By Teresa Barnett
In the run up to Christmas I always seem to gain a few extra pounds and unfortunately not the currency kind. I’m generally active but come the end of October, those long winter nights, shorter daylight hours and distinct chill in the air results in my fitness regime being consigned to my mind. I sometimes dream about deadlifts, the weight and increasing my reps but it ends there and that is where La Manga Club steps in.
Just a 20-minute drive from Murcia-San Javier airport or an hour from Alicante, La Manga Club, at three times the size of Monaco with over 300 days of sunshine each year sits in rolling hillsides, the scent of lemons from the groves dotted around the resort fill the air. The Club also planted 200 pine trees in 2017 and was recognised and certified as being one of the collaborative companies to the Calblanque Regional Park, Monte de las Cenizas y Peña del Águila. This was an initiative promoted by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment that seeks to promote and facilitate the enjoyment of this natural setting in a sustainable way. In addition to the pines, thousands of palm trees line the golf courses adding to the many varieties of flora and fauna, I feel with every breath I take while I am here that my body is rejuvenating.
For most, La Manga Club is synonymous with celebrity, luxury and sport, with golf, tennis and football springing to mind. The resort is classed as one of the best sports and leisure destinations in the world and was nominated for four awards at the World Travel Awards (the 'Oscars' for the tourism industry) winning two, Best Sports Resort and the Best Resort and Villas of Europe. The beds have been slept in by the likes of Sir Cliff Richard, Liam Neeson, Tom Jones and the stunning Selma Hayek. Juliet Binoche, Matt Damon and the delectable David Beckham have walked these corridors. It is the dream getaway for any fitness enthusiast and has played hosted a who’s who of national and international football teams including Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Lokomotiv Moscow, Liverpool, Chelsea and Bayern Munich.
Tennis stars from all over the world come here to play as La Manga Club has hosted high profile events including the Federations and Davis Cups, and remains an official winter training base of the LTA. With two paddle courts and 28 full tennis courts – 20 clay, 4 artificial grass and 4 hard courts – every surface to practice on is catered for. All ages and abilities can have coaching at the tennis academy which has weekly tournaments and social activities. Unfortunately I could not channel my inner Serena, mainly because my hand-eye coordination is as bad as my singing and there was no need for anyone else to witness what a total disaster on the court I would be.
Golf is one of the main reasons to stay at the La Manga Club – see James’ reviews. Every level of golfer is challenged by the three 18-hole championship courses known as North, South and West courses designed by Arnold Palmer, Robert Putman and Dave Thomas respectively. The legendary Severiano Ballesteros designed the Pitch & Putt Par-47 course in 1980 and was La Manga Club’s golf touring professional from 1980 to 1985. However, if tennis, golf and football are not enough to satisfy your needs, you can opt to cycle, run, trek and scuba dive on the Mar Menor. I wanted an active weekend and my friend Lara wanted a relaxing trip, lying in the sun on our terrace with a book. We both made it to the leisure centre, Lara opted for a swim I popped into the High Performance Sports Centre where cardiologists, nutritionists and physiologists put elite athletes and the super fit through their paces, as I unconsciously pinched my spare tyre I realised it was not the place for me but the well-equipped gym was.
It’s not all sport, the wellness centre alone is worth the visit, heated pools, sauna, steam bath, therapeutic showers and hydromassage beds, we followed this up with an Indian head massage. This 5,000-year-old practice left me relaxed but invigorated and with enough energy to make it back to our suite for a nap. A treatment at the spa is a must.
All the walking, talking, lifting and lounging left us in need of sustenance and I’m not talking about a salad. We dined at La Bodega on the first night, the chicken in garlic, prawns and octopus were delicious and the service impeccable. We were tempted to return the following night but restaurant Asia was a must on our list. The ambience and the food lived up to expectations; we followed this up with a few cocktails at the hotels piano bar.
Where to stay
The array of accommodation will suit the budgets and tastes of all. The 4 star Las Lomas apartment complex is ideal for families and includes breakfast. There are also luxury villas and apartments to rent, perfect for a group of friends but for short stays I would recommend the 5 star Hotel La Manga Club Principe Felipe, I am currently writing this review from one of the Royal Executive Suites, it is the epitome of understated luxury with breathtaking views of the North course. The bed could easily sleep four and the bathroom was large enough to skate in, but a word of warning, if like me you are vertically challenged, remember your munchkin status before filling the marble bathtub and sliding in. The turn down service provided more than a piece of chocolate each night; a positive quote was left on my pillow to ponder on while I drifted off to sleep.
Christmas is over and I have definitely gained a few more pounds, the English weather leaves me in no mood to exercise but the prospect of returning to La Manga Club with its warm weather and excellent facilities gives my spirit a lift.
La Manga Club Resort
30389 La Manga Club
Cartagena, Murcia, Spain
T: +34 968 17 52 76