‘Tis the season to be jolly and you may well be thinking about booking a ski holiday to enjoy some winter wonderland fun. But for us golfers the fairways are never too far from our thoughts so why not consider combining the two? You may think this idea doesn’t make a lot of sense due to the requirement for snow when skiing and the requirement for a lack of snow when playing golf but there are some intriguing possibilities if you like the sound of a Ski/Golf holiday…we also have suggestions for those of you who like a spot of diving or the chance to get in touch with mother nature herself.
The Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates offers sun, sand and snow – without the risk of blizzards, avalanches, slushy slopes, ski lift queues and Continentals gloating about Britain’s isolation from the EU! This huge luxury hotel is home to five ski runs for various abilities as well as a 3,000-square metre Snow Park featuring a snow cavern. The rental of ski clothing and equipment is included in the entry price and if you think you’ll miss the special après-ski atmosphere of a European ski resort fear not…you can enjoy a shot of comforting hot chocolate at either the St Moritz or Avalanche alpine-themed cafés and even stay in one of the ski chalets offering direct views over the Ski Dubai slopes!
Dubai Creek Golf Club
There’s a wonderful kids’ club, a huge Spa and direct access to one of the world’s largest shopping malls, boasting 520 international brands including Harvey Nichols and Debenhams, darling. Golfing-wise, you’re just as spoilt for choice, with the courses at Emirates Golf Club, Dubai Creek, The Montgomerie Dubai, Arabian Ranches and Al Badia among the highlights. You can still enjoy the skiing even if you’d prefer to stay at a more laid-back hotel like the Al Bustan Rotana, which offers elegant rooms and suites and superb range of facilities. Alternatively you could opt for a beautiful beachside location like the Jebel Ali Resort, which also has its own golf course…in Dubai you are never too far away from Ski Dubai if you have the urge to hit the slopes.
But if skiing and playing golf in the desert is just a little too weird for you, Europe can provide some tantalising alternatives – and northern Spain is one area that suits golfers and ski nuts down to the ground.
The Pyrenees ski resorts of Vallter 2000, Mont Louis and Vall de Núria are all less than two hours from Girona airport, while wonderful resorts such as the Melia Golf Vichy Catalan are far enough south to offer year-round golf. Imagine playing a couple of rounds at the world-class PGA Golf Catalunya, with a game at Emporda’s Golf Resort’s challenging Links or Forest courses thrown in, and then spending a couple of days skiing at Vallter 2000 with its 13 individual pistes, served by 8 ski lifts. The ski resort itself sits at an altitude of around 1500 metres, and its pistes rise to more than 2500 metres, so skiing and snowboarding is assured throughout the season.
PGA Golf Catalunya
If skiing is not your thing, how about combining golf and diving? The resorts of Taba Heights, Soma Bay and Sharm El-Sheikh have combined the appeal of diving in the Red Sea with first class championship golf facilities just a stone’s throw away. Cheap flights and a great year-round climate add to the appeal of staying at resorts such as Jolie Ville Golf Resort, with its stunning 18-hole championship course that has hosted events on both the European Challenge and Seniors Tours, or Taba Heights, wedged between the mountains and the idyllic beach, with its range of luxury hotels, including the Marriott Beach Resort, Hyatt Regency and Intercontinental, plus its world class golf course. Not far offshore are some of the world’s best dive sites, including the wreck of the British ship Thistlegorm, voted one of the Top Ten Dives in the World.
Alternatively, try Richelieu Rock in Thailand, the country’s best dive site, famous for whale shark sightings and for big schools of jacks, barracuda, batfish and stunning mantas. A short trip from Phuket is totally viable. You can take a liveaboard from the island or stay on nearby Koh Phra Thong. For your golfing fix you can stay at one of the many wonderful golf resorts on Phuket such as Blue Canyon Country Club with its two superb championship golf courses running through old rubber plantations.
If you’re more of a watcher than a doer, all is not lost. How about mixing golf with a safari?
Legend Golf & Safari Resort
There are packages where you can combine the Big Five of South Africa with some very big golf courses, and they don’t come much better than the Legend Golf & Safari Resort, one of the world’s most exciting new golf developments. The championship course has 18 holes where each one was designed by a leading tour professional. There’s also the Xtreme 19th Hole, a thrilling cliff-top golfing experience where the tee, reached by helicopter, is some 1,500 feet above the green. Bag a hole-in-one here and the resort will pay you a million dollar jackpot! If you’re an amateur golfer, you will have to rescind your amateur status if you decide to accept the cheque, so please take at least one or two milli-seconds to consider the consequences before deciding to say goodbye to the monthly medals and mid week roll ups at your local club!
Throughout the sprawling natural estate are high quality hotels and lodges and packages include trips to other great golf courses in the region, at the Zebula and Euphoria resorts, along with safaris to get you up and close to the Big Five. It’s an incredible place offering a mind-blowing adventure that will stay with you for years to come. Enjoy the ride!