In today’s world of tight budgets and tighter schedules, many golfers are combining their love of the game with family travel. Yet, all too often, they feel a twinge of guilt leaving their loved ones behind when heading out for four-plus hours on the golf course.
Is golf without guilt possible on a family vacation? Is there a fair and equitable solution that leaves both golfers and non-golfers happy and satisfied? The golf experts at Fairmont Hotels & Resorts believe there is if travelers are a bit flexible, plan ahead and follow their strategies for success.
One of the great things about vacation is that schedules are more relaxed. Many people choose to sleep in and enjoy a leisurely breakfast before getting started on their day’s adventures. Golfers should use this to their advantage by sacrificing a little sleep, booking early morning tee times and spending the rest of the day with their families.
“During the summer months in Scotland, the sun rises very early,” says Graeme Dawson, Leisure Sales & Marketing Manager of Fairmont St Andrews in St Andrews, Scotland. “If golf travelers plan ahead and book an early tee time at either of our two courses – The Torrance and Kittocks courses – or any of the other acclaimed courses in and around St Andrews, it’s very likely the golfer can enjoy his or her round, be back at the resort well before lunchtime, and spend the afternoon exploring the charms of St Andrews with his or her family without missing a beat.”
In fact, one of the best ways to get a tee time at the famed Old Course, according to Dawson, is to arrive early and play as a single. He says it is much easier for the starter to slot these players in than others, and they can be on the first tee as early as 6:30 a.m.
Plan Alternative Activities
World-class resorts, like Fairmont’s golf properties, are ideal for golfers traveling with non-golfers because they offer an array of activities and attractions in one unique location. This means there is plenty for family members to enjoy while the golfers are out on the course.
In ocean-front locations, this can mean that while golfers are on the course, non-golfing family members spend leisure time on the beach, snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding or simply relaxing. Or, they can enjoy experiences unique to the setting such as an authentic Hawaiian guided outrigger canoe experience at The Fairmont Kea Lani on Maui, an eco-boat tour of the Fairmont Mayakoba’s canals and mangrove forests in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, or jet skiing and SCUBA diving at The Fairmont Southampton’s private beach club in Bermuda.
Mountain destinations offer opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, wildlife viewing and exploring, as well as a host of one-of-a-kind of adventures of their own. For example, The Fairmont Chateau Whistler at the foot of Blackcomb Mountain in British Columbia offers a unique opportunity for skiing or snowboarding atop the mountain while the golf course is open for play below as well as a breathtaking Peak 2 Peak gondola ride and brand new viewing gallery. At The Fairmont Banff Springsin the heart of Canada’s cherished Banff National Park, guest options for taking in the natural beauty and historic significance of the park are nearly limitless. Among the more popular are the guided Banff Lake Cruise and the Voyager Canoe Experience at Lake Louise. Likewise, The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge provides a wide array of options, including the unforgettable experience of viewing the iconic Columbia Icefields via the Glacier Skywalk – a scenic walkway with glass-floored observation platform.
Of course, among the most popular of all non-golf amenities at modern world-class resorts are the spas. Spouses of non-golfers, both male and female, easily can while away half a day or more enjoying a wide variety of luxurious treatments, fitness classes and wellness programs. Fairmont’s golf properties are among the industry leaders at providing innovative, enticing and cutting-edge spa experiences. Properties such as The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa in Sonoma, California, combine the luxuries of its renowned Willow Stream Spa with an idyllic setting and invigorating natural mineral hot springs to create a spa experience like no other. Likewise, The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Scottsdale, Arizona, has added a whole new dimension to its spa. The new Well & Being at Willow Stream Spa combines proprietary spa products and treatments with an evidence-based approach to nutrition, exercise and vitality to create highly personalized programs that invigorate body, mind and spirit.
When both parents are golfers and the children are not, nearly all major resort properties offer half-day or full-day kids’ camps or other supervised programming. Such amenities provide youngsters with fun, educational experiences and the opportunities to build friendships and social skills while allowing the parents freedom to pursue their passion for golf, knowing their children are well-cared for and enjoying their time on vacation. Among Fairmont’s most innovative is Fairmont Mayakoba’s Discovery Club & Adventure Camp. The camp offers dynamic, cultural and educational activities to spark the creativity of even its youngest campers. Kids 4 to 12 can enjoy epic adventures in the sacred Mayan jungle and learn about planet Earth’s natural and cultural wonders, with the guidance of Iggi the iguana, Chamu the monkey and Balam the jaguar, create unique handcrafts such as “Penachos” (Mayan inspired head dress) or make colorful paper banners, piñatas or Origami, among many other fun activities.
Even the most exotic locations, such as Fairmont Zimbali Lodge near Durban, South Africa, offer comprehensive programs dedicated to the unique interests of the youngest travelers. At the Zimbali property, Fairmont’s young guests may enroll in the Y-Univers. This kids club provides all-day care with meals, snacks and activities included. Another option for older children is Bite, a “sports bar” tailored to “tweens and teens.” It features a juke box, pool table, foosball table as well as other activities and is located next to the swimming pool, providing hours of fun.
Share the Game
Of course, the best long-term solution is simply to share the game of golf with family members. There has been a boom of comprehensive golf schools and instruction programs at resorts around the world. Increasingly golf facilities have begun offering unique incentives and programs to “grow the game” by making it more accessible to beginners.
In addition to offering world-class golf schools, some properties such as The Fairmont Chateau Whistler and Fairmont Mayakoba allow junior golfers to play for free when accompanied by a paying adult. Of course, some restrictions apply and it is recommended that players inquire with the golf courses ahead of time.
Finally, if players cannot interest their spouses or significant others in playing the game, perhaps they can entice them to enjoy a golf course “ride along.” In addition to spending time together enjoying the natural beauty of the great outdoors, oftentimes golf courses – especially those in locations such as Whistler, Banff, Jasper and Zimbali – provide unparalleled opportunities for wildlife viewing.
“If managed properly, golf courses provide wonderful natural habitat for a wide variety of wildlife,” said Joanne Du Plooy, Communications Manager for Fairmont Zimbali Lodge & Resort. “We have tremendous diversity of small animal and bird life on the estate. Riding around the golf course is a nature lover and photographer’s dream as are the numerous wildlife safaris available in the area. Even if one never picks up a club, they will certainly enjoy time spent with loved ones on the golf course.”
So with just a little forethought and a measure of flexibility, it is entirely possible to enjoy golf without guilt on a family vacation. To learn more about Fairmont’s golf properties and golf vacation packages, visit www.fairmont.com.
About Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is a celebrated collection of more than 60 luxury properties around the globe, including Shanghai’s Fairmont Peace Hotel, The Plaza in New York, and Makkah Clock Royal Tower in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The luxury brand’s distinctive hotels offer a sense of heritage and sophistication, warm, engaging service and culturally rich experiences. A community and environmental leader, Fairmont is also recognized internationally for its responsible tourism practices and award-winning Green Partnership program. Fairmont is owned by FRHI Holdings Limited, a leading global hotel company with over 100 hotels under the Fairmont, Raffles, and Swissôtel brands. The company also manages Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel branded luxury private residences club, whole-ownership residences and serviced residences properties. For more information or reservations, please call 1-800-441-1414 or visit fairmont.com.
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