Sarah Stirk is best known for her broadcasting career, who many will recognise from her appearances and commentary on Sky Sports Golf. However, Sarah is also an astute business lady and is now also an ambassador for the prestigious One Green Way in the Algarve’s Quinta do Lago. The Luxury Editor’s Ross recently had the pleasure of Sarah’s company when he visited the high-end resort. Fascinated by her story, Ross thought our readers would enjoy it too. Read on to discover more.
Please tell us more about where / how your love of sport, and in particular golf, developed.
It really started through my uncle, who luckily for us was living in one of the properties across from the Gleneagles estate in Scotland. He is a keen golfer and so this was a dream destination for a young girl starting to take up golf. Over the years, we spent lots of family holidays up there and I got the golf bug! I also fell in love with Scotland. As a teenager, I was already playing high-level national tennis for Yorkshire County. Golf requires good coordination, so it was easy for me to add golf to my sporting interests alongside tennis. It is also very addictive, so I would go to Scotland as often as I could and play. Later on, I got a summer job at Gleneagles and got more and more into the game. When I was 15, I was injured playing tennis and gradually came to realise that golf could replace tennis in my life, which eventually I could no longer play at a competitive level.
Not many people are able to combine their passion with their profession – which you have successfully done in different capacities, from a well-reputed sports commentator to a successful business owner and a golf ambassador. Please tell us more about your professional journey so far.
When my tennis career finally ended, I was actually on a tennis scholarship in the States. So, I thought, what is the next best thing for me? I decided on the media, which turned out to be an amazing career choice. I started off writing for my university newspaper in the States and that was pretty much the start it. Having had work experience at Sky and the BBC, after university I got a job at the football channel Manchester United TV. The next few years were spent building my career in the sporting world, working firstly for the BBC in the Midlands and then Setanta, where I learned a lot about the game of golf. Finally, I moved to Sky News to cover sports and then Sky Sports to cover golf. The media is a very competitive, challenging industry but I made it my goal and worked my way up to achieve my dream. I’ve now been at Sky Sports for 11 years on the golf team.
Ross met you on a recent trip to Quinta do Lago, an exclusive destination and golfers’ haven. How long have you been visiting the resort and how has it evolved over the years?
As a big golf destination I’ve been going to the Algarve for the last 15-20 years on work assignments and tv shoots, mainly to the neighbouring resort of Vilamoura, but in recent years I found Quinta do Lago and began spending more and more time there. For me, Quinta do Lago really stands out from any other destination – first and foremost as a great destination for golfers, but secondly, because I love Portugal, and the Portuguese people are exceptionally friendly and courteous. Quinta do Lago has a reputation as being a very exclusive resort full of lovely restaurants and places to go, but it is also welcoming and very much a family destination. So now that I’m a mum, it’s even more special to me.
I would say that the quality of its offer and levels of service have increased year on year. It’s very lively and from a lifestyle perspective, I can do lots of the recreational things I love such as paddleboarding, padel tennis – which I’ve really got into – swimming and bike riding. If you enjoy sports and fitness, The Campus is unbeatable. The range and quality of its restaurants have also made it the go-to place in the Algarve. Quinta do Lago isn’t gated but it feels like it is. I really don’t think there is anywhere like it in the world.
Quinta do Lago boasts multiple courses which are among the best in Europe, and are complemented by world-class golf facilities – tell us more about the golf scene here and please share your top tip for a first-time visitor to Quinta do Lago?
There are five courses in Quinta do Lago, three of which are owned and managed by the Quinta do Lago resort. Laranjal is a ten-minute drive from the resort, very picturesque and surrounded by pretty orange trees. The North and South courses, which are the most famous, are right in the hub of Quinta do Lago. When you play on the North and South courses it feels very exclusive and special as you are unbelievably central with parking just over the road from the courses, and a beautiful Clubhouse to relax in when you’ve finished playing. Both the North and South courses are beautiful, undulating courses to play with fabulous houses to look at on both courses, but for me the South course is just that bit harder and so more of a personal challenge.
As a top tip, I would highly recommend lunch at one of my absolute favourites, Casa do Lago, followed by an afternoon on the beach beds by the Lake. The Shack is a great beach bar and provides a full drinks service at your bed. You can then either spend the afternoon lazing around or find time for some water sports and one of my favourite activities which is padel boarding, followed by a couple of cocktails. Or take a bicycle ride or walk following the nature trails of the Ria Formosa Natural Park along the boardwalks. Whatever you choose, I guarantee it will give you a complete sense of calm.
One Green Way, is a new and exceptional luxury residential development in the exclusive resort, please tell us more about the development and your role as an ambassador.
One Green Way is a new luxury residential gated development comprising 89 contemporary Mediterranean-style residences, due to be completed in 2024. As the last significant development in Quinta do Lago, it is attracting a lot of interest among buyers and investors. Situated near the amenities of Quinta Shopping and on the 12th hole of the North course, the location is hard to beat, and once it’s finished the whole development will be beautifully landscaped with mature Mediterranean mature planting, lots of shady trees and a magnificent water feature.
The residences have been designed by a very well-known local architect with a lot of experience of working in Quinta do Lago to make the most of the Algarve’s wonderfully sunny climate and let in the maximum amount of light. Indoor-outdoor living is a big feature of all the properties, which have their own gardens or rooftop terraces, pools and shaded areas for entertaining and dining. On top of that, One Green Way will have its own facilities entirely for the use of its residents, including a communal swimming pool with plenty of seating and beds, a Clubhouse, bar and restaurant, business centre, fitness centre and yoga studio, 5 TrackMan golf bays to practice your swing, a secure kid’s play area, a rubber running track around the perimeter and a beauty salon.
When you buy a property at One Green Way, it automatically gives you access to all the five-star facilities of Quinta do Lago, including The Campus.
Basically, everything you might want right from a luxury development will be there!
Because I love Quinta do Lago and I have had an affinity with it for so long, it’s easy for me to sing its praises. It’s also very personal to me as I actually own a property in Quinta do Lago and see the value in investing in the resort. So, I am completely comfortable promoting its lifestyle and want to tell people around the world how special it is. Quinta do Lago is also very easy to get to, which makes time spent here all the more relaxing. With just a 2.5-hour flight from London, I can hop in a taxi and 20 minutes later I’m in Quinta do Lago – and in the same time zone as the UK which is incredibly convenient if you’re either working or have friends and family in the UK.
The property market in the area is booming, with an impressive array of luxurious homes and villas – how does One Green Way differ from other resorts and developments in the Algarve?
In an already top-quality resort, One Green Way is setting the bar for Quinta do Lago living and will easily be the number one address. Located within Quinta do Lago, a beautiful protected nature reserve with striking wetland scenery, the new development is completely at the heart of where you want to be – within easy walking distance of Quinta shopping, with its attractive shops, restaurants and bars, but also right there on the North course, with its lovely views and easy access to the golf course. On top of this, residents of One Green Way will have their own communal facilities and services on their doorstep, all of which will be managed by Quinta do Lago Real Estate, the acknowledged experts in the area, who will provide five-star property management of all the residences, including maid service, landscaping and security, as well as managing the facilities in the development.
The One Green Way Pro-Am Invitational also sets the development apart from any others in the Algarve. This is a very special ‘invitation-only’ event that brings together male and female top professionals to compete for a prize of €332,000 and play alongside amateur guest players. No other tournament brings together male and female legends of the game to compete in this way, so the event is very rare. By staging this event, One Green Way not only demonstrates the commitment to quality that runs through the whole development but provides an unforgettable experience for everyone who takes part.
Back to golf, what is your handicap and if you could play a round with anyone who would it be and where would it be?
When I was playing a lot of golf my lowest handicap was six. I’m probably a 12 at the minute because I don’t get to play as much as I used to. If I could play a round with anyone it would be Tiger Woods – just because! In my eyes, he is the greatest golfer of all time.
Luxury is highly subjective, what does it mean to you?
These days it means spending time with my baby son. With so many competing demands on my time, it can be difficult to be fully ‘present’ but being in Quinta do Lago in beautiful surroundings, doing things I love makes it much easier and really is the meaning of true luxury to me.
Finally, what is your life motto?
My big thing has always been life is ten per cent what happens to you and 90 per cent how you react to it. I am a big believer that by changing our attitude, we can make ourselves healthier, happier and more successful.
The Luxury Editor met Sarah Stirk on a recent trip to discover more about One Green Way, 89 serviced state-of-the-art residences currently being built at Quinta Do Lago.