SAIGON, Vietnam – The Ho Chi Minh Golf Trail, just a year old but already Asia’s most talked about golfing itinerary, has retained Indochina’s largest golf tour operator, Golfasian, as the Trail’s official tour operator partner.
Starting Sept. 1, visitors to www.hochiminhgolftrail.com can book their entire itineraries through Golfasian (www.golfasian.com), which last year enabled more than 3,000 golfer visits (some 860 separate parties) to Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.
“Handling ;travelers’ and handling ;golfers who travel’ are two very different things,” said Jim Sullivan, director of Mandarin Media/Asia-Pacific, which created the Ho Chi Minh Golf Trail in 2007 and continues its administration. “By directing all booking inquires to Golfasian, we are putting golfers in the hands of people who know this part of the world intimately, who understand the logistics involved, and who have created thousands of these itineraries – not just last year, but over the course of 15 years in this business.”
Over the last 10 years, Golfasian has facilitated the visit of 11,979 golfers to Thailand; for the 2007-2008 season alone, which ended in September, this amounted to 10,500 room nights at hotels and 16,500 rounds of golf, according to Golfasian Managing Director Mark Siegel. “In our most recent year of operation in Thailand,” Siegel said, “we generated more than 16,500 rounds of golf. In Vietnam, we expect to build up to this level within 5 years.”
“Golfasian will be a boon for the member and lodging links of the Ho Chi Minh Golf Trail, and for tourism in Vietnam in general,” added Sullivan, “We’re committed to improving the attraction and practicality of playing the Ho Chi Minh Golf Trail. We’re improving the product – the new Montgomerie Links Vietnam in Danang is scheduled to join the Trail in early 2009, along with other branded sponsors – and our partnership with Golfasian enables golfers to better access that product.”
The Ho Chi Minh Golf Trail doesn’t merely assemble Vietnam’s best golfing venues in a North-South fashion, like its namesake trail. It pairs these first-class clubs and resorts with some of the most remarkable, luxury accommodations in world golf, while connecting golfers themselves to all the Trail’s cultural offerings and transport options through its partnership with Golfasian.
The golfing world has taken notice. Hundreds of stories have been written about the Ho Chi Minh Golf Trail since its launch July 1, 2007, including recent feature coverage in publications like the New York Times (March 9, 2008), Outside’s Go (May 2008) and the Asian Wall Street Journal (April 2008). In December 2007, the International Golf Travel Writers Association pegged Vietnam as its “Undiscovered Destination of the Year”, based on the country’s allure, course quality, and standard of accommodation. The award was a crowning moment in a pivotal year for Vietnam golf – the Ho Chi Minh Golf Trail launched on July 1, and two months later came formation of the Vietnam Golf Association.
“Vietnam has really come of age as a tourist destination during the last two years,” said Golfasian’s Siegel, noting another larger milestone: Vietnam’s admission to the World Trade Organization in late 2006. “We’ve seen a huge spike in interest regarding golf in Vietnam, thanks in large part to the Ho Chi Minh Golf Trail. But there’s a difference between reading a story about how wonderful a golf destination is and actually having that experience. That’s what we deliver: the first-class experience and dependability traveling golfers expect.”
Golfing stops on the Trail include:
- Chi Linh Star Golf Club, a dazzling 18 outside Hanoi and recent host to the Asian PGA Tour’s Carlsberg Masters, with 9 new holes and another 9 on the way
- Dalat Palace Golf Club, a mile-high gem, the only wall-to-wall bentgrass course in Southeast Asia, laid out in the 1920s for Bao Dai, the last emperor of Vietnam
- Ocean Dunes Golf Club, a wind-swept Nick Faldo design, a “tropical links” lapped by the warm waters of the South China Sea
- Dong Nai Golf Resort, a breathtaking, 27-hole track laid out by American Ward Northrup, whose design skirts a scenic chain of natural lakes
- Vietnam Golf & Country Club, home to 36 pristine, otherwise private holes just 20 minutes from downtown Ho Chi Minh City
- King’s Island Country Club, Hanoi’s oldest club and home to two 18s that play over some of the finest, most diverse golfing terrain in Southeast Asia.
For more information on the Ho Chi Minh Golf Trail, or to make travel plans for a tour of the Ho Chi Minh Golf Trail, visit www.hochiminhgolftrail.com. Golfasian can be reached directly at www.golfasian.com or info(at)golfasian(dot)com.