By Deborah Battsek and Amanda Sharpe, Deborah Battsek PR
Gone are the days when people opted for a villa situated on a golf course, in destinations such as Vilamoura on the Algarve, Portugal, or at Assoufid Golf Club in Marrakech, Morocco. Then, it was as much about buying a lock-up-and-leave holiday home in a warm climate surrounded by green space, not necessarily about golf.
Today, the quality standards of golf courses and residences have reached new levels. Over the last decade, behind the scenes, creative power play has been at work by innovative companies such as The Cabot Collection, where the locations chosen to create world-class golf courses must also offer best-in-class luxurious residences—destinations and homes that offer as much for non-golfing family members as they do for passionate, serious golfers. In short, outstanding golf has to be partnered with superlative real estate and amenities.
Luxury living at home by the golf course
These golf developments signify a shift in the concept of luxury living, becoming synonymous with opulence, exclusivity and lifestyles catering to select individuals’ desires. These communities redefine living in style by integrating award-winning golf courses, stunning homes and exceptional amenities. Golf’s popularity has directly impacted discerning buyers’ demands for ‘trophy homes’ on course developments.
Where there’s golf, there’s wealth
What was once the retired executive’s or city chairman’s domain has been infiltrated by a new breed of golfer, likely to hail from an entrepreneurial startup background in tech, social media or e-commerce. These young, dynamic, active professionals seek different experiences on and off the course—ones that not only reflect their love for the sport but also tick the boxes for their family, friends and business associates.
The changing golfer demographic
The high-energy golfer demographic is looking for a challenge, something exciting when playing, but also a hi-spec, hi-tech home that lends itself to his or her lifestyle and has all the requirements to keep the entire family happy. This extends to providing wellness, spa and pampering facilities, not to mention high-end restaurants, casual dining and bars, all of which must match the standards and variety these golfing homeowners enjoy in their everyday lives worldwide.
The world’s top course designers and architects
The golf course needs to be the best of the best, and taking The Cabot Collection as the ultimate example, it must be designed by one of the top course designers and architects—think Tom Doak, Coore & Crenshaw or Gilbert Hanse. Beyond golf, these developments must offer other sporting activities, such as pickleball, paddleboarding, tennis, kite surfing, water skiing and every other variety of water activity.
A Canadian pioneer with a master plan for Cabot
In 2004, Ben Cowan-Dewar, chief executive officer and co-founder of The Cabot Collection, set out to turn a former mining site on the west coast of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada, into a golf resort. Today, Cowan-Dewar, a recipient of Canada’s prestigious Top 40 under 40, is credited for his growing business success and role in revitalising the economy of a rural Nova Scotia region. Along with business partner Mike Keiser, Cowan-Dewar developed Cabot Cape Breton, which now includes two award-winning golf courses, encompasses internationally renowned apartments and villas, and employs more than 500 people in an area that previously struggled to create new jobs.
Ben Dewar-Cowan commented, “Golf communities are not like other residential communities. They combine luxury, comfort and natural beauty. These exclusive neighbourhoods feature beautifully designed homes, expansive green landscapes and world-class golf courses, which need to make it into the top 100 in the world (for context, there are just under 40,000 courses worldwide); otherwise, they won’t get a look in. The objective is to provide residents with an experience that exceeds conventional living standards—personalisation and building customer loyalty [are] key.”
Cabot is a club
Some of Cabot’s buyers have homes in one or more of the developments, where owners and guests have exclusive access to destination-specific experiences and boutique, resort-community lifestyles. Currently, the Cabot portfolio includes the award-winning Cabot Cape Breton in Nova Scotia; Cabot Saint Lucia in the Caribbean; Cabot Revelstoke in British Columbia, combining mountain golf and world-class skiing; and Cabot Citrus Farms in Florida, featuring two eighteen-hole golf courses, a par-three and more. The most recent addition is Cabot Highlands in Scotland, featuring Castle Stuart. All the Cabot golf courses rank in the world’s top 100.
Ben Cowan-Dewar noted, “From an investment standpoint, these golf communities offer substantial potential. Due to their exclusivity, carefully maintained infrastructure and the overall desirability of the lifestyle they provide, properties in luxury golf developments tend to increase in value. In addition, a well-designed golf course can attract high-net-worth individuals and golf enthusiasts, prompting robust demand for real estate in the community.”
Sustainability is key to world-class golf-course design
As the global demand for opulent living experiences continues to rise, the new breed of golf communities cannot afford to meet it without considering the importance of sustainability. This is increasingly a top priority that Cabot’s management takes seriously—everything from water conservation, alternative-energy use, pollution prevention, resort-wide policies of limiting throwaway plastics and using natural materials in construction to the homes’ overall functionality.
“As with any great sustainable design,” Dewar-Cowan explained, “we start by taking cues from Mother Nature. Using grasses that are native and therefore salt-tolerant, as fescue is on the sea in both Scotland and Nova Scotia. We allow Mother Nature to run her course. It is why links golf [courses] sometimes can be brown in the summer when it has been dry and green after the rain. Designing alongside the natural landscape also provides the most fun way to play golf, but that’s just a nice byproduct. For example, at Cabot Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, we built a golf course on top of a remediated coal mine which had sat idle for 70 years, turning that site into one that has created a thriving habitat for birds, wetlands and recreation. All the grasses are native and, therefore, require less input, whether that be fertiliser or water, and they simply prosper in the environment. Given that our exemplars have been around for centuries, deeply rooted in their natural landscapes like 500-year-old St Andrews and Dornoch at 400 years old—as we hope ours will be—it makes it easy to take a sustainable approach to everything we do.”
Cabot Highlands is flying the eco-flag
Cabot’s commitment to a more sustainable approach and working with the organic, natural landscape is evident in its Cabot Highlands development near Inverness, Scotland. Developers follow a clear eco-plan, with the preferred choice of construction materials being ‘of the place’to ensure a high-quality, energy-efficient Highlands resort. Solar energy is the aim, with no plans for gas or oil. Charging stations will be readily available for lodge and golf guests for car charging. Rainwater will be harvested, stored in ponds and eventually used in the irrigation system to water the golf course. Cabot’s vision is for Cabot Highlands to be a walking resort, with a limited number of buggies being electric.