GBN.com interviews David MacLaren, Director of Property & Venue Development, European Tour
This is a big week for The European Tour and The Race to Dubai, but why is European Tour Properties also in the news?
The DP World Tour Championship is the finale of The European Tour’s Race to Dubai. This is a world-class golf event in a leading global destination showcasing some of the finest golfers in the world, so yes, it’s a big week for The European Tour. The fact the event is being hosted at Jumeirah Golf Estates, the first member of the European Tour Properties network in the Middle East and a venue we have been working closely with since October 2013, makes it even more significant.
In addition to this week’s event, a number of our venues, including Quinta do Lago in Portugal, Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Golf Resort in France, PGA Catalunya Resort in Spain and Linna Golf in Finland, were winners at the inaugural World Golf Awards on Saturday (November 15, 2014). So it’s a week of celebrations, which we hope will be capped off by a memorable tournament and climax to The Race to Dubai here at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
Besides hosting the DP World Tour Championship, what is the significance of Jumeirah Golf Estates being a member of European Tour Properties?
European Tour Properties is a network of world-class golf venues, which have a close association with The European Tour. The network features some of the most prestigious golf and lifestyle resorts in Europe and the Middle East, and includes London Golf Club, venue of the recent the Volvo World Match Play Championship; St Leon-Rot in Germany, venue of The 2015 Solheim Cup; Golf and Country Club Fleesensee, Germany; Diamond Country Club, Austria; Le Golf National near Paris, venue of The 2018 Ryder Cup; and Estonian Golf & Country Club.
Being associated with the premier global golf venue brand offers obvious advantages from a positioning and profile perspective. It also delivers significant practical benefits including strategic and operational support, sales and marketing activities linked to golf travel and real estate, and access to tournament opportunities. Seven of our 13 venues have hosted European Tour sanctioned events in the past year and we are supporting other venues in their plans to host tournaments. For example, we are working closely with The Dutch, which will host the KLM Open from 2016-18.
How has European Tour Properties helped Jumeirah Golf Estates?
Our strategic and operational support services vary from venue to venue. In the case of Jumeirah Golf Estates, we have worked closely not only on the staging of the DP World Tour Championship, but the development of a state-of-the-art clubhouse and the first European Tour Performance Institute in the Middle East, offering world-class training facilities for all golfers, from elite professionals to amateur golfers.
Our strategic partnership with Fine & Country has created a unique approach to real estate marketing, which is benefiting all European Tour Properties with residential developments, including Jumeirah Golf Estates. In June it was announced that Henrik Stenson, the reigning Race to Dubai champion, would become an Official Ambassador for the golf and residential development at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
What does the European Tour brand bring to a golf resort?
The essence of The European Tour is to bring elite golf to a world stage and so customers playing, staying or buying property at a European Tour Properties venue know that their experience comes with a stamp of tournament quality.
Are there likely to be more European Tour Properties in the Middle East in the future?
Wherever The European Tour develops its global brand, we will look to expand the European Tour Properties portfolio. Clearly, the Middle East is an important strategic market for golf, global sports, travel and leisure and so it is more than likely that we will seek to add new venues in the Middle East. We have recently opened a European Tour office in China and so Asia will also be a focus for European Tour Properties.
What are the prospects for Dubai as a golf travel destination?
Recent research for the International Golf Travel Market showed that the UAE was the third fastest growing golf destination among IAGTO golf tour operators, based on 2013 sales. It will be interesting to see if this trend accelerated in 2014. My view is that the international golf travel market is buoyant and destinations such as Dubai, with its appealing climate, international standard golf venues and hotels, ease of access, plus the additional benefit of global media coverage generated by a European Tour event, are well positioned for growth.
What about real estate?
It’s evident that there has been a general upturn in real estate sales in Dubai. Sales at Jumeirah Golf Estates are strong and the new Redwood development, with its 75 townhouses and 42 villas, has been well received, underlining the importance of real estate developments being able to adapt to shifts in the market. In fact, we are seeing strong sales across the European Tour Properties network – PGA Catalunya Resort has sold more than 100 units since 2011 and continues to out-perform the market in Spain.
As with golf tourism, there is a value in the European Tour brand being associated with a golf and residential community. Real estate purchasers who are golfers will be looking to live somewhere their friends have heard of. In making such a significant personal investment, they want certainty and assurance. I think both the European Tour brand and hosting a European Tour tournament adds profile and credibility, which can translate effectively into incremental real estate sales.
David MacLaren, thank you very much.
European Tour Properties www.europeantourproperties.com