Let me start by offering you a flavour of what we have here at Moscow Country Club – the most recent addition to the European Tour Properties network.
Moscow Country Club is the oldest golf club in Russia, with a Robert Trent Jones, Jr layout, which provides visitors with an unforgettable experience to play golf in the middle of a sprawling Russian forest just 30 kilometres from the heart of Moscow.
The wider resort spans 120 hectares and features a recently renovated 5-star hotel, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a sports complex with traditional Russian bath, Turkish bath (hamam) and sauna (banya); guests can also choose from 8 different restaurants and bars.
Golf and the city
Although there can be negativity in the some of the international press surrounding Russia, Moscow is a genuine must-visit destination. The culture is deep and rich, the history fascinating, and the architecture simply breath-taking, from the Kremlin to the Bolshoi Theatre and everything in between.
Our proximity to Moscow city centre is a real draw for visitors, and we try to communicate that as effectively as we can. They can combine a city break – enjoying all that Moscow has to offer, with the opportunity to relax and indulge in the authentic natural environment of our estate.
We acknowledge the unique heritage of Moscow at our resort in a number of ways, including giving guests the option to stay in a ‘dacha’ – a traditional wooden cottage with a warm and homely atmosphere.
An outstanding course
As for the golf course, this is really the jewel in the crown of Moscow Country Club. With meandering, tree-lined fairways and exquisitely-framed greens, our course immerses and connects our guests to the beautiful Russian countryside. For many, this beauty is unexpected and, we feel, one of the many reasons people keep returning to the resort.
But while we are in tune with the importance of giving our guests the kind of experience that will encourage them to come back year-on-year, there is also a need to appeal to a new wave of customers – and that’s where tournament hosting comes in.
The hosts with the most
We frequently host different international events, including professional golf tournaments. From 1995, Moscow Country Club has hosted European Tour tournaments almost every year. This year, we hosted the VTB Russian Open Golf Championship on the Staysure Tour, with a prize fund of $500,000.
Hosting such tournaments gives all the team here an enormous sense of pride. The feedback from players, particularly this year, was outstanding, but we understand the benefits of tournament hosting are far wider reaching. It instils confidence in prospective customers that the golfing experience here at Moscow Country Club is of a top-class tournament standard.
As it stands, China, Finland and Germany are the biggest markets for incoming tourism to Russia. And while we expect these markets to be key drivers for tourism in the years to come, we are also looking further afield – because it appears perceptions are beginning to change…
The FIFA World Cup, held in Russia this year, has had a huge impact, bringing well over 3 million foreign tourist visits over the course of the tournament. A number of visitors expressed surprise at the level of organisation of the event, the rich cultural and historical heritage, and the hospitality of Russian people. Following the tournament, Russian tour operators were predicting a significant increase in inbound tourism – particularly from Asia and Europe – which shows that, for some at least, perceptions of Russia have been altered.
It’s for this reason we are branching out, targeting more countries in Asia and northern Europe going into 2019, and this is where we will benefit from the added exposure and credibility that comes with being part of the European Tour Properties network.
We know we need to appeal to a more global audience, and in order to do this too we also understand the need to develop the range of products that tour operators can offer. Already we are linking with well-known tourist attractions (and some lesser-known too) in Moscow, and have lined up partnerships in Saint Petersburg so that visitors can explore two major Russian cities and experience the golf on offer in each.
Next year is set to be a big year for us at Moscow Country Club; with this shift in strategy promising to deliver a greater, more diverse customer base and position Moscow Country Club in the minds of golf travellers all around the world – and this is an objective everyone here is united behind.