Review of La Manga Club, Murcia, Spain
If you want warm weather, world-class facilities, experienced coaches and organised programmes for both groups and individuals, there can be few better places to go. Just two and a half hours by plane from London and easily accessible from the nearby Murcia airport, the club prides itself on catering for the needs of its guests. Three times the size of Monaco, La Manga Club has three Championship golf courses, eight football pitches, a beautiful five-star hotel, self-catering apartments and a spa, not to mention more than 20 bars and restaurants to pick you up after a tough day on the courts.
If you want to just relax, you can. If you want a specific training programme, the multi-lingual coaches will do it for you and if you just want to play some social tennis followed by a glass of Sangria, then that’s fine too. It is 25km from Murcia airport and 120km from Alicante airport.
Twenty of its 28 pristine courts are on the red clay for which Spain is famous, while there are also four hard courts and four artificial grass courts, just for a bit of variety. Flexibility and excellence is what La Manga Club is all about. Whether you are a beginner or a serious tournament player, there is an “academy” for you, with structured and in-depth development of your game, from stroke production to tactics.
Co-ordinated by James Rose, an Englishman with extensive coaching experience in Australia and Britain, the most popular course is a 10-hour academy of two hours per day, while for those who want a bit more, there is an intensive 25-hour offering over five days. The Weekend Warriors academy is 10 hours of coaching and match-play. What we were really impressed with was how the coaches adjusted to a wide variation in playing standards within the groups. Individual lessons can also be booked and more social tennis is also available.
La Manga’s junior academies cater for those from under-6 to under 19. Open all year round, the club stages exhibition matches during the summer, holds two international tournaments and is a training base for professionals from many countries around the world.
Tennis bags are outnumbered by golf bags at the airports as you make your way toward La Manga but that’s only because the resort has three perfectly manicured golf courses, each offering its own unique challenge. With the sea in the background and 2,500 hours of sunshine a year, the nearby beaches are just a few miles away and a host of water sports are on offer. Within the resort, there are also two cricket pitches, facilities for rugby, netball, bowls and even Gaelic football. And for a bit of post-sport pampering, there is Spa La Manga Club, which boasts an indoor swimming pool and all the spa treatments you could wish for.
The Hotel La Manga Club Principe Felipe has everything you would wish from a five-star hotel. Many of its 192 elegant guestrooms overlook the golf courses and a beautiful outdoor swimming pool is the perfect place to take a refreshing dip or just put your feet up. On our stay, the service and attention to detail was perfect without ever being intrusive. If you’re after self-catering, there are 111 deluxe studios, 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments and townhouses in Las Lomas Village (within the resort), or 60 serviced bedrooms.
What to eat
While La Manga has a strong British tradition, a growing number of nations are making regular trips. This diversity is reflected in its range of cuisine, from traditional Spanish tapas to Mediterranean, Italian Asian, Indian and seafood restaurants, all within the resort. The papardelle and ravioli at Luigi’s were particularly good and the range of local wines were a hit. La Manga Club has a number of bars, some of which have live televised sports and the ubiquitous Irish bar gets a nice twist in the form of Mulligan’s, which does a mean curry in addition to its beer selection.
The perception that La Manga Club – and many resorts like it – are the playground of the elite is really not true, for there are plenty of good-value offers to be had. If you have a specific request, in terms of tennis or golf, they will do their best to give you a special price while for a 5-star hotel, the La Manga Club Principe Felipe is remarkably reasonable, at around £70 per person, per night, based on two sharing. This includes breakfast and use of the spa facilities. A two-bedroom townhouse, sleeping four, for three nights over a weekend in July would set you back a total of £370. An all-inclusive seven-night stay in the La Manga Club Principe Felipe in May/June, including two hours of tennis coaching on each of five days, breakfast, free spa and swimming pool, is around £1172 for two people.