The Top 10 Luxury Travel Trends... as They Apply to Golf Trippers

Check-in with golf clubs                          © GolfGirlMedia
A couple of days ago, Business Insider published a list of Top 10 Luxury Travel Trends & Predictions for 2013.

Presented by luxury marketing veteran Christopher Parr, the list was put together by hotel booking team Mr. & Mrs. Smith.  I looked at the list from a golf traveler's point of view, and here I offer you my somewhat more golf-specific rendering of the suggested trends:

1. Local golf experiences through social media meandering
The first trend on the list is probably my favorite.  It's about playing golf in on lesser known courses in and around the more classic travel destinations...and doing it through contact with in-the-know locals you meet online, via Social Media.

In addition to well known social sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ which bring golfers together through groups, hashtags and circles, there are now numerous social networks specifically targeted at golfers. These sites allow recreational golfers to exchange ideas on equipment, and interact over tournaments. At their best they actually allow golfers from opposite ends of the globe to get together for a round on a real golf course.  I participated in this trend first hand last September when I welcomed a long-time social media golf buddy from Spain to my home course, Richter Park in Danbury, CT.  It's is a beautiful course he'd certainly never have played otherwise. The fact is, without social media our global golf get-together would never have taken place... but it did, and I'm definitely hoping for more in 2013.

Golf Tripping                    @ GolfGirlMedia
2. Golf is hard easy
I'm not talking about the game, because unfortunately, that'll never be easy. What is being made much more manageable however, is golf trip planning, and the logistics of a golf holiday. With "The Gathering on the Greens" Ireland's Aer Lingus Vacation Store is offering a collection of options that allow golf travelers to play five renowned Irish courses without worrying about a thing; air travel, golf, boutique accommodations, Irish breakfasts, and an experienced professional chauffeur... plus local taxes and service charges... are all taken care of.  That's the kind of high-end, all-inclusive stay & play package that's trending this year. From legendary US courses to exotic emerging golf venues, when it comes to all-inclusive golf trips, the planning and execution... if not the game itself... is being made much easier.

3. Golf heritage, made (somewhat) modern
This trend refers to the rising popularity of what are described as heritage/modern hotels, further described as "hotels that mingle original architecture and striking new spaces". ~ Golf, more than many sports or activities, has a hallowed heritage; a heritage that is a huge part of the culture of the game. Some might say there's too much tradition in golf, but I won't even go there because what we're talking about are the well-preserved, historical golf venues enhanced by tasteful touches of modern architecture and all the latest amenities. The Old Course Hotel, Golf Course & Spa in St. Andrews, Scotland would be a great example. Set as it is in the middle of the historic university town, overlooking the iconic Old Course in the Home of Golf, the hotel's interior is classically elegant and contemporary. ~ US resorts like the Breakers in Palm Beach also fit the heritage/modern trend to a tee, with its spectacular golden age architecture enhanced by light airy guest rooms and every modern convenience.

4. Gourmet golf - awesome and innovative eats
A hotdog at the turn, pub grub at the 19th hole... innovative cuisine and fine dining haven't traditionally been associated with golf.  However, today's luxury golf resorts are changing that perception. At Argentario Golf Resort & Spa, Dama Dama restaurant offers discerning golfers the contemporary Mediterranean cuisine of star chef Emiliano Lombardelli.  Closer to my neighborhood, the innovative epicurean style of Chef Joseph Brenner has created a culinary destination at The International Golf Club & Resort in Boston, MA.

5. Golf guy grooming
Another trend that has it's roots in the resort side of golf is the growing popularity of golf-related
spa services.  Specifically services geared towards men.  Resort spas are offering male guests everything from golf massage to manscaping... and gentlemen are indulging.  At Miami's Doral Golf Resort, the spa has a men's services menu that includes a sports facial and a black diamond exfoliation. Sports Bodywork is a deep tissue massage that's among the "Gentlemen's Favorites" at the Spa at Pebble Beach.

6. The golf concierge... gone digital
An increasing number of golf hotels, resorts, courses and pro shops are now equipped with electronic concierge kiosks that are assisting consumers with everything from information on hours and services... to directions and mapping.  In addition, numerous properties now have their own apps available that guests can download and use for booking stays and services. There are also myriad apps for booking tee times at thousands of golf courses across the US.

7. Golfers get high
This trend has nothing to do with illegal substances, nor is it in any way connected with golfer Robert Garrigus.  It refers to height, in the vertical sense. This upward trend in golf resort architecture, has everything to do with the development of golf in parts of the Middle East and Asia where land is scarce and people are used to... um... the high life.  Roof top putting greens are also raising the golf travel profile.

8. Fun family golf trips
I think it's safe to say that 2012 - with the industry wide introduction of Golf 2.0 - was instrumental in raising awareness of the need to strengthen, rebuild and grow the popularity of golf.  A big part of the effort is aimed at making the game more welcoming to families, in fact one of the effort's tag lines is "Friends, Family, Fun" ...and golf resorts have taken notice.  Marriott Hotels  take family golf very seriously, with programs that allow kids to learn and families to get onto the course together. Another golf destination that's  family golf is Myrtle Beach, though many think of it as a guy's golf playground, their KidsPlayFree initiative is a great way to promote family golf.

9. The Chinese and their growing golf obsession
Golf - like so many things - is booming in China, and despite an environmental ban on new construction the Chinese are building courses at an impressive pace.  They're also holding high profile tournaments and producing champions.  Though many in China still see golf as "a game of the rich"... and just a tiny percentage of the population play... the "China Calling" trend has clearly come to golf, and Chinese golf travelers are being actively courted by Northern Ireland, Scotland and the U.S, particularly Hawaii.

10. Golf's 2013 hot spots
Golf travel will often follow general luxury travel trends but there'll always be differences due to the the nature and availability of the sport. I know several US golfers who'll be venturing to Asia this year; to both Thailand and VietNam... and many Europeans I speak to are planning golf holidays in Dubai and other parts of the Middle East. Personally, I suspect 2013 might be a good year for golf in France. It's the world's most popular tourist destination but not often seen as a golf destination. This year however, the Evian Masters becomes The Evian Championship... the LPGA's fifth major... just as anticipation begins to build for the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National.  Golfers may very well be inspired to bring their clubs the next time they head to France