Updated: Mar 12, 2019
Paradise is found in the Gloria golf resort. When it comes to beauty, luxury and those extra special touches that compliment your stay, there are few places that compare to Turkey’s leading resort.
That’s what it says on the homepage of the resorts website, but is it true?
A 3.5hr flight from Gatwick takes you to Antalya region and airport, after a 35 minute transfer from the airport in Antalya, the resort is 15 minutes on from the town of Belek which is home to some of Turkey’s most popular south coast beaches.
The Gloria brand is one of the most established in the region and in Turkey, the hotel has held on to it old-fashioned idea of luxury that appeals to an older clientele and brought that forward into a world for the modern golfer. Think muted Arabian colours cast over sleek contemporary design. Once you’re inside the gates of the resort the landscaped walk ways and paths are lush and mature, manicured with as much precision as the golf courses, for those taking away partners to this resort its surroundings offer complete relaxation whilst you’re on one of 2 championship courses.
Another thing is really take note of at Gloria is its all-inclusive menu, they really don’t shy away from what they have within this offering. Many resorts may water down the draught or opt for the lesser wines and spirits, but not at Gloria, there is a vast choice of blends, malts and vintages at your disposal, without having to dip into your pocket for the reserve Euro or Lire note, That coupled with high quality food from there themed à la carte restaurants (Turkish, seafood, Italian, Asian) adds to those special touches noted on the corporate website.
There are 3 courses at Gloria, the Old and the New are championship designs and then there is a further 9 hole course, the Verde. The Old course opened in 1997 and was the darling of French course designer Michel Gayon, since its inception it has become a firm favourite of travelling golfers, and we can see why. The course is located within beautiful pine forests, set between the ocean and the Taurus Mountains and it provides a wonderful backdrop for a timeless course design, one that has stood up to the boom of new developments that have spread out across the Belek region.
THE OLD COURSE
The 1st hole is a challenging one, especially if you haven’t had time to take in the resorts award winning practice facilities. A few swings on the double tier driving range and a warm up on any of the 10+ short game areas is needed in order to conquer the opening 458 yard par 5 (from the yellows) which requires an approach to the green over water. The 2nd doesn’t provide any respite from the aquatic challenge of the first, this time the trial comes in the form of a par three, crossing water from tee to green.
We then enter the woodland, where the geography kindly separates to create a run of 4 narrow fairways and testing holes. Across the first 3 of those forest holes lay 22 bunkers before you head to the 6th, a 400 yard bottle neck par 4, no bunkers, just the walls of timber to squeeze your driver, or an iron if your conservative and maintaining a good looking score card.
After that stretch of four holes you are greeted with the second set of water holes, a par 3 and 4 with lakes running the full length of the fairway on the right hand side, avoid wet stuff on each tee shot and you then have to contend with the heavy bunkering around each green.
The greens here are deemed to be the best in the area and they do not disappoint, with a carpet like feel and a stimp reading of between 10-11.5 they proved to be consistent and a joy to putt on. Although every green undulation and location was different, a real feel can be taken from the practice greens to your round, a must if you want to score well on a course you may only play once during your stay in the area.
Many of the world’s great courses feature a short and “gettable” par 4 and the Old course doesn’t disappoint with its 16th. From the tee a huge lake awaits you, pushing you right towards the fairway and the OB beyond. If the daunting task of staying on the short grass doesn’t deter you, then the mass of bunkers littered around the upslope to the green may even capture a perfectly good drive, a great risk/reward hole. Short yes, but easy it is not, a par here is always welcome.
Some people have said the 18th is weak finishing hole, we’d have to disagree. Due to the addition of the new course and the building of the new clubhouse, the Old course 18th hole doesn’t have the grandstand finish you may hope for, but its quieter setting within the course offers a tranquil yet penal final test. A short par three doesn’t mean an easy finish, bunkering on the entirety of the front of the green means club selection is paramount as you fly the ball downhill. If you are lucky enough to land it on your first stroke then the pin placement on the undulating expanse of green can easily provide a 3 putt nightmare.
The Old course has settled beautifully in to its surroundings, it offers great golf in a majestic setting and thanks to its tee layouts it’s an enjoyable challenge no matter what handicap you are.
THE NEW COURSE
The New course was opened in 2005 and was already a Seniors Tour course by 2007. It plays three shots easier than the Old and is very much a resort course with its welcoming tee shots and wider fairways, but this doesn’t mean it’s not a test of your golf.
There are five superb par 5’s some of which are designed as double doglegs, 5 challenging par 3’s and a good mix of long and short par 4’s with a good risk and reward combination. It’s only a few years younger than its sibling and the course utilises the same piece of land so the feel for its grass type and greens can be carried across from on to the other.
Unlike the Old Course the first couple of holes are slightly safe, providing golfers who have not visited the range or played the sister course with a chance to loosen up before the more testing holes start in earnest. The par 3, 3rd hole, aptly named “Quarry”, is protected at the front by a rocky outcrop and any shot falling short is likely to ricochet in any direction.
Unlike its more mature sibling the first taste of Gloria’s trade mark water on the New course doesn’t arrive until the 8th, with a lake poised waiting on the right to any punish errant tee shots, this is only a wakeup call for the huge hazard that awaits on the final hole of the front nine.
Aptly named “Watery Grave” the 9th is a par 5 with Gloria’s ever present water featuring along the right side of the hole. If you negotiate the 9th without too much misfortune you can afford to relax a little, but not for long, as the blue monster returns with vengeance at the 13th hole. Without the aid of a measuring device this deceptive 90 degree dogleg to the right requires a well-placed drive to bring the green into view, and what a sight it is. All you can see is water, as the green is perched on a peninsular which protrudes into the lake. A par will be greatly welcomed on this hole. The relative relief of the next few holes can lure the golfer into a false sense of security, beware…
A tough stretch begins with the 545 yard, par 5, 16th hole, where a well struck drive will bring the water into play for the second and third shots. A 155 yard par 3, shouldn’t pose too much of a problem but put that green on an island then it’s a completely different challenge.
The 18th can be a game breaker, if it’s all come down the final hole the huge expanse of water ( to your left) may cause the more nervous golfer to find the wet stuff or play safe and force yourself towards the wood line to your right. The 18th isnt the hardest hole on the scorecard but its designers have thought long and hard about how to trip up the final pair of your competition; water, fairway bunkers and a risk reward mentality to fly you ball over the blue stuff is a great way to finish.
With two beautiful 18-hole championship courses and a nine-hole course, the resort is great for a long weekend or full week long early/late year getaway. Mixed parties (non golf groups) and families aren’t left high and dry either, a spa, cinema, nightclub, beach club, fitness classes, plus the swimming pools and private beach are enough to keep anyone busy. If it’s not all about the golf and you’re a sports club or group then the uber high-tech Gloria Sport Resort featuring, Olympic sizes pools, athletic tracks, biomechanics testing and a cryo chamber ticks the box of just about every possible need.
So does the corporate spiel on the website actually true?
Yes. The courses, along with the hotels, its sunbathing docks and beaches are Instagram-perfect, if you are looking for a resort to cater for everyone with style and charm, then this is it.
It really is a Glorias retreat.