Letters from Africa - ‘Golfing Gateways to Southern Africa’
Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands (SAIO) has joined Destination Golf Travel’s ‘family’ of regions and it has been an interesting exercise getting the ‘show on the road’, in DGT’s newest territory.
Dermot Synnott and his team, at head office in Ireland, are marketers at heart and so disinclined to follow the ‘cookie cutter’ approach, which seems to typify so many businesses today.
This is also a good thing with this guide, because during our initial strategic planning and in deciding what structure would work best, I pointed out to Dermot that the Kruger Park is actually bigger than Wales!
I hope that you may have got some sense of the region, and its size, in the previously published ‘Snowbirds’ features and now we shall delve into more detail, about the golf and vacation opportunities that this region has to offer.
In the first SAIO edition of the guide, we have assembled a team of partners and venues, which provide an excellent snapshot of what the region has to offer the travelling golfer and his or her family.
With this venues’ mix as the base, we shall go further and will soon be adding several new calls to action, and promoting existing package options, the details of which will emerge over the next few months.
These tours have been designed to allow the traveller to visit multiple regions within one itinerary.
The Royals Tours will take the traveller through Gauteng (Southern Africa’s economic engine), which is also home to the iconic and award winning Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club.
RJ&K will host the opening and closing legs of this itinerary over its East and West golf courses, before the schedule takes to Kwa Zulu Natal (Gauteng’s holiday playground), Royal Durban Golf Club and the beaches and warm waters of the Indian Ocean.
The third leg will take in Royal Port Alfred Golf Club on the Eastern Cape’s Sunshine Coast, before moving down to the Western Cape and Cape Town to play the venerable Royal Cape Golf Club.
The last leg of the journey will be back up to Gauteng for the final game at RJ&K - 4 clubs, 4 very different regions and five games of golf all in one itinerary.
The Jack Nicklaus Designed Courses Tour will take in three regions and the courses at Houghton Golf Club, St Francis Links and Pearl Valley on the Val De Vie Estate.
Houghton in Gauteng Province will open the batting (to borrow a term from another sporting code), to be followed by St Francis Links, which sits on the borders of the Eastern Cape and the start of the Garden Route.
The final leg of this tour will take the traveller down to Pearl Valley in the Cape Winelands just outside the Mother City – Cape Town – in the Western Cape.
Another call to action that is being prepared is the Sunshine Coast Tour.
The phrase is sadly overused, but ‘best kept secret’ is particularly apt for the Eastern Cape. Olivewood in East London, Royal Port Alfred and the Royal Saint Andrews Hotel in Port Alfred will be the core ingredients in this tour’s schedule.
The various tours should not be seen in isolation, but interchangeable and as gateways into the region.
Not only will the appointed ground handlers manage the non-golfer elements with each tour schedule, but they will also be able to provide add on elements and recommend ‘must do’s’ such as the Kruger National Park, a balloon safari or the Okavango Delta.
In this same context a stay at Fancourt, which is the region’s premier leisure resort, is not to be missed. Fancourt prides itself on its ability to cater for family vacations, offers a varied menu of activities, including three award-winning golf courses and is a destination in its own right.
GolfVistaSA, DGT’s regional information partner, provides more detailed information about South Africa’s courses at - www.golfvistasa.com
The Indian Ocean Island of Mauritius is an internationally renowned destination, which caters for families of all shapes and sizes.
The golfer is particularly well looked after and Heritage and Avalon golf estates, in conjunction with Mauritius Golf Tours (www.mauritiusgolftours.com), offer various golf rounds’ packages. These include the High Season Pass, which allows golfers to choose from five fabulous golf courses and tailor make the perfect rounds’ package for their vacation.
Tosgo Sun, Africa’s leading hospitality group, will be a key element in the facilitation of the various tours and packages.
Wherever there is no hotel on site, Tsogo Sun can provide an accommodation solution. With its mix of hotel types, which ranges from three star units to resorts and top five-star city centre and coastal hotel properties, Tsogo Sun does offer an option and location to suit almost every pocket.
As it so happens, I am writing this edition of the column, from one of my personal favourite hotels in the Tsogo Sun Group – the Sandton Sun.
It is one of a pair of hotels (the other being the Sandton Towers) connected to each other which adjoin the Sandton City Shopping Centre.
The views, from the 18th floor window of my suite, across the treetops (Johannesburg is reckoned to be one of the largest man made suburban forests in the world) and on to the distant Magaliesberg Mountains (my home turf) is superb.
The hotel’s location is fantastic, but therein lies a danger – principally to your credit card!
When you walk out of the hotel’s business class reception facility, on the 6th floor, you are in the shopping centre and the first corridor is named ‘Diamond Walk’. This moniker is very appropriate as it houses all the world’s top designer brands from Jimmy Choo to Gucci.
My embattled wallet always seems to breathe an audible sigh of relief when we make it through this section of the mall, without it being taken from my pocket!
For more info on the various golf tours please, follow the blogs and articles on DGT and or contact John Cockayne.
………Keeping it on the fairway!
John Cockayne – Regional ambassador and golf editor for DGT Southern Africa & the Indian Ocean Islands.