Belek The perfect golfing destination
SO you have decided that you want a golf break or a golf holiday, but you don't want to spend a fortune. You want great golf courses and friendly locals who will make you feel welcome.
You want good food and you want a perfect climate for playing golf. You also want really good accommodation because the last thing you need is the rest of your family or golf group complaining about the state of the room, the food, the cleanliness or the noise.
Belek will tick every single one of those boxes – and then some. For a start, there are 14 great golf courses, all within easy striking distance. They have been designed by such legends of the game as Nick Faldo, Peter Thomson and Colin Montgomerie – men who wouldn't put their names to any course unless it was a little bit special.
You probably want to avoid travelling to Belek on a golfing holiday in July and August because at that time of year it is VERY hot. But from September through to mid-June, the climate is just perfect. Belek is now a fixture on the European Tour schedule, with the Turkish Airlines Open attracting some of the biggest names in world golf so you can be certain that the courses you play will be of the highest quality.
You can play on the same course as the tour pros if you like and compare your game with theirs. But rest assured, no matter which course you tackle you will find wonderful conditions – perfectly-manicured tees, lush fairways and stunning greens are all, well, par for the course.
The area is perfect for groups. Many courses in Spain positively discourage groups of golfers from coming anywhere near their club and charge prohibitively expensive green fees. It makes no sense. At Belek, you can be sure of a warm welcome when you arrive at any of the courses, and a friendly greeting when you stagger into the bar after your round looking for an ice-cold beer.
Turkey seems determined not to make the same mistakes that so many other countries have. If you price golfers off your courses they simply won't come back; not only that, but when they get home they will tell their friends to steer clear. So you won't find green fees in Belek that make you choke into your beer.
And because many of the hotels offer all-inclusive accommodation, you needn't worry about how much you will spend when you get there. Drinks kitty? What drinks kitty?
Golfbreaks.com can take care of your entire package to Belek – and that includes flights. Not only that, but you won't have to pay extra to take your golf clubs. How good is that? The company have been using the same ground handler for 18 years – they are used to moving golf clubs, so you can be confident that your gear will arrive with you at your destination and that it will be in one piece. They organise breaks to Belek starting at just £305.
Golfbreaks.com can also arrange your tee-times, having already secured prime times for the rest of 2014 through to spring 2015, so you won't find yourself having to drag your group out of bed at 6am while they complain about hangovers or being forced to rush round in the early evening to get 18 holes completed before darkness falls.
As the popularity of Belek grows, you do need to book early to ensure you get the deal you want.
But when you get there you are really are spoilt for choice in this part of the world. Why not try the luxury 5-star Maxx Royal, which is just across the road from the excellent Montgomerie course? Or how about the 27-hole Cornelia Diamond Resort, where Faldo has created what is generally regarded as one of the finest golf complexes in Europe. Others to add to your list as a must play in Belek would be Antalya Golf Club, Sirene Belek Golf Hotel and the beautiful 36-hole Sueno.
The Cornelia Diamond was Faldo's first project in this part of the world. As you would expect with any golf courses to which he has attached his name, you need to plot your way round. There is plenty of water and cleverly-placed bunkers and waste areas, but good shots will be rewarded, and the greens are something special. The layout consists of three nine-hole courses which form three 18-hole layouts – the King, is 6,373 metres from the back tees, the Queen is 6,072m and the Prince measures 6,234 m, proving that great golf courses don't have to be monsters. And with holes boasting names such as 'Tight Squeeze', 'Corridor' and 'Jaws', you know that you will face a challenge. But it is a fair challenge, and it will leave you wanting more.
The complex boasts a David Leadbetter academy and there is also a spa. If you are staying at the hotel, there is a free shuttle service to and from the golf complex.
Colin Montgomerie is especially proud of his course at the Maxx Royal, and quite rightly. It is set within 104 hectares of picturesque, mixed pine forest and sandy ridges, and the feel of the natural environment has been maintained, which is a characteristic of Monty's course design – he always makes the most of what is already there.
From the championship tees it measures 6,486 metres and presents a formidable test, but most golf groups will play it from the yellow tees, which cuts the length to 5,527 metres. It is a par 72 with two par fives and three par threes on the front nine, and three par fives and two par threes on the back nine. Like Faldo's Belek masterpiece, you will find the Montgomerie in fabulous condition, no matter when you play it. It really is a treat.
The Maxx Royal is a 5-Star hotel in which every guest room has been designed as a suite, offering spacious luxury accommodation and breathtaking views across the Belek coastline. A variety of dining options offer quality and choice, with a main restaurant, two specially designed children’s restaurants, five a la carte restaurants, FOURTEEN bars and a patisserie, each preparing carefully selected ingredients. The entertainment includes live music, acrobatic displays (not from visiting golf groups, it is to be hopes), and activities for adults, as well as Maxxi Land, a sort of mini Disneyland experience designed especially for children.
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