“On the golf course I have two legs” – An interview with Manuel de los Santos

The annual Dunhill Links Championship is one of the highlights of the European Tour season. It takes place on three great golf courses in and around St Andrews (the home of golf) and it features not only the finest players on tour, but also movie stars, comedians, musicians and sportsmen (plus a handful of businessmen no-one has heard of).

Manuel de los Santos - “On the golf course I have two legs”

Manuel de los Santos

But back in 2009 a very different amateur took part in the event and immediately caught the attention of the watching fans, both on the courses and on television. His name was Manuel de los Santos, he hails from the Dominican Republic and he plays golf with only one leg.

Despite his disability Manuel plays to a handicap of four, thanks to powerful hitting and a delicate touch around the greens.

This week in the run up to the MCB Tour Championship, Manuel has played in both the Air Mauritius Trophy and the Constance Hotels Pro-am, after qualifying via an event in Reunion which he won with his playing partner George Necs.

The prize for that win included transport from Reunion, but Manuel lives in Paris. When MCB and Constance Hotels & Resorts discovered this, they upgraded the prize, a generous offer which has proved popular, not only with the hotel staff – who have followed his group around the course all week – but with locals too.

“It is amazing,” Manuel told me. “I was playing on the Links course and a girl came up to me. She told me that people in the local towns were saying a man plays golf on one leg and so she had to come to see it with her own eyes. I was very pleased to show her!”

It’s pretty clear that Manuel not only inspires other people, but is inspired himself by their interest. And the young girl is not alone: Manuel has many fans across the world, including Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, who has given Manuel a 20-minute long-game lesson.

These remarkable encounters were far beyond his imagination ten years ago when, as a promising baseball player, he was hit by a car whilst on his motorbike. Waking from a coma four days later he discovered his left leg had been amputated.

He relocated to Paris with his wife Elena and one night watched the golf movie ‘The Legend of Bagger Vance’. Next day he visited a driving range and was hooked: he had found something he could throw his heart into; which offered the prospect of improvement, competition and achievement.

“It also gives me a release,” he said after the first round of the pro-am. “Out on the course, when I am playing golf, I feel peace.”

In addition to travelling the world he competes on the European Disabled Golf Association Tour and hopes one day, like all other disabled golfers, that the sport is included in the Paralympics (there is currently a divergence between disabled golf categories and those of the Paralympic organisation).

He also loves the effect his story has on others. His wife Elena said: “Manuel is very competitive on the golf course, but it is also very important to him to let people know that we can all have our problems and yet all is not lost.”

His latest trip has offered yet more proof of what golf has given him. He and Elena are grateful to MCB and Constance Hotels for the chance to play, but also the opportunity to meet fellow golfers in the tournaments, the staff who have supported him and that young girl who wanted to witness his talent first-hand. “I love golf and I like these courses,” he said, “but those experiences are special.”

Manuel says he has a simple philosophy: “Out on the golf course I have two legs, off it I have one.”

He smiles, shakes my hand and says in farewell: “Remember, my friend – golf is my second leg.”

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Throwing off the fear of winning

Oscar Wilde wrote, “With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone.”

The stage is set for the MCB Tour Championship 2013

The stage is set for the MCB Tour Championship 2013

It’s an adage the finest players on the European Senior Tour may not be aware of, but might ponder because they are all aware that late in their career they are being rewarded on the course for the many years of hard work that has gone before.

When I asked Colin Montgomerie to determine the difference between his prime and today he was open and forthright, although initially he joked: “Hang on, I’ve forgotten the question … that’s not a good sign, is it?”

More seriously he added, “I think we all relax more. I’m definitely more relaxed now than I’ve ever been. We’ve all been successful and have nothing to prove, so we relax and enjoy it. And you know what? You tend to do something better if you enjoy it.”

Of course Montgomerie had a stunning career which needs little polishing on the senior tours. He won 31 times on the European Tour (only three men have won more), represented Europe eight times in the Ryder Cup and won it as captain in 2010.

He nods when I ask him to discuss about the narrow margin between victory and close defeat.

“It’s a good question and one I have recent experience of at the AT&T Championship in San Antonio.

“What we, as golfers, all have to accept is that you lose a lot more than you win. If you win three times in a year that’s a great year, but you might have played 30 times so you lose quite a bit.

“At senior level I’ve seen a lot less fear of winning and yet there was a fear of winning on the main tour. No-one throws it away out here – we think: ‘We might as well just go and do it.’

“So the standard of play is very high because of that mentality. You can’t rely on others to make bogies, you’ve got to keep making birdies.”

The Legend, Constance Belle Mare Plage

The Legend, Constance Belle Mare Plage

“That’s what happened in San Antonio – I was two ahead with nine to play, played the back nine in level par and was overtaken by two men. Level par on these events is not good enough and it usually was on the main tour.”

David Frost understood Montgomerie’s point: “Definitely the players have lost that fear. I lost out to Russ Cochran recently – I had a lead with four holes to play, he birdied the last four holes and beat me by one shot!

“I also think that we don’t try so many things. When you’re young you try everything and it’s probably too much. When you get here, you use what got you here.”

Denmark’s Steen Tinning agrees: “You stop trying to be a world champion and you understand your limits.

“And once you are in the zone you keep going on the back nine. But it’s a long process which some of us just had to go through that. It takes a lot of years to gain that experience and I needed that time. Now I have it and I felt comfortable in contention this year.”

The stats back the Dane’s claims up – twice this year he held the lead with 18 holes to play and twice he converted the win.

Like the Montgomerie family, the Tinnings are enjoying the beach and all the facilities at Constance Belle Mare Plage this week. Both are hoping to put their lack of fear into practice if they are in contention come the final round on Sunday.

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Miguel Angel Jimenez – an ageless legend of European golf

There was a time when golfers licked their lips at the prospect of senior golf and as he prepared for his debut in the MCB Tour Championship at Constance Belle Mare Plage Colin Montgomerie admitted that he made that “mistake”.

The red wine is waiting for Miguel Angel Jimenez

The red wine is waiting for Miguel Angel Jimenez

“You turn fifty and think you’ll win lots of events,” he said. “But the standard is very high and I underestimated that.”

All of which makes the performances of Miguel Angel Jimenez on the main tour all the more extraordinary. At a time when most players notice their power wane Jimenez has done the opposite, winning 13 of his 20 European Tour titles since he turned 40.

The most recent of those wins came last week in the Hong Kong Open, less than one month shy of his 50th birthday (and qualification for the Senior Tour), which means all of the players in this week’s field have an eye on the Spaniard’s stunning feats.

Montgomerie knows exactly what ‘The Mechanic’ (as he is better known on tour) has achieved.

“All credit to him to be winning as he turns fifty on the European Tour,” said the Scot. “It’s something I tried to do – and failed – so I realise what he’s done. And it’s also tremendous that he has come back from a skiing injury earlier this year too. That’s tough at any age never mind fifty.”

The latter point prompted Steen Tinning to point out that Jimenez is “sneaky fit“. “Trust me,” said the Dane. “We all know about the red wine and the cigars, but he does his stuff in the fitness centre. He might not look fit, but he is.”

What amazes the world of golf is that the Malaga native’s early career gave no hint at what was to come. Roger Chapman remembers his entrance in the early-1990s: “He was a good player, but he was just that – another good Spanish player and there are lots of them. Not many achieve what he has done.”

So what turned a solid tour pro into a multiple winner with four Ryder Cup appearances? Perhaps the Ryder Cup holds the key because in 1997 many in the sport raised eyebrows when Seve Ballesteros made Jimenez a vice-captain.

He not only helped the team to victory, but was inspired by the experience to become an actor in the production rather than a scene shifter, something Montgomerie appreciates more than most: “I captained the team in 2010 and when we were struggling in the final day singles Miguel came up trumps for me. He was the oldest player in a team of major winners. He’s very good. Very few people improve in their 40s, but he’s one.”

The Ryder Cup remains a motivation. After victory in Hong Kong he was asked about his future on the Senior Tour and said: “If I play the way I am playing this week I will be in the Ryder Cup. I would love to be part of the team again.”

If he does gain selection he will become Europe’s oldest ever Ryder Cup performer. If not the Senior Tour players, currently practising on the Legends course ahead of Friday’s first round, have red wine ready and waiting for him.

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Le Prince Maurice leads on latest trend for medical pedicures

A growing trend among spa guests for medical-based treatments shows a greater emphasis on spas as places for wellbeing rather than indulgence.

Brice Nicham, podiatrist

Brice Nicham

One area where we’ve seen this shift is in the rise of medical pedicures. At the centre of this trend is celebrity podiatrist Brice Nicham, whose medical health pedicures, manicures and posture treatments are available at Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius.

Brice Nicham says, ‘My goal is to democratise these types of qualitative treatments around the world and within 5 stars hotels by providing an unparalleled result with a simple pedicure. Some VIPs such as Nicole Kidman, Eva Longoria, John Travolta and Bradley Cooper have already tried my pedicure and loved it!’

Brice Nicham treatments at Le Prince Maurice

Available at Constance Le Prince Maurice’s Spa de Constance, Nicham’s program combines medical treatments for feet and hands alongside massage and traditional beauty techniques.

How it works

The idea behind Nicham’s medical pedicures is not only to cure current conditions but to prevent potential future foot issues through a series of efficient and relaxing treatments.

As part of the medical approach, Nicham’s pedicures and manicures include treatment for skin and nail pathologies such as corns, calluses and ingrowing nails as well as an elimination of the rough periungual zones around the fingernails.

In order to create a holistic feeling of wellbeing clients are then given an invigorating scrub followed by a massage of the region (toe to knee for a pedicure, hand to elbow for a manicure) to relieve stress and improve blood circulation.

Nicham’s approach, and the treatments he has created, has earned him a loyal following.

My Posture by Brice Nicham

In an attempt to cure a range of possible strains on key joints, Nicham also offers a postural check-up system already used by many football clubs and tennis leagues around the world.

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How the top golfers have played in the European Senior Tour season so far

Players have been arriving at Constance Belle Mare Plage over the last few days, in readiness for the conclusion of the 2013 European Senior Tour season.

The MCB Tour Championship, which is staged at the resort’s Legends GC, will be the 16th event of the year. Here’s the story of the Road to Mauritius:

The headliner is England’s Paul Wesselingh, who was Rookie of the Year in 2012, and currently leads the Order of Merit after three stunning victories in his second year. He started off with a five-shot win in the ISPS HANDA PGA Seniors Championship in June, added the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open in July and snatched top spot in the money list with victory in last month’s Fubon Senior Open in Taiwan.

Fellow Englishman Simon P Brown has bagged two wins. His first, the Russian Open Senior Golf Championship, came after he recorded a bogey, double bogey and three birdies in a wild final five holes. If that win was rollercoaster-like, his second was an armchair ride, with the final day of the Dutch Senior Open being washed out and Brown crowned champion watching the rain fall in the clubhouse.

Steen Tinning leads Brown in the race to become Rookie of the Year, following victories in the Berenberg Masters in Koln (when he broke the hearts of the locals to defeat Bernhard Langer) and the English Senior Open. The Dane has also competed in this year’s European Ironman Championship, proving the adage that you’re only as old as you feel.

Poolside tee off - Colin Montgomerie entertains the crowds at Constance Belle Mare Plage

Poolside tee off – Colin Montgomerie entertains the crowds at Constance Belle Mare Plage

The majors have been a curious affair. American Kenny Perry made a habit of throwing away major championship wins on the main tour and did so again in May’s US Senior PGA Championship. That allowed the wonderfully named Kohki Idoki to become Japan’s first ever winner of a male major championship.

Perry made amends in June, claiming the US Senior Open Championship, before the Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex witnessed the most remarkable finish of the year. Unheralded American Mark Wiebe defeated Bernhard Langer in a bizarre play-off at Royal Birkdale which started in the dark, was halted in pitch dark and was concluded early next morning.

Of all those mentioned above only Wesselingh had previously claimed victory on this tour and the pattern of maiden winners continued all year. England’s Philip Golding denied home favourite Ian Woosnam in the Speedy Services Wales Senior Open at Royal Porthcawl (host of next year’s Senior Open) and Spain’s Santiago Luna, who once famously defeated Tiger Woods at St Andrews, returned to the old town and left with the SSE Scottish Senior Open trophy.

But the most noteworthy of all was Colin Montgomerie’s first senior win in the Travis Perkins plc Senior Open. Playing on one of his favourite courses, the Duke’s at Woburn, he cruised to a six-shot victory.

There were comeback wins for Gordon Brand Jr in the WINSTONgolf Senior Open (his first for three years) and Australian Peter Fowler in the French Riviera Masters (who hadn’t won since claiming the 2011 Order of Merit).

To launch the week the leading performers hit balls from the poolside at Belle Mare Plage towards the island out at sea. Colin Montgomerie entertained the assembled crowd and they’re hoping he’ll be doing the same in the main event which starts on Friday. Follow #MCBGolf on social media to find out more.

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A-Z of Christmas at Constance

At Constance we’re getting ready for the festive season ahead. You can expect perfect beaches and breathtaking ocean views but we have plenty other treats in store for guests arriving in the coming weeks.

Christmas at Constance - Christmas dinner with a sea view

Christmas at Constance – Christmas dinner with a sea view

Here’s a glimpse of what to expect.

A is for Appetite

Whether you dream of a full Christmas dinner with all the trimmings or a feast of fresh seafood cooked on the grill right in front of you, our world-class chefs will be preparing the perfect festive menu.

B is for Beautiful locations

Spend Christmas day on a white sand beach taking in stunning Indian Ocean views or stroll through verdant, lush tropical gardens at one of our luxury hotels and resorts in the Seychelles, Mauritius, Maldives or Madagascar. Each island has it’s own unique features and beautiful vistas, perfect for a winter getaway.

C is for Cristal

Relax and get on with enjoying your holiday knowing everything is taken care of with our luxury Cristal all-inclusive package at Constance Moofushi and Constance Tsarabanjina.

D is for DJs

Dance under the stars, chill out with friends, or party on the beach and let our resident DJ provide the perfect vibe.

E is for Elegance

From the graceful architecture of high-rafted ceilings and traditional palm thatch to the refined decor using rich woods and polished stone, elegance is the word that best sums up the Constance style.

Golf at Constance Lémuria, Seychelles

Golf at Constance Lémuria, Seychelles

F is for Fisherman’s Day

A traditional festival in the Maldives to celebrate the importance of fishing in the country, Fisherman’s Day is held on 10 December. Enjoy stalls of fresh seafood cooked in traditional Maldivian style accompanied by music and festivities.

G is for Golf

Indulge your passion for golf this Christmas with an idyllic destination complete with its own 18-hole Championship golf course (or two). At Constance Le Prince Maurice and Constance Belle Mare Plage you can enjoy the Links and Legend courses, and watch the action at the MCB Tour Championship. Or play one of the world’s most beautiful golf courses, and the only 18-hole course in the Seychelles, at Constance Lémuria.

H is for Hot Stone Massage

Indulge in this ancient massage technique at the Spa de Constance at Constance Moofushi. A combination of warm essential oils and heated stones glide over vital energy points creating a sensation of deep relaxation.

I is for Indian Ocean

Explore the beauty and rich marine life of the Indian Ocean with the help and advice of our dive centres. Whether you’re a beginner keen to try scuba diving for the first time or an old hand looking for the best local diving spots there is so much to see in the Indian Ocean in December, you won’t be disappointed.

Constance Moofushi, Maldives

Constance Moofushi, Maldives

J is for Join the Party

One of the things all our destination islands have in common is a love for festivities so it’s no surprise that Christmas and New Year are celebrated in the traditional way with plenty of feasting, music and dancing. All our hotels will have their own Christmas parties for families as well as cocktail and beach parties so everyone can join in the fun.

K is for Kids Club

Christmas is an exciting time at the Constance Kids Club with fancy dress parties, decoration and card making, tree decorating and many other festive activities. Keep your eyes open and you might even catch a glimpse of Santa – in previous years he’s even arrived by helicopter.

L is for Luxury Accommodation

Spacious rooms, outdoor spaces, elegant en-suite bathrooms and dedicated seating areas mean that all our accommodation gives you the luxury of space. It’s up to you whether you choose to open your presents in your own suite, in the peaceful seclusion of a beach villa, or with views out across the ocean from a stilted water villa. Or perhaps you’d rather make it a private party for your family and friends in one of our Presidential Villas.

M is for Meditation

Take time out this Christmas to discover your own inner sanctuary with one-to-one meditation sessions. Guest at Constance Lémuria can meet with our yogi and decide whether to enjoy group Sunset Meditation sessions or private lessons for couples or individuals.

Diving at Constance Hotels and Resorts

Diving at Constance Hotels and Resorts

N is for Night Diving

Try something new this Christmas with night dives available at most hotels and resorts. Diving at night is a treat for the senses when the ocean changes to a tranquil bed for many daytime marine species and others come out to hunt. Dive by torchlight and then turn your torch off and watch the phosphorescent plankton dance in the moonlight.

O is for Open-air Movies

Watch festive movies under the stars at Moofushi. Lie on loungers or beanbags on the sand and enjoy a film on the beach while we deliver cocktails or fresh fruit juices and popcorn right to your seat.

P is for Private Dining

Whether you want to enjoy a meal in the privacy of your luxury accommodation or something more memorable, at Constance there are a range of private dining experiences available. Enjoy a candle-lit dinner for two on your own private sandbank at Moofushi. At Constance Halaveli you can enjoy a picnic lunch or candle-lit dinner on your own deserted island. Savour the fruits of the ocean with a fresh lobster prepared in front of you and served at a private table on rocks overlooking the ocean at Constance Tsarabanjina.

Q is for Quick Tension Release

The Quick Tension Release treatment for men at the Shiseido Spa at Constance Ephélia concentrates on the key stress areas of the neck, shoulders and back leaving you to enjoy a totally relaxed, stress-free Christmas.

spa retreats in the Indian Ocean

Tend to the soul body & mind at Constance

R is for Relax

With a high ratio of staff to guests we are here to make sure your holiday is relaxed and stress free. Our friendly, attentive staff are always on hand to ensure you have everything you need for a perfect stay from arranging once-in-a-lifetime excursions to running you a aromatic, candle-lit bath.

S is for Shiseido Spa

Indulge in Oriental-inspired beauty treatments designed to promote a holistic sense of wellbeing at the Shiseido Spas at Constance Belle Mare Plage, Lémuria and Ephélia. Set in secluded, tranquil areas of the resorts’ lush, verdant gardens beside our own Spas de Constance, the Shiseido Spas offer you an oasis of calm in the festive season.

T is for Tennis

Get active for the New Year with a range of sporting activities at Constance. Enjoy a game of tennis with friends at Le Prince Maurice, Belle Mare Plage, Halaveli and Ephélia or start your resolutions early in the fitness suites and gyms at our resorts featuring all the latest equipment.

U is for Ultimate Luxury

For something extra special this Christmas why not indulge in the luxury of one of our Ultimate Hotels. All members of The Leading Hotels of the World group, Le Prince Maurice, Lémuria and Halaveli offer the ultimate in stylish elegance and luxury holidays.

Waterskiing at Constance Hotels and Resorts

Waterskiing at Constance Hotels and Resorts

V is for Valmont Spa

Pamper your skin this Christmas at the Valmont Spa at Halaveli. The Swiss skincare expert specialises in treatments to rejuvenate your skin and restore its youthful glow through a combination of innovative scientific techniques and natural products.

W is for Water Sports

Enjoy a high-octane Christmas with a range of adrenalin-pumping water sports on offer at Constance resorts. Feel the thrill of the wind in your hair and ocean spray on your lips as you water ski, wakeboard, windsurf, kite surf or try your hand at sailing your own catamaran.

X is for ‘X’ Marks the Spot

Enjoy a festive treasure hunt with the whole family around one of our paradise island locations with the Kids’ Club and uncover the hidden treasure.

Y is for Yoga on the Beach

Join fitness guru Isabelle Lamant for morning yoga session on the beach at Le Prince Maurice in Mauritius and revive your body and soul this Christmas. Make your salutation to the sun as it rises over the breath-taking ocean views and feel yourself reconnected to the world you live in.

Z is for Zip Lining

Experience the Seychelles in a completely new way as you zip line through the stunning jungles of Mahé. Get the rush of excitement as you climb the granite rocks of Ephélia before taking on a series of zip lines criss-crossing the breath-taking countryside.

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