A 300-hectacre patch of countryside once eyed-up by Bernie Ecclestone as Spain's F1 circuit is now playing host to a much slower game, report Nigel Lewis
A battle royal has been playing out within Spain’s Forumula 1 community in recent years about which of the country’s two circuits should host its annual festival of extreme speed – the track just outside Barcelona or Valencia’s streets.
Happily Bernie Ecclestone, despite the distractions of funding his daughter’s recent multi-million pound property purchase, persuaded the rival Spanish circuits to host it alternately.
But what few remember is that, 20 years ago, the bespectacled master manipulator of F1 was backing a third site – a racing track to be based near Girona within a wooded area near Caldes de Malavella.
The land was bought by Spain’s RACC (Real Automobil Club de Catalunya) and much time spent clearing a ‘straight mile’ of countryside to show where the stadium, pit lane and finish line would go for when Ecclestone paid a visit.
But the circuit was turned down by local planners and instead PGA (Europe) snapped it up to develop a golf resort, which is now coming to its final phase of development – properties.
“Even today, if you take an aerial picture you can see the straight line of forest that was cleared,” says David Plana of PGA Catalunya Resort.
Where pit girls might have loitered, technicians fretted and thousands cheered on their F1 heroes, so golfers now drive their way around its two courses at a more leisurely, often electrically-powered rate.
But unlike the many hundreds of similar resorts that dot Spain, Portugal and even France, the PGA Catalunya PGA Resort was designed as a golf club first without properties overlooking tees, greens and fairways.
Instead the villas, apartments and semi-detached houses within the 300-hectacre site are grouped into two neighbourhoods and prices range from £205,800 for a one-bedroom apartment to £572,300 for a four-bedroom semi.
If you want to use one of their bank of upmarket architects and build your own villa within one of the 1.4 hectacre plots then you’ll need more, as prices kick off from £782,500 depending on the size and luxury required.
Properties within the resort come with more than nice views and expensive taps, though. Owners get preferential access to the resort’s four-star, 129-room hotel and if you’re up for a bit of negotiation, then the more expensive properties can come with golf membership and access to the resort’s clubhouse.
And if you prefer sea – rather than just swimming pool – water around you then the resort also provides owners with preferential access to its beach club at Hotel Santa Maria, half an hour away on the Costa Brava near Lloret del Mar.
For more information visit www.pgacatalunya.com