Fairways From Heaven – “The Ultimate Golf Lifestyle”

Club Leisure Group’s Golf Resorts Club
Club Leisure Group’s stable of specialised vacation clubs provides accommodation in hotels, self-catering apartments, chalets, game parks and luxury cruising…and golf. Fiona Klonarides takes a look at South Africa’s largest Vacation Club developer and discovers what makes Club Leisure Group’s high end fractional Golf Resorts Club so unique – and why it hits a hole in one.

If you want to know why South Africa is growing as a tourist destination just ask Stuart Lamont, President and CEO of the country’s leading vacation ownership specialists, Club Leisure Group.

Lamont will tell you that South Africa has the world’s largest deposits of gold, chromium, platinum and manganese; that South African Breweries is the second largest brewing company in the world (supplying China with 50% of its beer annually); and that Durban is the largest port in Africa (the ninth largest in the world). The list goes on.

Also impressive are the figures behind the company he runs, Club Leisure Group. The Pretoria-born property developer joined Club Leisure Group in 1994 and with a handpicked team driving the company’s concerted vision, CLG now has inventory in more than 150 resorts, serving 200,000 members and employing 2,500 personnel. It has offices around the globe, in London, Brussels, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Australia’s Gold Coast and Swaziland, as well as more than 40 marketing outlets throughout Southern Africa.

The CLG story goes back to 1990. Thanks to his ability to accurately assess market trends, one of the founders of Flexi Holiday Club, Tony Ridl, was already maximising emerging market opportunities early on. Almost twenty-two years later he still plays a pivotal role in designing, developing and launching innovative products and services (in 11 different languages) to ensure CLG’s international members enjoy the highest quality holidays in quite spectacular South African destinations.

Taking the golf holiday experience to a whole new level
There are spectacular locations aplenty within the Golf Resorts Club portfolio. Clubs that resemble exclusive country estates dot the GRC website’s golf map, stretching from the Western Cape up to Limpopo. Set in endless private hectares, next to nature reserves, huge lagoons, sweeping coastlines or flanked by the Drakensberg Mountains, many of them make Europe’s more compact resorts look rather tiny. [member]

The club gives members the opportunity to play gold standard courses at significantly lower cost. It’s the first of its kind in the country, conceived to provide members with a lifetime golf holiday ownership and all the advantages of resort ownership that come with that, but minus the sky high fees that accompany the privilege of playing and staying at top class clubs.

To fulfil their expectations and meet their ever-changing needs, CLG members are able to select a new variety of holiday options every year. Stuart Lamont, the Group’s Executive Chairman, says, “Understanding that our members’ holiday aspirations are ever changing is vital to the sustainability of our business. We will continue to innovate and develop new and exciting leisure products to embrace the ever changing needs of the consumer.”

The four properties that Golf Resorts Club launched with in 1993 have grown into a portfolio valued at R100 million (in terms of sterling, it’s approaching the £9 million mark). GRC’s aim is to offer an innovative and exciting alternative to golfers through the 23 private golf estates which make up the Club’s fractional golf membership. The Club has seen a rise in the number of British and German players joining, making GRC the first South Africa Vacation Ownership product with a growing international membership base.

The Club is designed for both individuals and corporate members – beautifully-appointed and fully serviced golf villas which cater up to six (and come complete with golf buggy) are ideal for family vacations and also lend themselves well to business client entertaining.

The homes are managed by First Resorts, a division owned by Club Leisure Group, one of the largest vacation ownership resort management companies in the world, providing added peace of mind for a smooth guest experience.

Arabella Golf Estate at the Arabella Western Cape Hotel & Spa near Hermanus
Take the five star Arabella Golf Estate at the Arabella Western Cape Hotel & Spa. If the name is familiar to international guests it’s because the contemporary African interior-designed suites and world class golf course have made the pages of the glossy travel magazines. The hotel is part of the prestigious Starwood Resorts brand, it’s one of the top luxury resorts in South Africa – here’s why…

Nestled in 112 private hectares right in the lap of a coastal amphitheatre brimming with natural beauty, the views from the private terraces are of the largest natural lagoon in Africa and the golf course. The philosophy is “the art of slow” – soaking up the scenery and relaxing are the name of the game at Arabella.

There are a few reasons why this resort is special. One hundred kilometres from the southern-most tip of South Africa, Arabella Estate lies within the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve. Its’ surrounded by the Cape Floral Kingdom, which for those not familiar with the technicolour blaze of flora and fauna in South Africa or who don’t read National Geographic, happens to be one of the richest plant kingdoms in the world. The Arabella is also adjacent to the Rooisand Nature Reserve which the resort manages under mandate from the Western Cape Nature Conservation Board.

Arabella’s 18-hole championship golf course was voted “Number Two Golf Course in South Africa” and “Top Course in the Western Cape” by The Compleat Golfer magazine recently and it’s a challenge and a joy to play. Set on the banks of the Bot River lagoon and fringed by indigenous fynbos (colourful shrubland) native to the Western Cape, a panorama of rolling fairways, perfect putting greens, deceptive bunkers and water traps dot the course.

A quick glance at the guest reviews and many of them rave about The Arabella Spa’s African Rainforest Experience; this is the place to experience the world’s first spa that uses African products and is inspired by African rains – there’s nothing else quite like it. 130 minutes will take you through fifteen steps including the eucalyptus steam room, Rainforest Bed Showers under warm cascading water, reflexology pebble foot baths, aromatherapy treatments using lemongrass, lemon, orange, lavender, peppermint and ginger, and the experience wraps up with a soothing cup of African Rooibos and peppermint tea.

If Arabella is about the art of taking things slow, it’s also about the art of pampering yourself, whether that means doing nothing or as much as you can squeeze into a sun-filled day.

Golf Resorts Club’s portfolio of golf properties stands out for its calibre of resort accommodation and facilities but it’s also the locations that are the big attraction. At Arabella, for example, a twenty minute drive will take you to the whale watching haven of Hermanus, while wine-lovers can explore parts of the Cape Wine Route and famous Hermanus vineyards nearby.

Champagne Sports Resort, Winterton
Golf Resorts Club offers an equally relaxing but different experience at the multi-award winning Champagne Sports Resort. The 18-hole championship course is designed by no other than top golfer and Jo’burg legend Hugh Baiocchi, winner of twentytwo professional tournaments during his illustrious career.

Golf is very much the star of the show at the Winterton-based resort but there’s so much else to see, do and taste that a stay here becomes more of an experience than just a golfing holiday. The top 30-ranked championship course has been rated as South Africa’s most beautiful course in recent years with the clubhouse rated in the top five “19th Holes” in the country. Against a backdrop of the Drakensberg Mountains, the views are wonderfully serene.

Herds of Blesbok and Impala roam the estate, there are five dams stocked with bass and trout and endless list of activities, both at the resort and off it, from riding to mountain-biking and helicopter trips. Even if you’ve never touched a golf ball, you’d find plenty to do – coupled with a soundtrack of priceless peace and quiet – and it’s the sort of place where you could see yourself staying indefinitely if it weren’t for life’s other commitments.

In addition to the Arabella Golf Estate and Champagne Sports Resort, Golf Resorts Club’s handpicked portfolio includes Atlantic Beach Golf Estate, Melkbosstrand; Boschenmeer Golf & Country Estate, Paarl; Clarens Golf and Trout Estate at Clarens; Erinvale Country Estate, Somerset West; Fancourt, George; Hans Merensky, Limpopo; Kruger Park Lodge, Hazy View; Magalies Park, Brits; Pinnacle Point Beach & Golf Club, Western Cape; San Lameer and Zimbali Golf & Country Estate, both in Kwa-Zulu Natal; Selborne Park, Pennington; Sparrebosch Clifftop Estate on Pezula Championship Golf Course; and White River Country Estate, White River.

GRC members enjoy reciprocity with Cloud9Golf, Cottages4you, Hapimag (Europe’s original and longest-standing Swiss shared ownership company) and Premier Vacation Club (part of the Club Leisure Group of companies). PVC has resorts in South Africa’s most soughtafter coastal locations, spanning Cape Central, Durban, the North and South Coast as well as The Garden Route, Drakensberg, Greater Transvaal and Mpumalanga and its wonderful plethora of game parks to enjoy.

Club Leisure Group’s Golf Resort Club seems to have scored a hole- in- one. Great golf, good food, service and incredible locations where the cameraloving scenery will take your breath away. Best of all, it’s a fractional golf programme that offers all the luxuries of the golf resort lifestyle – without the daunting price tag.

The Group’s philosophy is “Partners for Life” – both GRC and CLG know how important it is to offer long term products that families and corporate members will get a lot of pleasure out of. As Club Leisure Group say themselves, “we never say we are the best in vacation clubs; we leave that to our members.”

For more information about Golf Resorts Club and Club Leisure, visit:
www.golfresortsclub.co.za & www.clubleisure.co.za
Tel: +27 31 717 7300
Fax: +27 31 701 9982 [/member]

Karma Resorts