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Published on : Friday, November 15, 2013
Costa Rica has made a name as a natural paradise in recent years and has become a world leader in sustainable tourism. Today, this small country in Central America achieves another important milestone and is very honoured to receive the 2014 Golf Destination of the Year Award for Latin America & Caribbean from the prestigious International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO).
With a total of 12 golf courses, Costa Rica is considered to be a small, but indeed an exclusive insider tip for golfers. Neighbouring over 30 National Parks, tropical rainforests, active volcanoes and precious beaches, Costa Rica’s spectacular golf courses let you be one with Mother Nature for a while.
Monkeys, sloths or coatis critically observe your swing from the near jungle, colourful macaws are flying over the fairways and large iguanas have an eye on the green while you try to finish the hole with a birdie. “But make no mistake,” says José Quesada, PGA Director of Golf at the La Iguana Golf Course on the central Pacific coast, “the mesmerizing scenery and wildlife masks a challenging course”. Designed by Ted Robinson, this 18-hole, par-72 championship course is nestled alongside an exotic rainforest with breathtaking ocean views and is one of the top three golf experiences in Costa Rica.
Another highlight – the Reserva Conchal Golf Club – is located a bit further north in the always sunny province of Guanacaste. This stunning, par-71 championship course designed by Robert Trent Jones II consists of two distinct returning nines wandering through native forests, lagoons and along 1.6 miles of white sand Pacific Ocean beach. The Arnold Palmer-designed Four Seasons Golf Course has earned the special honour of being classified among the top 100 courses outside the United States by Golf Digest and it is a privilege to play a round here.
True to the country’s strategy of always acting in a most sustainable, social and eco-friendly way, all important golf courses in Costa Rica are recognized by Audubon International for their environmentally-friendly efforts.
Costa Rica not only scores with its golf courses but also with its excellent hospitality and gastronomy. The exclusive hotel selection ranges from the cherished and small boutique hotels up to prestigious and international luxury hotel groups such as Marriott Hotels, Starwood member Westin Golf Resort & Spa Conchal or the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica.
Daniel Küng, owner of Costa Rica’s golf inbound operator ARA Tours, continues: “Costa Rica is the perfect destination for nature lovers, those who seek to balance golf, leisure and adventure. Being such a small country, all attractions are very close together. The range of infrastructure to safely discover and experience nature is enormous and available for all ages or physical conditions. So why not playing a round in the morning, climbing a volcano or enjoy a bird-watching experience on a jungle trail in the afternoon?”
Landy Blank, owner of Costa Rica Golf Adventure, adds: “Costa Rica as a destination has grown tremendously since I started golf tours here in 1996. The combination of new courses, great year-round climate, and the natural beauty of Costa Rica makes it perfect for the golfer seeking a new adventure“
And finally, Costa Ricans are the happiest people on the planet, according to the “Happy Planet Index” measuring the experienced well-being of its population, life expectancy and the ecological footprint of 151 countries in the world. That makes them very likeable and pleasant hosts – an important reason more to come over and experience an unforgettable golf holiday in Costa Rica.
The 2014 IAGTO Awards Gala Dinner took place at the historic Tarragona Placa De Tores, Tarragona, Costa Daurada, Spain on Thursday 14th November 2013 on the final night of the International Golf Travel Market (IGTM) – the golf tourism industry’s annual global trade show.
The Awards were voted for by IAGTO’s 500+ golf tour operators from 61 different countries. Each operator was asked to nominate what they considered to be the best performing golf destinations this year enjoyed by their golf travelling clients.