Play and stay: The world’s finest golf resorts

CNN  — 

Fiendishly challenging golf course designed by a legendary pro, preferably a major winner? Check. Elegant, sumptuous accommodation to lay one’s head after 18 or 36? Check.

World-class dining from renowned chefs, with wine cellars to match? Check. Breathtaking scenery, enough to almost put you off your swing? Check.

If you need to get away to the greens, these 12 golf resorts offer some of the world’s ultimate locations to play and stay in real luxury:

1. Laucala, Fiji

Once you’ve landed on the private island of Laucala in the resort’s private jet – or indeed your own – you’re only a few minutes drive from teeing off on their spectacular 18-hole course. The backdrop to your tee shots include volcanic mountains, cliff faces and the thundering surf of the South Pacific.

The par 72 weaves its way through a former coconut plantation across gently undulating fairways, while the green on Baravi, the signature 12th hole, sits right on the edge of the ocean.

With an incredible 350 staff for just 24 villas, nothing is out of the question when it comes to land and water activities off the course. The finest dining comes under the watchful eye of chef Jean-Luc Amann.

Total cost for three nights (a minimum stay is three nights), including unlimited 18-hole rounds of golf, from $14,400.

Laucala Island, Fiji +679 8880077

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2. The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, Colorado

The Broadmoor has a storied golfing history. The 18th hole of the East Course was where a young Jack Nicklaus took a birdie to win his first major, back in 1959. There are three courses to choose from on the property in the Rocky Mountains. The resort in Colorado turns 100 next year and will also play host to the US Senior Open.

The property is enormous at more than 5,000 acres and includes fly-fishing, wilderness lodges, tennis, a spa, 10 restaurants and a wallet-damaging 26 boutiques. On the accommodation front, take your pick from no fewer than 784 rooms, suites and cottages.

Total cost for a couple for two nights in regular season, including two 18-hole rounds of golf: $1,500.

The Broadmoor, 1 Lake Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO 80906 +1 (855) 634-7711

3. Terre Blanche, Provence Côte d’Azur, France

What's better than a refreshing swim after a long day of golfing?

Tucked into the delightful landscapes of Provence Côte d’Azur in southern France, Terre Blanche houses Le Château and Le Riou, two 18-hole championship courses. Le Château is famous for its water features and holds the annual French Riviera Masters on the Senior European Tour.

The five-star resort is integrated within the region’s picturesque lakes, forest and waterfalls, where all 115 suites and villas boast lovely views. For gourmet distractions, take your pick from four restaurants, including Le Faventia holding a Michelin star and celebrating the best of the region’s produce.

Total cost for a couple for two nights in regular season, including two 18-hole rounds of golf, is $1,270.

Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Golf Resort, 3100 Route de Bagnols en Foret, 83440 Tourettes, Provence Cote d’Azur, France +33(0)4 94 39 90 00

4. The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman

Designed by the Australian winner of two majors, Greg Norman, there may only be nine holes at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, but they’re challenging enough even before you add in the beautiful oceanfront landscapes.

The 365-room resort has plenty of other sporting distractions including coaching from Nick Bollettieri tennis pros, while 144 acres of grounds along Seven Mile beach provide ample chance to get away from it all. Dining is a true highlight, thanks to the five restaurants on property, including one from three Michelin-starred chef and Anthony Bourdain buddy Eric Ripert.

Total cost for two nights, including two 18-hole rounds of golf: $3,988.

The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, Seven Mile Beach, KY1-1209, Cayman Islands +13459439000

Rough it like a Gilded Age millionaire

5. Banyan Tree, Phuket, Thailand

The Banyan Tree in Phuket has been recognized numerous times as Thailand’s – and even Asia’s – best golfing destination, no mean feat given the quality of the competition. The par 71 course was the work of architect Paul Jansen, with plenty of water hazards added into the mix along the 6,756 yards.

The backdrop of the Phuket mountains, lagoons and tropical foliage make it an idyllic spot, while the USGA specification greens guarantee quality putting surfaces year-round. Off-course, every villa has its own pool, while the spa has earned multiple plaudits.

Total cost for a couple for two nights in regular season, including two 18-hole rounds of golf, starts from $1,100.

Banyan Tree Resorts Phuket 33, 33/27 Moo 4, Srisoonthorn Road, Cherngtalay, Amphur Talang, Phuket 83110, Thailand

6. Abaco Club, Bahamas

Private cottages await at Abaco Club in the Bahamas.

Links golf, namely playing a round skirting the shoreline and negotiating sand dunes, is usually associated with Scotland and Ireland.

Abaco in the Bahamas offers the same experience with much more agreeable weather. The course is the work of course architects Donald Steel and Tom Mackenzie, with tricky sloping putting greens and deep sand traps a hallmark.

Although Abaco is a private club, rentals are available in their luxurious cabanas, cottages and estate houses. Private dining is available in your temporary home, while other options include The Cliff House, an octagonal clubhouse overlooking Winding Bay where grouper, lobster and conch chowder are firm favorites.

Total cost for a couple for two nights in regular season, including two 18-hole rounds of golf, starts from $2200.

Abaco Club, Cherokee Road on Winding Bay, Marsh Harbour, Abaco, The Bahamas +1 242 367 0077

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7. One&Only Palmilla, Los Cabos, Mexico

The resort of Los Cabos is another prime golfing destination, thanks in large part to the legacy of Palmilla, which opened way back in 1922.

The three 9-hole courses – Arroyo, Mountain and Ocean – were the first in Latin America to be designed by Jack Nicklaus and feature lakes, elevations and staggered tees that allow golfers at pretty much every level to enjoy the game. The One&Only Palmilla resort overlooks the Baja Peninsula and Sea of Cortez for those picture-postcard sunrises and plenty of sandy beaches.

Total cost for a couple for two nights in regular season, including unlimited golf, starts at $2,090.

One&Only Palmilla, Los Cabos, Mexico Carr Transpeninsular, 23400 San José del Cabo, B.C.S., Mexico + 52 624 146 7000

8. Kauri Cliffs, Northland region, New Zealand

Kauri Cliffs in the beautiful Bay of Islands is among New Zealand's most stunning settings for golf.

New Zealand has no shortage of truly stunning settings for golf courses, but few can match The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs in the country’s beautiful Bay of Islands. Sitting on the coast above Matauri Bay, The Lodge sits on 6,000 acres with views over the Cavalli Islands, Cape Brett and the Pacific Ocean.

The par 72 features five sets of tees to challenge every level of golfer. No fewer than 15 holes overlook the Pacific, with six playing along cliffs plunging down to the waves below. The property promises “Pacific Rim” cuisine once you’re finished swinging, chipping and putting before you rest up in one of the cottages set in native forest overlooking the course.

Total cost for a couple for two nights in regular season, including two 18-hole rounds of golf, starts from $3,200.

139 Tepene Tablelands Road, Matauri Bay 0478, Northland, New Zealand +64 9 407 0010

9. Fancourt, George, South Africa

Fancourt has no fewer than three 18-hole golf courses, namely Montagu, Outeniqua and The Links, all of which rank in the top 20 in South Africa, with The Links currently holding top spot. It was designed by renowned pro Gary Player, who described it as his greatest feat as a course designer.

The five-star property sits in the historic Garden Route with coastal towns, beaches and countless vineyards all within just a short drive. Children are especially well catered for, kept busy while parents enjoy other amenities including the spa, fishing, cycling and horse riding.

Total cost for a couple for two nights in regular season, including two 18-hole rounds of golf, from $640.

Fancourt, Montagu Street, Blanco George, 6530, South Africa +27 [044] 804 0000

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10. Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, Heidiland region, Switzerland

Grand Resort Bad Ragaz in Switzerland’s Heidiland region is a leading health and well-being resort and the only one in Switzerland with two golf courses, an 18-hole PGA Championship Course and the 9-hole Executive Course.

In 2016, golfing stars including Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Zach Johnson headed to Grand Resort Bad Ragaz to tee off as part of fellow pro Sergio Garcia’s Charity Pro-Am.

Being a medical resort, extensive professional support is on hand including a “golf check-up,” before thermal baths, saunas and spa suites come calling. To finish the day, try Igniv restaurant where Michelin-starred chef Andreas Caminada is in charge.

Total cost for a couple for two nights in regular season, including two 18-hole rounds of golf, is $1400.

Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, CH-7310 Bad Ragaz, Switzerland +41 (0)81 303 30 30

11. Velaa Private Island, Maldives

Velaa Private Island offers world-class golf and plenty of relaxation.

Leading Spanish golfer Jose Maria Olazabal is renowned in particular for his short game, skills definitely called for when you tackle his nine-hole course at the ultra-luxurious Velaa Private Island in the Maldives. If your swing needs a tweak, their academy is state-of-the-art.

When you’re not kicking back in your villa, activities include discovering the ocean in a submarine, diving, yachting or choosing a label from the largest wine cellar in the Maldives.

Velaa Private Island, Republic of Maldives, Maldives +960 656-5000;

12. La Manga, Murcia region, Spain

You could fit Monaco three times into La Manga Club in Murcia, southern Spain, a popular golfing destination for more than 45 years. It’s all about the golf with facilities including three 18-hole courses, a 9-hole academy course and a golf training center.

La Manga has hosted the Spanish Open five times and golfing greats Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Seve Ballesteros have all trod its greens. There are also 28 tennis courts, an academy and a huge spa, plus 20 restaurants across the property.

Two nights for two people in the Hotel Principe Felipe including two rounds of golf on any course starts from $840.

La Manga Club, 30389 La Manga Club, Cartagena (Murcia), Spain +34 968 33 1234

Chris Dwyer is a Hong Kong-based travel and food writer and communications consultant. Follow him on Twitter at @chrismdwyer or visit