We visit the Montgomerie Maxx Royal, Belek, Turkey

Golf Equipment

In anticipation of the Turkish Airlines Open our man heads off to Maxx Royal

Remember, sir, that the mini-bar is also free.” Is there a more welcoming phrase in the English language? 

However, arriving at 2am, I am more interested in asking the receptionist at the prestigious Voyage Hotel whether I can find something to eat rather more substantial than a packet of mini-bar peanuts.. “Of course, the bistro is open 24 hours a day”.

I am offered a six-course meal and an array of fine wines.  Conscious that breakfast is at seven sharp, I settle for a delicious bowl of soup and a refreshing Efes pilsner.

A few hours later we are whisked away to sample the delights of the stunning Montgomerie course.

I have always loved Belek. What’s not to like? Constant sunshine and Efes beer, wall-to-wall golf – and what golf, 16 courses continuously stretching for a dozen miles beside the beach – only interrupted by five-star hotels offering unbelievable luxury for less cost than a Blackpool B&B, and, most famously, also offering great cuisine, (for my money, the best on the Med), and also unlimited drink on an all-inclusive basis.

I’m here to suss out the course and hotel in preparation for the Turkish Airlines Open which returns in November" This, of course, is Belek’s Unique Selling Proposition – purchase a week-long package and you can indulge in as much food and beverage as your constitution can stand.

I’m here to suss out the course and hotel in preparation for the Turkish Airlines Open which returns in November to the Montgomerie and its two resort hotels, the Voyage and the Maxx Royal. 

The inaugural tournament here last year was the first full-field event to be held in Turkey, and a particularly prestigious one, one of the European Tour’s Final Series and with $7m prize money.

Both Tiger Woods and Justin Rose turned up and finished joint third, behind Jamie Donaldson and the winner Victor Dubuisson. Afterwards there was widespread praise both for the course and the facilities.  

The general manager of the Maxx Royal, Cahit Sahin, has invited a select group of journos to hear about the preparations, and in particular to talk to Ben Lovett, the head greenkeeper, on how he will set up the course.  

The course is rather special; both attractive and challenging.  Actually, there isn’t a bad course in Belek but, having played most, I would put the Montgomerie in the top echelon.

European Golf Design, who worked with Monty on creating it, have crafted a varied roller-coaster track with at least half a dozen holes worthy of ‘signature hole’ status, while Ben and his 25-strong team have it in fine condition. 

On my way to my room to change for dinner, I bump into an old friend who reckons the hotel facilities are the best he has experienced. 

When I tell him that tomorrow I shall be transferring to the Maxx, his eyebrows go up and he tells me to expect a step-change. His young son says “like 10 times as good” – and it is my turn to raise my eyebrows.

Over dinner I chat with Ben about the difficulties of maintaining a course where temperatures can vary from -6˚C in the winter to up to 50˚C in summer when, without water, the grass will die, but with it, can scald. 

The climate is a hard taskmaster demanding two changes of grass a year and overseeding of the Bermuda fairways with ryegrass each September. As a graduate of Penn he knows his turfgrass.

The next morning we enjoy the course even more, and, knowing it that much better, we gel as a team and win the the grand prize of three balls each. 

We also move to the Maxx, which doesn’t disappoint. If the word ‘bling’ was not already in use, it would have to be coined to describe this palatial extravagance. 

Shaped like a crescent, it contains over 500 bedrooms, the reception area is over six storeys high, below which are two floors of marbled shopping mall running the length of the building.

My room is at the extremity of the building, which is shaped like a scimitar. It is, without exaggeration, some 30 feet wide, narrowing to a point some 80 feet in the distance, in which sits a Jacuzzi with views through the plate-glass windows of the hotel gardens, swimming pools and the limpid Mediterranean.

And on that note, as I sip my free champagne from the mini-bar, I shall leave you.

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