Our travel man returns from this Northern Cyprus resort with one thought in his mind: 'More for less'
Imagine if a destination existed that offered the value of Belek’s resorts, offered the quality of Belek’s resorts, and offered even better weather than Belek’s resorts. It would, by any standards, be an appealing prospect; the good news is, it actually does exist. Korineum Golf Beach Resort is located on the north coast of Cyprus, on the Turkish side of the island.
Ranked No.40 in our Continental European Resorts in 2018, it incorporates an 18-hole golf course, a hotel, a beach club and numerous on-site facilities.
And its location on Cyprus – which enjoys the best climate of any part of Europe, slightly better than even Belek’s – means it is bathed in sunshine every single month of the year.
It already has a fine reputation but one that is probably not as widespread as it might be because it is the only course on the Turkish side, so it is a lone golf reason to head to this wonderful part of Cyprus.
The whole of the Turkish side is a revelation in itself for first-time visitors. It is extraordinarily beautiful yet unspoilt while also being exceptionally well set-up to cater for the needs of tourists.
It surprised me how many impressive hotels there are dotted along the dramatic coast. One of these is Korineum, whose hotel and course is set into hills that offer it a prime location while its beach club is on the other side of the coastal access road, patently right next to the sea.
Korineum lets its location and its facilities do its talking. If you aren’t a fan of superfluous fuss and fanfare, it is for you. There’s no pointless valet service or 12 bellboys and a concierge trying to wrestle your bags from you.
You check in without delay, you get your room key and your Korineum experience can begin.
If you arrive in the morning that might mean a couple of hours unwinding at the pool, which is adjacent to all the apartments (82 rooms in a low-rise block) and has a very tempting bar to relax your further.
If it’s at lunchtime you might dump your bags in your room and head straight for the restaurant in the main hub of the resort, which also includes the clubhouse, well-quipped gym and reception.
The restaurant is arguably the focus of the resort and, because it is primarily a golf resort rather than a family hotel that happens to have a golf course as part of the attractions, you find meal times are spent with people also wearing polo shirts, shorts and hybrid golf shoes.
It’s a nice aspect to a holiday here, meeting with golfers from all over Europe and chatting about Korineum (to a man and woman, the value the resort offers was praised), other resorts, and the great game we all play in general.
The restaurant is the perfect venue, with al fresco dining on an attractive large patio blessed with views of the surrounding mountains as well as the golf course.
The food here is excellent, whether the huge cold and hot buffet breakfast, a la carte lunch or the myriad options – both local and international – in the buffet at night. The super-friendly waiting staff add to the pleasure of dining at Korineum.
If you arrive after lunch, you might be tempted to pop in to the pro shop and assess if there are any tee times available for late afternoon. There’s a good chance there would be, because while Korineum is unsurprisingly successful, its tee sheet is not packed with golfers from dawn til dusk as many Belek courses are.
This is a huge advantage; not only does it means you have half a chance of playing at the time of day you’d like, it also means there might not be a group right behind you and right in front of you…and that pace of play is excellent.
In fact the more I think about how pleasant this aspect to Korineum was, the more significant it is.
On a couple of occasions we had another attempt at putts during one round. Videos were taken of tee shots on the elevated 2nd tee. Numerous pictures were taken of the course. As if you have time for any of these when you’re playing in Belek…
Helping to make the course especially photogenic are the changes in elevation that characterise Korineum’s hillside layout. There are lots of elevated drives to get excited about, as well as fun uphill approaches to green complexes tucked into the foot of hills.
The feat of designer David Hemstock in 2006 was in using Korineum’s significantly undulating land to make it a spectacular course visually while ensuring it remains a playable and enjoyable one.
It was in pristine condition during the week we were there – in the kind of nick that makes you think it is superbly presented every day of the year.
Korineum is a resort, and its course can be described as ‘holiday golf’ but do not mistake it for a birdie fest. It is anything but!
That much is clear from the first, a tough opener that plays uphill and longer than its yardage. With sand before the green and trees to cause issues for those driving the ball waywardly, this is a portent of things to come.
The elevated drive off the 2nd is welcome refreshment and this downhill par 5 can offer up a birdie putt to make you feel good about your game.
The best of the front nine was in my opinion the thrilling short 4th across a canyon to a beautifully positioned green and the classy, twisting 5th.
The end to the nine is played across a dry ditch in the style of a La Manga before you move across to the a second half that is in general a little easier.
Here, the short holes are the highlight but there are also a couple of stout par 4s that remind you Korineum is a proper course and this is a proper golf resort.
What impresses most about it is the fact there is consistency across all aspects; the course, the hotel, the facilities and the setting are all 8/10.
The hotel is not a sprawling monster that dominates the scene – even if there are over 80 rooms… and they are huge!
Even those of who like to travel with 8kg worth of balls (just in case), three extra polo shirts (just in case), a jumper (just in case), a couple of pairs of extra shorts and trousers (just in case), and then mimic this craziness with our non-golf luggage too (just in case) will find space for everything in the rooms
This was another aspect that appealed to me – I’d much rather have space to disperse my gear to every corner of the room than be so cramped I couldn’t unpack properly and was using my case as a de facto drawer.
You’ll also have a view of the sea from your patio, which brings us to another tick in Korineum’s box…the beach club.
It’s a three-minute car journey away or a 10-minute walk, and I must admit when we drove down the track that leads to it from the main coastal road I was not expecting quite what is there.
Some sunbeds and parasols perhaps. A non-power shower to rid your body of salt water after a swim perhaps. A cubicle to change in perhaps.
I didn’t expect a fabulous wooden jetty extending into the sea on which to bask in the sun on.
I didn’t expect more sunbeds on a large grassy area along the line of the beach.
I didn’t expect proper showers and changing rooms.
I didn’t expect a super cafe where (glorious) hours slip by and you’ve done nothing more than sip an Aperol Spritz or four.
The beach club is another huge tick in Korineum’s box, and as you have realised over the course of the previous 1,500 words, there aren’t many left unticked.
If you want, say, lots of non-golf facilities for children, Belek’s incredible complexes will definitely be able to cater for you better than this Cypriot resort – even if in addition to the course there are also tennis courts, pool tables and a Spa with two massage rooms, a jacuzzi, and a sauna.
But if you want excellent golf and accommodation of a high standard, perfect places to relax in the sun – whether by the sea or pool – and a peerless European climate all year round, Korineum is for you.
Oh, and the key aspect underpinning all of this is the value; if you have been to a golf resort offering more for less, I’d love to hear about it.
Add in a trip to Istanbul?
This was a masterstroke. Realising Korineum was 30 minutes’ drive from Ercan airport and that flights to and from Istanbul from there were frequent and cheap, we decided to hop over to the capital of Turkey for a couple of nights.
Various aspects made it a brilliant decision. First, it was so easy to do, because Ercan is a small airport where you can pitch up on the day and park your car for 10 euros for 48 hours and then walk five minutes to the terminal.
Secondly, flights are so regular that you can arrive in the morning in Istanbul and depart late in an evening, so you maximise your time there.
Thirdly, Istanbul is simply one of the world’s great cities.
So when you go to Korineum, make sure you get to Istanbul too. The golf resort can even advise on travel arrangements.
This is probably the only aspect where Korineum isn’t an absolute dream. Being candid, if you want a plethora of flight options from a myriad UK airports and a short flight time, getting to the Costa del Sol is easier.
In my view, the extra effort required to get to Korineum is more than worth it though.
This is how you can do it: either fly into Ercan, just outside the capital of Nicosia, via Istanbul. Or fly direct into Larnaca, in the south of the island, that’s the Greek side, and still be at Korineum within a two-hour drive.
Just incredibly good. From the start of May to the end of September is categorically glorious, with very hot temperatures in July and August (there is usually a nice breeze off the sea at Korineum though).
April and October and are also lovely – what I’d call swimming pool weather.
Then you have November to March, when you will still get sunshine on your back on pretty much every day and while you can’t guarantee returning with a tan, you might easily hit it lucky and get 20C all week.
What you won’t get is a week of rubbish weather no matter when you go.