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A blending of two worlds: Golf, pampering at the Fairmont St. Andrews resort in Scotland

Mike BaileyBy Mike Bailey,
Senior Staff Writer
Fairmont St Andrews resort
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With 209 guestrooms and suites, the Fairmont St Andrews resort is a luxury option for those visiting the Home of Golf. (Courtesy of Fairmont St. Andrews)

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- After several rounds of golf, all of them walking and toting your own clubs, you have several options at the Fairmont St. Andrews resort. You can have a drink and a snack in the clubhouse restaurant and grill, overlooking the Kittocks Course at sunset; you could hit the fitness center like a tour player; or you could head straight to the spa.

Options 2 and 3 aren't available most places in St. Andrews, home of the famous Old Course and several other terrific golf venues.

At a bed and breakfast, you can usually forget about the fitness room, and a massage treatment is highly unlikely. But at the Fairmont, which sits a couple miles outside of this ancient university city, having the kinks worked out is not only an option but one of the reasons you stay in a resort.

Of course, it would be a shame to come to St. Andrews, the home of golf, and not attempt to get in as many courses as possible, but you can have a pretty complete golf vacation at the Fairmont without ever leaving the resort.

Fairmont St. Andrews resort: The view from the top

After being greeted by a kilted doorman upon arrival, the next thing you might notice, from one of the Fairmont St. Andrews' 209 well appointed rooms, is the view of the golf courses, clubhouse and bay.

The luxury, five-star hotel is perched atop a hill, affording magnificent sunset views, highlighting two courses that if they weren't located in St. Andrews, might garner more recognition.

As it is, both courses have received their share of accolades. The Torrance Course, designed by former Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance, looks like it's been there for a century, not just a decade.

In fact, some of the stone walls on the course were left just the way course builders found them, giving it an authentic Scottish look. A recent redesign of eight holes and the addition of classic Scottish bunkering, adds to the old look.

"The significant improvements we’ve made to the Torrance Course put it among the best in the country," said Garrett Turta, Fairmont St. Andrews general manager.

The Torrance, a par 72 that measure more than 7,200 yards, has already been a British Open qualifier and is home of the Srixon/Cleveland Senior Open. The other course at the resort, the Kittocks, might not have the pedigree yet, but it certainly has more of a wow factor.

With more of its holes located on the sea, the Kittocks Course, originally designed by Bruce Devlin, features dramatic tee shots and approaches throughout. In 2008, it got the 17th and 18th holes from the Torrance as part of both course's renovation work.

After golf at the Fairmont St. Andrews

You can play golf in St. Andrews well into the night during the summer months. But whatever time you choose to end your day, whether it is after 18, 36 or 54 holes, the Fairmont St. Andrews has lots of tantalizing options.

One of the easy choices is coming into the clubhouse to enjoy a snack, a pint or even a meal. Featuring a 180-degree view of the ocean, the Kittocks Course and the town of St. Andrews, the setting is perfect for a Guinness or Scottish brew. The clubhouse dining room offers a variety of delectable appetizers, entrees and desserts. The sea bream fillet, with pea and asparagus risotto, is particularly tantalizing.

As you might expect, however, the resort's excellent dining options don't begin and end at the golf clubhouse. The resort's fine-dining restaurant, Esperante, serves a taste of the Mediterranean as well as a collection of fine wines from throughout the world. The Squire, named for Gene Sarazen, features local Scottish produce. Y

ou can enjoy a traditional afternoon tea or cocktail at the Atrium restaurant (coincidentally located under the resort's huge atrium), get fish and chips at the Kittocks Den, or check out football, European style, at the Rock and Spindle sports bar.

Signature Spa at Fairmont St. Andrews

There are times when the spa treatment can eclipse the golf. And while it's difficult to outdo the links in St. Andrews, the Spa at Fairmont St. Andrews is a terrific complement.

While there are a few opportunities to take powered buggies, as they call golf carts in Scotland, most will walk and even carry their own bags. Since most Americans aren't used to lugging 30 pounds up and down hills for four hours at a time, having an expert work out the kinks isn't a bad way to recover for the next day.

The spa offers all the standard treatments, including therapeutic massage treatments, in one of 12 treatment rooms. There's aroma therapy, facials and other sensory-based treatments, as well as steam rooms, Jacuzzis, an indoor pool and locker room in an atmosphere deserving of a world-class resort.

In addition, the Fairmont St. Andrews has a 9,000-square-foot fitness center as well as instructors to help you through a fitness program.

Fairmont St. Andrews resort: The verdict

If you're traveling to St. Andrews, you go with certain expectations.

If you don't mind sharing a bathroom to soak up the local atmosphere, then a bed and breakfast in town might be the ticket. But if you want to have both a luxury resort experience while enjoying the local flavor, then the Fairmont St. Andrews is probably more what you seek.

The resort has a shuttle that takes guests into town every hour and more frequently than that during the summer. Getting out is a must, but it's nice to be able to return to the comfortable surroundings for which Fairmont resorts are known.

In fact, if you bring a corporate group, there's no better choice. The Fairmont St. Andrews has top-notch meeting facilities, including a large conference room with theater-like seating. The resort has its own event planner, who can cater to any group's needs.

This is really a great base for a meeting, a St. Andrews golf vacation or both. There's no reason why you can't play all the great courses in the area and relax at a top resort that has a look that blends in with its surroundings.

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Fairmont St. Andrews - spaFairmont Kittocks golf course - No. 17Fairmont St Andrews - Esperante RestaurantFairmont St Andrews resort - lobby

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in the Houston area. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 20 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @Accidentlgolfer.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

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