Its hard to talk about golf without mentioning Ireland, but resorts in Spain and South Africa are luxury gems sure to give the Emerald Isle a run for its money.
The K Club; County Kildare, Ireland
The countryside, five-star Kildare Hotel and Golf Club (K Club for short) is a quick 40-minute drive from Dublin. The two Arnold Palmer-designed courses, the Palmer Ryder Cup Golf Course at The K Club and the Smurfit Course, are considered two of Irelands finest championship golf courses. The K Clubs Palmer Course played host to the 2006 Ryder Cup and 11 European Opens and is regularly ranked as one of Irelands top three Parkland courses.
Inspired by a chateau in France, the K Clubs five-star Hotel Kildare is an opulent, restored property dating back to 550 A.D. (with a rebuild in 1831) and has been awarded the AA five star hotel of the year in Ireland for 2011.
If sport is your thing, fly-fishing, skeet shooting, and horseback riding can complement your golf game. Or perhaps youll want a dip, après golf, as the tubs are made for love, or a bit of a swim. Theyre that grand.
For culinary kicks, there are two excellent options on site. You can hit Legends at the Arnold Palmer Clubhouse, with its views of the Ryder Cup Course; its sure to sate any golfers appetite or for fine dining. And theres the Byerly Turk, one of Irelands finest restaurants. Today Irelands cuisine rivals any in Europe and is similar to Kiwi cuisine, with the freshest of local ingredients.
Finish your trip with a visit to K Spa. Try the Organic Muslin Bag Massage, The Green Cure designed to target that which ails the golfer, or the Seaweed Hot Stone Massage, good for golfers and loafers alike.
How to book: There are several seasonal packages, romance deals, and spa packages. Call 011-353-6017-200, visit www.kclub.ie, or email email@example.com to reserve.
Abama Hotel Resort; Tenerife, Spain:
This five-star Ritz-Carlton resort is a quick two-hour flight from mainland Spain and four from other key European cities. One of the top 10 resorts in the world, Abama, on the west coast of Tenerife Island, sits atop a cliff overlooking the Atlantic. No wonder its an absolute favorite among the European jet set.
According to Abamas golf director, everyone who comes out to Abama returns. Theres one 18-hole course and two different nines. The first nine youre going uphill toward the mountain. The back nine you are retreating down the hill. The weather allows golf 365 days of the year, and every hole offers a view of the sea.
This challenging course is for serious players only; no novices need apply. Players must have a handicap of 36 or lower to play; paperwork and proof of handicap are required. If your game is not up to par, you can take advantage of the onsite Golf Academy to ready you for your return or simply soak in the Spanish sun and take in all of the luxurious amenities.
There are 10 luxury restaurants, all supervised by one Michelin star chef Martin Berasategui. For lighter fare, hit the wine bar, which has an international list (with Spanish wines, natch) and excellent tasting menus.
The Wellness Spa center offers a variety of options good for body, mind, and spirit: the African sauna, the snow cabin, and a world of showers. If looking for a change in more than your game, you may want to take advantage of the Luxury & Well Being Package, a very comprehensive program not for the faint of heart.
The Luxury & Well Being Package addresses diet and exercise, incorporates body treatments, Life Coaches, and an EIS Diagnostic. Expect to conquer more than you golf game once youre through with this.
How to book: For reservations call 011-34-902-105-600, or visit www.abamahotelresort.com for rates and special offers.
Pezula Resort Hotel and Spa; Pezula, South Africa
Any and all things African are immediately evocative, so it comes as no surprise that Pezula Resort Hotel and Spa is one of the most luxurious in all of Africa. Pezula is an African word that means high up with the gods, and this heavenly gem, with panoramic views of the Indian Ocean and the Knysna Lagoon, sits on the Western Cape of South Africa.
If youre looking for a golf getaway, an unrivaled romantic rendezvous, or a sensual spa experience set in a cultural rich terrain, this is your go-to oasis. So, settle in; its going to be a seductive ride.
The internationally acclaimed golf course, designed by Ronald Fream and David Dale of GolfPlan USA, offers a challenging game that requires a full range of shots. Unlike Bandon Dunes caddy culture, Pezula, which opened in 2005, is a golf-cart-only facility.
Pezula is definitely an oasis for the athletic player. You can play 18 holes of championship golf, pick up a game of tennis, swim, go horseback riding, canoe along the Noetzie River, or stroll along that idyllic beach, followed by a bit of pampering in Pezulas world renowned Spa, recognized as one of the best in South Africa.
Theres pleasure for the palate at every level of service. For a more casual cuisine, Zacharys restaurant can provide impromptu picnics to be taken to a private and romantic spot. The Boma on Pezulas Private Estate is ideal for unforgettable private functions, be it large or small under the African sky. For a regal treat, try a midday snack at Pezulas Castle on the beach.
If you choose to explore the great indoors, those options are equally as endless from the individual cigar, champagne and whisky bars, and evening options at Zacharys. Dont forget en suite dining; youve got a patio, balcony and a well-stocked bar.
In this fit of bliss, you might forget the greens. You can always call the butler who will call the cart. All you need to do is swing. Whatever you choose, you are sure to feel like an African queen. So get your golf on. The rest will take care of itself. It is Africa after all.
How to book: Call 011-27-44-302-3333 or visit www.pezula.com.
See our Ireland Travel Guide, South Africa Travel Guide, and Spain Travel Guide for more trip-planning information, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on flights, hotels, packages, and more travel deals.