With a Greg Norman-designed championship course
among the highlights, Lumine Mediterránea Beach & Golf
Community is a jewel on Spain’s stylish Costa Dorada.
Dominic Pedler sampled all 45 holes as well as the
superb selection of après-golf activities now offered in
various bespoke travel packages
While Spanish banks are
certainly in the hot seat
over their debt, at least
one of them has some
impressive assets on the
other side of the balance sheet – as
golfers on the Costa Dorada will be the
first to confirm.
La Caixa, the country’s third largest financial
concern and one of Europe’s largest
savings banks, is known affectionately in
Catalonia as La Madre, “the mother”, for its
nurturing of key enterprises around
Barcelona and along the beautiful stretch of
coastline to the south. Along with huge
industrial, energy and communications
interests, the bank’s special investment
company has a select leisure portfolio catering
to the international tourist market that
dominates the region’s fortunes.
The showpiece is the Lumine
Mediterránea Beach & Golf Community
which unfolds over some 500 hectares of
sun-drenched hillsides, colourful wetlands
and prime seafront between the established
seaside resort of Salou and the ancient
Roman outpost of Tarragona.
Like its owners, Lumine – as the resort’s
full name suggests – has not put all its eggs
in one basket, and is gradually evolving as a
delightfully eclectic destination offering a
range of experiences to the wide mix of discerning
locals and tourists that form its target
With three golf courses, two clubhouses
and a top convention centre now comfortably
established – and some serious aprèsgolf
on offer – Lumine has been steadily
drawing custom from across Europe, particularly
Holland, Scandinavia and Russia
already familiar with the bustling resort of
Salou, helped by flights to nearby Reus as
well as Barcelona (just 100km away).
Throw in Spain’s largest theme park on
the doorstep, and travel packages combining
golf with everything from gastronomy
and culture to VIP trips to watch Messi,
Xavi, Iniesta and co. in the Nou Camp stadium,
and Lumine is emerging as one of
Spain’s most appealing resorts.
Of course, whatever the other attractions
(or, in the case of the Beach Club, distractions),
the golf itself has to make the grade
and Lumine comes up to scratch here in
both the quantity and quality on offer.
45 holes is a good start, implying enough variety and tee-time availability for at least
a week without venturing beyond the gates.
That’s helped hugely by the startling differences
between the two 18-hole layouts and
one nine-holer in terms of landscape,
topography and even the course architects.
Greg Norman’s Lakes Course put Lumine
on the map overnight in 2008 and certainly
the Great White Shark’s fins are all over this
challenging, technical test that unfolds
menacingly over a colourful network of
marsh and wetlands.
With two-thirds of the holes involving
some form of water hazard, The Lakes does
what it says on the tin. But Norman’s genius
here is the way his test, while undeniably
severe for the better player risking perilous
tiger lines over and alongside the agua, still
offers enough dry alternatives for the more
The Lakes opened to instant acclaim with
a Sergio Garcia Pro-Am and its reputation is
now such that it has been chosen as a
venue for ‘Q2’, the second stage of the
European Tour Qualifying School, for the
next two years, starting in November. It has
already hosted The PGA of Europe’s prestigious
annual fourball event, with that body
formally promoting the resort in partnership
with the Tourist Board of the
Tarragona Provincial Government.
The course record of 66 here was set
during that PGA event (beating Sergio’s
opening 67): no mean feat given the bold
play needed to set up birdies. The four-hole
finish is particularly memorable for the
watery grave down the left on all but the
short 17th, with a calm strategy required to
tackle the par-five 18th complete with the
cheeky bunker that Norman has placed at
driving distance bang in the middle of the
bottle-necking, dog-legging fairway.
With the Sèquia Major wetlands being
home to protected fauna and flora like
Purple Moorhen, Great Bittern and Yellow
Iris, The Lakes has had to meet strict environmental
guidelines on everything from its
routing to course maintenance practices
and the density and construction of the
proposed housing project.
Lumine has turned these stipulations to
its advantage, adopting eco-friendly greenkeeping,
irrigation and water recycling
practices, along with renewable energy
and sustainable materials for what should
be the most sought-after of the planned
homes across the property. The commitment
has resulted in Lumine being the
first golf course in Spain to be awarded
Gold Signature status by Audubon
International, regarded worldwide as the
kite mark for the most environmentally
aware leisure developments.
And yet for all its high profile, The Lakes
is arguably topped by the other loops at
Lumine. Aesthetically, at least, it is blown
away by The Hills Course which winds its
way spectacularly though the high land on
the estate with exceptional views at every
turn of the distant Mediterranean and surrounding
It’s hard to believe the two courses are
such close neighbours given the contrast in
terrain and feel. Whereas The Lakes is flat
and watery, The Hills is broadly dry (water
on just four holes) with some uplifting elevation
changes to complement the rollercoaster
experience on offer at PortAventura.
The latter’s awesome structure of twisted
metal is a regular landmark at Lumine, rising
out of the landscape like the skeleton of
a huge sea monster.
Spanish course architect, Alfonso Vidaor
from Green Project, has created a consistently
absorbing routing through the challenging terrain that now embraces pine
woodlands, olive groves, natural quarries
and rocky outcrops.
Visually it avoids some of the more prosaic
views of the Tarragona oil refinery visible
from The Lakes, while, from a playing
point of view, the use of natural mounds
and subtle shaping create clearly defined,
gathering fairways that welcome the ball off
the tee in areas where the steep underlying
contouring could have proved perilous.
Among the most memorable holes are
the superb 13th and the quirky 90-degree
dogleg 18th, both par-fours with greens
backed by bold vertical walls of bright
Mediterranean rock. At the last, this 100ft
quarry makes for a stunning setting for The
Hills’ own clubhouse: an additional facility
in the peak autumn and spring months to
complement the main Lakes clubhouse
down at the lower levels.
The planned 100-room boutique golf
hotel, to be perched atop the same cliff face
and overlooking both the green and the
most perfect clubhouse terrace should
prove something special.
Understandably, given Spain’s current
economic climate, Lumine’s ultimate ‘community’
vision, also embracing a residential
village and another stylish hotel at the
Beach Club, isn’t yet fully realized. But it is
also to their credit that Lumine has avoided
the soulless rows of half-built or empty
properties built on a whim that blight many
of the country’s other tourist trails, with the
villa project here only set to unfold in discrete
phases once sufficient sales for each
tranche are safely secured.
In the meantime, accommodation is more
than covered by a complete range of hotels
in the surrounding area of Salou and
Cambrils, including the colourful ones at
the PortAventura theme park to which golfing
families typically gravitate.
Completing the Lumine golf experience is
Greg Norman’s The Ruins Course which, far
from an afterthought, would arguably fit
comfortably into a ranking of the continent’s
Named after the traces of Roman archaeology
that form some of the defining features
on the layout, The Ruins also features
a charming five-hole stretch that descends
down a sweeping hillside: starting at the
short par-four 3rd with its shelf-like fairway
cut into the slope and culminating in a
plateau green with more fine views of
PortAventura and beyond.
As with the other 36 holes, the playing surfaces
of The Ruins are immaculately tended.
Which brings us to key element of the
Lumine formula: the appointment of premier
management company, Troon Golf, for the
smooth running of not just the Kentucky
bluegrass fairways and Tee 1 bent greens but
all operations throughout the resort.
As mentioned regularly in Gi’s travel
pages, Troon continues to make its name in
consultancy on everything from agronomy
and tee-time booking systems to academy
teaching programmes, pro shop retailing
systems and clubhouse menus.
The group’s portfolio now numbers several
hundred courses worldwide, including
Turnberry and The Grove, Mazagan in Morocco and Saadiyat in Abu Dhabi. Their
reputation is now such that resorts have
taken to highlighting Troon branding as a
major selling point in attracting discerning
golfers who demand year-round, ‘tour
spec’ standards on the course and hassle
free organisation off it.
Lumine have now retained Troon to
advise on everything from the hiring and
training of key personnel to the operation
of their Beach Club (see sidebar) and even
the merchandising of their own-brand
wine and olive oil.
Troon is also putting the finishing
touches to Lumine’s golf academy, selecting
the finest coaches and kitting it out
with the TaylorMade R11 clubs (which you
can also hire by the round) and the same
state-of-the-art Performance Centre for
both coaching and clubfitting as found at
Turnberry and Wentworth.
Yet, for all the high-tech trimmings,
Lumine has an inclusive philosophy,
encouraging courses for complete beginners
as well as a Junior Academy aimed at
kids from six years old. They’ll surely have
a captive audience once the Salou
International School opens on site as part
of the overall masterplan.
While the timing of these future phases
remains uncertain in these tough times,
Lumine is certainly making the most of its
formidable existing assets, luring golfing
aficionados, families, foodies and culture
LIVING THE LUMINE LIFESTYLE
Lumine specialises in tailoring travel packages
combining golf with a full range of other
activities to suit all tastes – with accommodation
to match. Here’s just a taster of the main
distractions on the doorstep…..
The Beach Club
For all the great golf at Lumine, the Beach
Club actually gets top billing in the resort’s
full name. But then, set seductively in the
pine-clad hillsides above the sweeping bay
of Tarragona’s Playa Del Llarga, it’s truly
one-off hedonistic mix of style, relaxation,
excitement and fine dining. With nine swimming
pools laid out on a series of terraces,
each with luxury beds and loungers, this has
become fashionable venue for a trendy
young crowd as well as families and couples.
The highlight is a vast purpose-built freshwater
pool set, unusually, on a free-form
sand base which rises up to a small private
beach within one corner of the club. This is
the site for Lumine’s cool Volcano Club
which operates on specified days to the
strains of chill-out dance music from resident
DJs and light shows that live up to Lumine’s
Complete with its own Club Med-style currency
of mini volcanos, this is one of Spain’s
hippest hangouts where up to 1,500 of the
Costa’s most beautiful people can trip the
light fantastic. With its day-time action proving
far more socially effective than, say,
Ibiza’s all night raves, the concept has
caught the eye of international clubbers and
celebrity DJs, while golfers with the energy
can join the action after their round.
For families and couples who simply want
to chill-out more conventionally, the club is
large enough to get away from it all, with
other pools, the clubhouse and dining area
enjoying their own seclusion at the far end.
Aventura Theme Park
The big dipper at Spain’s largest theme park
is one of the landmarks visible from Lumine’s
fairways and an obvious draw for families.
Combining the best elements of Florida’s
Disney World and Blackpool’s Pleasure
Beach, PortaVentura is a more than a rollercoaster
experience and takes in a full range
of themed hotels, some with Mexican and
Caribbean flavours to suit all pockets.
This area of Catalonia has long enjoyed a
reputation as a foodie’s paradise – starting
with two Michelin-starred restaurants in the
seaside town of Cabrils, widely acknowledged
as the gastronomic capital of
Catalonia (a point reinforced by the town’s
School of Hospitality & Tourism).
Lumine will arrange restaurant bookings,
as required, including at La Boella, a delightful
100-hectare olive estate and boutique
hotel where non-residents can also indulge
in wine and olive tasting, perfect tapas and
an exquisite meal under the stars.
Then again, Lumine itself offers superb
cuisine at the Beach Club, with head chef
Eduardo Cuesta already a legend in the
This formidable ancient city with its narrow
streets, colourful shops and terrific sea views
is just 15 minutes drive from Lumine. With
2,200 years of history and a Roman heritage
preserved in dozens of monuments and
architectural remains, it is also a UNESCO
World Heritage site. Essential Roman highlights
include the amphitheatre, the Circus
depicting the route of early chariot racing, a
one-kilometre stretch of original walls and
fortifications from the 2nd Century BC, and a
temple with its surviving portico.
Salou or Cambrils?
Bustling nightlife or seaside sophistication?
The choice is yours, with both the busy
resort of Salou and the more peaceful marina
port of Cambrils just a few minutes drive
from Lumine. Both have superb beaches
Popular hotels with Lumine golfers include
the stylish Gran Palas (where Dominic
stayed), near Salou; very well placed for the
golf and with a fine spa. The Hotel Monica
and Hotel Tryp Port in Cambrils are also recommended.
Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine