As any good hotel manager will tell you, once a room goes unsold it can never be sold on that particular night ever again. Tee times work the same way. Hence, it makes sense to pair these two together. After all, golf courses and accommodation are a natural fit, with each complementing the other to help fill space.
It is all but impossible to find the origins of the first golf package. Even the first few pages of Google can’t provide any answers. But suffice it to say the concept has become incredibly popular the world over. And from family-orientated resorts to luxury lodges, New Zealand has an abundance of accommodation attached to golf courses.
We have a few obvious “golf resorts” – properties that incorporate golf and accommodation into the same site. Perhaps the best known is The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, featuring a hotel that has been ranked No.1 in the world and a golf course that sits inside the world’s top 100. A short walk is all that separates the lodging and the first tee, and people travel from every corner of the earth to experience this perfect marriage of golf and accommodation.
Of course, we’re also fortunate to have the likes of Taupo’s Kinloch, Cape Kidnappers in Hawke’s Bay and Millbrook Resort in Queenstown to provide a mix of superb lodging and world-class golf. These properties merge our two topics beautifully and do so in spectacular settings.
Maxwell’s Boutique Golf Course and Function Centre is perfect for a short golf getaway for residents of Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty. Set on 20 pristine acres in Bombay south of Auckland, Maxwell’s retreat has excellent on-site accommodation, a multi-function clubhouse, driving range and a pretty par-28 short course. The coaching academy, run by professional golfer Kaye Maxwell, offers private and group clinics for all levels of golfer.
However, not all facilities feature golf and accommodation on the same site. And Several forward-thinking managers from each side of the industry have worked together to create compelling “play and stay” options, utilising a local accommodation offering and one or more golf courses.
One of our best examples of this is in the golf mecca of Queenstown, which has three of New Zealand’s 14 ‘Marquee Courses’: Jack’s Point, Millbrook and The Hills. Incidentally, those three courses account for a staggering 55 percent of all international visitor rounds across the Marquee courses in calendar year 2017.
Increasingly, golf clubs and hotels are becoming proactive when it comes to working together. Queenstown Golf Club, located on one of the most picturesque pieces of dirt in New Zealand, the Kelvin Peninsula, has partnered with 5-star accommodation provider Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa to provide an innovative golf package that includes transfers by water rather than road. That’s right, the local water taxi will pick you up at The Hilton and deliver you virtually to the doorstep of the golf club. The water taxi experience paired with the golf course’s setting compel even non-golfers to come along for the day – camera in hand.
Treghan Luxury Lodge has released an ‘Ultimate Northland Golfer’s Package’ that features golf at the region’s prime venues. The ‘Treghan Two Night Golf Package’ includes one round at Kauri Cliffs and a second round at either Bay of Islands Kerikeri (pictured) or Waitangi, accommodation in a luxurious self-contained guesthouse, a two-course dinner at an award-winning local restaurant plus full continental breakfasts. For two golfers, the package is priced at $935 per person ($1,050 in summer). Three-night packages start from $1,245.
It doesn’t take much convincing for a golfer to visit one of the properties mentioned. After all, a seamless experience placing the first tee within easy reach of your bed is something most of us dream about. However, contrary to popular belief, we can’t play golf all day, every day. And we also must think of those non-golfing spouses. While many are tolerant of their partner’s golf, sitting in an empty hotel room waiting for their spouse to return – then listening to the day’s round recounted shot by shot – does not make for much of a holiday.
Thankfully, our best golf tends to be near our best activities. Whether it’s beaches, spas, hiking, cycling, shopping or food and wine, New Zealand doesn’t lack for non-golf activities. In fact, some destinations are so appealing you just may want to take a day away from the course and partake the local activities. While that may be a big ask for some, a more reasonable suggestion is to choose an early tee time and allow for an afternoon spent exploring the local area.
Fancy a round of golf at Carrington Estate in the Far North? It has a boutique winery on-site along with a pool and tennis courts, plus world-class beaches on the doorstep. A bit further afield is Cape Reinga – a bucket-list experience to the country’s northern tip to see the mighty Pacific collide with the Tasman Sea.
Guests at Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa have the option to arrive in style for their tee-time at Queenstown Golf Club. A water taxi will take them across Lake Wakatipu to play the picturesque Queenstown layout on the Kelvin Peninsula. Queenstown Golf Club has undergone a massive transformation recently, having spent $750,000 on renovations to add a modern façade to the clubhouse and refurbish its golf shop.
How about something a bit further south? Otago Golf Club has hosted the likes of Gene Sarazen, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, not to mention every Kiwi great this country has ever produced. Less than three kilometres away lies the centre of Dunedin, bustling with restaurants, shopping and sightseeing opportunities. The Otago Museum is a “must visit” with its ever-changing exhibits and one of the best butterfly gardens in the world. Add the penguins and albatross on the Otago Peninsula and you’ve created an action-packed day in one of our most historic cities.
Search through the diverse array of play and stay packages currently in the market and you’ll discover the most extravagant is the ‘Ultimate New Zealand Golf Package’. This is simply a golfer’s dream. Spanning nine days, it includes three nights at three of the country’s most celebrated lodges: The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs (Bay of Islands), The Farm at Cape Kidnappers (Hawke’s Bay) and Matakauri Lodge (Queenstown).
The package includes two rounds of golf at Kauri Cliffs, two at Cape Kidnappers and a round at Jack’s Point in Queenstown. Inclusions are plentiful – electric cart and hire clubs included for every round. And its sixth golf experience is truly out of this world. Instead of playing a traditional second course in Queenstown, guests are taken by helicopter to tackle Over The Top Golf’s ‘Extreme Tee’. They are picked up and flown to an elevation of 4,500 metres where Over The Top has built a par-3 hole with views that can’t be found anywhere else on the globe.
As golf travel evolves to destinations in regions outside city centres, the quantity and variety of play and stay partnerships will continue to develop and innovate.
One thing’s for certain. If you haven’t found something that suits your tastes, you’re probably not looking hard enough.
Where To Stay: Resort Golf In New Zealand
109 Matai Bay Road, Karikari Peninsula, Northland
Phone: +64 9 408 7222
6 Liverpool St, Dunedin, Otago
Phone: [Reservation] +64 3 742 1291; [Main] +64 3 471 8543
E: [email protected]
Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa
139 Tepene Tablelands Rd, Matauri Bay, Northland
Phone: +64 9 407 0065
E: [email protected]