Archive | March, 2011

Finding New Fairways

Verdura Golf & Spa Resort, Sciacca, Sicily

Kyle Phillips, who designed Kingsbarns Golf Links and Dundonald Links in Scotland (both regular visitors to our Platinum List), has worked his magic on the southwest Sicilian coast on 36 holes (plus a nine-hole par-three track). Many wend right to the Mediterranean Sea, which is never out of sight during play. If the clubhouse interior is an appropriately Venetian stucco, the windswept course suggests Scottish links play, with the anomalous sightline of distant olive and orange groves.

The West Course has slightly edged the East in some recent rankings; others say a composite routing of all the seaside holes is best. We say play ’em all, and then indulge yourself at the spa of the Verdura Golf & Spa Resort, which includes four Thalasso pools in graduated temperatures, varied densities of salt and minerals, and a plethora of jets and waterfalls.

The 570-acre resort opened in 2009, part of The Rocco Forte Collection but the first built in Italy by the luxury hotel company, all on a splendidly private 1.1 miles of coastline.
by Thomas Bedell
Celebrated Living

Yas Links the best of the best

The UAE has made relentless progress as a golfing haven ever since the Majlis Course made its breakthrough in becoming the first Asian venue for a European Tour event – the Dubai Desert Classic in 1989.
Emirates Golf Club was out on its own in those days in more ways than one as it provided expatriates based all over the Gulf region with their only opportunity to swing a club in anger on a verdant rather than sepia surface.
Twenty-two years later the rivals are stacking up for the trendsetting Majlis. In my opinion, several are comparable to what was labeled on its birth as the “miracle in the desert” and one can claim to be even better.
Here is a personal appraisal of the top 10 courses in the country listed in order of a 17-handicapper’s preference.
No 1: Yas Links
Take a bow Kyle Phillips for your masterpiece which on the coldest of winter days could possibly be mistaken for one of the warmer British Open venues.
Within earshot of Yas Marina Formula One Circuit (it’s one detracting feature on race days) its penal rough to catch wayward drives from a variety of tee boxes provides a demanding test for golfers of all abilities and offers stunning coastal views from many of its holes.
Yas hosted the first of what is sure to be a series of professional events in January when the Al Naboodah Invitational moved there from its previous Dubai Creek home. Read More…

The Verdura Golf and Spa Resort in Sicily

Spending time in the warm Mediterranean waters of Sicily might normally be enough to result in a tourist’s jaw to drop… but the Verdura Golf and Spa Resort could very well leave visitors too lightheaded to even speak.

A luxurious getaway is what awaits those traveling to this island escape. Located near the town of Sciacca, miles away from the historic city of Agrigento and its Valley of the Temples, and an hour from the International Airport in Palermo, Verdura occupies a land unto itself, complete with all of the splendor Sicily has to offer.

Verdura Golf and Spa Resort is the 13th property in the Rocco Forte Collection in which Sir Rocco has truly outdone himself. Forte has designed hotels all over Europe, such as Hotel Savoy in Firenze, and The Lowry Hotel in Manchester, but number 13 has proven to be a very lucky one for its guests. Verdura offers 203 ocean view rooms and suites with private terraces overlooking 1.2 miles of private coastline, as well as six tennis courts, a 43,000 square foot spa, fitness and yoga center, four extravagant restaurants, a private beach, 55 private villas and two championship golf courses which are a “must play” for any golfer.

When asked about golf getaways in Europe prior to Verdura, Forte stated “there wasn’t anywhere in Europe that offered the kind of golfing holiday I was after”. So, he created one that changed the European resort golfing experience as we know it. The first task was to find a designer for the job. Kyle Phillips, whose work includes ‘The Kingsbarns Links’ near St. Andrews, and ‘The Grove’ outside of London, was chosen for this project. Phillips created two championship courses known as the East and the West, along with a 9-hole Par 3 course and a full practice facility. Both the East and West courses are Par 72 at just over 7,300 yards each, with many challenges awaiting golfers of all skill levels. Read More…