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All Square Itineraries: Belek, Turkey
How golf helped transform Abu Dhabi into a leading travel destination
All Square has compared leading golf holiday locations, including Abu Dhabi in the UAE, the Algarve in Portugal, Belek in Turkey, the Spanish island of Mallorca, and Cyprus, to find the destination that’s best for winter training with a teaching pro. For our extensive study, we based our comparison on seven criteria which we believe are essential for creating the perfect golf holiday for those wanting to take their game to the next level.
Abu Dhabi came out on top, and here’s why…
While daytime temperatures can get extremely hot in Abu Dhabi during the summer (June to August), our study found it to be the best destination to visit between November and March – the most popular time for Europeans looking for a golf trip to somewhere warm and sunny. The city’s average temperature reaches around 25°C during this period, with almost guaranteed sunshine making it hard to beat for the sun-seeking golfer.
Our study found that while Abu Dhabi may have fewer golf courses than Belek, the Algarve and Mallorca, it’s the quality of the city’s courses that puts it in a league of its own. It’s the only destination in the study to have a golf course in All Square’s World’s Top 100 list: the fantastic Yas Links Abu Dhabi, designed by renowned architect Kyle Phillips.
Abu Dhabi also hosts two professional golf events. The National course at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club hosts the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship, a Rolex Series event on the European Tour, while the Fatima Bint Mubarak Open on the Ladies European Tour is played at Yas Links Abu Dhabi. Belek is the only other destination in our study to host a European Tour Rolex Series event, at Montgomerie Maxx Royal golf course.
Our study also showed that Abu Dhabi offers more value for money in terms of green fees than Mallorca and Cyprus, and only Belek’s golf courses were as conveniently located in terms of their proximity to hotels.
We found the hotel options in Abu Dhabi to be unequalled, and perfectly suited to families and groups of friends – ideal for a golfing getaway. Most leading hotel chains have four- and five-star properties there. Only the Algarve has more four-star hotels, but no destination has as many five-star options.
The most spectacular is the five-star W Yas Island, which is superbly located next to Yas Links Abu Dhabi. For those playing at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, the five-star Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi is right next to the golf course. The St Regis is another five-star option adjacent to that course. A great stay-and-play option is the five-star Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa, where luxury combines with a round at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
Our study found that, overall, Abu Dhabi was the best destination for golfers to travel to. Though flights to Mallorca and The Algarve are cheaper, mostly due to shorter flight times, these flights can incur hidden charges such as €35 each way to carry a golf bag and/or a large suitcase, and €10 each way to choose your own seat. These extra costs can rise to as much as €150.
Abu Dhabi’s national airline, Etihad Airways, offers the brilliant option of taking your golf bag for free. You can carry one set of clubs, weighing up to 15kg. This is in addition to your baggage allowance. Turkish Airlines also offer free transport of golf equipment on flights into Abu Dhabi, which includes one bag, shoes, tees and clubs. The superb weather in Abu Dhabi, especially from November to March, when compared to other locations in the study, also compensates for any extra cost. Flights to Portugal during the off-season can also involve a connecting flight at Lisbon, adding to your travel time.
Abu Dhabi International Airport was found to be the best connected for visitors, with Dubai Airport notably only an hour away. Etihad Airways is also government-owned and will resume normal operations once the Covid-19 pandemic has sufficiently passed.
Abu Dhabi‘s practice facilities were found to be the best in our study. While more expensive overall to use than the other destinations, the quality of the city’s golf academies were equalled only by those in the Algarve, while driving range options were considered the best. The state-of-the-art technology used by the golf academies was also without equal.
The Abu Dhabi Golf Institute at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club enhances lessons with video analysis and TrackMan ball radar. Saadiyat Beach Golf Club also has its own high-quality academy with PGA professionals as tutors, as does Yas Links which also has a nine-hole par 3 floodlit academy course. The academy at Abu Dhabi City Golf Club is also exceptional, boasting the only two-tiered driving range in the UAE, and the whole nine-hole course, which includes par 4s and 5s, is floodlit. Saadiyat Beach Golf Club also has floodlit facilities. In fact, in our study, only Belek rivals Abu Dhabi for floodlit options.
For professional golf teachers, evaluating travel packages can be the deciding factor on where to travel. For example, pros can teach for free if they book a certain amount of green fees at a golf club, or enjoy free accommodation at a hotel if they travel with a certain number of paying guests.
While Belek came out on top for value for money and variety of deals on offer, Abu Dhabi was equalled only by Belek and the Algarve for deals specifically designed for pro teachers. For example, the Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa offers pros free accommodation with seven or more paying guests.
Our study found that, overall, Abu Dhabi was the best destination to travel to in terms of activities away from the golf course. The dining options, including those at clubhouses, were the best, as were spa facilities for those wanting to indulge in sheer relaxing luxury.
While the Algarve may rival Abu Dhabi in terms of beaches and watersports, the UAE capital has its own impressive world-class attractions. These include stunning beaches, beautiful natural sights including mangroves and desert-scapes, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, which is an absolute must-see, and Louvre Abu Dhabi, a stunning art and civilisation museum. For the family, there’s also Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, one of the world’s largest theme parks, Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, a fully air-conditioned indoor theme park, and Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi, a huge waterpark with over 40 rides, slides, and attractions.