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Time for Tee?

Golf in Bulgaria. Popularity in the game of golf is skyrocketing with courses starting to pop up all over Bulgaria. So, we decided to take a look at golf withinin the country, and in particular the five signature courses. During communist times golf was frowned on as being ‘bourgeois’ and was definitely low on the list of sports, so courses were left to deteriorate. Despite golf still being regarded as a sport of the elite it has seen fantastic development in Bulgaria in recent years. As incomes rise along with more leisure time, interest in golf is increasing within the local population too. With more courses in development, yet more in planning and more television coverage the future looks very bright.

 

Regarding playable days, Bulgaria can not compete with Spain or Portugal. However, developers here have recognised that by setting a course in an excellent location and combining it with additional quality attractions such as spas, wellness centres, hotels and conference facilities, horse-riding, tennis and so on, the courses can have pretty much year-round appeal. Developers are looking for a certain combination of ‘somethings’ which, apart from the golf , can give each golf course a unique character.

This combination of attractions together with the prospect of low-cost airlines is having a major impact on future golf developments in Bulgaria.

In the main it has been the investors rather than individual golf fans who have been buying the houses and apartments on the developing golf courses. Now, individuals from western and northern Europe are flocking to buy. Mostly coming from Britain, the Netherlands and Scandinavia. These buyers seem to fall into three categories: those buying purely for investment and to rent; some who want to live there; others who just buy for their own holiday use.

Amongst British buyers, these are people who are looking to use the property for a few weeks themselves and then rent it out during the rest of the year. Golf is offering these buyers the opportunity to buy top real estate which is also not linked specifically to ski or beach. Buying on those courses which combine with either ski or beach means they can offer more to potential tourists and thus extend the rental season.

Many of these seek out golf courses as they provide landscaped open space which is protected just by it being a golf course. Even those who do not play golf will often buy on a golf course because these properties generally offer a higher return. Most of this huge interest comes from overseas buyers with the local Bulgarians making up less than ten percent of those buying.

Nearly all those involved in the industry say that Bulgaria’s chances of becoming an international golf destination are excellent, particularly in the light of the government stating its support for tourism of this nature. Certainly the future looks rosy. According to the WTO by the year 2020 nearly every third visitor to Europe will choose a Central or Eastern European destination and golf tourists in particular are always looking for new golf destinations and new courses to play.

 

The other interesting factor is that golf tourists are usually those who are also interested in culture, making them very suitable to the Bulgarian market, with its rich and undiscovered heritage.

On the other hand, most golfers would not come if they could only play on the same course during most of their holiday. Serious golf tourism will arrive once Bulgaria can offer several courses within, say, half an hour of each other. It is evident from the list of courses in planning and under construction that this is the intention of the developers.

 

 

FIVE SIGNATURE COURSES WITH SKI OR BEACH
To be successful a golf course has to offer high quality. Investment in golf courses is really all about top quality - the course, accommodation, services, facilities. An extra benefit is being able to combine this with ski or beach. Then, if you can add to this a world famous designer this can guarantee the product quality and offers a marketing edge to attract golfers, providing ultimately top returns.

We spoke to Martin Hunt of Living Bulgaria who are specialists in the five signature courses which are under development in Bulgaria.

Martin told us ‘We are probably the only company to offer such a selection, and certainly the only founding supporter of the Quest for Real Estate Ethics campaign to boast all of these wonderful golf resorts. The price of all properties on all five courses are exactly the same as buying from the developer and we charge no buyer’s commission on any of these projects’.

Black Sea Rama Golf and Country Club (above)

We asked him what he felt would be the key element for Bulgaria to become a top international golf destination. He said, ‘I believe that the signature courses are important as this has to do with golfer preferences. The name of a world class designer has a big marketing effect and adds value to the properties on the course. One of the most important things for Bulgaria is to ensure a good marketing plan to promote all of these courses and Bulgaria as a top level golfing destination’.


Martin continued, ‘We’re embarking on an international marketing campaign focused on the golf industry in Bulgaria with exhibitions all over the world. The first will be in Sofia, the home of all five developers. Together with the Bulgarian Golf Association, we are promoting Bulgaria as the up and coming golf hot spot of Europe’.

One of Living Bulgaria's customers is snooker legend Willie Thorne, who has travelled all over the world, including Spain and Portugal, looking at golf courses in various stages of construction. Willie commented ‘this is a truly amazing development, I’ve never seen anything like this, it’s like Gleneagles size. I’m impressed with the amount of space, not just for the whole development but the space that each villa has - in Spain they are on tiny plots and they look like they’ve been built in a corridor’.

Martin went on to give us a short personal overview of the five signature courses :
Lighthouse Golf & Spa resort
An Ian Woosnam, 72 par lux golf complex on the Black Sea coast with strong links to the Bulgarian Golf Association. Also the first golf course that my company and my partner agents started to promote, and thus the one that got me hooked on golf property here in Bulgaria and helped me realise the potential. Pitched on a spectacular plateau with sea views and about five kms from the centre of Balchik. Apartments to be completed by September this year, course to open April next year. Around 350 apartments and 300 houses. Approx 1.2 million sq.m.
Prices starting from: Apartments 59,000 euros. Villas 136,000 euros

 

Pirin Golf & Country Club
Again by our friend Woosy and in association with European Golf Design, this luxury golf resort combines the best of golf and ski nestled in the popular Bansko region with its well groomed ski slopes. Located in Razlog, 12 kms from the slopes of Bansko. Again about 700 properties split over apartments and houses. Completion of the complex is forecast for April 2008. Approx 900,000 sq.m.
Prices starting from: Apartments 60,354 euros. Villas 250,431 euros

 

 

IBAR Country Golf Club & Spa
These guys bring a new player to Bulgaria, Jack Nicklaus who is internationally renowned for not only his game, but more so his design team. It is the first Nicklaus design golf course in south east Europe. Situated at the foothills of the highest mountain on the Balkan Peninsula. With a more traditional design than some courses it has a close proximity (18 kms) to the Borovets ski lifts.
There is even a church on the site! Big one this, about 1.6 million sq.m. About 500 units total.
Prices starting from: Apartments 21,000 euros. Villas 120,000 euros

 

 

Black Sea Rama Golf & Country Club
Designed by the famous Gary Player, this cliff edge course with great sea views again has a traditional, high quality feel and a pro-active marketing team. Again more focused on the houses, but still a good selection of apartments. Views of either the golf course or the sea. Next door to Lighthouse Golf Resort so again just 5 kms from Balchik. About 1 million sq.m. Approx 800 units total.
Prices starting from: Apartments 124,080 euros. Villas 186,718 euros

 

Thracian Cliffs Golf & Spa Resort
One of only three links courses in the world, boasts wonderful sea views and again the signature of the famous Gary Player, the ‘Black Knight’ of golf. The luxury village resort ranges through 145 tranquil, south facing hectares, where dramatic white cliffs and gentle bluffs descend to the beaches and the sparkling blue waters of the Black Sea.

Wow, this is a real stunner! Right on the waters edge, with phase one well underway and being focused more on apartments and hotel / spa and the course, many villas to follow in phases 2 and 3. Due to open August 2008. 4.5 kms long and about 1.4 million sq.m. Approx 600 units total.
Prices starting from: Apartments 84,890 euros. All have guaranteed sea views. Luxury villas to be released shortly.

If you would like to find out more about the five signature golf course properties, you can contact Martin and his team at www.livingbulgaria.co.uk - they will also be promoting all these golfing destinations at the property exhibition in Sofia from the 18th to the 20th May at the Expo Centre in town.


 

These days golf is no longer a sport for the wealthy. Here are our top reasons for why to invest in golf property :

Investment
It’s a really good investment. Demand for golf property remains high so resale is easier. If you are buying the property off-plan this will usually result in a gain by the time the course is open. Golf properties offer a good lifestyle choice

Rentals
Excellent rental potential as golfing interest skyrockets. Rental returns particularly good when the course is combined with ski / beach.

Value
There are few opportunities to buy on a golf course in the UK and those that exist are very expensive. You’ll get much more for your money in Bulgaria. The golf course properties in Bulgaria are hardly any more than properties in other developments of a similar quality.

Longer Season When the course has top quality facilities, the rental season can be extended

Non-golfers
Even if you don’t like golf, with the other facilities on site there is plenty to do

Family
Golf developments are child-friendly with swimming pools and even creches; horse riding, mountain biking and many other activities

Community
Golf courses generate a real sense of community living

Facilities
With bars, restaurants, shops... you’ll never have to leave your property to be entertained

Culture
Experience your favourite sport in a totally different culture

The future
If you’re buying as a second home, this could be your home to retire to later on!