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Lucy Daltroff travels to south east Spain and discovers a five star golf resort with a Thai spa, rich agricultural landscapes and the ancient Mediterranean port of Cartagena.  Just for a split second I thought I had made a mistake. Here I was visiting the superb Spanish golf courses...

More than just Lettuces

Lucy Daltroff travels to south east Spain and discovers a five star golf resort with a Thai spa, rich agricultural landscapes and the ancient Mediterranean port of Cartagena. 


Just for a split second I thought I had made a mistake. Here I was visiting the superb Spanish golf courses of Polaris World – but I didn’t play golf. Then I saw the five-star InterContinental Hotel with its luxurious rooms and indoor and outdoor pools. I learned how near it was to the historic centres of both Murcia and Cartagena; in a region where sunshine really is king … and realised this was no blunder! 

Each of the three Polaris resorts in the Murcia province of southern Spain has a golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus surrounded by apartments and villas, with swimming pools and other facilities. The resorts – El Valle, Hacienda Riquelme and our base La Torre – are all linked by free transport. 

The La Torre complex contains shops, bars, restaurants, medical centres and an international school. Such a solid infrastructure means that despite the present recession, the properties are still popular – although selling at slightly reduced prices. The company also owns furniture shops so that those buying homes around the three golf courses can furnish them with items specifically designed to fit the dimensions of the different size rooms! 

The InterContinental La Torre Golf Resort is situated beside a lake and its fine dining restaurant The Vinoteca describes itself as ‘Mediterranean cuisine with a twist.’ I soon discovered what this meant when the hors d’oeuvre consisted of savoury lollipops! The food and extensive wine list hit the spot, although the prices were quite expensive. 

The next day while others played golf, I took a half hour car trip to the ancient city of Cartagena on the Mediterranean. The journey took me through rich agricultural land – apparently 80 per cent of the lettuces eaten in the UK are from this region. Cartagena was originally called Mastia and has one of the best harbours in the Western Mediterranean. It was re-founded by the Carthaginian general Hasdrubal and re named Cartagena, meaning New Carthage, and it was from here that Hannibal set off on his famous expedition to Italy. 

Today, Cartagena’s impressive port is still a naval stronghold and the city is also known for its famous Roman theatre. Bustling streets are lined with art nouveau buildings, including the city hall and the recently restored Grand Hotel and the overall feeling is of a prosperous area proud of its past. Perhaps even more important for holidaymakers, Cartagena holds the distinction of being surrounded by some of the highest quality beaches in Spain. 

Returning to the hotel, dinner at the Acacia Trattora restaurant meant gargantuan, tasty portions. This was followed by a visit to the Irish bar, where karaoke was in full swing and ranged from terrible to professional, but was certainly atmospheric! Stupidly, I ordered a sherry – it must be the only bar in Spain that doesn’t have any! 

By day three it was high time to try the Thai Room, the hotel’s spa. Designed to recreate the spirit of Asia through both its interiors and care, it offers six treatment rooms, a dry sauna, steam sauna and an ice fountain. The therapists are all Thai, trained in the Temple of Po in Bangkok; so all treatments in the spa are firmly based on traditional Thai, Indonesian Jamu, Ayurveda and Indian Yoga therapies. 

My therapist was called “Boom” (she said her real name was unpronounceable) and she began my spa session by giving me a choice of oils and asking what degree of pressure I would like for the massage. Immediately the treatment started, I could tell she was a talented and experienced therapist. Towards the end, while I was sitting up, she used her elbows to work my back. 


Although my massage was one of the standard available, many variants are offered. The ultimate in luxury must be Thai Room Reflection Massage, in which two therapists work on one client in simultaneous harmony. By contrast, the Thai Massage Royal Style has a greater emphasis on acupressure, working on each individual point of the energy map of the body. 

The Thai Yoga Massage is described as a ‘perfect prelude to a session of meditation or yoga’ as it incorporates asana yoga movements. These movements – where the whole emphasis is on stretching – originated in pre-Hindu temples and were brought to Southeast Asia by one of Buddha’s physicians. 

The Presence of Thai Room Treatment is somewhat different, being a tribute to the spiritual traditions of Hawaii, where massage and ritual dances work together. Intense pressure is applied and the massage therapist, using either olive or sesame seed oil, uses his/her elbows, sliding them into the body like a dance. 

As well as the extensive range of massages, the spa menu includes facials, body wraps and body scrubs, including one with tamarind, honey and rice flour – recommended for oily skins. Another, the Ginger Scrub, is suitable for all skin types and consists of a blend of lemon sugar and ginger powder. To my mind, perhaps most the typical of all the Thai treatments is the Cocoon Facial, which includes a cleansing with orange, honey and natural Thai silk cocoons. Next time …maybe. 

Lucy flew with Monarch to the brand new airport at Alicante. Monarch flies from Birmingham, London Gatwick, Luton and Manchester with fares, including taxes, starting from £37.99 one way (£59.50 return).
For more information or to book, visit www.monarch.co.ukMore information on the golf and property www.polarisworld.comThe Intercontinental La Torre Golf Resort Calle Anchoa 6, La Torre Golf Resort, Murcia 30709, Spain
Tel: +34 968 031970
For latest prices and offers visit www.ichotelsgroup.com/intercontinental/en/gb/locations/murcia-latorre

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