Golf News for Monday, May 22, 2006 | Travel

Book greenside luxury villas for a sweet summer price in S.C.

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (May 17, 2006) -- For many people, summer vacation means a trip to the beach with the family.

But this year, with gas prices sky high and budgets a little tighter than usual, many people are rethinking their annual trips. Some are considering a vacation at home, while many who plan to head to the beach expect to shorten their stay or curtail activities like dining at restaurants and taking the kids to amusement parks.

And then there are those creative types who — determined not to compromise the fun of their annual trek to the ocean — have figured out a way to head to the beach for less. These folks have discovered how to vacation at upscale resorts for bargain prices at the most popular times of the summer.

How can they do that? Well, the trick is knowing just which properties in a beach town view the summer as peak season and which see summer as “down time.” Yes, even a beach town can have some businesses that see summer as “down time.”

Let’s use Myrtle Beach, S.C. as an example. The “Grand Strand” as it is known, has more than 60 miles of beautiful Atlantic Ocean beach. Oceanfront hotels there make most of their profits during the summer when the bulk of the area’s 12 million annual tourists come in for their summer vacations. Nightly oceanfront room rates are around $200.

But the Grand Strand is also the “World Capital of Golf” with more than 100 courses. Many of those courses have villas or condos built along the fairways. While those villas are filled with golfers in the spring and fall, in summer they sit empty.

A spacious villa at a golf resort less than a half-mile from the ocean is an ideal place to house the whole family. It’s also a bargain — the villa is likely to cost less than half what that cramped hotel room will. Some of the golf resorts are quite luxurious with pools, fitness centers, shuttles to the beach, and other amenities that guests can use.

If you’re a golfer, spending the family’s “beach vacation” in a greenside villa is even sweeter. Greens fees for even the best courses plummet in their summer “off season” making great golf experiences well within the reach of even those on a tight budget. If the whole family likes to play golf, check out the “stay and play” resorts near the ocean for even better deals; accommodations and golf are all one price and at some courses, kids can play free when accompanied by a paying adult.

With a greenside villa so close to the beach, it’s easy to throw on a swimsuit and head for the ocean after you have an early morning round on the links.

With the money saved on accommodations, you can treat the kids to a day at Myrtle Beach’s famous Pavilion Amusement Park or a few hours of interactive fun at the fantasy game, MagiQuest. Or dine at your favorite seafood restaurant. Or do any of a hundred other things you like to do at the beach.

Let’s look at a couple of examples along Myrtle Beach’s Grand Strand.
Just south of Myrtle Beach proper is the Grand Strand’s loveliest resort, Pawleys Plantation. This is the home of casual elegance. Spacious villas, a fabulous Jack Nicklaus golf course that plays out over a scenic salt marsh, pools and tennis courts on property, gorgeous moss-draped oaks and gourmet dining ensure that this resort is packed during the fall and spring. In summer, when the bulk of the business at the resort comes from conferences, there are plenty of roomy villas to rent. More and more beachgoers are discovering it, however, so book early – especially if you like to vacation around the July 4 holiday. You can check it out at www.pawleysplantation.com or by calling 877-763-7341.

On the northern end of the Grand Strand is another example, Sea Trail Golf Resort & Conference Center. Like Pawleys Plantation, Sea Trail is an ideal spot for family vacations. The 2000-acre property is near the pristine beaches of Sunset Beach, N.C., and the resort provides a complimentary shuttle to take guests to and from the beach. On-site, guests can enjoy amenities like gourmet dining, a Swim & Fitness Center with indoor and outdoor pools, a licensed massage therapist, and planned children’s activities. Golfers even have a choice of three golf courses on the property. Check them out online at www.seatrail.com or by calling 888-675-1937.

So hunt for the deals and remember: to enjoy the beach you don’t have to stay in an oceanfront hotel. And, you don’t have to pay and arm and leg to get luxury.