Originally from Portugal and of Spanish descent, Francisco de Lancastre has developed his career to date in some of the world’s best golf resorts and was, in fact, Director of Golf at Finca Cortesin from 2015 to 2017. He’s now returning to this luxury destination after spending almost five years running the three Troon International courses in Abu Dhabi.
There are two years to go until the Solheim Cup takes place on the Costa del Sol and Finca Cortesin will be hosting the 2023 tournament. The chance to return to one of the best resorts in Europe and future venue of the Solheim Cup must have undoubtedly played a part in his decision – as he himself says, the offer was hard to turn down.
What made you return to Finca Cortesin after almost five years in Abu Dhabi at a resort that has held top, world-class tournaments?
Yes, I was able to spend nearly 5 years in Abu Dhabi managing three terrific and world class properties – Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and the acclaimed Yas Links Abu Dhabi ranked #48 in the World by Golf Digest. During these 5 years I was fortunate to be directly involved in managing the successful hosting multiple Abu Dhabi HSBC Championships, a Rolex Series event and multiple Ladies European Tours at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, while also hosting other events such as the Gary Player Invitational, hosted by Gary Player himself – meaning I love and I am very familiar with tournament golf.
Finca Cortesin is a very special place and a place where I thoroughly enjoyed my previous experience, and when the opportunity came around to return and being involved with the staging of the Solheim Cup – it was a very exciting project that I am relinquishing the opportunity.
What changes have you seen in the resort in that time?
That is an interesting question, and although everyone has had difficult times in the past 18 months – I saw a great progress in many areas of the resort; the golf course has gone from strength to strength from a quality and course conditioning stand point; the hotel has continued to invest in its quality renovating some of the food and beverage outlets and the residential and real estate side of the business have also had very strong progress in the past few years. All this combined, allow Finca Cortesin to continue to be at the fore front of quality in our segment, not only in Spain but in the World stage.
What will your position be exactly and what role will you be undertaking in this new phase?
My role as General Manager, Golf & Leisure Operations will be to oversee the entire golf operation and also be part of the Resort Senior Executive team overseeing other areas of the resort business that are growing organically with the sustained growth that the resort is seeing. Of course, the Solheim Cup will be a major role in the next couple years to ensure we showcase our Resort in its best light for the entire World and we can capitalize on this event for many years to come.
Although you have just arrived, what are you aiming to achieve, professionally speaking, both in the short and medium term in your new role?
As mentioned above, the preparations are well underway for the staging of the Solheim Cup and two years will come very quick for all of us involved. That said, our main goal for the short term is to ensure all preparations go well and are appropriately planed from a staging point of view. From a commercial stand point, we want to ensure we have the correct plans in place to capitalize on the staging of such a world-wide reach event at every level of our business. We are also very conscious that these events come around once in your lifetime.
Even though you already have experience with top tournaments, how much of a challenge is it for you to be in charge of the host course for the Solheim Cup 2023?
Yes, having been directly involved with multiple large golf events is always a great challenge, that I personally enjoy. The Solheim Cup is a unique event that has grown from strength to strength and we are expecting the 2023 edition to be the best ever – we have all the elements to make it a huge success at all levels; players, teams, stakeholders, sponsors and fans. The Costa del Sol is a unique location for golf and I am sure the fans will support it in great numbers both in person and in TV viewing reach.
As always there are many moving parts in staging these types of events, however at Finca Cortesin we have a very well-prepared team in all areas of our business, and many of the team were involved with the World Volvo Match Play that Finca Cortesin hosted in the past – so we will for sure be up for the challenge.
How will you be getting the course and the rest of the resort ready in the lead up to the event?
The golf course will be showcased in great light during the event as will the entire resort. We are extremely lucky with the entire property we have on hands and while there will be some points where we will touch here and there to ensure the best success for the event, we proud ourselves in having a tournament ready golf course on a daily basis and world class resort facilities. The promotors of the event have great ideas and plans for fans to enjoy the tournament and we will work together in ensuring success in all areas.
In your experience, what impact do you think hosting the Solheim Cup will have on the Costa del Sol as a destination?
I think a tournament such as the Solheim Cup can have a great impact in a consolidated Destination such as the Costa del Sol – and I would like to congratulate all those involved in bringing this event to this region for the vision. The Costa del Sol is a world-renowned golf destination, and when you add events to the region such as these it will only elevate the Costa del Sol brand to the benefit of the entire Industry. We know the economic impact that these events have in the destination during the hosting of the event, but there is also a legacy impact that will be present for many years to come, benefiting the entire region.