The Westin La Quinta Golf Resort & Spa. Interview with the Golf Manager, José Luis Gómez

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Mariott International, Inc. is a leading global accommodation company with over 6,700 establishments in 130 countries and territories. The company founded by J.Willard and Alice Marriott has been managed by the Marriott family for more than 90 years and it operates under different names. One of these names is Westin that manages this resort since 2017.

The Westin La Quinta Golf Resort & Spa is located in the heart of the renowned Golf Valley in Marbella, a real oasis on the Costa del Sol, just ten minutes from Puerto Banús and 15 minutes from Marbella’s old town.

After the complete renovation of the complex carried out by the new owner, its Manager, José Luis Gómez tells us about the kind of renovation and how it has been carried out as well as about the preparation of the golf course to host the Women Spanish Open that took place in La Quinta Golf from 22nd to 25th November.

Two years ago there were some management changes in La Quinta. Tell us about the effects of these on the philosophy of the resort.

These last years have been very intense and interesting. There have been changes in the management as well as changes in the shareholder structure. At present, the resort is managed by Marriott under the name Westin.

This change in management has been complemented with an important investment plan in its facilities. The hotel has been completely renovated; new accesses to facilitate customer transit around the complex have been created and we still have some actions to be taken depending on customer occupation. 

Concerning the golf course, what improvements have been made and what changes are still to be carried out?

The development of the golf course these last years have been excellent. The maintenance level is very high as our customers have acknowledged.  Investment has been put into landscape gardening, especially trees. In recent years, our regular customers keep their eyes open to all the changes the environment offers in the itinerary.

Our weak points were the bunkers, as in most golf courses. After 30 years, they tend to deteriorate and drainage stops working properly. Luckily, an important budget allocation has been approved this year to renew them. We have already finished the bunkers of two out of our three nine-hole itineraries. In 2019 the works of itinerary A will be finished. This will mark a milestone in the course playing quality.

The hotel and the rest of facilities are also continuously being improved. Tell us about it.

As I mentioned before, all the rooms and common areas have been remodeled. The restaurants of the hotel as well as the main event hall of the club house have also been completely renewed and a new connection between the hotel and the golf course has been created. Regarding the Spa, the fitness machines have been substituted for some cutting-edge equipment. 

There are more actions to be taken. Our objective is the complete renewal of the complex. Important improvements are planned soon especially in the club house, in some meeting rooms and in several areas of the hotel.

The Women Spanish Open will be held in the resort’s facilities in November. However, the club has already hosted some professional tournaments in the past. What does this mean for Westin La Quinta Golf Resort & Spa?

The organization of such an important tournament as the Women Spanish Open is, needs a parallel and specific management for this event. Although we already have experience in hosting tournaments of the European Circuit, you cannot take things for granted as each event is different from another and this is a real challenge for all the team at the resort.

Has the planning and development of the improvements carried out affected the Women Open in any way?

Not really. The bunkers will be finished as that was the initial plan. Nevertheless, this forces us to make an investment effort in some areas that we had not expected. Mainly, we will have to reconsider the management from now to the celebration of the event.

How would you convince someone who has never been to the resort to come and visit it?

Honesty is the best way to convince someone as well as offering what you really promise. We offer service quality in our resort and brand new facilities in a peaceful environment.

Our touristic offer includes a hotel, a golf course, a Kids Club, Spa & Gym, an events hall, restaurants and golf and paddle tennis lessons. This suits all kinds of customers in different seasons, from families who wish to enjoy their holidays in the summer to corporative events, weddings and golf lovers, of course.

Tell us something about golf tourism, how do you see the present and future of the golf industry on the Costa del Sol destination?

The Costa del Sol is and will be a European golf reference. Our public infrastructure, our hotel standard, gastronomy, our weather, health service, security and many more advantages that we sometimes seem to forget, are the best in Europe. In my opinion, despite the fact that there are ups and downs regarding the rate of visitors, our destination is the most complete and we must be positive and focus on offering quality service at reasonable prices; the rest will come. Unfortunately, there are things that we cannot control and that affect us. This is the same in all countries.

A drop in the number of players is one of the most recent problems in the golf industry. How do you think this can be solved?

Lately, I have been reading a lot about this. In fact, I have been listening to different ideas and opinions on this matter for 18 years. I do respect them but unfortunately, golf is not an option for young players in this country and this results in a low number of federated players. Only with the help of Authorities and different organizations, we could make people think of golf as a sport option. Personally, I believe this is not on the agenda. We are a football country and it is very difficult to compete with this industry.

At present, where do the visitors of La Quinta come from?

Most players come from the British Isles. We also receive players from Central Europe; however, we are not their favourite destination as they prefer long stays in different accommodation other than hotels.

In addition to the European market, we are receiving customers from America as we are in the Marriott framework.

Hosting the Women Spanish Open will mean having millions of people around the planet looking closely at the resort. How are dealing with this?

We are very excited about it and we are confident that we have done a great job. We have very experienced and professional staff, our facilities are excellent and we have already held this kind of event before. Hosting a tournament of the European Circuit makes us break from routine and lead changes that are always positive. Our excitement shows on the golf course improvements and our brand new facilities, so good weather is all we need.

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