First golf course to open on Maldives

The first golf course on the Maldives is to open later this month.

Hong Kong based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, Asia Pacific’s leading hotel group, has announced that a 9-hole golf course will open near to its resort on the southern end of Villingili Island on March 27.

The course is built on a 19 acre site and is made up of mainly par three holes averaging 123 yards, with views of the Indian Ocean. The green fee will be US $80 or (RM240) including hire clubs.

“We are excited to offer a new experience to the Maldives traveller,” said Rene D. Egle, general manager of Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort and Spa.

“Apart from our other recreational options, the Villingili Golf Course will add a new and unique activity for our guests – a game of golf amid expansive views of the Indian Ocean and the tropical landscape.”

Tourism has been booming in the Maldives in the past decade, increasing by more than 50 per cent to an all-time high in 2011 when 931,000 people holidayed on the islands.

That figure is expected to grow again in 2012 as the islands continue to earn a reputation as the paradise destination for honeymooners and affluent couples.

Fears over sea levels rising
Tourism continues to grow despite fears from environmentalists and climate change experts that global warming could cause the sea level to rise and the islands to be swallowed by the Indian Ocean.

More than 80 percent of the 1,190 coral reef islands in the Maldives are no more than a meter above sea level.

Tropical paradise: white sand beaches in the Maldives

Rising sea levels due to global warming threaten Maldives

The golf course is only for guests of Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort and Spa and to celebrate its opening, the resort offers an introductory golf package valid from 15 March to 9 May 2012.

For a minimum stay of four nights, guests receive:

•  One complimentary green fee for two persons for bookings in a Pool Villa, Deluxe Pool Villa, Water Villa, Ocean View Villa or Beach Villa.

•  Waived daily green fee for bookings in a Tree House Villa, Two Bedroom Beach Villa, Villa Muthee or Villa Laalu.

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Shangri-La’s nine-holer may be the first full size golf course on the Island but it may soon be overshadowed by work starting this year on a £320m, 27-hole golf development on three floating islands linked by underwater tunnels and reached by speedboat.

First and only floating golf course in the world
The floating island golf course will also feature 200 villas, 45 private islands and a conservation center and is expected to be completed by 2015.

The development is being created by a partnership including global golf management company Troon Golf, Dutch company WaterStudio who designed the project and floating architecture specialists Dutch Docklands.

Waterstudio CEO Paul Van de Camp told the UK newspaper The Daily Mail that:

‘This will be the first and only floating golf course in the world – and it comes complete with spectacular ocean views on every hole.’

It is not known how long the Maldives will stay above sea level.

For the time being the paradise islands have become a bona fide luxury golf destination and the next few years will bring the golf world a course that reinvents and redefines the term water hazard.

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Global Golfer is a magazine for anyone who simply has to tee it up on their travels - from a sheep-shorn 9 holer on a Scottish island to luxury resorts in the Caribbean - we take you inside the ropes of the world's golf courses, resorts and bucket-list buddy trips.

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