Resort Developments â€“ I found this article in a Magazine and thought it might be of interest to our Blog readers. It's about the sport resort developments, including our Sotogrande, the place to be !!! Any comment is welcome, just send us an email.
And for everybody else, we wish youÂ relaxing festive season, and a very happy New Year 2018.
"The sporting pleasures of golf and the pristine beauty of a golf course have inspired the purchase of countless holiday homes. Buy a property overlooking tree-lined fairways and smooth-as-baize greens and you have aÂ protectedÂ natural settingÂ along with ready opportunities to perfect your drives and putts.
Yet there are thorny issues in this lush paradise. The number of active golfers inÂ EuropeÂ is falling just as golf resorts face stiff competition from other sports and leisure destinations. A course alone is clearly not enough to lure todayâ€™s sophisticated buyers, so how do elite residential golf resorts preserve their essence while widening their appeal across gender and age divides?
TheÂ Golf Participation Report for EuropeÂ (2016) fromÂ KPMG highlights this problem. From 1984 to 2009, Europeâ€™s golf market experienced an average annual year-on-year growth in registered golfers of around fiveÂ per cent. Since then, however, numbers haveÂ fallen every year and, while the pace of this downward trend has slowed since 2014, golf still faces challenges in becoming truly family friendly, with adultÂ males accounting for two-thirds of all registered EuropeanÂ golfers in 2015.
The best resorts have tackled the problem head onÂ byÂ providing a top-quality mix of facilities and thoughtfully designed contemporary family homes. Take, for example, Quinta do Lago, one of Europeâ€™s smartest and best-loved residential resorts, established by property developer AndrĂ© Jordan in the 1970s on 2,000 acres beside the Ria Formosa Natural Park onÂ Portugalâ€™s Algarve coast â€“ just a 15-minute driveÂ fromÂ Faro Airport.
Jordan planned a low-density American-style golf resort and, 47 years on, development has stayed remarkably true to his original masterplan. Itâ€™s a five-star home from home for golfers, hosting over 100,000 rounds each year, with five courses, two driving ranges and a Paul McGinley golf academy. Its trophy cabinet includes awards for Europeâ€™s Best Golf Destination at the World Golf Awards in 2015 and 2016, andÂ the Editorsâ€™ Choice Award in the Best International Resorts category in 2016 and 2017 fromÂ Golf Digest.
In 1998Â IrishÂ billionaire Denis Oâ€™Brien acquired the resort and has continued to invest, retaining the understated and quietly monied atmosphere. If the golf offering is undeniably blueÂ riband, whatÂ keeps Quinta do Lago at the topÂ of itsÂ game is its high quality and varied multigenerational appeal: water sports, racket clubs, 10Â restaurants and bars, exercise studios andÂ a vibrant social scene against a backdrop of discreet 24-hour security patrols.
Two particular points of pride with Quinta do Lagoâ€™s CEO Sean Moriarty are The Campus, a multisports training complex that opened this summer, and the new Desso hybrid grass used on the rugby and football pitch. When a resort spends â‚¬1.3m on one expanse of grass, Moriarty says, its commitment to excellence is clearly serious. â€śSport is the anchor of our business,â€ť heÂ states. â€śWe want to become the premier destination for health, wellness and sports education, with an everâ€‘present emphasis on service.â€ť
The result is that the average age of property owners has plummeted over the past decade. â€śQuinta do LagoÂ used to be a retirement home for wealthy golfers, but today 80 per cent of our buyers are in their lateÂ 40sÂ toÂ early 50s,â€ť comments Brian Evans, the resortâ€™s golf director. â€śI still think golf is the major reason people areÂ attracted here, but our offering is soÂ muchÂ more diversified. While golf may be declining inÂ theÂ UK, here we are seeing player numbers rise asÂ theÂ family-friendly nature of the resort attractsÂ younger members.â€ť
Property choices reflect these changes, with a shift from the traditional to the contemporary. Out go Spanish colonial villas with terracotta roof tiles and arched windows and in come angular lines and unfussy modernity with villas that are increasingly super-sized, both in square metres and price. Alison Buechner Hojbjerg, director of Savills associates Quinta Properties, has sold homes on the resort for two decades and 2016 was her strongest year, completing 42Â sales for a total in excess of â‚¬92m.
â€śThere has been a distinct evolution in resort architecture as buyers become more sophisticated andÂ knowledgeable,â€ť she says. â€śThe result isÂ that Quinta do Lago has gone from great to amazing. HomesÂ carry aÂ serious premium because they are inÂ aÂ beautifully maintained, secure oasis with exceptional infrastructure. Owners understand the value and financial security it provides. Leave the resortâ€™s manicured grounds and pricesÂ immediately fallÂ by a third.â€ť
Current examples available through Quinta Properties include a sleek contemporary mansion on the fourth hole of the San Lorenzo course, featuring a 6m-high front door, domotic control systems with central locking for the entire house, three pools and a splendidÂ cinema roomÂ with â€“ of course â€“Â aÂ golf simulator. The sale price is â€śin the high-teen millionsâ€ť, says the British developer, who built his own similar-sized contemporary villa in the same area.
Contemporary properties are also a feature of Denis Oâ€™Brienâ€™s second Iberian golf location, PGA Catalunya Resort, 45 minutes north ofÂ Barcelona. The resort openedÂ in 1999 with the Stadium course (awarded best in Spain byÂ Golf World), which was followed in 2005 by the Tour course, and its first accommodation, completed in 2009, sidestepped traditional resort architecture with its distinctly modern appeal. A prime example is the one-off Studio RHE â€“ La Vinya villa (â‚¬2.8m), designed by Richard Hywel Evans, with four bedrooms and expansive windows overlooking the TourÂ course and Montseny Massif.
â€śWe consider Quinta do Lago and PGA Catalunya toÂ be lifestyle resorts rather than golf resorts,â€ť says Emmet Oâ€™Neill, chairman of both locations. â€śGolf is an important offering, but our resorts cater for everyone. The idea is to create destinations where people can spend time with friends and family, and at PGA Catalunya we have had the opportunity to implement our vision right from the beginning.â€ť
A similar modernising dynamic is underway at Sotogrande, the Andalucian resort between Marbella and Gibraltar established in 1962. Royals and celebrities have come to practise their swing on Sotograndeâ€™s three courses, its fameÂ cemented in 1997 when the Ryder Cup was heldÂ on theÂ Real Club Valderrama course. Alongside golf, tennisÂ and gym facilities, it is home to four poloÂ clubs, aÂ 1,400-berthÂ marinaÂ and a popular international schoolÂ with 850 students.
â€śSotogrande is at a crossroads of generations from theÂ baby boomers to the millennials,â€ť says Marc Topiol, CEO of Sotogrande SA. â€śIts next chapter is based on theÂ same principles as in the 1960s: laidback luxury offering a multitude of things to do. That Sotogrande has three of the worldâ€™s best golf courses is a pull, but isÂ only part of the overall experience.â€ť
La Reserva Club, at the resortâ€™s highest point, which has an existing clubhouse and 18-hole golf course, is the latest piece in Sotograndeâ€™s residential jigsaw. New additions include a racket club and running, cycling and horse-riding trails, with plans for a beach club, swimming lagoon and health and holistic spa, all for the exclusive use of members and owners of the eventual 600 properties. Prices at LaÂ Reserva Club start from â‚¬2m, but it isÂ The SevenÂ â€“Â 2,000sq m homes in one-hectare plots designed byÂ seven invited contemporary architects â€“ that developers hope will prove irresistible. Each of TheÂ Seven (from â‚¬13.5m to over â‚¬20m) isÂ wonderfully unique, one with fourÂ individual pavilionsÂ carved into rock, one circular,Â another built around a curved timber frame.
â€śPurchasing at Sotogrande has never been purely because of our iconic golf courses,â€ť says Topiol. These areÂ historic, irreplaceable courses thatÂ will continue toÂ attract golfers from around theÂ world irrespective ofÂ the growth or stagnation ofÂ the sport. Families, meanwhile, are attracted by allÂ that Sotogrande has to offer, including one of theÂ regionâ€™s best international schools. It all comes togetherÂ as one package.â€ť
Away from Europe, Barbados andÂ MauritiusÂ are two islands with considerable appeal for golfers. Mauritius, in theÂ Indian Ocean, has used landÂ once dedicated to growing sugar cane to create many of its top-calibre courses, with designers including Gary Player and Ernie Els. Foreign buyers have been allowed to purchase on government-approved resorts since 2002. Tamarina and Anahita were two successful golf-estate projects and now Villas Valriche, 40 minutes from the airport in the south, is selling two- to six-bedroom detached homes ($833,000-$6.458m through Sphere Estates) alongside the championship golf course.
In theÂ Caribbean, Kieran Kelly, chairman of Chestertons Barbados, estimates that 70Â per cent of his buyers are golfers. â€śBarbados is 23km by 34km with seven golfÂ courses,â€ť heÂ says. â€śBeachfront homes still command topÂ prices, some 40 to 50 per cent above a comparable golf-course villa, but demand for aÂ holiday home on a golf course remains considerable. Numbers of completed sales on golf resorts are back to pre-2008 levels, while prices are still 15 to 20 per cent lower than they were then.â€ť
Buyers looking for a home beside the greens can choose between Sandy Lane, Royal Westmoreland or Apes Hill. All three offer beach clubs, tennis courts, gyms, smart clubhouses and, in the case of Apes Hill, extensive polo and equestrian facilities.
Golf was first played at the exclusive Sandy Lane Estate in 1961. Today owners include entrepreneurs and celebrities who appreciate the heritage and privacyÂ it offers. Bluff House & Cottage, a six-bedroom villa with a two-bedroom guest building, all ensuite, is priced at $12m through Savills. The interiors are pared-back and elegant, coral stone has been used throughout the villa and thereâ€™s a private footpath to the beach, but the dealÂ maker for avid golfers may well be its proximity to Sandy Laneâ€™s three magnificent courses. Even as golf evolves for a new generation, theÂ simple pleasures of playing a round remain remarkably similar."