UK & Ireland

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Spa time at The Gleneagles Hotel in central Scotland.

celtic manor resort

The Property: Set on more than 2,000 acres of parkland in South Wales, Celtic Manor Resort is made up of two hotels: the 330-room Resort Hotel and the historic, 19th century Manor House with 70 rooms. History mingles with charm at the Manor House where accommodations range from the Manor Period Four Poster Suite to the Manor Period Family Room, while the Resort Hotel offers Superior Suites with queen-size beds and balcony option, and Deluxe Suites featuring a master bedroom with separate lounge and dining area.

The Golf: Celtic Manor Resort offers its guests three courses to choose from: The Twenty Ten Course, a par 71 with water hazards on half of its holes and built specifically to host The Ryder Cup in 2010; the Roman Road Course, a par 70 designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. and the venue for The Celtic Manor Wales Open from 2005 to 2007; and The Montgomerie Course, a challenging par 69 course designed by golf legend Colin Montgomerie and reminiscent of the classic Scottish links courses.

The Roman Road Course at Celtic Manor Resort in South Wales.

The Amenities: From spa treatments to fishing, mountain biking and castle sightseeing there are a slew of activities guests can experience. And the restaurant scene offers a choice to dine at six on-property restaurants, including the elegant Terry M restaurant.

The Scene: Ideal for couples or a guys’ getaway, Celtic Manor Resort is also very family-friendly and ideal for a multi-generational holiday. Toddlers can try their hand at golf with Adventure Golf, a miniature golf course with two 9-hole courses, or take swimming lessons. Advise your client to look into purchasing the Activity Pass ($59 per child, ages 6 and up), giving kids a full day of fun learning archery and playing laser tag along with other activities.

The Rates: The Two Course Stay and Play package includes 1-night accommodations for two in the Manor House; a full Welsh breakfast; 18 holes at The Montgomerie and Roman Road courses; and full use of The Forum Health Club. Starting rates are $121 pp.

Birds-eye view of Doonbeg in Ireland

the lodge at doonbeg

The Property: Nestled along the southwest coast of County Clare, along the Atlantic Ocean in Ireland, sits The Lodge at Doonbeg, a 400-acre luxury resort situated on the main coastal road between the world-famous Ballybunion and Lahinch golf courses. It’s like a welcoming Irish country estate with accommodations that vary from Oceanview Suites to Links Cottages and Courtyard Suites.

The Golf: The Doonbeg Golf Club is a par 72 course stretching 1.5 miles adjacent to the beach and dunes. Designed by 2-time British Open champion Greg Norman, the golf course opened in 2002 and has been heralded the “European Golf Course of the Year” by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators. Doonbeg also offers a practice facility with a driving range, putting green and chipping area for golfers who want to warm up before tackling the course.

The Amenities: Golfing all day can build up an appetite, so the property is betting on its culinary flair to satisfy guests seeking either pub-style dining at Darby’s, which serves chowders and fresh local seafood, or more refined fare at The Long Room; afternoon tea is served daily in The Tea Room and en-suite dining is also available. The body also needs relaxation after a full day of golfing, and the 1,000-sq.-ft. White Horses Spa offers special treatments like the Deep Tissue Golfers massage or the White Horses Signature Caviar Facial.

Accommodations at The Gleneagles Hotel in central Scotland

The Scene: The Lodge at Doonbeg (“Dun Beag” or small fort) is luxurious, yet unpretentious, and is located in the small village of Doonbeg that is overlooked by the ruins of a castle. This is an ideal home base from which to explore the area, including a day visit to the breathtaking Cliffs of Mohar or the mysterious Portal Dolmen, as well as area caves.

The Rates: The Doonbeg and Lahinch Golf Getaway gives golfers 2-night accommodations, daily breakfast, and a chance to play on both courses. Starting rates are $373 pp.

Doonbeg Golf Club in Ireland

the gleneagles hotel

The Property: A member of The Leading Hotels of the World, this Scottish resort in central Scotland will be celebrating its 90th anniversary in June 2014. Gleneagles sits on 850 acres and features 232 luxe rooms, including 26 suites. Winning numerous accolades, this resort has been described as a “Riviera in the Highlands,” so you get the picture.

Accommodations at Celtic Manor Resirt;s Manor House in South Wales

The Golf: There are three championship golf courses onsite: The King’s Course, which opened in 1919 and tests the skills of both professional and amateur players; Queen’s Course, designed in a woodland setting that has attracted top golfers such as Greg Norman, Lee Trevino, Seve Ballesteros, and Tom Watson; and the Jack Nicklaus-designed PGA Centenary Course, host of the 2014 Ryder Cup.

The Amenities: With 20 treatment rooms, the award-winning Spa at Gleneagles by ESPA is where both men and women can sit back and unwind with signature treatments, relaxing massages and facials. The Club at Gleneagles, meanwhile, offers a lap pool and an outdoor pool along with a jacuzzi, steam bath and sauna. Gleneagles also boasts a Michelin-starred restaurant, Andrew Fairlie, along with The Dormy Clubhouse located next to the King’s and Queen’s 18th holes.

The Scene: This is Scotland after all so outdoor enthusiasts are par for the course. Guests can try off-roading in a 4WD vehicle over challenging courses designed by off-road specialists; try the ancient sport of falconry at the British School of Falconry at Gleneagles; or take an onsite lesson at the equestrian school.

The Rates: The Ultra Fit For Golf package includes instruction from the hotel’s professional PGA coaches; daily Scottish breakfast; full use of The Club including tennis courts, gym, and pool complex; and a physical assessment from a team of spa therapists to create a health and wellness program that may include dietary changes or alternative medicine options. Rates start at $885 pp dbl for two days; $1,853 for four days; and $2,784 for seven days.

package it with absolutely golf

For more than 20 years, Connecticut-based golf tour operator Absolutely Golf has booked packages and vacations for golfers wanting to test their skills on courses in Ireland, England, Spain, Portugal, South Africa, New Zealand, and of course, the birthplace of the sport, Scotland.

“When we originally opened our doors, the only trips we offered were to Ireland and Scotland, but over the years we expanded because our clients were looking to experience golf in other parts of the world,” says Debbie Bussey, president and owner, Absolutely Golf, as well as founder/chairman of the North American Golf Tour Operators Alliance.

Absolutely Golf caters to the North American golfer, whether they are the Sunday player or the amateur.

“The majority of our golf trips are groups of male golfers who want to play the top courses,” she says. “However, we are seeing an increase in couples golf with fewer rounds and more
leisure activities, and stays at resorts with spas, which appeal to couples.”

As more couples are traveling to the UK to combine their golf holiday with sightseeing and experiencing the people and culture, the real draw to an overseas golf trip is playing on a links
golf course, courses that straddle the sea with dunes and undulating topography.

“Playing true links golf courses is one of the major draws for North American golfers traveling to the UK, as the majority of the world’s links golf courses are located in Wales, Scotland and Ireland,” says Bussey. “Many of the links courses in the U.S. are private members clubs, whereas visitors are welcome to play these courses in the UK.”

Bussey says that the best times to book an overseas golf experience for your client is from May to September, especially during the summer months when the days are longer, which means more time to play golf and sightsee. (877) 545-4653;

hit london, then tee off

Situated just 18 miles out of London, The Grove is the city’s cosmopolitan country estate boasting one of England’s finest luxury golf courses with greens that are in immaculate championship condition year-round. The 7,152-yard championship golf course was designed by international course designer Kyle Phillips, who blends the traditional designs of British golf course architecture with modern game strategies; and the best part is visiting golfers are welcome to test their skills on the course as membership fees aren’t necessary to play. (

Archived related articles (available on
Portugal & Spain Serve Up a Banquet of Great Golf (May 2011)

contact information

Celtic Manor Resort: (866) 789-5779;
The Gleneagles Hotel: (866) 881-9525;
The Lodge at Doonbeg: (866) 366-6234;