Archive | April, 2010

On Site: Verdura Golf Resort

Italy, as this magazine has not been shy to point out, has almost everything in place to be one of the world’s greatest golf destinations. It just needs more golf. So those of us who love both golf and Italy were cheered when the new Verdura resort, developed by British hotelier Sir Rocco Forte, and featuring two eighteen hole courses (plus a nine hole par three track) designed by Kyle Phillips, opened, quietly, late last summer.

Verdura closed for the winter, partly as a result of the well-publicised financial difficulties of its parent company, partly in order to allow the team to work on the golf courses, and partly because the Sicilian climate, though delightful from early spring through to late autumn, is not that conducive to attracting tourists in the dead of winter. The Forte company having secured its future with a new financing package, the resort has opened for its first full season with a sense of optimism about the place.

First the good bits: Sicily is a beautiful island, with mountains, beaches and culture all in plentiful supply. Verdura sits on a really special piece of property, all 270 hectares (550 acres) of it; hemmed in by hills, it spills gently down to the water’s edge, creating sea views from most parts of the site, plus a sense of seclusion from the outside world.

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“Golf Boom” in Sicily

That’s what Kyle Phillips called it — “a golf boom.” For someone in the golf and travel industry I like the paring of those two words but I’m naturally skeptical.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Phillips, who designed Kingsbarns in Scotland. Phillips was in New York to promote his latest 36 holes in Sicily at the Verdura Golf & Spa Resort (pictured above). That makes four new courses in Sicily, which gives the island off the coast of Italy a total of six courses to choose from. Yes, I’d say that qualifies as a boom.

The Verdura resort is owned by Sir Rocco Forte of the Rocco Forte Collection (13 high-end hotels or resorts all over the world). Forte told me he’s an avid golfer who loved the look of Kingsbarns, which is why he hired Phillips for his first dip into the pool of golf.
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