Golf breaks at the some of the world’s best five-star golf resorts have become more affordable than ever, with a plethora of Ryder Cup venues, major championship courses and world famous golf and spa destinations now offering extraordinary rates, if only for limited periods of the year, allowing us all to sample golf at its best. But there are resorts out there with such hefty reputations you’ll always have to pay a huge premium.
Frankly, many aren’t worth breaking the bank for, but there are a select few destinations that we’d consider trading in our car, mortgage, PC, job, wives or husbands for that matter, in order to experience their unique levels of luxury, service and the phenomenal golf courses just the once. If the world’s best golf courses and five star luxury appeals to you then read on…
California, United States
The Resort at Pelican Hill can only described as extraordinary. Located in Southern California, between the exclusive communities of Laguna Beach and Newport Beach, it’s blessed with expansive views of the Pacific Ocean and over 340 days of sunshine every year. It’s a short drive to the art galleries and festivals of Laguna Beach and to Crystal Cove Beach, which features surfing, sunbathing, walking trails and three miles of pristine sands.
Spoiling guests rotten is obviously part of the agenda – there are world-class restaurants in classic al fresco settings, a luxurious Spa and 36 holes of brilliant golf designed by Tom Fazio, plus 18 holes at nearby Oak Creek Golf Club to enjoy – but it’s the ambience that makes Pelican Hill so special. The relaxed sumptuousness takes inspiration from 16th century Italian architect Andrea Palladio, best known for his grand homes across the Venetian countryside. Like the Mediterranean, the sun-drenched climate of Southern California allows for indoor spaces to open up to the outdoors and panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.
Pelican Hill’s Bungalows feature limestone fireplaces, private ocean-view terraces, hand-hewn wood beam ceilings and marble baths. The Villas are even more seductive, set in an exclusive, gated enclave, with private clubhouse and pool, butler service and dedicated staff. In our opinion, they’re worth every penny.
Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
This resort might sound like a dangerous place to visit, but we can guarantee you’ll be safe and sound at Cape Kidnappers which is set in 6,000 rolling acres of beautiful land in New Zealand’s stunning Hawke’s Bay area. You might wish you were being held hostage, though, when you see the golf course. Designed by legendary golf architect Tom Doak, this par-71 track of 7,119 yards is set on cliffs overlooking the Pacific, and has been hailed as one of the great modern marvels in golf, consistently rated in the world’s top-50 courses.
In many ways Cape Kidnappers offers a New Zealand style take on luxury, with the great outdoors setting the tone. The 5-star lodge accommodations are designed along a farming homestead theme, there are lots of rugged outdoor activities, such as farm tours, walking trails, quad biking, mountain biking and trout fishing, to name a few, and the Luxury Spa sits on a hillside, above the Lodge, with outstanding vistas of the sapphire ocean. The Spa treatments are comprehensive and couples can enjoy some serious indulgence together in the Spa Suite.
Balancing all this is the most civilised of dining experiences. The eating spaces at Cape Kidnappers, a member of Relais & Chateaux collection of the finest hotels and gourmet restaurants in the world, each have unique features. Choose from the Wine Cellar, the Loggia, the small dining room, or the Snug for special occasions, where fine cuisine is prepared by award-winning chefs, including the finest New Zealand lamb and beef and the best local produce and seafood.
French Riviera, France
When you’re blessed with a region that enthralled the likes of Cezanne and Van Gogh, you have a great platform for creating one of the world’s finest golfing retreats. The hotel certainly takes advantage of this paradisiacal region’s stunning natural advantages creating a resort at Terre Blanche, located in the hills behind Cannes.
The sun-kissed slopes are home to richly opulent self-contained executive suites and free-standing villas, set within a series of intimate one- and two-storey buildings. The generously sized accommodations show their Provencal spirit with natural wood and stone finishes. All offer separate living rooms and bedrooms with contemporary, comfortable furnishings, and captivating views of the hillsides from a private terrace.
The two 18-hole, par-72 championship courses – Le Riou and Le Château – designed by golf legend Dave Thomas – are sublime and make the most of the lush hills and valleys. Together with a world class golf academy, Michelin-starred dining, and an ultra-stylish Spa set within a majestic hillside villa, this really is a resort that once visited will never be forgotten.
California, United States
If your requirements stretch to stratospheric levels of luxury and a legendary Major Championship course, you’ll be a hard punter to please indeed – but don’t despair. There are few golfing thrills like teeing-up for the first time on Pebble Beach Golf Links in California. You really sense the presence of golf’s biggest legends here, especially from the many dramatic US Opens its witnessed – Tom Watson chipping in at 17 to deny Jack Nicklaus back in ’82, or Tiger taking the golfing world by storm with a 15-shot winning margin in 2000.
Designed by Jack Neville and Douglas Grant back in 1919, the links hugs the rugged coastline, providing wide-open vistas, cliffside fairways where you can feel the ocean spray and hazardous sloping greens. You can combine Pebble Beach with rounds at The Links at Spanish Bay, a challenging Scottish links-style course, and the wonderful Spyglass Hill, which many locals consider to be the toughest course on the Monterey Peninsula. Guests of The Lodge at Pebble Beach, The Inn at Spanish Bay and Casa Palmero enjoy special booking privileges for these courses.
The Lodge, in particular, offers fantastic personal service and has been a legendary haven for discerning clients since the ‘Roaring Twenties’. It hugs Pebble Beach’s 18th green, providing glorious views and engendering a golf-rich atmosphere that is almost unrivalled. The Old Course Hotel overlooking the Road Hole on the St Andrews Old Course is one of the very few that can claim to be in the same bracket, it really is that good.
There aren’t many resorts that can claim to have it all, but Le Touessrok, surely, is one of them. Truly wonderful scenery, fantastic climate, pristine beaches, superb food, world class golf course, and rooms and grounds that are second to none are the main attractions. The resort is set on a beautiful stretch of white-sand coastline overlooking the tranquil Trou d’Eau Douce Bay in Mauritius.
Across the water are the resort’s two islands – Ile aux Cerfs, with its spectacular championship golf course designed by Bernard Langer, and Ilot Mangénie, an island retreat exclusive to guests, both a short ride away by private boat. The course, as you’d expect, is exquisite. With four sets of tees for each hole it is suitable for all standards of player and its generous fairways and small, undulating greens allows it to entertain as well as challenge. However, it’s the overall experience of staying here that will stay with you long after you’ve left, and particularly the levels of service.
Le Touessrok seems to get it just right, down to the last detail. During your round, for instance, you’ll be served water and fruit kebabs every five holes or so. The Langer Bar and Grill on the island is exceptional and can be charged to your room. The Givenchy Spa is fabulous, as are the tennis courts and the kids club. The Saffron restaurant is deservedly renowned; the pools are stunning and temperature-controlled. Leaving won’t be easy, but the resort staff have, typically, done what they can to take the sting out of it a little by offering a packing service on the last evening. They really do think of everything.