In 1997, Stelios Patsalides became the General Manager at Minthis Hills Resort, when the golf club was still known as Tsada Golf Club and Golf Tourism was new to the island. 20 years later, Cyprus has emerged as one of the most popular golfing destinations in Europe.
All Square caught up with Mr. Patsalides to discuss the recipe of this success, the best moments of his career and the development projects at Minthis Hills Resort.
In recent years, Cyprus has grown as an international golfing destination. What’s the recipe for this success?
Cyprus has quickly emerged as one of the leading golf destinations In Europe and the recipe for this success lies firstly in the nature of the island. Ranked within the world’s top holiday destinations, with an ideal year round climate and one of the safest European countries, Cyprus offers perfect conditions to develop itself as a golfing paradise.
When Minthis Hills first opened as Tsada Golf Club in 1994 it was the first professional golf course in Cyprus and it didn’t take long for golf to become an integral and growing part of the Cypriot tourism industry. With the addition of three golf courses, all within 20 minutes of each other, the island is a favourite destination for avid golfers and for professionals training in the winter sun.
More recently, the four golf clubs in Pafos have started a close cooperation to jointly promote the destination together with the Cyprus Tourism Organization. This cooperation came at the right time, when more and more golfers are looking for alternative quality golfing destinations.
What makes Cyprus a great golfing destination?
Cyprus is a year-round golfing destination with the warmest winter climates in Europe for golf. Four unique championship golf courses with excellent facilities, all within just a 20-minute drive of the coastal town of Pafos, attract both amateur and professionals to the island. Each of the courses has its own distinct qualities with some of the world’s most renowned golf course architects leaving their signature on the challenging island courses.
To complement the golfing experience there is the famous Cypriot hospitality, first class hotels and accommodation, Mediterranean culinary delights, delicious local wines, an abundance of beaches and rich historic cultural highlights to explore and enjoy. To top it off, the island is a convenient short flight away from Europe and the UAE.
What are the biggest challenges Cyprus is facing to grow even more in the coming 5 years?
We have firmly established Cyprus as a must visit golf destination over the past years and we are still looking at a great growth potential. Challenges along the way, are the same as any tourist destination, retaining and extending the flight connections while keeping fares competitive.
When did you become the general manager at Minthis Hills and what are your best memories so far?
My appointment as Resort Manager began in November 1997, when the golf club was still known as Tsada Golf Club and Golf Tourism was new to the island. Over 20 years, I have been blessed with beautiful memories, from memorable moments with our members, the exciting renovation of the golf course, the opening of the new Clubhouse, to the last days of Pater Varnavas living at the 12th century monastery located at the heart of our golf course.
It is difficult to single out a specific memory but there was a moment when I could feel it all coming together. It was in October 2015 during the prize-giving ceremony of the European Men’s Club Trophy, when the teams of 25 nations walked up to the 10th tee with their flags while the sun just set behind them. I felt incredibly grateful and was very proud of my team for successfully hosting this important final of the European Golf Association for the second time in four years.
Tell us more about the latest developments at Minthis Hills Golf Club?
As part of our on-going sustainable and environmental strategy at Minthis Hills, the Golf Club enrolled in the Golf Environment Organization (GEO) OnCourse programme. After the course renovation in 2007 which included a complete renewal of the irrigation system and later the re-seeding of fairways and roughs with more drought-tolerant Bermuda grass, we are now at the stage of taking the next crucial step in our sustainability commitment.
With an investment of 1.2 million Euros, Minthis Hills will soon be connected to the grey water supply of Pafos. Upon project completion by the end of this year, grey water will be available to irrigate the entire golf course.
Apart from the pipeline work, we have had a busy summer here at Minthis with the creation of the new 11th hole. The contouring of the new Par 3 hole has already been completed and the seeding was finished at the end of August as per our timetable set with golf course architect Tom Mackenzie. We are looking forward to opening the new exciting hole for play in spring 2018.
What are the next development projects in the pipeline?
The final phase of the planned golf course improvements will begin with the creation of the spectacular new 10th hole in 2018, which will be set outside the current golf course layout, in a dramatic scenery opposite the luxurious Clubhouse. Mackenzie & Ebert famed for their work on the British Open Championship courses, the same design company used by the R&A for many of the courses on the Open Rota, will implement a truly ambitious plan with a new Par 5 hole that will boast full panorama of the Troodos Mountains, becoming undoubtedly a hole with one of the best views!
The resort is also at a very exciting stage of its development, the golf course and clubhouse are fully operational and within the next few years work will be completed on a unique Wellness Spa, a Village Square with a range of dining and shopping facilities, a multifunctional Sports Ground including Tennis courts and Equestrian Centre as well as the continuous development of the residential neighborhoods. Once complete, the resort will become a destination in its own right.
What are your 3 favorite golf courses in the world?
Your favorite pro on Tour and why?
I would say Henrik Stenson. Although the current performance of so many young players is simply astonishing and record-breaking, I admire the stamina of Stenson. To be continuously successful for almost 20 years comes down to hard work, self-discipline, extraordinary willpower and certainly a one-of-a-kind character. If I think about it, he began his career as a Pro when I first got into golf business and even though I started following his games much later, it was such a rewarding experience seeing him to win The Open at the age of 40 in 2016.
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