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Great International Golf Getaways

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

In part 1 of our Golf Getaway series, we offered a snapshot of some U.S. golfing resorts that may not be on your radar, but are worthy of a tee or two.  Because golf is one of the easiest sports to take with you on vacation, in part 2 of our series we profile phenomenal international courses that attract millions of golfers from around the world in the hopes of winning a championship, improving their personal handicap, or just learning the rules of the game – surrounded by stunning landscapes.

St. Andrews, scotland golf

St. Andrews, Scotland

A trip to St. Andrews, Scotland should be on every golfer’s bucket list. St. Andrews is considered the birthplace of golf, in part because the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, founded in 1754, exercises legislative authority over the game worldwide (except in the U.S. and Mexico). St. Andrews boasts challenging, but beautiful courses along with historic castles, botanical gardens, local festivals and relaxing spas.

If you’re looking for something a bit more temperate, there are a host of international golf getaway destinations.  Here are some that may be new to you:

Lucaula Island

Laucala Island, Fiji

Laucala Island, Fiji

Home of the exclusive Laucala Resort, this private island also features a championship 18-hole golf course with volcanic mountains as its backdrop and a sheer cliff drop into the Pacific Ocean. Non-golfers will enjoy an array of watersports, rainforest walking tours, relaxing beaches, farm visits, game fishing and horseback riding.

Royal Isabella, Puerto Rico

Royal Isabella, Puerto Rico

 

 

Royal Isabela, Puerto Rico

This course was designed on site, not on paper, so the land would dictate the final layout with minimal impact on the surrounding area. Native grasses, natural sand dunes and deep canyons are integral to the layout and pose challenges at every hole. Family members will enjoy the private club lifestyle on this 1800 acre resort with beach, nature trail and farm to table restaurant.

casa de campo, Costa Rica

Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic

Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic

Golf fans will clamor to play Teeth of the Dog, which is ranked the #1 course in the Caribbean. The stunning, waterfront scenery will surely distract from your game. Dye Fore is the second championship golf course on this property, with 7 cliff-side holes and breathtaking 360 degree views. Your kids will enjoy one of the 3 kids clubs that have age-appropriate activities scheduled. There are also tennis courts, polo fields, beaches, spa and a shooting facility.

Algarve, Portugal

Algarve, Portugal

Algarve, Portugal

Algarve is Portugal’s southernmost region, known for its sunny Mediterranean climate and its beach and golf resorts. Algarve is home to 80 golf courses, stunning scenery and for your non-golfers, there are plenty of historic sites along with walking trails, surfing, parasailing, hang gliding, clubs, restaurants and local festivals and events.

We’d love to hear where you played your favorite round of golf! Leave a comment below.

Great Golf Getaways in the U.S.

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

When you think of taking a golf getaway, avid golfers will usually think of the traditional go-to golf states: Hilton Head, SC; California, Arizona or Florida. While those locations boast a multitude of luxury resorts and championship golf courses, there are approximately 19,000 golf courses throughout the whole country which also offer pristine scenery and luxury accommodations, so there’s no need to limit your golf rounds to just a select few states.

Here is a sample of resorts from across the country that offer golf for all levels as well as non-golf activities for the spouses and children who have different interests. There is something for everyone and these resorts also offer summer packages.

sea island golf club

Sea Island, GA

Choose a room from The Cloister, The Lodge at Sea Island Golf Club or a Sea Island Cottage. The golfer in your family can play at three championship golf courses while the rest of the family keeps busy with private beaches, tennis, squash, Yacht Club, shooting school, horseback riding or spa treatments.

The Inn at Bar Harbor

The Inn at Bar Harbor

Bay Harbor, MI

OK, so Michigan isn’t the first place you think of when you think ‘golf’ but The Inn at Bay Harbor is a classic Victorian resort which offers hotel rooms or suites as well as 2-3 bedroom cottages. Choose to play at the Bay Harbor Golf Club or the Crooked Tree Golf Club while your family enjoys the spa, beaches lakeside resort towns, microbreweries, adventure sports or Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark. Michigan also has sunlight from 6am – 10pm which gives you plenty of time for multiple rounds of golf!

kiawah golf resort

Kiawah golf resort

 

Kiawah Island, SC

Just a few miles from Charleston, SC, Kiawah Island Golf Resort offers luxurious hotel rooms, villas or private homes to suit families of any size. Golfers choose from 5 breathtaking courses while families choose from shopping in Charleston, lounging on the private beach, spa treatments, tennis lessons, nature walks or on-site dining.

woodstock inn and golf resort

Woodstock Inn and Resort

Woodstock, VT

Playing golf overlooking the mountains is just as stunning as playing holes that overlook the water. The course at the Woodstock Inn & Resort was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. and is listed as one of the Top 100 golf resorts by Golf Magazine. Family members will enjoy spa treatments, mountain bike trails, cruiser bikes suitable for riding through town, gardening classes at Kelly Way Gardens, Kitchen Garden Collaborative classes with local chefs and falconry, which is new a new outdoor experience this year.

Finding a golf course to play while on vacation is not difficult at all. Be creative with choosing your location and always be prepared with your clubs! In the second part of this series, we’ll explore Best International Golf Getaways.

“Did you know…Free service helps consumers get what they deserve from businesses – including airlines?”

ServiceWith overall airline complaints to the US Department of Transportation rising 30% over the past five years*, it’s high time consumer travelers get what’s coming to them.  A new company called Service is aiming to turn the tables for consumers, putting them in a better position to receive fair compensation or refunds from a variety of businesses, including airlines.

“Service helps consumers get what they deserve from businesses. Basically, you tell us about a problem you had with a business, and we fix it for you,” says Michael Schneider, CEO, Service Technologies. “We’ve gotten non-refundable airline tickets refunded – when there’s a legitimate reason, delivery fees waived on late deliveries, appointment times prioritized, credits when bad service was provided at restaurants, and many more.”

For now, the service from Service is free, so now’s a good time to check them out.

*According to an analysis by US PIRG, a consumer advocacy group headquartered in Washington.

“Did you know…Rising hotel, car rental and airline taxes are pricing families out of travel?”

delta airlinesAccording to a new report by National Center for Policy Analysis Research Associate, Jacob Kohlhepp, the triple threat of travel-based taxes on hotel, car rental and airline tickets can increase costs up to 30 percent for family travelers.

“In a drive toward more revenue, officials at every level of government have raised a trifecta of travel-based taxes dramatically,” says Kohlhepp. “While travel taxes are a politically popular revenue tool, they discourage travel and tourism – particularly for low-income individuals and families.”

The tax rates on hotels, car rentals, and airline tickets vary by state. According to the report:

  • Twenty-two states charge a hotel occupancy tax, which can range from 3 to 13 percent of a night’s stay;
  • Taxes on car rentals can raise rental prices by nearly 25 percent;
  • There are seventeen different taxes and fees levied on air travel, which can increase base airfare by 30 percent.

“There is no doubt that air travel is more affordable for families than it was back in the day when were prices were set by the government,” says Senior Fellow Pam Villarreal. “But other aspects of travel are prohibitive, particularly in large cities.”

Travel Taxes: The Hidden Trifectahttp://www.ncpa.org/pub/travel-taxes-the-hidden-trifecta

2015 Travel Tech Update – One on One with Dave Dean, Travel Technology and Gear Expert

This month, ExpertFlyer talks with Dave Dean, a corporate refugee turned world wanderer who writes about travel and technology. Dave writes for popular sites, including About.com, NomadicMatt, as well as his own blog, toomanyadapters.com.  He also authored a book on travel tech, Hammocks and Hard Drives.

Dave discusses the hot trends in travel technology now, including wearables, real-time video streaming, can’t-live-without apps, as well as gadgets that make life on the road a little more like home.

What’s the hottest trend in travel tech right now?

Everyone is getting excited about wearables, although I haven’t found any compelling examples for travelers yet. There’s also a seemingly-endless stream of startups with apps offering some kind of ‘social travel’ experience, but again, none have become must-have travel companions with a broad user base. Real-time video streaming (eg. Periscope) is starting to show up in the travel space — it’s obviously dependent on having good connectivity, but I’d expect to see this continue to grow. Other than that, though, it’s pretty much the same things it’s been for a while — easier and cheaper ways to stay connected overseas, extra battery life and more storage on mobile devices.

Are you seeing any interesting developments across hotel chains and airlines that involve technology as a way to make vacations or business travel more like home or just more convenient?

I tend to find the best developments coming from startups and third parties, rather than the hotel chains and airlines themselves. Apps like Lounge Buddy, for instance, let you know which lounges you already have access to in any given airport on your route, and which ones you can buy day passes for, along with reviews and tips. That said, some of the hotel chains are doing interesting things — you can use your phone or Apple watch as your room key in Starwood hotels, as well as choose your room in advance and speed up the check-in / check-out process with hotel apps. I’d expect to see much more of this type of convenience in the next few years.

What are some of the best gadgets and gizmos for making life on the road better?

I’m always trying out some new gadget or other while traveling, but tend to find it’s the simple things that are most useful. For instance, I have a portable battery with extra storage space built in, that lets me charge my phone during a long travel day and save photos or video to it if I’m running out of space. You can get the same things built into an iPhone case as well, for extra convenience. I always take a travel-sized power strip with me — there are never enough power sockets in hotel rooms, and it lets me charge up to four devices simultaneously with one socket (and one plug adapter!). I’ve also recently started using a little adapter with 4 USB ports in, that includes detachable plugs for most countries. That way, I can charge (for instance) a phone, tablet and e-reader at the same time, from one wall socket.

Any useful recommendations for making airline travel less stressful and more comfortable?

An eye mask and noise-cancelling earphones or at least decent earplugs. I bought myself a good pair of noise-isolating earphones a couple of years ago, and they’ve transformed my travel days. I found that noisy passengers and the drone of the engine caused extra stress and made it hard to rest on flights. Now I just put on some relaxing music, pull down the eye mask and chill out. It makes even long-haul in economy class somewhat bearable!

ExpertFlyer recently surveyed more than 1,000 family travelers.  We asked them to name their top “can’t live without” travel apps, and TripAdvisor reigned supreme, followed by airline apps and Google maps.  What’s your take?  What are your top picks?

Google Maps is great — and with the addition of proper offline navigation later this year, it’ll get even better for international travelers without mobile data. I’m always dubious about the accuracy of the information on TripAdvisor, but do occasionally use it to get food recommendations in more obscure cities. The forums are the most useful part, for me — I’ll often use those for tracking down obscure transport routes and prices, for instance. As far as airline apps go, I tend to use Skyscanner to look up prices and times, but I’ll always make the booking on a computer — entering personal information and credit card details is too frustrating otherwise!

I have many travel apps on my phone, but those I use the most include Tripit (for compiling my itinerary, even offline), Google Translate (great for menus and street signs), XE Currency (to always know the exchange rate), Google Maps (if I’ve got data) and Here Maps (for offline use). 

Looking forward, what are some of the cool travel tech advances we might find in the next 3-5 years?

I expect we’ll see the first wearables (probably smartwatches) that are genuinely valuable for travel. Cell companies are finally starting to get the message we all hate roaming charges, and the example set by T-Mobile in the US and Three in the UK will expand to other carriers. Speech translation in real-time is starting to show up now with Skype Translator, and will become more polished and usable in the next few years. Free public wi-fi will continue to get rolled out in cities all over the world, making it easier than ever to stay connected on the move.