O’Brien’s Catalunya resort takes honours at property awards


Holiday developments invariably begin with the sale of apartments and houses and eventually the infrastructure falls into place. Businessman Denis O’Brien has done quite the opposite in the mixed residential and golf resort of PGA Catalunya, about 80km north of Barcelona in Catalonia.

Almost a decade went into perfecting the two golf courses in the resort before a development of apartments and houses alongside an on-site hotel were launched. Now PGA Catalunya has just been named the Best Golf Development in Europe at the annual European Property Awards ceremony in London this week.

The resort had previously won the main Spanish award and, after the success in Europe, will now go on to compete in the international competition against predominantly US and Far East resorts.

The problems of the Spanish housing sector are well known but O’Brien has every reason to be satisfied. His investment director Richard Strappe says that its sales campaigns have bucked the broad trends in Spain. This year they have sold more than 40 holiday villas and apartments compared with 25 to 30 in 2012 and and 20 in 2011.

Most of the buyers are from Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and Holland, with about 15 per cent coming from Ireland. Apartment prices start at €250,000 while the detached villas cost €1 million-€3 million.

The 741 acre (300 hectare) site has planning for 400 homes – including apartments – and is beautifully appointed with its villas and low-rise apartment buildings nestling among heavily wooded pines and cork trees.

O’Brien also owns the Quinta do Lago golf development in Portugal’s Algarve.