It seems Mike is the go to man at the 5 star Hotel Camiral for gin tasting, which is a little surprising as Mike is Scottish and loves his whiskey. Having said that, he knows a thing or two about gin too and took me on a wondrous journey around all things juniper.
Gin tasting is one of a number of activities available at the Camiral, the luxury hotel lying right at the heart of the PGA Catalunya Resort.
Having had a substantial makeover from its new owner, Irish telecoms billionaire Denis O’Biien, the Camiral more than matches such esteemed surroundings.
This is a world away from your traditional luxury golf resort property. No dark wood and stuffy lounges here, just plenty of the classy contemporary interiors you would expect from star Catalan interior designer Lázaro Rosa-Violan.
The main lobby lounge is almost atrium-like, with colossal floor to very high ceiling windows looking out to the pool area and golf course beyond. There is so much space here it is split into mini-mezzanines with different lounges to suit your mood; one floor with turquoise retro wing back chairs, another a sea of orange and tan furniture, but all delightfully classy.
Upstairs my room is a study in white, beige and pastel blues; airy but soft and intimate like a room should be. Fresh white flowers in a luxurious bathroom with a bath and a shower decorated with hand painted yellow spotted floral tiling.
Back downstairs the evening is in full swing and most of the conversation from the golf crowd is about the number of missed putts and lost balls the Stadium course has claimed I’m sitting at an outside table of 1477 the hotel’s signature restaurant about to indulge in the half board dinner menu.
“Why is it called 1477 then?” I ask maître d’ Javier.
“It was the date of the first Catalan cook book.” Came the reply, which makes sense as most of the menu celebrates locally sourced Catalan ingredients.
The starter is a definite hit. Fresh tuna loin marinated with lime, garlic and pepper, rocket pesto and tomato and green pistachio. Approving nods all round from my fellow diners. Although a Mediterranean sea bass a la plancha is available with shellfish consommé, bay leaves, lime and braised leeks, I choose an alternative main which proves to be another winner. Duck Royale with foie gras and duck breast; particularly as it comes with a delightfully creamy mashed potato.
And frankly who can resist a mango-mandarin and vanilla mousse with cream cheese and almond sponge for a dessert.
I’m calling this dinner a triumph, particularly as it was washed down with some very fine white and red Catalan wines.
The Camiral Hotel ticks just about every box you look for in a luxury resort hotel. It’s just 10 minutes from Girona airport, a short stroll to the golf, there’s an ample infinity pool and the food and beverage offering is more than impressive.
Trail bikes are available for hire to explore the estate and the countryside beyond with self guide maps or accompanied by a guide.
My one regret? Mike only gave me three gins to taste.
Tell me more about Hotel Camiral at PGA Catalunya Resort
Hotel Camiral PGA Catalunya Resort, Carretera N-II, km. 701, 17455 Caldes de Malavella, Girona, Spain.
Tel: 00 34 972 472 249
Rooms from €160 a night including breakfast.
Special stay and play golf package available from €184 per person per night including 3 Nights at Hotel Camiral • 2 Tour Course • 1 Green Fee Stadium Course.