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Roberto Van Heugten

Roberto Van Heugten, emerging writer with many publications to his credit, writes of game on the pages of Italy4golf, in the column "Lost balls in Italy".
The narrative is different: in fact, in its pages it speaks of sport, but above all of territories and hospitality.


The golf resorts of Mira Hotels


A golf traveler is certainly a peculiar individual.
Fundamentally he can be placed in two categories, of which I try to list in few lines the vices and virtues. Focusing on the first ones, since the second are generally less influent.

I start from the premise that the biggest cut of the sample is represented by wealthy people, and with this word I identify who can afford meals without being choke by the payments of a refrigerator or a sixty-inch smart tv. While speaking of our favorite sport, we are referring to whom every year is willing to pay the price to regularly enter his election golf club, whichever it be the payment solution requested, and adding money for trips of various levels.
The minor sample, scarce as a matter of fact, is represented by whom plays but does not move, feeling inappropriate or discouraging getting the studs dirty on lawns different than theirs. He is comfortable where he threw his first ball, where he knows everyone and settles for sedentary golf.

After having identified the sample, I now begin the segmentation, speaking about the Tolerants first.
The tolerant golfer is the one who spends most of the year scratching around his course and those in the surrounding area, moving in small flocks, generally chasing the local competition circuits, so as not to overly mistreat his purse.
He takes advantage of the humble discount offered by the host clubs, takes home smaller prizes (but with equal enthusiasm as a Miguel Angel Jimenez to the umpteenth Audi R8 won with hole-in-one), and completes the days at the table, returning to the base plump, satisfied and amused. After all, this should be the essence of played and traveled golf.
Sometimes the Tolerants allow themselves a “golf vacation“. As if thirsty in a desert, they look for the most tempting offer where the focus is green fee+cart, while for food and accommodation they can accept any combination offered by the surrounding area. Once back to their home club, they tell that “yes, the field was beautiful, the clubhouse was fantastic, we only took a sandwich because a peek at the restaurant menu made us run away at the end of the round, the hotel was far away, the taxi cost a lot…” and off we go, with this epiphany of sensations that never make us understand the real success of the journey.
Tolerant, in fact. By definition, unreliable and preferably not to be imitated.
They are the favorite of mid-range tourism organizations. In the catalog, those present themselves as “for xyz years we have been organizing fantastic holidays for the golfer”, and those actually prepare interesting tours taking care, as the Tolerants like, above all about the comfortable day of golf. A little less, in general, than what the customer could at least explore, once left the greens for a well-deserved night rest.

We come to the second group; fortunately rather widespread worldwide, and so the real challenge for high-quality tourism.
They are the Intransigents.
Pretentious people, sometimes too much, of picky and not easily identifiable tastes; they move in pairs or at most in super close-knit mini-groups, generated over time with a deadly selective process.
Precisely for this reason, they are so damn interesting!
The cart is never enough cart, the fairways are narrow but also wide, the water in the Jacuzzi is cold but even too warm, in the room I found four bottles of soaps and creams but not one of anti-aging treatment, yes the bed is comfortable but I was hot, you know that heat that is not warm but makes you … sweat … and so on.
Since the Intransigents have the advantage of taking several golf holidays every year, they are also the ones who repeatedly search the best, that thing that makes them wonder when they tell you… “amaze me”. Of course, as if it is easy.
And it is here that, paradoxically, the offer is cut.

Although the presence of luxurious resorts in the five continents is constantly growing, the difficulty is to create holidays able to involve them on several fronts and for longer and longer periods.
On this course takes place the massacre of small-scale coastal operators, those who try to approach the Intransigent golfers with the same approach of cyclists, boy scouts and parish groups. Few are saved, in this boarding to the last scimitar!

Why did I make this homily?
Well, a bit to brag about my incredible knowledge of the golf tourism market (whistles and vegetables on stage, only at the end of the article, please). Once in a while, one can.
Much more instead to tell you that this year, precisely at the end of May, I wore too the uncompromising golfer’s suit.
How do you say? You don’t wear such a dress but you are born with it?
It could be. However, keep in mind that a detail that brings together Tolerants and Intransigents is the evacuation practice, which places everyone in the same position. So, as it is true that we are all born with a special body for carrying out the work, it is equally true that your favorite reporter was able, even if for just three days, to wear the uniform of a star golfer.

As well as starred are the resorts that made me live, in a breathtaking tour, the true experience of the uncompromising golfer on vacation.
The arrival at “Borgo di luce – I monasteri“, a golf resort located near Syracuse, the first stop of the mini-tour carried out together with Mario Taglietti, CFO & co-founder of Italy4golf, was greeted by the colors and scents of a Sicily exploded in wonderful anticipation of summer. Warm and breezy.
Staying with the FamTrip formula did not prevent us from taking the demanding task of living as tourists with the eye of the mystery shopper, careful to evaluate with rationality the different aspects of the hospitality received.
In short, what do chefs do when they judge the competitors in those funny reality TV shows.
Placed at ease, both for rooms and refreshments, it is in the golf round that we found the real surprise. I think scenarios like the ones I played in that day are difficult to replicate. It must have been the season, facing some holes in the company of rows of orange groves (still full of fruit), spontaneous plantations of prickly pears (also with ripening fruits) and even being able to pick a bunch of medlars as large as plums, simply reaching over the roof of the cart… well, it was a true triumph of nature along with golf played on a course with a fun and challenging design.
Not to mention the views, which convey a sense of freedom thanks to the location of the resort in a predominantly unspoiled area. Wonderful is the view from the greens nine and eighteen over the buildings that once were prisons, monasteries, farms and who knows what else, before being transformed with wisdom and respect into clubhouse, restaurant, hotel and wellness center for the highest requirement.

Since 2021, all this has been entrusted to the “Mira Golf & Resorts” brand, a company from Trentino that is rapidly expanding in that particular market made up of excellent hotel facilities that include renowned golf courses in their offer.

In the Mira 2021 catalog there is an old acquaintance of mine, who I already told about in the sporting details in this article a few months ago.

Well, it was something that pleased me very much, just as the hospitality in the Acaya Golf & Resort hotel was pleasant and of superior quality, a prominent Salento pearl in a fascinating area steeped in both history and traditions and culture.
What more can I say than “happy customer”?
Everything at the Acaya was excellent, confirmed by the smiles and satisfied looks of the many guests already present in a period that, after all, could not yet be defined as a very high season.
And I can also add that Acaya is a smart solution. Why do I use this word? Simple: with an accurate application of hotel engineering, in this large and well-located structure, the management is able to satisfy both Tolerant and Intransigent in the same place. Cool, right? Try it, then you will tell me if and where I misunderstood.
Ah, before I forget. Among the possible activities of Acaya there is of course golf, but then the sea – if the season permits – horse riding, football and soccer, SPA and wellness center, meeting and ceremonial rooms, and all around a myriad of amazing food and wine tours. Don’t worry, complete your eighteen holes, which will only be the beginning of a splendid holiday.

If I want now to summarize, in these last lines, my experience at “Mira resorts”, I can happily say that I have found such attention to details, both in Sicily and in the deep south of Puglia. There is attention to the customer’s wishes, offers for attractions and entertainment that go beyond the pure golf offer, and an excellent culinary choice linked with strength and honesty to the goodness offered by the territory.
An approval, and the wish to be able to conquer other important positions in the chessboard of Golf Resorts, not only national.

And for those who want to replicate my experience, just ask Italy4Golf for the Mira Hotels option. On my side, taking off the clothes of the Intransigent, I return to my humble job as a scribe and tourist, hoping always to involve and intrigue you with useful information.

Have a good trip, and have good golf!


Roberto Van Heugten
Italy4golf Italian Ambassador

Experience the same emotions in an exclusive golf break of a week at the Acaya Golf Resort & SPA in Salento, or choose the best with an unforgettable golf holiday in Sicily at Borgo di Luce – I Monasteri

Acaya Resort & SPA, Apulia, Borgo di Luce I Monasteri Golf Resort & SPA, FamTrip, golf breaks in Sicily, golf breaks in Southern Italy, Italy4golf, Mario Taglietti, Mira Golf & Resorts, MIRA Hotels & Resorts, Roberto Van Heugten, Salento, Sicily


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