- Navarino Dunes, Messinia, Costa Navarino, 24001, Greece
- www.costanavarinogolf.com ; www.westincostanavariNo.com
- 30 272 309 5000
This resort in the southwest Peloponnese – a peninsula in Southern Greece that stretches into the Mediterranean and Ionian Seas – has a moral story to it, according to European golf writer Jo Maes, who recommended this golfing destination.
“Captain Vassilis Constanakopoulos, who came from humble origins, founded what was to become one of Greece’s biggest cargo shipping companies,” Maes said. “His ultimate vision was to return to his home region with an investment plan that would put it on the world map as a quality destination and at the same time, bring much needed economic development to an area often forgotten.”
Captain Constanakopoulos achieved his dream with Costa Navarino Resort, which features two five-star luxury hotels, luxury residences, spa centres and a holiday destination with a great range of facilities. There are leisure and sporting activities aplenty here, but golfers will be drawn to two high-quality championship courses – the Dunes Course and the Bay Course.
The Bay Course was designed by Robert Trent Jones II in 2011 and is laid out alongside Navarino Bay, the site of a decisive naval battle in October 1827 that saw Allied forces (Russian, English and French) defeat an Ottoman armada (Tunisian and Egyptian), a result that helped secure Greece’s independence. The par-71 course demands strategic play and accurate hitting as you move along the seashore. There are some tremendous views of the coastline with lush fairways set against the pale-blue Ionian Sea and rocky mountains in the backdrop. Get the camera ready for the ‘The Grove’, ‘Seaside’ and ‘Canyon’ holes. The Bay Course was named “Greece’s Best Golf Course 2015” at the World Golf Awards.
The Dunes Course was designed by German great Bernhard Langer with European Golf Design and opened in 2010. The links-style layout works its way next to the resort complex, moving past citrus and olive groves and a small meandering river towards the sea. The fairways are open, but watch out for the pot bunkers and undulating greens. Again there are some special ocean views to enjoy, especially on the par-4 second hole. The Dunes was ranked the No.1 course in Greece by Top100GolfCourses.com in 2017.
Keep your ball on the fairway on both courses or risk a high score. The Dunes is the harder challenge here, however, with its deep pot-holed bunkers, undulating fairways and large, sloping greens. The wind can increase the difficulty on both links-style courses.
When to play:
Both courses close in November and open in February.
Par: Dunes Course 71. Bay Course 71
Slope / Rating / Yardage
Dunes Course 110 / 73 / 6581 yards, 6018 meters
Bay Course 136 / 71 / 6140 yards, 5614 meters
On the Dunes Course, the par-4 hole 2 plays downhill with the ocean serving as a shimmering backdrop. There are three fairway bunkers, two on the left and one on the right to contend with. On the Bay Course, hole 1 is a driveable par 4 at 291 meters (318 yards) but you must carry a lake. Hole 4 (358 meters, 391 yards), is a stunner, too, with the town of Pylos in the backdrop.
The pro says:
“The Dunes Course is a tough test of your golf, especially the front nine. It has a good balance of tough and easier holes to keep you interested always and add balance to your round. The Bay Course stands as a unique course for its amazing views and the mix of sea and Olive Trees. There are no other courses like The Bay Course. Even if you play badly you still walk off with a smile. All in all, it is a shorter, tighter golf course with breath-taking sea views from at least 12/13 of the holes. The Bay’s smaller greens with subtle undulations give you a chance to make a good score.”
Yiannis Tsioukanis, British PGA Qualified Professional & Golf Manager
The resort experience:
Costa Navarino was named “European Golf Resort of the Year – 2017” by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO). There are two luxury hotel options for visitors to the Greek holiday destination – The Romanos with 321 rooms and villas, and the Westin – both of which have appeared on Condé Nast Traveller gold lists.
“All products and most staff are sourced locally which has revived this part of Greece and has made Costa Navarino into one of the most iconic resorts in Europe,” said European golf writer Jo Maes. “There are two more courses planned, Navarino Hills and Navarino Blue.”
The Westin has 445 rooms and suites that have been created in the tradition of old mansions, with most looking out on the sea and golf courses. Many of the ground-floor apartments feature infinity pools, a good spot to watch the sunset.
The Westin is a golf hotel the whole family will enjoy. While adults might be drawn to the Anazoe Spa, which has treatments based on the teachings of legendary Greek physician Hippocrates, the factor that makes this resort standout are the activities for the kids. There’s an aquapark with waterslides and pools, as well as a recreation park with indoor basketball, badminton, table tennis and volleyball. Children’s clubs Cocoon (four months to three years) will keep the littlees busy with painting and clay, Sandcastle (four years to 12 years) will challenge them to arts and crafts, and the Youth Club will get teens on a team playing everything from football to volleyball.
Dine and wine:
The Westin aims to delight your palate by using organic ingredients and local fare from the Messinia countryside. The variety of foods on offer is impressive – with a total of 12 restaurants and eateries. Mories has a Greek breakfast buffet; Flame has signature meat cuts served on wooden platters; Da Luigi is for lovers of Italian; Taverna has homemade-style Greek dishes; Barbouni will serve your afternoon meal by the beach; Inbi has fusion Japanese; Armyra serves fresh seafood and Nargile looks after Lebanese food. Plus the Diner is an American-style diner, Souvlakerie has you traditional souvlaki, Kafenio & Deli will sort your coffee, and then Kayak Ice Cream Boatique is perfect for a scoop of dessert.
You’ll find 11 rooms and suites to choose from with modern interiors and décor and tiled flooring. The rooms feature Heavenly beds, comfortable pillow-top mattresses, and 42in flat-screen TVs. A Deluxe Rooms (39 meters squared, 420 feet squared) can sleep two adults and two children on a sofa bed and two singles, and comes with a private balcony or patio and separate shower and tub. At the other end of the scale, a two-bedroom Premium Infinity Suite (70 meters squared, 753 feet squared) can sleep up to six guests. It has an infinity pool, enlarged terrace and outdoor dining area.
As mentioned, the kids’ activities, which include indoor sports facilities, are outstanding. But there are plenty of fun outings for the adults, too. The Westinworkout Gym has a 21-meter pool, two steam rooms, two saunas, a whirlpool and relaxation room plus yoga, Pilates and aqua-gym sessions. Navarino has professional guides for hiking to historical sites, climbing at Proti Island or mountain biking local trails. The racquet academy features nine sports, including tennis and squash. Navarino Sea Under Water can take you to some great scuba diving sites in the turquoise water, including to a World War II wreck and Seal’s Cave where Caretta Caretta turtles can sometimes be spotted. Speedsters can also get their thrills at the Navarino Speed Experience Park in 270cc racing karts. Water-skiing, yachting, kitesurfing, kayaking, yachting (half-day to two-day cruises) … the list keeps going.