I was recently lucky enough to take a 3 night break to Costa Navarino, as there were many new amenities to check out since I was last there.
The Costa Navarino resort, which currently has two luxury hotel options to choose from, (The Westin and the more exclusive Romanos properties) is set in the beautiful Peloponnese region of Greece, within a 45 minute drive from the small airport of Kalamata, if you fly into Athens it is about a 2.5 hour transfer mostly by motorway. This region of southwest Greece benefits from wonderful weather, especially from May to mid-October.
At the end of 2021 Navarino opened two new golf courses with a new clubhouse in the most spectacular of locations, on top of the mountain at Navarino Hills, just 10 minutes higher up than the superb Bay Course and Clubhouse, the views from the Clubhouse.
The two new courses are exceptional tests of golf and are definitely the best designs thus far by Jose Maria Olazabal and his team. The Hills and the Olympic are top championship tests and extremely scenic and a big challenge.
The Westin Resort Costa Navarino Flame Restaurant
Costa Navarino is being transformed and now that it has 72 holes all within one destination, is undoubtedly the most exciting and complete destination in Europe for discerning golfers, our only regret is that we wish the UK had more flight options to Kalamata, other European countries are better served.
There are two other hotels coming soon to add to the portfolio of the Westin and The Romanos, the W Hotel will open in the Autumn of 2022 located right below the Bay Course, near the 15th and 16th holes and the 1st green, with the even higher quality Mandarin Oriental opening in October 2023, again located in the Navarino Waterfront sector, but very close to the Bay course and the new Navarino Hills courses.
One of the unique selling points of the 72 holes at Navarino is that buggies are included at all 4 golf courses, which is an extremely popular development since 2021, when the new courses opened. Previously the Dunes Course was the only course which one could walk and certainly at the Bay, Hills and Olympic there are big distances between many greens and tees!
W Costa Navarino, opening Autumn 2022
Mandarin Oriental, Costa Navarino, opening October 2023
The Bay, The Olympic and the Hills courses are between 20 -35 minutes complimentary transfer from the Westin and Romanos Hotels, the shuttle service is excellent in air-conditioned Mercedes Mini-Vans with very regular schedules, you are told on arrival precisely which transfer to catch to allow you to time your breakfast etc best!
The established Dunes course designed by Bernhard Langer is located within walking distance of both the Westin and Romanos Hotels and has also its own very impressive clubhouse – also boasting the exceptional steakhouse restaurant, Flames.
The Dunes Course
The Hills Course opened in early 2022 and was designed by Jose Maria Olazabal, an absolute masterpiece, the course starts at the top of the mountain with the first 2 holes running parallel to the first 2 holes on the equally impressive Olympic course. The first six holes are set on higher terrain with most holes flanked by deep vegetation, but when you start the last 12 holes from the 7th tee, you are on the lower plateau and the views open up and the course unfolds beautifully, with a superb natural flow. The whole course is a brilliant driving course and with hard running fairways, hills, plateaus, elevated tees and some classic dog legs, with rolling fairways sometimes requiring blind second shots on par 5s, but the par 3s are particularly memorable, really challenging long one shotters! The views on holes 7 – 18 offer ocean and coastal views and not purely mountain views.
The large greens are already impressive, and the short game is tricky as there are many run offs from elevated putting surfaces, which are also very well protected by bunkers.
This was the first course to open on the Navarino Hills complex in the late Autumn of 2021, the course is an absolute gem – set on higher terrain than the Hills especially on the back nine – it was also designed by the Jose Maria Olazabal Team. The course twists its way around the mountain and has the very best panoramas of the entire coastline and the Bay of Navarino, every hole takes your breath away, especially from 10 – 18. The outstanding par 3 s at 12 and 16 are the best on the entire complex! The Olympic course shares the same clubhouse with the Hills with a wonderful location with large sun terracing from the highest point on the Navarino Estate, the clubhouse is cool and contemporary with great service, cuisine and locker room amenities.
The Bay course was enhanced in 2019 with the opening of an exceptional clubhouse facility, which blends in so beautifully into the hillside above the first tee, arguably the most picturesque clubhouse location in Europe, but perhaps recently trumped by the new clubhouse at the Navarino Hills clubhouse. The views of the Bay of Navarino below the first fairway and green are just so exceptional, they simply take your breath away and as the first hole stretches down the hill to the water, it looks so tempting. The tough uphill par 3 second involves nerves of steel, with water all down the right and the picture postcard seaside town of Pylos in view from the green.
There are some incredibly tough par 5 holes on the course which are uphill and some exceptionally tough long par 3s, none more so than 10 and 11 which follow each other, nothing but the most perfect shot will get you on the green across sweeping valleys.
The Bay course is the easiest course to be distracted by the views, but also the easiest course to get out of position and lose balls in deep vegetation. Special mention of the 16th and 17 holes also which flank the Bay of Navarino and have extremely tight landing areas, especially the long par 4 17th!
Designed by Bernhard Langer this was always the best course on the Resort and especially popular because of its proximity to the hotels Westin and Romanos. The holes are laid out in close proximity to the ocean, across dunes and ridges, much closer to the sea than the courses at the Bay and the Hills, which are mostly much higher than sea level.
The Dunes is an extremely fair course, a tad less spectacular, but technically a marvellous layout, the greens are mostly crowned and large making the short game particularly demanding, but what makes the course particularly tough is the bunkering, not just greenside but also on the fairways. The Dunes is a big Championship layout and the ultimate test, but with the new addition of the Hills and the Olympic one can no longer say it is the toughest test on the Estate.
The standout hole is the long par 4 second hole down the hill with the ocean backdrop behind the green and the gorgeous Romanos Hotel flanking the fairway to the left.
The Costa Navarino complex is impressive and has so many layers of activities, firstly the Westin Resort has one whole area aimed at the family market, close to all the main children’s activities, including the water park and pools etc, so although as adult only bookings there are no adult only venues on the resort, your rooms will be allocated well away from where the family reservation rooms are allocated. The main buffet restaurant at the Westin will be the most popular for families, but there are so many a la carte venues to choose from within the main Agora area of the hotel, located sandwiched between The Romanos and The Westin hotels, that you may not even need to dine in the buffet outlet anyway.
One can choose to stay at the Westin, or the Romanos Hotels and not venture off the Estate at all, purely because the resorts have so many excellent restaurant outlets, you would not have enough time to try them all in one week, but to summarise there is something for everyone. Steak House, Fish & Seafood, Italian, Lebanese, Japanese, Greek, Beach fish restaurant, Deli restaurant and more besides. Not forgetting the 2 buffet restaurant venues with lovely al fresco areas, surrounded by pools, a more relaxed less expensive option therefore. One thing is for sure, you cannot get bored at Costa Navarino, there are also some superb bar outlets with great ambience in very contrasting settings, both at the Westin and at The Romanos and you can use all outlets at both hotels.
The Westin Resort Costa Navarino Aqua Park
The Romanos, Anax Lounge
However, the region is genuinely so charming, if you don’t mind jumping in a taxi out of the resort there are some lovely restaurants to try out within 10-20 minutes drive, you can find lovely venues, especially in the seaside towns of Pylos and Gialova. Sit outside by the Bay of Navarino in lovely relaxed and beautiful settings and enjoy wonderful scenery and great food at prices 50% less expensive than on the Navarino Estate, but you have to get there!
If you wish to book half board at the Westin, or The Romanos you can pay a supplement of £43 per night in advance and dine in the buffet outlets, or at several other a la carte venues eat off their fixed half board menu selections instead, this will allow you to stick with a relatively modest budget.
Great beach and lovely for swimming most of the year, superb beach restaurant for lunch, or for early evening dinner at Barbouni!
Exceptional award-winning Spa – The Anazoe Spa has superb range of massage and treatments, in addition the Spa has wonderful facilities and is very spacious, with lots of relaxation areas. The pool circuit and health suite is outstanding, 45 euros entry fee, but you can spend a good 3 hours enjoying the facilities.
Cycle Tours… the resorts have an activity centre and one of the sports activities is cycling, both guided group cycles off the Estate to secret beaches off road, or just hiring your own bike and following existing bike trails. The local scenery is spectacular. There are several incredible beaches to discover.
The tennis centre at Navarino is exceptional, you can even enjoy a grass court as well as other surfaces! Great tennis coaches too, if you need a lesson or two.
Tennis Centre at Navarino
The Westin Resort Pool
The Pool Areas and Other Activities
You can enjoy chilling out in a variety of pools, in both hotels’ gardens, find your own little spot, whether it is one of the bigger pools, or the smaller pool terraces, there are such vast garden areas, you can always find a nice secluded spot somewhere if you want to. The resort also offers free yoga and pilates classes out in the garden areas of the Westin, just ask the guest relations team.
Hire a car or take a private guide for a day or two and get out and explore this historic region of Greece, it is a very beautiful area to explore. Discover Ancient Olympia, 90 minutes away, find amazing beaches like Voidokilia Beach, which is so wild and beautiful, Find the Castle of Methoni, discover the wineries and olive oil tasting visitor centres – this is the beating heart of the olive oil industry in Greece. Stroll around the cobbled streets of Pylos and Gialova and do a bit of shopping, enjoy the local culture, it is so laid back here in this part of Greece.
The Westin is located right next door to The Romanos, but it is also closer to the Dunes Clubhouse. Family bookings are more likely to be staying at the Westin Resort, so the pool areas and beach at the Romanos will be quieter generally for this reason, as well as the pool areas. Of course, there will be times when the Westin will not have families in house anyway. Many of the a la carte dining venues are located in the lovely Agora, a Pueblo type village which meanders it way uphill with restaurants, bars and shops all in one lovely urban type environment! The main square with the Italian Da Luigis is wonderful and you can dine al fresco and watch a film or concert on a massive cinema screen.
The Westin Resort Pool
The Romanos, Premium Infinity Suite
Having previously stayed at the Westin Resort myself, but having recently stayed in June 2022 at the Romanos for the first time I was highly impressed, it is ideal and just perfect for the discerning golfer. The entrance and vast lobby with superb ocean views sets the tone at the Romanos when you first arrive, the reception staff are absolutely charming and extremely helpful, indeed the staffing levels and quality of training on the entire Estate including the golf courses are always second to none and these days post Pandemic this cannot be taken for granted.
There are a wide variety of rooms at both the Westin and The Romanos hotels, but the lead in categories at both are exceptionally good, well designed and appointed with decent views of gardens even in your worst-case scenario, all with nice balconies and bathrooms.
If you do like the idea of a plunge infinity pool both hotels have these options available and it is always a lovely option. If your budget allows a good room upgrade, we highly recommend the premium infinity sea front rooms which have gorgeous outlooks close to the beach with pools on your room balconies!
The Romanos, Premium Infinity Suite Terrace
The Westin Resort Costa Navarino
07 nights – from £1,569.00 per person
The Romanos Resort Costa Navarino
07 nights – from £1,649.00 per person
The Westin Resort Costa Navarino
07 nights – from £1,729.00 per person
The Romanos Resort Costa Navarino
07 nights – from £1,849.00 per person