A multi-million dollar investment in golf at Queenstown’s Millbrook Resort has paid off for owners of the five-star property.
Three years ago the resort’s Japanese owners, headed by Eichii Ishii, pledged to forge ahead with a significant $30million investment in an innovative covered driving range converted from a former woolshed, a new nine-hole golf course known as the Coronet Nine, extensive upgrades to the existing 18-hole championship golf course, and housing development in the western extension of Millbrook.
Now more international and Kiwi golfers than ever before are making their way to Queenstown to try their luck on the newly structured, award-winning 27-hole configuration at Millbrook.
The resort has clocked up a major increase in golf bookings over the past two years, as golf enthusiasts put their handicaps to the test over its challenging three interchangeable nines operation.
Over summer 2010/2011 (October 1 to February 28), the number of rounds recorded was 137% of the same period the previous summer, which was itself up considerably on the previous year (on the original 18-hole course).
Millbrook Director of Golf Brian Spicer put growing golf success largely down to the latest ‘Coronet Nine’ expansion. Mr Spicer said the Ishii family investment had been a “key factor” in Millbrook’s golf success story.
“The Ishii’s vision and investment into the golf course, its development and facilities was a strategic move to place Millbrook and Central Otago as a world-class golfing destination in Australasia,” he said.
“The three ‘nines’ create a varied diet of golf and a combination that only a small handful of courses in the country offer, and as a result it’s paid off. More ‘golf specific’ visitors are coming here from overseas to enjoy a greater variety of golf on offer at Millbrook and other nearby courses.
“It’s very pleasing to see the golf side of the resort is now excelling in its own right and that’s brought great value to the local and national economy.”
Millbrook was named Australasia’s Leading Golf Resort at the World Travel Awards last year. The Coronet Nine holes were designed by former golf pro turned course designer Greg Turner of Turner McPherson Golf.
Destination Queenstown CEO Tony Everitt said Millbrook’s investment in its facilities had enhanced Queenstown’s growing reputation as an internationally renowned golf destination.
“Millbrook’s driving range and newly developed 27-hole course have given keen golfers another incentive to head to Queenstown to experience its stunning combination of world-class golf facilities and spectacular alpine scenery,” he said.
“Golf tourism is an important and growing market for the region. With six diverse golf courses in the vicinity, from the exclusive Hills course, Millbrook and spectacular Jack’s Point to local favourites Kelvin Heights, Arrowtown and a driving range and nine-hole course in Frankton, every level of golfer is catered for.”
While there has been a significant increase in the number of rounds played over the past couple of years at Millbrook, there has also been a strong increase in the number of golfers staying at the resort while playing in the area.
“As the only course in the area with accommodation, we have benefited from increased number of visitors, mainly on direct flights from Auckland and Australia’s East Coast, who are looking for quality accommodation in a golfing environment,” said Mr Spicer.