Dream Destination: Costa Navarino

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Costa Navarino: A breathtaking year-round destination that has elevated golf's status in Greece beyond recognition

Located in Messinia and overlooking the historic Navarino Bay, award-winning Costa Navarino has transformed the south-west Peloponnese area of Greece into a world-class golf destination.

It's staggering to consider that while Messinia may have a history that dates back 4,500 years, it has been less than a decade since the country's first signature golf course opened at Costa Navarino – The Dunes – in 2010.

A year later it was joined by the Bay course (pictured), increasing the number of 18-hole layouts in the country from five to seven. And that number is set to rise by two in 2021 when two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal's designs are completed at Navarino Hills - a site you need only spend a second at to understand the appeal of building courses that will feature endless, unspoilt views of both the hills and the Bay.

The Dunes, a par-71 championship course designed by Bernard Langer and European Golf Design (top right), winds its way around the resort with both sea and river views. The course has a links feel, with large undulating fairways, deeper bunkers and built-up areas around the greens, often punishing you for being too long. The highest and most striking vantage point of the course is at the elevated sixth tee, where you hit down to the risk/reward par 4 – but it's short-lived relief before the tough uphill par-5 7th that features a well-protected three-tier green. The par-5 16th is a truly standout hole: a dog-leg with a mountainous backdrop and big elevation change from the middle of the fairway to the green, just one of several features that make this course a brilliant test.

Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jnr, the newer Bay Course is a short, scenic drive from the resort and is undoubtedly the more picturesque of the two. The par-70 layout meanders its way back and forward from the waterfront, with unparalleled views in three distinct settings – seaside, canyon and grove – and is a test that can be enjoyed by all abilities. After a fairly gentle start the challenge of elevation soon becomes apparent with the back-to-back adjacent par 5s of the uphill sixth and downhill seventh, before the course makes
its way into the hills and surrounding olive groves. A recent addition to the Bay course has been the 2,000sq/m earth-sheltered clubhouse, which blends into the landscape.

But Costa Navarino is so much more than a haven for golfers, boasting two breathtaking five-star hotels, exceptional facilities at the Anazoe Spa, countless cultural activity offerings and a focus on sustainability principles that protect both wildlife and the natural environment.

The family-friendly Westin has a beachfront location and is the bigger of the two hotels with 445 rooms and suites, while the luxury Romanos has 321 rooms, suites and villas (each has over 100 that come with individual infinity pools).

The resort is also uniquely special in its determination to stay true to its ancient messianic roots, offering authentic Greek experiences that range from must-do cooking classes to olive harvesting, wine tasting and theatre classes.

If you're looking for something more active, you can explore the hills by biking or hiking, enjoy a variety of water sports, or simply take advantage of the on-site indoor Sports & Entertainment centre.

In addition to the numerous things to do, you can choose to dine in one of Costa Navarino's
13 restaurants (not including lounges and bars) – which offer an unmatchable variety of cuisines. Don't miss out on a trip to their famous steak restaurant "Flame", which is situated at The Dunes course. We can vouch how good it is!

With so much to do in this area of Greece, you'll quickly realise that after experiencing all that Costa Navarino has to offer, one trip won't be enough.

GETTING THERE

We flew to Athens from Heathrow, with Aegean and hired a taxi to the resort, which takes three hours. However, BA and easyJet fly to nearer Kalamata, a 45-minute drive from Costa Navarino, from various UK airports.

BEST TIME TO GO

Costa Navarino is a year-round destination, but most airlines only fly to Kalamata between April & September when temperatures are highest.

DO IT YOURSELF

• A five-night B&B stay at the five-star Westin Resort Costa Navarino in a deluxe garden view room (two people sharing) from Apr 1-May 20 with three rounds of golf on the Dunes Course or The Bay Course (includes golf course transfers, shared buggy on the Bay Course and free use of the driving range on golf days) cost £565pp.

• A seven-night B&B stay at the five-star Westin Resort Costa Navarino in a deluxe garden view room (two people sharing) from Apr 1-May 20 with five rounds of golf on
the Dunes Course or The Bay Course (includes golf course transfers, shared buggy on the Bay Course and free use of the driving range on golf days) cost £795pp. To book either break call 01342 811 777 or email info@golf-escapes.com