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Golf's Best New Destinations
LUXURY BEACH VACATIONS for LESS
Savvy families have discovered a new luxurious, convenient and affordable way to vacation at the beach - golf resorts. And all for a lot less than you'd pay to be squeezed into an oceanfront hotel room.
But this year, with gas prices sky high and budgets a little tighter than usual, many people are rethinking their annual trips. Some are considering a vacation at home, while many who plan to head to the beach expect to shorten their stay or curtail activities like dining at restaurants and taking the kids to amusement parks.
And then there are those creative types who - determined not to compromise the fun of their annual trek to the ocean - have figured out a way to head to the beach for less. Those folks have discovered how to vacation at upscale resorts for bargain prices at the most popular times of the summer.
How can they do that? Well, the trick is knowing just which properties in a beach town view the summer as peak season and which see summer as "down time." Yes, even a beach town can have some businesses that see summer as "down time."
Let's use Myrtle Beach, S.C. as an example. The "Grand Strand" as it is known, has more than 60 miles of beautiful Atlantic Ocean beach. Oceanfront hotels there make most of their profits during the summer when the bulk of the area's 14 million annual tourists come in for their summer vacations. Nightly oceanfront room rates can start around $250.
But the Grand Strand is also the "World Capital of Golf" with more than 100 courses. Many of those courses have villas or condos built along the fairways. While those villas are filled with golfers in the spring and fall, in summer many sit empty.
A spacious villa at a golf resort less than a half-mile from the ocean is an ideal place to house the whole family. It's also a bargain - the villa is likely to cost about half what that cramped hotel room will. Some golf resorts are quite luxurious with huge swimming pools, well-appointed fitness centers, shuttles to the beach, and other amenities that guests can use for free.
If you're a golfer, spending the family's "beach vacation" in a greenside villa is even sweeter. Greens fees for even the best courses plummet in their summer "off season" making great golf experiences well within the reach of even those on a tight budget. If the whole family likes to play golf, ask the resort you choose about "stay and play" resorts rates for even better deals; accommodations and golf are all one price. At some courses, kids can even play free when accompanied by a paying adult.
With a greenside villa so close to the beach, it's easy to throw on a swimsuit and head for the ocean after you have an early morning round on the links. And in the evening there's no better view than the lakes and fairways as you sip a drink on your villa deck.
With the money you save on accommodations, you can treat the kids to a day at a water park or dine at your favorite seafood restaurant. Or do any of a hundred other things you like to do at the beach.
Let's look at a couple of examples along Myrtle Beach's Grand Strand.
Just south of Myrtle Beach proper is the Grand Strand's loveliest resort, Pawleys Plantation. This is the home of casual Southern elegance. With an outstanding staff trained to provide the best in guest services, the resort is warm and welcoming. Its spacious villas line the fairways of a fabulous Jack Nicklaus golf course that plays out over a scenic salt marsh so there are plenty of water views. Bird rookeries tucked along the resort's many lakes are perfect places for the kids to get a close up look at all sorts of sea birds like egrets, ibis and osprey. There are pools and tennis courts on property and the whole resort is ideal for leisurely bike rides along lanes lined with gorgeous moss-draped oaks. Add in gourmet dining and you may not even want to go outside the gated walls of this luxury enclave. But the Atlantic Ocean is less than a half-mile away - so close that on a clear night you'll hear the waves crashing on the shore. And charming shopping villages and world-class restaurants are within a mile. The amenities at this resort make it an extremely popular destination for golfers escaping the cold north in the fall and spring. But in summer, their roomy villas can be had for bargain prices, as more and more beachgoers are discovering. So book early - especially if you like to vacation around the July 4 holiday. You can check it out at www.pawleysplantation.com or by calling 877-763-7341.
On the northern end of the Grand Strand is another example, Sea Trail Golf Resort amp; Convention Center. Like Pawleys Plantation, Sea Trail is an ideal spot for family vacations. The 2000-acre property is near the pristine beaches of Sunset Beach, N.C., and the resort provides a complimentary shuttle to take guests to and from the beach. On-site, guests can enjoy amenities like gourmet dining, a Swim amp; Fitness Center with indoor and outdoor pools, a licensed massage therapist, and planned children's activities. Golfers even have a choice of three distinctive and highly-rated courses on the property. Outside the resort's gates, visitors will find the charming seaside village of Calabash, N.C. where both kids and adults can find lots of amusements, including watching the fishing boats return to the docks each night. Check out Sea Trail online at www.seatrail.com or by calling 888-675-1937.
So hunt for the deals and remember: to enjoy the beach you don't have to stay in an oceanfront hotel. And, you don't have to pay an arm and leg to get luxury.