in an already prestigious coastal neighborhood between Marbella and Sotogrande.
Golf at Finca Cortesin resort
The hotel and spa is a tough act for any golf course to follow, but Finca's Cabell Robinson design is quickly becoming one of the coast's most coveted plays. In fact, it has been awarded the Volvo World Match Play Championship through 2011. The event showcases the game's 16 highest-ranked players for an intensive match play competition each fall.
The golf course has exceptional hole variety, thanks in part to an innovative design by Robinson on such striking landscape, where holes sit on both high ground and low. Some play along mountainsides while others head straight down it, like on the par-3 10th hole. It's 207 meters from the back tees, but the green is set so far below you could take up to three clubs off your shot.
Patrick Hanrahan, a 4-handicap from England, signed up for membership at Finca Cortesin this spring and was impressed with the layout and the service.
"I don't think there's a weak hole on the golf course," Hanrahan said. "The setting is also fantastic, and the staff at the golf club is unbelievably pleasant."
Then he dropped the real reason he signed here: "My wife was very impressed with the spa."
One of the great holes to watch during the Volvo World Match Play Championship will be the short, par-4 fourth. From an elevated tee, it's just 305 meters to the green, but water lurks left and in front. Here, long-hitters will have the option to reach the green on the drive - or play it safe around the water.
The collection of par 5s is no simple birdie opportunities. Each has twists, turns and pitfalls. It's best to lay off these on the first go around before learning the subtleties and trouble spots.
The signature hole is the short, par-4 13th. It requires an iron layup to a large green that slopes front-to-back and is tightly guarded by centenary trees on either side.
In fact, more than 20 species of flora and fauna were imported from the far corners of the world here, from South Africa to Japan. And golfers from the world over are certain to follow.