Europe's superstar links: Oitavos Dunes
Oitavos Dunes is one of the great courses to open this Millenium and one of the few genuine links in continental Europe. Designed by the renowned Arthur Hills in 2001, this beguiling course 30 minutes from Lisbon, is considered by many to be Portugal’s finest and one of the world’s Top 100.
Laid out with great sensitivity towards the delicate ecosystem of the spectacular dunes on which it sits, Oitavos Dunes is the first course in Europe and second in the world to have Gold Signature Sanctuary status in recognition of conservation.
All 18 holes of the 6,900-yard course – which has hosted the European Tour on four occasions, producing champions of the calibre of Gregory Bourdy and Ryder Cup man Paul Broadhurst – offer stunning views over the Atlantic Ocean and of Sintra.
European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley was part of those Tour fields and has said of this oasis of sea, pine trees and sand dunes across 168 acres: “This has the potential to be the best course in Europe” while Broadhurst insisted “Oitavos Dunes compares to the best courses we play.”
Hills has a reputation for courses that are playable yet challenging. “We disturbed little of the environment as we routed the course in harmony with a piece of property sculpted by nature. Umbrella pines planted more than 50 years ago are a feature on many of the outward nine and the sand dunes preserved by the family over generations provide a true links experience,” he said of a high-octane course that is blessed with a dramatic setting including views of the westernmost point of the Continent – Cabo da Roca.
“Miguel Champalimaud blessed us with one of the finest pieces of golfing heaven anywhere in Continental Europe,” added Hills about his classic nine out-nine back seaside format. “The design is much like those found in the British Isles. Every hole is influenced by the winds from the Atlantic Ocean.”
It has been a fixture in Golf World’s Top 100 Courses in Continental Europe, and reached the top 20 in 2013. A further rise next year is fully expected…
In 2009 it was ranked 88 in Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Courses in the World, one of only three courses in Continental Europe. Oitavos did not rest on their laurels though, working hard (with 15 minor changes to the course) to improve their ranking; that they did, with a jump of 20 places to 68th – the second best in mainland Europe. Last year, there was a further move, up three places in Golf Magazine’s list and Portugal’s No.1.
The quality continues off the course. Before or after your round you can relax on the outdoor decking that overlooks the 18th green with unparalleled views of the Atlantic. Here you can savour fresh local fish and wines, or the special golfers menu.
The Verbasco Restaurant is a unique place surrounded by umbrella pine trees and amazing views of the ocean. Choose a spot on the huge terrace and order a drink or a meal and just enjoy the view.
This outstanding golf resort on the Estoril coast is the legacy of a dream of the Champalimaud family. It was Carlos Montez Champalimaud who discovered this magnificent piece of land and first acquired Quinta da Marinha in 1922.
With rare foresight, until his death in 1937, Carlos Montez worked to prepare the land (planting pine treess to stabilise the sand dunes) for the development of a residential estate and tourist destination of exceptional quality. Permits were secured by his son, Carlos Sommer Champalimaud in the 1950s and 1960s and the vision for Quinta da Marinha was expanded.
In recent years, led by Miguel Champalimaud (the third generation), an exceptional sporting estate has been developed which includes one of Portugal’s leading equestrian centres, a state-of-the-art Health and Racket Club, and of course the award-winning golf course.
In 2010, The Oitavos hotel was opened to make this the most complete of luxury golf resorts.The Oitavos is an exclusive five-star hotel that immediately consolidated the resort’s reputation as a destination of excellence. Its privileged geographical location on the Estoril coastline in the middle of the Estoril-Cascais- Sintra axis offers guests an open window over the stunning but soothing Atlantic Ocean.
Distinguished by its bold contemporary design, the concept of luxury has been redefined at this magnificent hotel.
Here, standards of excellence have been raised in both style and substance. So on one hand the architecture is achingly modern and chic, but on the other The Oitavos is gloriously functional, with an informal approach. This vibe means that all guests enjoy an experience that combines comfort and relaxation in an environment that excels in the simplicity of good hospitality. The Oitavos like to describe the atmosphere as “casual chic”, and it is a very apt phrase.
There are 142 spacious rooms, all at least 46sqm/ 689sqft and laid out like open- plan suites with integrated bathrooms. All have separated sitting and TV areas, and private sunny balconies that offer breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and/or of the golf course; this includes two presidential suites – The Oitavos and The Atlantic suites with double the area of a regular room. The Spa (see below) boasts an innovative line of natural and organic products and a holistic approach to wellness. There are two swimming pools, with heated sea water, one indoor and one outdoor. The Spa use of Voya products – algae-based organic hand-picked on the Atlantic wild coast of Ireland – enable guests to benefit from the unique nutrients of the unpolluted sea.
Meanwhile there are four different restaurants, including one with a gastronomic signature, the Ipsylon Restaurant. Elsewhere, informality dominates at the Ipsylon Bar & Lounge while the Atlantic Pool Bar, located close to the outdoor swimming pool, is perfect for cool drinks and tasty snacks. Finally, we make no apology for repeating the attractions at the aforementioned clubhouse restaurant Verbasco.
At The Oitavos estate, everything is taken care of.
A world-class Spa
All created with contemporary style, The Spa of The Oitavos boasts 10 treatment rooms, seawater indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a sauna, Turkish bath and Jacuzzi. The Spa building is distinctive for its large panoramic windows that allow guests to enjoy the privileged surroundings.
Taking inspiration from the ocean and the energy of the Atlantic coast, The Spa offers 100 per cent natural treatments in a space in total harmony with nature. It is one of the first spas
in the country to use Voya products which are algae-based organic from the Atlantic coast of Ireland which possess a biologic certificate. Known for its unparalleled wealth of minerals, trace elements and vitamins, Voya seaweed used in products are the only indigenous therapy in Ireland.
Savour culinary excellence at The Oitavos
The Oitavos’ three restaurants combine traditional Portuguese and international gastronomy, offering a unique culinary experience. Carefully-selected ingredients are essential to ensure the highest quality of food.
The Ipsylon Restaurant has a premium location and offers an intimate and refined environment in which seafood and fish are central to the concept. ‘Le Diner du Chef’ is a set tasting menu that varies on a weekly basis and consists of a succession of exquisite and superb dishes, all served with matching wines.
The Ipsylon Bar & Lounge offers a smart and cosmopolitan environment, ideal for mingling and socialising. A variety of leisure and dining options are available all day long.
At this welcoming space, guests are tempted with exhilarating cocktails to taste and enjoy with canapés or to sweeten up the day with scones and sweet tapas.
The choice is vast; from an array of tasty tapas, salads, pasta, meat and fish to locally-sourced fresh seafood, without forgetting scrumptious desserts.
The Atlantic Pool Bar is an open-air restaurant where guests can enjoy light meals as well as a wide selection of tapas, pastas, salads, finger food and drinks.