I’m sitting in Luigi’s, a really excellent Italian restaurant on the La Manga Club Resort, minding my own business and just concentrating on enjoying the rather fabulous Insalata di Rucoloa Pomodorini which for the uninitiated, is rocket salad with sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, parmesan and roasted pancetta bacon with basalmic.
Normally, this is a ritual that is a private affair between me and the food, but on this occasion I was prompted to interrupt my reverie by a table of six next to me. It turned out they were English property owners here of some 20 odd years, so what better opportunity to really understand what makes this resort tick.
Make no mistake, these were people who knew a thing or two about where to eat, what to do and they had covered most of the grass on all three of the courses on La Manga Club Resort. So, I was more than pleased to see that Luigi’s was a regular haunt, and that at least two of my new friends had ordered the same as me.
Luigi’s certainly didn’t disappoint. It was a perfect balance between excellent Italian food and informal dining at surprisingly reasonable prices.
La Manga Club Resort is an oasis of Spanish luxury on the Murcia coast not far from historic Cartegena. From its origins in the 60’s as the playground of Greg Peters, a wealthy American entrepreneur who wanted to bring the American resort concept to Spain, it has developed into an impressive resort five times bigger than Monaco. It is the sort of place where you can just park yourself in one of the 100 or more apartments or the five star La Manga Club Principe Felipe Hotel and have everything within reach; the three championship golf courses, the 28 tennis courts, the sumptuous spa, a private beach, over 20 bars and restaurants, numerous shops and banks and even a petrol station. As if that’s not enough, there are professional sports facilities too including 8 football pitches and 2 cricket grounds.
The hotel really is an oasis of luxury. Surrounded on three sides by the golf courses (the first tees are a mere few minutes’ walk away), it still manages to retain an air of sophisticated serenity throughout. There is something rather decadent though about finishing a round of golf and just strolling up to the hotel pool bar for a drink and a snack without a care in the world. It does help of course, when you are pampered by staff who are not just attentive and responsive but have a sense of humour, a trait often so lacking in many luxury hotels.
You might think that a complex of this size would prove to be too big, but it actually gives you the feeling of space and freedom without the crowds, and there are regular shuttles to ferry you wherever you want to go, anytime of the day.
The pleasing thing for me was that La Manga Club Resort has proudly held on to its Spanish roots in spite of its obvious international clientele. Yes, there are plenty of opportunities to eat various cuisines amongst the many restaurants, but you can also find some lovely local specialities to savour too. I particularly enjoyed Caldero, a paella like dish that’s made with paprika and contains no meat, Zarangolo, a mixture of courgette, eggs, onions and olive oil all scrambled together, and my personal favourite, Paparajotes fresh lemon leaves dipped in batter and fried and then dusted with cinnamon. Delicious.
La Manga Club Resort was Spain’s first luxury resort of its kind, (unlike Las Colinas a bit further back towards Alicante which only opened in 2010) and let’s face it, it’s had more than a few years to get things right. My new dining friends pointed this out to me and you know what? They were right on the money.
I want to go to La Manga Club Resort. How much is it?
La Manga Club Resort is approximately 1 hour from Murcia airport. Families looking to get active during the February half-term holidays can enjoy five-star fun at La Manga Club Resort – with a four-night break for a family of four available from €580 (approx £445).
This February why not treat yourself to a romantic getaway for Valentine’s or enjoy Half Term with family or friends at La Manga Club Resort.
A double room at Hotel Principe Felipe 5* from only €155 per night
Free lunch or dinner
Free lunch and dinner for children under 5
Free Junior Club for children aged between 5 and 12, Monday to Friday
Preferential rates on a wide variety of sports and activities around the resort
Access to indoor pool, fitness centre, sauna and steam rooms at Spa La Manga Club (age restrictions apply for some facilities). Free Wi-Fi and transportation within the resort.