The International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) named Bulgaria as the 2012 Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year. The announcement headlined the organization’s Awards Ceremony & Gala Dinner which took place at the magnificent Cornelia Diamond Resort in Belek, Turkey on Thursday 17th November 2011 on the final night of the annual International Golf Travel Market.
The Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism of Bulgaria Mr Traycho Traykov joined by the President of the Bulgarian Golf Association Mr Krassimir Guergov received the Award for Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year. ‘This award represents a great honour and recognition for Bulgaria and, in particular, for its fast developing golf industry’, Mr Traykov said.
The IAGTO Awards were established in 2000 to reward a few exceptional contributions to the world of golf travel. The Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year is voted for by the International Golf Travel Writers Association (IGTWA), incorporating 159 of the world’s leading golf travel journalists in 33 countries. Tasked with identifying an “undiscovered gem” among the world’s golf destinations, members assess each nomination against the following criteria:
• To what extent the destination is “undiscovered”;
• Qualities that make it an interesting golf destination;
• Attractiveness of the region and courses;
• Quality and accessibility of the courses;
• Standard of accommodations;
• Friendliness of the staff;
• Value for money and Speed of Play;
This is the second year in a row when Bulgaria has been among the nominees in this prestigious category. The top six finalists for the 2012 award were Bulgaria, Colombia, Iceland, Mississippi, India and Galicia, Spain.
See the slideshow, images copyright: Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort
So what distinguished Bulgaria apart from this tough competition?
The country is a mosaic of rich historic and cultural traditions, culinary delights, recreational pursuits and natural beauties. Bulgaria has earned an international reputation among ‘foodies’ for its world famous yoghurt and red wines, among the seekers of le joie de vivre for its Rose valley, numerous sea, ski and Spa resorts and among the connoisseurs of historical heritage for its ancient treasures and remains of old civilizations. Above all, the hospitality of Bulgarians is unmatched.
Bulgarian Golf Development
The Award for Undiscovered Golf Destination is a crowning moment for the country which made its first steps in golf in the beginning of the new Millenium. The Bulgarian Golf Association was established in 2001. In 2003 started the construction of St. Sofia Golf Club & SPA, the first 18-hole golf course in Bulgaria. In 2008 three new golf courses were open – BlackSeaRama, Lighthouse Golf Resort and Pirin Golf & Country Club. In 2011 the two newest projects were completed – Pravets Golf Club and Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach resort. After their opening Bulgaria could deservedly be called a signature golf destination as all six 18-holes golf courses bear the signatures of world renowned golf designers – Gary Player, Paul McGinley, Ian Woosnam, Peter Harradine.
Two major golf destinations could be defined in Bulgaria – the Cape Kaliakra Golf Destination embraces three golf courses by the Black Sea coast and the Sofia Destination consists of three first class courses.
The Cape Kaliakra Golf Destination is situated some 50 km away from Varna and only one and a half hours flight from Vienna and Prague.
Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort is the jewel of Gary Player’s portfolio for 2011. The 18-hole Signature Golf Course forms the core of the resort. From every hole there is stunning view of the Black Sea coast. The 6th hole sits on top of the cliff with the green set some 40 m below. Another challenge is the 7th hole whose tee box is on a small island in the sea. Thracian Cliffs is the only Bulgarian golf resort which has its own beaches. The guests could also relax at the elegant Thracian SPA, and to enjoy therapies with high class cosmetics and typically Bulgarian natural products like yoghurt, honey, mud and wine.
BlackSeaRama is a classic links golf course with remarkable views of the sea. It offers the very best of Gary Players’ style, said the US Masters champion Angel Cabrera after he played the course. The residential area consists of one or two-storey villas with 5-star hotel services. Own labels of wine are produced from the vineyards grown aside the fairways. BlackSeaRama golf course was named by “Golf Inc” “Best new course in the world 2009”.
Lighthouse Golf & Spa Resort offers a 5 star Hotel, 18-hole signature golf course designed by Ian Woosnam, golf academy, 3000 sq m Spa & Wellness Center, variety of bars and restaurants. In addition to the world-class accommodation and recreation is the beautiful Golf Course. Challenging, yet generous, the Lighthouse Golf Course offers beginners as well as the experienced player a chance to test their golf skills and to please their senses.
In the vicinity of the capital of Bulgaria there are three golf courses forming the Sofia Golf Destination.
St. Sofia St. Sofia Golf Club & SPA is the closest golf club to Sofia – only 20 minutes from downtown. This is the first certified course in Bulgaria with an official rating by the EGA. It has recently been redesigned by the golf legend Paul McGinley. The complex is a favorite location for corporate events and parties. The SPA centre is using mineral water, which in this area is in abundance.
Pravets Golf & SPA is a luxury resort situated only 40 min away from Sofia. Guests will experience luxury and coziness across every aspect of the resort, from the 18-hole Championship golf course and the 4-star RIU hotel to the world-class SPA center, casino, gourmet restaurant and night bars. The club offers a Peter Harradine designed 18-hole, par 72, Championship golf course. The No8 hole is the signature hole with its challenging island green. Pravets Golf Club is managed by Braemar Golf – an international golf management company.
Pirin Golf & Country Club is a 5-star resort, which offers vacation properties and luxurious trading areas for sale and rent and manages a top-level golf club. Huddled near the well-known ski resort Bansko, Pirin Golf provides a unique opportunity for a golf & ski vacation. The outstanding 18-hole, Par 72 championship course is designed by Ian Woosnam. The new 5-star hotel which is to open at the end of November will offer 70 luxury single and double rooms as well as a couple of apartments and the largest SPA centre in Bulgaria.