The island destination of Madeira is fast becoming a European hub for travelling winter golfers, with increasing numbers eager to experience the many benefits of playing world-class golf in a safe and secure environment.
Thousands of players from all over the continent have headed to the Portuguese islands in recent weeks, taking full advantage of the golfing hotspot’s exempt status on many countries’ Covid-19 travel quarantine lists.
Madeira and her islands – which boasts three world-class golf courses – is proving particular popular with golfers from the UK and northern Europe seeking a long-term break in an outstanding and safe destination, and bookings are set to increase even further over the coming months.
With no quarantine period required upon visiting, demand is particularly growing in countries including England, Wales and Scotland, Germany, France, Austria and the Netherlands.
A recent report by Post Office Travel Money highlighted Madeira as the cheapest island destination for Britons considering an autumn sunshine break abroad in eight destinations on European and Caribbean islands that are not on the UK government’s quarantine list.
And visitors can travel to Madeira safe in the knowledge that there are strict rules in place for everyone flying into Madeira airport.
Prior to arrival, all passengers must complete the Regional Health Authority’s (IASAÚDE) epidemiological survey and will need to submit a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of departure, although, if they have not performed a test in advance, they will be required to take one upon arrival at the airport – with costs covered by the local authorities. Incoming visitors will also be subject to thermal screening, even if they carry a negative test for Covid-19.
Discover Madeira, the consumer-facing brand of the Madeira Promotion Bureau, has been working with the local and Portuguese authorities to put plans in place for all holidaymakers to visit safely, with the “Madeira Safe to Discover” guidelines being stringently followed across the islands to control and prevent the spread of Coronavirus and other possible infections. Hotels, restaurants, bars, golf clubs and other tourist activities across the islands are also adopting the “Clean and Safe” stamp, created by VisitPortugal, which distinguishes tourist activities which are compliant with certain hygiene and cleaning requirements.
Madeira and her islands were last year hailed as the ‘world’s best emerging golf destination’ at the World Golf Awards, and as Europe’s ‘leading island destination’ for the fourth successive year, as well as the world’s ‘leading island destination’ for a staggering fifth year running in the 2019 World Travel Awards. Madeira’s three golf courses include two on the mainland – Santo da Serra and Palheiro Golf, as well as Porto Santo Golf, which is located on the nearby island of Porto Santo.
The par-72, 6,656-yard (6,086m) course at Palheiro Golf – designed by Robinson – is situated within the magnificent Palheiro Estate, which is more than 200 years old. At nearly 1,640ft above sea level, the location enjoys dramatic views of Madeira’s mountainous skyline and the ocean, as well as – nestling below, just 10 minutes away – the island’s capital, Funchal.
The original course at Santo da Serra, dating from 1937, was redesigned in 1991 by Robert Trent Jones Snr, who created a new and spectacular 27-hole complex. The third and fourth holes of the Machico course are regarded as the signature holes, sitting atop cliffs more than 2,200ft above sea level, providing views of the bay of Machico, where Portuguese navigators first landed in 1419.
The 27-hole, Severiano Ballesteros-designed Porto Santo Golf is a short plane hop or ferry ride away. The par-72, 7,036-yard (6,434m) course, which opened in 2004, comprises two distinct nines. The southern route – a US-style layout – is dotted with lakes, requiring a long and precise game; while the northern route is atop fantastic cliffs, near the stunning beach of the same name.
Located approximately 1,000km from the European mainland – and just 500km from the African continent – Madeira enjoys an amazingly mild climate, ranging from 25°c in the summer to 17°c in the winter, with very mild average temperatures and moderate humidity, making it the perfect year-round destination for a golf break.
The best way to enjoy the archipelago’s golf is with a Madeira Golf Passport – available from most hotels and the golf clubs – which entitles the bearer to five rounds of golf across the two ‘mainland’ tracks: Santo da Serra and Palheiro Golf.