Paul Myers is an Asia travel expert based in Bangkok, Thailand and publishes Asian Travel Media News.
Myers shares his Top-10 play and stay golf resorts in Asia, from the world’s biggest super club at Mission Hills China – home to 10 golf courses – to Laguna Lang, the new must-visit Vietnamese resort.
“For most golf tourists, the words “Stay and Play” are music to tired, over-travelled bodies and eager ears,” says Myers.
Choosing a resort where you can stay and play is essential for a stress-free golf holiday in Asia.
Why? If you choose to base yourself in a busy city and travel outside to golf resorts and courses, you’ll find yourself stuck in heavy traffic more often than not, dodging tuk tuk’s, elephants and looking for non-existent road markings.
Paul Myers, says: “Surprisingly, stay and play isn’t as common in Asia as you might think. Most golf courses in and near major cities don’t offer accommodation, relying on downtown hotels to serve these needs. This often means an early-morning departure to the course, a late afternoon return and a lot of wasted time before and after each round.”
So if you want to stay and play in Asia, here’s Asian Travel Media’s Top-10.
Mission Hills Haikou, Hainan
Opened in 2010, this incredible resort has more than 500 five-star hotel rooms as well as Asia’s largest mineral springs and spa centre and 10 golf courses to keep the most avid golfers occupied for a week.
By 2015, the accommodation choices will be even greater when Ritz-Carlton and Renaissance hotels are completed as part of as major development at the resort that will include a movie theme town and a huge shopping and entertainment precinct.
There are direct flights to Haikou from Hong Kong and all major cities in China. Mission Hills Haikou is just 20 minutes’ drive from the airport. www.missionhillschina.com
Mission Hills Shenzhen/Dongguan
Mission Hills’ headquarters at Shenzhen, established 20 years ago, has just been upgraded with refurbishment of the original hotel, while a new multi-storey modern hotel was added at Dongguan (15 minutes away) in 2011.
Together, these dual five-star properties – with a wonderful selection of restaurants, cafes, spa, tennis and other facilities – complement the 12 golf courses at the complex that are served by three different clubhouses.
Each course was designed by a modern great of the game, including Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Nick (now Sir Nick) Faldo and Jose Maria Olazabal whose course hosted the HSBC World Golf Championships last November. www.missionhillschina.com
Spring City Golf & Lake Resort, Kunming
Overlooking Lake Yang Zong Hai in south-western China, 45 minutes’ drive east of Kunming, Spring City has few peers for location, environment and world-class golf. The accommodation and clubhouse, opened in 1998, is now being redeveloped, with completion due at the end of 2014.
But you can still stay in one of the 73 golf lodges in the resort complex, take in the magnificent views over the lake and play two of the best golf courses in China. Indeed, Spring City’s Lake Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jnr, is widely regarded as China’s best course. The Jack Nicklaus-designed Mountain Course is equally enjoyable and has long been one of China’s top five courses. www.springcityresort.com
Laguna Lang Co Golf Club, Hue
The newly-opened resort between Danang and Hue has put a new meaning on stay and play. Quite simply, this property is as good as it gets, with exquisite, exclusive and private Banyan Tree villas and a separate Angsana hotel.
Set on a three-kilometre stretch of beach in a quiet bay, an hour’s drive from Danang International Airport, the resort is one of those places where you want to put up your feet, relax, take in the ambience – and play golf.
The championship course designed by Sir Nick Faldo and situated behind the resort, features a variety of environments including mountain, rice paddy and coastal landscapes.
The complex has added an extra dimension to Vietnam’s Central Coast as one of Asia’s best golf tourism destinations. www.lagunalangco.com
Danang Golf Club/The Ocean Villas, Danang
When it opened in 2010, most visitors to Danang Golf Club stayed at one of the new hotels that have sprung up on the shores of China Beach in the previous few years. Now they have a better option adjacent to the course and linked by a tunnel – The Ocean Villas, part of Danang Beach Resort, owned and operated by VinaCapital, the same group that developed the course.
The two-story Ocean Villas come in sizes from one to seven bedrooms, all with their own plunge pool and within a short distance of the Beach Club and restaurant, which face the sea. Guests can self cater in the villas or eat at the restaurant.
Just a two-minute cart ride to the course, The Ocean Villas is a home-away-from-home for visiting golfers, while the Greg Norman-designed Danang Golf Club has twice been named the best course in Vietnam. www.theoceanvillas.com.vn or www.dananggolfclub.com
Banyan Golf Resort, Hua Hin
Since opening in 2008, Banyan Golf Club has won more than its share of awards, including best clubhouse in Asia Pacific at the 2012 Asia Pacific Golf Summit.
The course itself is also one Thailand’s best, offering a challenging experience in a rural setting about 15 minutes’ drive from the Thai royal family’s long-standing holiday destination, Hua Hin.
The distinctive, contemporary Thai style designed clubhouse features luxurious changing rooms, exclusive club suite accommodation, Mulligan’s Pub and The Terrace restaurant. Nearby, on the other side of a mountain, Banyan Resort’s private villas in a tranquil landscaped setting are a perfect complement to the course. www.banyanthailand.com
Black Mountain Golf Club, Hua Hin
In the six years since it opened, Black Mountain has steadily risen in stature In the six years since it opened to become Thailand’s leading golf resort.
Situated in a stunning setting near the southern resort town of Hua Hin, Black Mountain has brand new pool villas to rent, with the option of self-catering from an on-site supermarket or dining in the clubhouse restaurant.
In the past year, Black Mountain has added a water park and wakeboard park, both among the best and most modern in Asia, as an added attraction for families. Also with a spa, tennis and volleyball facilities, as well as an excellent driving range, Black Mountain offers something for everyone, while allowing golfers to stay on site and play a truly remarkable course. www.blackmountainhuahin.com
Chiang Mai Highlands Golf & Spa Resort, Chiang Mai
As one of the most beautiful courses in Thailand, Chiang Mai Highlands was also named last December as the best value-for-money course in Asia Pacific.
Located 10 kilometres from the northern Thailand city, the resort’s 19 villas are located in a private setting along a creek that flows through the course. There is a choice of superior villas, larger deluxe villas and family villas.
Resort Guests have access to the swimming pool and fitness facilities and receive a preferred green fee rate during their stay. www.chiangmaihighlands.com
Red Mountain/Loch Palm, Phuket
Golf visitors to Phuket are well accustomed to long journeys from resort hotels to the island’s leading golf courses.
But since the Tinidee Hotel opened at Phuket’s Loch Palm course, an attractive accommodation option has been added for golf visitors to Thailand’s holiday island.
With 30 superior and 15 deluxe rooms in four separate buildings, there is a sense of space and privacy unique to more personalised resorts of this nature.
An added benefit is that Red Mountain, one of Phuket’s leading golf courses and a favourite of visiting golfers, is adjacent to Loch Palm. Both are owned and operated by MBK Public Company, which also owns Bangkok’s famous MBK shopping centre. www.tinideehotels.com
Sutera Harbour Resort, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Right on the doorstep of Kota Kinabalu, but in a world of its own, Sutera Harbour Resort is among Malaysia’s best golf and holiday destinations.
A two-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu has an abundance of history, culture and charm, with Sutera Harbour its star attraction. Here you have the choice of two hotels – the resort-style Sutera Pacific and the more business-oriented Sutera Magellan – a yacht club, numerous on-site restaurants and 27 holes of golf designed by former Australian tour pro, Graham Marsh.
The three nine-hole layouts are within a few minutes of the resort facilities each offering a challenging experience. The quality of the courses can be judged by the fact that Sutera Harbour hosts the annual One Asia Tour Qualifying School. www.suteraharbour.com