Madeira is a sub tropical archipelago of the African Coast and has always been a refuge for sailors trying to cross the Atlantic. The Portuguese claimed the islands during their seafaring days as far back as 1419 and its volcanic origins makes it a beautiful place to spend time and … play golf.
The first golf shot on Madeira was hit on the Santo da Serra Golf course as far back as 1933 and is now home to the European Tour’s Madeira Open, an established stop on the European pro calendar. This yearly event had some famous winners, notably Des Smyth who then became the European Tour oldest winner and Ricardo Santos, Portugal’s own who became the first Portuguese winner on tour. Santo Da Serra was redesigned in the 90’s by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and now offers 3 loops of 9 holes to make a 27 hole complex.
From anywhere on the course the views are just spectacular, equally so on the other course on the island, the Palheiro Estate.
The Palheiro Estate itself is over 200 years old and sits high above the capital of Funchal. The Blandy family hired famous American architect Cabell B. Robinson who was doing some work in Spain and mainland Portugal to create an 18 hole layout playable for all levels which is set within the estate and adjacent to the Hotel Casa Velha do Palheiro, a Relais & Chateaux property. Surrounded by maritime pine tree forests full of wildlife and 500 meters up in the hills, the course always provides ideal playing conditions. From anywhere on the course, golfers enjoy spectacular views over the Atlantic Ocean and the capital Funchal.
The third course on the archipelago is on Porto Santo, about a 2 hour ferry journey from Funchal. A relatively small island with a long sandy beach, unusual for a volcanic island. The golf course was designed by Seve Ballesteros and opened in 2004.
GolfSwitch is excited to add the Madeira courses to its growing portfolio and provide the courses with all the tools they need to attract more golfers by allowing them to book online through the course websites and through the various resellers connected to the GolfSwitch network. The main draw will be the Stay and Play packages the golf courses are developing in cooperation with many of the hotels on the island.
Jo Maes, Managing Director GolfSwitch International Ltd : “I am particularly excited about Madeira. It’s such a beautiful place and adding them to the GolfSwitch network is a significant step forward in aiding their development as a golf destination. Adding courses to the network is what we strive to do and we are continuing to grow at a steady pace clocking our inventory at over 1200 courses in Europe alone. This is great news for the trade we connect as they can streamline their business and serve their clients better and cheaper but also for the courses and hotels who can now manage their online business.”
Jonathan Fletcher, Director Palheiro Estate adds: “We are more known as an exotic sub tropical holiday destination so getting the message out to the market that we are also a golf destination that provides a good alternative to other more established markets is key. Obviously, being online is the first step and will allow us to reach a worldwide audience. There is something comforting for a golfer to be able to see real time tee times on a golf course combined with a varied hotel offering and we believe it will influence his decision as to where to go to for his/her next golf trip. Madeira is a ‘niche’ destination and appeals to a certain audience who we realise spend a lot of their time online, either on their computers or mobile devices. Being there with an immediate call to action is imperative to our success. This initiative, supported by the local tourist office is important for us as an industry and we are comfortable that teaming up with GolfSwitch will increase our numbers in the future.”
GolfSwitch provides the courses and hotels on Madeira with their Portal Tee Time Booking engine, Mobile Engine, Dynamic Rate Manager, Vacation Packaging, Direct Access and access to the distribution network. GolfSwitch will also promote Madeira as a destination to its million plus Golfhub audience.