Pandemic Spurred Boost in Golf Tourism
A rising interest in golf among travelers across the globe is proving to be beneficial for hotels and resorts that are able to accommodate.
Dan Johnson, general manager of the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort and Spa in Indian Wells, California, said in an email interview that this trend particularly spiked with the onset of the pandemic.
"The interest in golf has been continuously strong. With the pandemic, this only increased," he said. "The Indian Wells Golf Resort [which is on the same campus as the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort and Spa] has seen significant increase [in demand] since 2020, especially as we head into the cooler months."
At the Four Seasons Resort Lanai in Lanai City, Hawaii, both occupancy and rounds of golf booked have increased in the past year and a half, said PGA Director of Golf Scott Ashworth.
"There is no doubt that there was a noticeable increase in rounds at the various private courses around the state corresponding to the increase in visitors," he said via email.
Grant DeMoss, director of golf at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan, said the resort's 18-hole golf course, The Jewel, has been widely sought out by groups.
Many of the regularly returning groups are now bringing more new people with them on the course, signaling an increase in people being introduced to the game, he added.
David Jurcak, president of operations at the Grand Hotel, said the resurgence in golf's popularity is due in part to its social distancing advantages.
Jurcak said the property within the past few weeks has been putting in additional employee recruiting efforts, both domestic and international, to accommodate the demand.
Packages, Programming, Offerings
This fall, the Mayakoba Golf Classic will commence at the El Camaléon Golf Club in Mayakoba, Mexico. Etéreo, Auberge Resorts Collection, Riviera Maya, General Manager Vinod Narayan said in an email interview that his property is rolling out packages to take advantage of the upcoming event demand.
Since opening in December 2021, Narayan said the property has attracted active travelers, especially those with a connection to golf.
This year's Golfer's Paradise Package encourages guests to make Etéreo, Auberge Resorts Collection their home base while enjoying the various golf courses in the Riviera Maya, including El Camaleón Mayakoba and Iberostar Playa Paraiso, he added. El Camaleón Mayakoba is about a 15-minute drive from the resort, and guests receive complimentary transportation to and from the golf course.
"As the newest luxury property in the destination, we wanted to support players who aim to pursue their passions for golf while on vacation," he said.
The Four Seasons Lanai began offering complimentary PXG and Titleist golf club rentals to all guests staying on property this July. Ashworth said this offering appeals to guests who don't want to bring their own clubs, which can be cumbersome and expensive to ship.
"While this program is just starting, we are looking forward to seeing how many additional rounds of golf this produces as well as feedback from our guests," he added.
The resort has an afternoon program for golfers looking to experience the "Sunset Nine" on the course, which is its most scenic holes. This package includes rental clubs and a drink of the day, Ashworth said.
"This has been a very popular program for a couple years now for those that are just looking to play nine holes and have fun with friends or as a couple," he said. "It's especially great for those that are more casual golfers."
The resort's other program, "Member for a Week," appeals to travelers who are staying at the property for a week or more.
"The program is all the golf you can play for seven consecutive days. This has been a hit with those looking to play multiple rounds while visiting Lanai," he said.
Four Seasons Resort Lanai has also realized the importance of keeping up with the latest golf technology. For the past five years, it has had a Trackman, digital readouts for the targets on the driving range at each hitting station and now GPS in the golf carts as well as Bluetooth speakers.
Johnson said this is Hyatt Regency Indian Wells' first year offering a golf-related package for guests but the property has always partnered in some capacity with the Indian Wells Golf Resort, which is about a three-minute walk away from the Hyatt Regency.
Its summer "Stay and Play" includes accommodations for two guests, a daily round of golf with transportation and bag drop, daily dining or shop credit and spa discounts.
The Grand Hotel's three packages this year are the "Late Summer Michigan Golf Live," from Sept. 15-17; "Fall Michigan Golf Live" from Oct. 9-12; and "Tea for Two Golf" available through the season.
"[We're] trying to captivate all these people who want to come and golf," DeMoss said. "From what I've heard talking to [hotel-level employees], a lot of people come up from across the state and they do a tournament. It's a different culture up here in those times because everyone is here for golf, which that's not always the case. When you get a bunch of golfers together, they enjoy camaraderie."
He said the property aims to make golf club rentals affordable, of high quality and fitting to every style of player.
Jurcak said the golf packages seem to be more popular this year than in the past.
"Golf was, I would say, a declining sport pre-pandemic. It was tough to get somebody away for 4.5 hours to go play golf. I think more people are getting into the game as well as more people wanting to experience golf on Mackinac Island," he said. "We see a lot more requests for golf packages or added-value items around golf. And our featured golf weekends are filling up much faster than they used to."
Tying in Wellness Offerings
Golf travelers often place wellness in the forefront, Johnson said, and they will take advantage of the fitness center, walking trails and spa at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells.
Etéreo, Auberge Resorts Collection, Riviera Maya's Golfer's Paradise package also encourages guests to indulge in spa services at SANA.
"We definitely see active travelers relaxing in the spa, and that's why we have curated this package to include a 60-minute massage," he said.
Ashworth said it's important that the resort's team members engage every guest in person or on the phone to encourage them to play golf, whether it's selling a round of nine holes or the week-long package.
"The best way to upsell golf travelers is to provide them with the best golf experience in Hawaii. We've worked hard to gain rankings in both Golf Digest and Golfweek, and I believe Manele Golf Course has become a 'bucket list' type of golf course to play," he said. "It's important that our entire team deliver on that dream from both a service standpoint as well as course conditioning."
Ashworth said the course also promotes flexibility and accommodates guests' needs.
"We don't have marshals pushing guests around the course and don't pair guests up if they'd like to play as a couple or even a single," he said.
Inspiring Young Golfers
Junior golfers will soon be the next wave of travelers who keep the sport alive at hotels and resorts, Jurcak said. Grand Hotel offers discount opportunities for juniors golfing with parents.
"There's more younger kids that are wanting to learn the game; we've made a big push to get parents to bring their children out on the golf course, just so we can continue to push golf to our junior audience," Jurcak said.
DeMoss also leads daily short-game lessons for juniors.
"Juniors are the future," DeMoss said. "One thing we are going to get into here soon is junior camps as well on top of the complimentary [lessons]."
Copyright 2022 CoStar Group. All rights reserved. From https://www.costar.com. By Dana Miller, Hotel News Now.