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Adapting to thrive

6th May 2021
Safety measures have been a necessary fixture at resorts over the past year. And while they are critical to safeguard the health of residents and visitors, implementing measures while maintaining service excellence can be challenging. London Golf Club’s CEO, Stephen Follett, tells us how his venue has risen to the challenge and what measures they have put in place to uphold and even surpass expected levels of service.

The secrets of golf’s real estate success

6th May 2021
Rising demand for green spaces and safe investment havens has drawn buyers to golf real estate in recent months. But what are world-class destinations doing to ensure buyers choose them over their competitors? Real Estate Consultant Sandra Ruttle takes a closer look at three very different European Tour Destinations. As many resorts are still left wondering when they can expect international visitors to return, one opportunity has shone brightly during an otherwise dark and challenging pandemic: real estate. The shift towards a deeper appreciation for health and wellbeing, in addition to a new-found desire for spacious outdoor environments, has created a perfect storm. Enquiries are up; investment has increased; and as buyers continue to look for a safe haven (both financial and environmental), property values are likely to trend upwards. But these buyers are discerning and selective. They are looking for an investment that fits what is (now) important to them; green spaces; wellness; flexible space, and much more. Three of our venues, in particular, have excelled in developing and positioning their product to meet buyer wants and needs. Let’s find out more about their formula for success… Terre Blanche, in the south of France, has put investment in infrastructure at the heart of its strategy. Investment has underpinned its success, allowing it to continuously evolve and consistently offer the best products and services since it opened in 2004. This has helped maintain its status as the #1 golf resort in Continental Europe (Golf World). Terre Blanche’s wellness amenities and services appeal to the whole family, from the kids’ club to the Albatros Golf Performance Centre – the only facility of its kind in Europe – with its biomechanics centre. It is a natural oasis, a private retreat away from urban centres, perfectly blending wellness in nature with world-class luxury. The resort has always stayed true to a philosophy of sustainability, using the latest design, technology and construction to optimise the sustainability of homes while minimising environmental impact across the estate. As well as the ecologically rich landscape of its two stunning golf courses, resource-efficient technology across the resort is a big draw for prospective buyers. Terre Blanche has also ensured it is perfectly set up for remote working, with amenities such as a business centre and high-speed wifi throughout the resort and its homes. The investment in this infrastructure has proved particularly shrewd, with working remotely likely here to stay and increasing numbers of buyers making this kind of technology a must-have. While France has long been hugely popular for golf real estate, Bulgaria is just emerging. Pirin Golf and Country Club in the south-west of the country has an unexpected wow factor, with green spaces, clean air and mountain views that buyers fall in love with. The 150-hectare resort, which features two golf courses, a 5,500m² spa and a 5-star hotel, is striking a real sweet spot in offering quality homes, affordable prices and a naturally beautiful location. It has a supermarket, eight restaurants and a dentist, and property

‘Slow-living’: the trend golf resorts should really care about

6th May 2021
The pandemic has resulted in more of us adopting digital technology to enhance our day-to-day lives. But a curious and contrasting trend has emerged alongside it: ‘slow-living’. What is it, and how might it impact customer’s needs and wants as golf travel begins to make a comeback? We take a look. The seismic impact of the pandemic is already reshaping how consumers think and feel. What were once viewed as temporary changes, be it working, shopping or social habits, are beginning to look like more permanent shifts. One of the latest is the concept of slow-living. As people’s lives have been put in lockdown, our busy, pacey lifestyles have been put on hold and given us pause for reflection and appreciation, sometimes in seemingly mundane tasks. YouTube has reported a 4X increase in videos with the title ‘slow-living’ in 2020 compared to 2019, which suggests many of us were looking for new hobbies or pursuits that we’d previously dismissed as too time consuming. It is therefore perhaps unsurprising to see that golf enjoyed a global resurgence over the last year. More than golf While golf is a staple that resorts can have a great deal of confidence in, as we look forward, there may be other aspects of slow-living that can enhance the ‘new normal’ experience. Themes of wellness, escapism, mindfulness and achievement are of particular importance. Does your resort provide services or amenities that appeal to these senses? Does it showcase wildlife and connection with nature? It might be time to reconsider the importance of these aspects and/or how fundamental a role they play in the customer experience. Selling slow-living As the world opens up, and golf tourism makes a long-awaited return, resorts will turn their attention to attracting new customers and reconnecting with dormant ones. Before embarking on the same tactics as before to do this, don’t dismiss the exponential growth in slow-living and the role it could play in an effective content strategy. Whether you film a culinary experience video with the head chef, a wildlife walk in the woods, or a yoga class with the on-site instructor, this authentic, aspirational content that celebrates the serenity and slow-living credentials your resort has to offer could be a strong asset and timely differentiator. Are the trends here to stay? It stands to reason that during a time of unpredictability and widespread anxiety, people gravitate towards stability, nostalgia and content that helps slow things down and makes them feel safe. While this may dissipate over time as things recover, YouTube data points to significant value in slow-living in the short and medium term. And this represents a welcome opportunity for golf resorts to not only re-establish themselves on a commercial level, but understand and appeal to these trends and forge deeper, long-term relationships with their customers.

Strategic tournament hosting

6th May 2021
When pandemic-related forces interrupted the recent European Tour schedule, Austria’s Diamond Country Club stepped in at short notice to host the Austrian Golf Open. Its President, Christian Guzy, explains why the opportunity came at the right time for the established tournament venue.

London Golf Club to host 2021 English Open

6th May 2021
London Golf Club will host a European Tour event for the first time since 2014 when the English Open marks the fourth and final event of the 2021 UK Swing from August 12-15. The Jack Nicklaus-designed Heritage Course at London Golf Club, a European Tour Destination, will play host to the historic national open for the first time. London Golf Club boasts a rich history of hosting elite professional events, beginning in 2008 with the first of two back-to-back editions of the European Open at the Kent venue. Home favourite Ross Fisher emerged victorious in their first hosting of the prestigious tournament, overcoming Sergio Garcia by seven shots. Frenchman Christian Cévaër claimed the 2009 European Open on the Heritage Course, beating a star-studded field which included former World Number Ones Martin Kaymer, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood. In 2014, London Golf Club’s International Course hosted the Volvo World Match Play where Finn Mikko Ilonen triumphed over his Scandinavian counterpart, Henrik Stenson of Sweden, in the final on a 3&1 scoreline. It has also been a popular stop on the Legends Tour in years past, hosting the 2018 and 2019 editions of the Staysure PGA Seniors Championship – won by Philip Golding and Phillip Price respectively. “We are delighted to be returning to London Golf Club later this year for the English Open,” said Keith Pelley, Chief Executive Officer of the European Tour. “We have enjoyed a long-standing relationship with the club, which was strengthened further when it became our very first European Tour Destination in 2010. “The London Club has been a popular venue among our players in the past and I am sure will be again in August for the final tournament of our UK Swing, following the preceding events in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.” Stephen Follett, Chief Executive of London Golf Club: “The entire team at London Golf Club are delighted to be hosting the English Open this year on our Heritage Course. Our courses have played host to many events throughout our club’s history, and we look forward to testing the Heritage against some of the best players in the game. It will be a joy to welcome everyone in August for what will certainly be a great show of championship golf.”

London Golf Club launch Junior Development Programme ‘The London Cubs’

6th April 2021
London Golf Club are excited to continue developing their Academy and are delighted to introduce a new junior coaching programme to give children the opportunity to gain fantastic golf skills, build social networks, and develop their physical and mental health in a safe environment. Using specific training programmes designed to build skill, strength, and fitness, London Golf Club will develop the next generation of golfers. The juniors have been aptly nicknamed the London Cubs as a tribute to the course designer Jack Nicklaus, the Golden Bear. Throughout the school term, each class will focus on the key areas of golf whilst incorporating games or other activities to compliment the learning experience and allow the children to have fun at the same time. Juniors will hone their skills over the course of six school terms and will be rewarded and recognised for their improvement and progress at an end of term awards presentation. Assistant PGA Professional Lewis Matthews, together with Head PGA Professional Paul Stuart, will monitor individual development with the goal of providing each pupil with their own roadmap to becoming a well-rounded golfer. It is the hope of the venue that throughout this programme the children will gain invaluable social and sporting skills, whilst at the same time aiding their mental and physical well-being. As the juniors grow in their ability and age, they will be encouraged to join the newly introduced academy membership category, which will allow them to participate within the Kent County teams. This programme will be introduced exclusively to existing members of London Golf Club, giving their children a fantastic opportunity to learn the fundamentals of golf and to eventually play alongside their parents enjoying the many benefits golf has to offer. Following a successful roll-out to membership, the LGC Academy will be eager to introduce the programme into the local area surrounding the club.

Two of Europe’s top resorts extend their partnership with European Tour Destinations

26th March 2021
PGA Catalunya Resort in Spain and Portugal’s Quinta do Lago have both renewed their long-standing partnership with European Tour Destinations, allowing them to continue to benefit from the expertise provided with an alliance with the European Tour. Set in a stunning landscape against a breath-taking mountainous backdrop, PGA Catalunya was recently voted in the top 3 golf resorts in Continental Europe and number 1 in Spain by Golf World magazine.  Located just an hour from both Barcelona and the French border and 20 minutes from the historic city of Girona, the resort has experienced a surge in demand as it leads the way in physical and emotional wellbeing initiatives. The Wellness Centre due to open in April, will further cement the resort’s position as a leading golf and wellness destination, offering next-generation therapies alongside traditional, natural treatments and rituals. PGA Catalunya is renowned for its two golf courses, the Stadium and the Tour, which regularly feature at the top of any golf rankings and is also home to 5* Hotel Camiral, four restaurants, outstanding practice facilities at the Golf Hub plus real estate opportunities ideally situated within the courses. David Plana, CEO of PGA Catalunya Resort said, ““Our longstanding relationship with European Tour Destinations is a stamp of approval and an assurance of the tournament quality experiences home buyers and hotel guests can expect on our two world class golf courses, at The Golf Hub and across the resort.  “The opening of our new Wellness Centre in April will further enhance the experiences on offer and underlines our focus on the physical and emotional wellbeing of residents and customers. Our vision is to become one of the world’s leading golf and wellness destinations and our partnership with European Tour Destinations remains an important factor in our ongoing and future success.” Bordering the Atlantic Ocean and the picturesque Ria Formosa Natural Park, on Portugal’s Algarve coast, Quinta do Lago is a multi award-winning venue recognised the world over, with all three championship golf courses consistently voted in the Top 100 Courses in Continental Europe by Golf World magazine.  Investment in the resort is a key focus at Quinta do Lago both on and off the golf courses.  The North Course had a total redesign in 2014, while the South Course is currently undergoing a €7 million investment in collaboration with GEO Foundation to ensure sustainability and reduce environmental impact, which will see it reopen in September 2021.  The golf courses are complimented by impressive practice facilities including the Paul McGinley Golf Academy.  Off course, The Campus is a state-of-the art performance and innovation environment that attracts both the top athletes in the world as well as sports enthusiasts of all ages and abilities.  The resort also offers twelve different dining opportunities and the stylish, boutique Magnolia Hotel, in addition to the range of luxury real estate developments that surround the courses. Ian Knox, Head of Operations at European Tour Destinations, said: “It has been a busy start to 2021 and we are

Austrian Golf Open added to 2021 European Tour schedule

23rd March 2021
The European Tour today announced the Austrian Golf Open will be played at Diamond Country Club in Atzenbrugg from April 15-18, 2021. The tournament returns to the European Tour’s schedule after last being played in July 2020 when it marked the Tour’s resumption following a three month suspension in the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Austrian Golf Open, which has a prize fund of €1million, moves into the date vacated by the Tenerife Open at Golf Costa Adeje, which will now take place from April 29 – May 2 following the postponement on Friday of the Portugal Masters at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course, in Vilamoura, due to ongoing travel difficulties.  Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “Throughout the pandemic, we have had to be agile with our scheduling and today’s announcement is another example of that.  “We are naturally grateful to Diamond Country Club and the Austrian Golf Federation for once again helping us to continue to provide a full schedule and playing opportunities for our members. “Diamond Country Club is obviously a venue that we know very well, and we look forward to returning there next month.” Dr. Peter Enzinger, President of the Austrian Golf Federation, said: “We are very proud that the European Tour has, once again, chosen Austria to host a European Tour event and that the Austrian Golf Federation is able to contribute. “The Covid-19 pandemic continues to pose major challenges for international sporting bodies, but in spite of this, working together with our partners in the Federal Ministry of Sport, we have been able to provide all the necessary information, in a very short space of time, to the European Tour making their decision much easier. “Diamond Country Club in Atzenbrugg has distinguished itself many times as an excellent host already and we are very happy that Europe’s elite will be teeing off again this year in the region of Lower Austria. Obviously, the tournament will go ahead in compliance with the strictest Covid-19 prevention measures, but they will definitely not detract from the delight of the game of golf at its best.” Christian Guzy, President of Diamond Country Club, said: “Our long-standing collaboration with the European Tour stems from, and is based on, mutual trust, especially given the difficult circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Last year, along with the European Tour, we showed courage in hosting the first European Tour tournament of the COVID-era, a challenge we mastered beyond expectations. “With this year’s tournament, we hope to once again showcase golf in Austria and use the international media presence to support local tourism as the summer season is nearing. “I am grateful to the everyone at the Austrian Golf Federation and the Ministry for allowing us to represent our country internationally. Of course, we are also grateful to everyone else who has made it possible to organise the 2021 Austrian Golf Open within such a tight timeframe.” The Austrian Golf Open was first played on the European
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