When it comes to golf resorts, Asia is truly blessed to be able to boast some of the best in the world. Indeed, it’s not only the quality of the facilities that place the region’s offerings on par with anywhere else but also outstanding service and value for money that makes them so appealing. Whether you’re a couple seeking a romantic weekend away, a family in search of entertainment for mum, dad, and the kids or a group of golfers itching to discover a new and exciting championship course, there’s no shortage of choice, lust considers our suggestions and is dazzled.
The Empire Hotel and Country Club, Brunei Darussalam
The sole beach resort in the kingdom, The Empire Hotel, and Country Club bills itself as “a monument to luxury”. Located 20 minutes from town at the doorstep of one of the oldest rainforests in Southeast Asia, the resort is a one-stop holiday destination, offering 423 rooms, suites, and villas set in a 179.78ha tropical garden estate.
Completed in 1997 and floodlit for night play, the Jack Nicklaus-designed, 18-hole golf course winds its way through the jungle for which Borneo is so well-known, past the grounds of the resort and, on the back nine, alongside Jerudong Beach.
Sitting alongside the South China Sea, The Empire is also home to an impressive country club. Courts for tennis, squash, and badminton are joined by a tenpin bowling center, state-of-the-art gym and lap pool. Then there’s The Spa, where “East Meets West”. An 11,000 square-meter saltwater pool and 50-meter freeform pool, the full range of water sports and a three-screen cinema showing the latest Hollywood blockbusters are also available. For the executive traveler, the hotel has an exclusive E-Club at which guests experience lavish treatment and are specially attended to by a team of professional butlers.
Blue Canyon Country Club, Phuket, Thailand
Cradled in a secluded, verdant valley with the Phang Nga mountains and the Andaman Sea as the backdrop, Blue Canyon Country Club has been described as “the ultimate golf retreat designed by nature”.
Developed in 1988 on 290.88ha on what was formerly a tin mine and rubber plantations, the club’s two outstanding courses (Canyon Course and Lakes Course) have been sculpted around existing canyons and woodlands with minimal interference to the natural landscape. The combination of spectacular and daunting natural hazards together with acres of lakes accentuated by towering trees ensures a golfing experience that is as challenging as it is memorable.
In addition to 35 rooms and suites within the clubhouse, Blue Canyon, twice host to the Johnnie Walker Classic, also offers resort units suitable for families and golfing groups.
Less than 10 minutes’ drive from Phuket International Airport, Blue Canyon runs its own Golf School, while non-golfing amenities include two tennis courts, two swimming pools, two restaurants and The Spa at Blue Canyon. The club will also arrange visits for guests to the Siam Safari elephant camp at Chalong Highlands, including a 45-minute elephant trek and a half-day trip to Rang Yai Island.
Palm Island Resort, Guangzhou, China
Getting in shape has never been less painful than at Palm Island Resort whether you want to iron out any flaws in your golf swing or shed some pounds.
Located in the Hui Yang District in the east side of Guangdong Province and 40 minutes away from the Hongkong border, Palm Island has three excellent nine-hole layouts–respectively named Lychee, Lake, and River designed by Jack Nicklaus Jr. Before tackling the courses, sign up for a lesson at the resort’s Golf Academy, where you can experience the latest technology and coaching techniques with comprehensive training programmes and equipment.
Your well-being does not end there. The latest addition at the resort is Le Spa, a collaboration between Palm Island and La Clinique de Paris, designed with the objective of ensuring that by the time you depart you’re feeling younger and healthier than when you arrived. The menu of treatments is wide, including the interesting Vitality Path programme featuring a Balinese Cappuccino Cream Scrub and Mango Luffa Body Wrap and massage for CNY950 (US$114.92).
There are other activities to keep you occupied, including stargazing, pottery and calligraphy classes, an indoor pool, a garden swimming pool, tennis court, basketball court, gymnasium, sauna, children’s workshop, table tennis, snooker and billiards and a mahjong room. And for companies, holding team-building exercises, war games can be staged to enliven the day’s schedule.
Le Meridien Nirwana Golf & Spa Resort, Bali, Indonesia
Just occasionally, you come across a set with a magical, mystical aura that takes the breath away. Le Meridien Nirwana Golf & Spa Resort is one such memorable place.
Surrounded by emerald rice fields and overlooking the sacred Tanah Lot temple, this sumptuous oceanfront resort is justified in claiming to be “just minutes from town, yet in a world all of its own”. Close to Bali’s main tourist and shopping attractions, the resort incorporates the award-winning Nirwana Bali Golf Club, designed by Greg Norman. Five holes play along with the cliff-tops with waves crashing on the beaches below. Stunning to see and invigorating to play.
From the strikingly traditional architecture to the hand-thatched ceiling of the lobby, the resort captures the very essence of Bali with stone carvings, wood detailing and temples all prominent. Each of the 278 guest rooms and suites features balconies with views of the Indian Ocean, golf course or gardens, while the resort has four swimming pools with an integrated design of water slides, waterfalls, and Jacuzzis. Gymnasium, tennis and squash courts, spa facilities and treatments, the children’s Penguin Club and supervised daily activities, including cycling and Balinese dancing lessons, are also on the agenda.
Ria Bintan Golf Club, Bintan Island, Riau Archipelago, Indonesia
Course architect, Gary Player may well be biased but few would dispute his assertion that “Ria Bintan is among the most beautiful and playable courses in the world.”
A 45-minute high-speed catamaran ride from Singapore, the Indonesian island continues to enhance its reputation as a prime golf and beach getaway with Ria Bintan to the fore.
Overlooking the South China Sea, the 447ha development is set amidst pristine white beaches, clear emerald waters and lush tropical forests. With distinctive characteristics such as steep and deep bunkers, undulating terrain and the natural elements of sea, rock outcrop and tropical forest, the Ocean Course, an award-winning course, is one of the main attractions.
But there’s no shortage of family activities at the nearby 302-room Club Med or the neighboring Bintan Lagoon Resort as well as a wide range of sea sports such as snorkeling, sailing, windsurfing and scuba diving. Asmara Spas offers special treatment menus at Club Med. Other recreational facilities include six tennis courts, two squash courts, a multi-purpose sports hall for badminton, volleyball and basketball and a gym.
Palm Resort Golf & Country Club, Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Smelling the roses is an appropriate tagline for Palm Resort Golf & Country Club. Surrounded by an abundance of landscaped gardens and natural flora, its three golf courses are named Allamanda, Cempaka, and Melati in deference to the type of flower prominently found at each of the layouts.
Less than an hour’s drive from Singapore Via the second link and five minutes from Johor Bahru’s Serial Airport, Palm Resort has plenty of attractions to keep all members of the family entertained. In addition to the 54 holes of golf and extensive practice facilities, there are eight tennis courts, three squash courts, an Olympic-size swimming pool, and a children’s wading pool, a gym, the Balinese Mandara Spa, an eight-lane tenpin bowling alley, billiards, table tennis and a Kids’ Club,
The clubhouse architecture features high volume ceilings, double-tiered pyramidal roofs and has a traditional feel to it of old Malay buildings. Next to the golf courses, amid the 323.2ha area of rolling hills and undulating greens, punctuated by water features and tropical landscapes, is the five-star Sofitel Palm Resort with 330 rooms and suites, each boasting a balcony and ensuite bathrooms.
Mission Hills Resort, Shenzhen, China
You want big? Well, look no further than China’s Mission Hills Resort, incorporating the largest golfing establishment in the world.
With 180 holes open for play, Mission Hills Golf Club was last year accredited as the World’s Largest Golf Club by the Guinness World Records. But that’s only the start of what you’ll find at the sprawling resort in Guanlan Town, close to the burgeoning metropolis of Shenzhen.
In addition to its 1018-hole golf courses, David Leadbetter Golf Academy, two clubhouses and Country Club, Mission Hills boasts a five-star 315-room hotel and a variety of properties alongside the fairways.
Launched in 1994 and located within 30 minutes of Hongkong, Mission Hills represents a US$4 billion multi-facet investment project and a nationally recognized AAAA-rated tourism resort.
The myriad of non-golfing activities is headed by the largest tennis facility in Asia (51 courts), two swimming pools, squash, badminton and basketball courts, table tennis and billiards. One of the centerpieces of the Country Club is the luxurious Spa La Quinta, while the Playworld is the largest outdoor play system in China. The Kids’ Club schedules a wide range of activities at weekends and throughout the school holidays.