On my family's recent bucket-list trip to Australia, we never even considered staying in a hotel.
We chose two Airbnb rentals, one on either side of Sydney, to experience the city from different perspectives. With two teenagers, space was more important than convenience to the downtown area that a hotel could provide.
It's clear that golf resorts are reacting to this trend. Airbnb and VRBO have changed the leisure travel game by providing what most hotel rooms cannot, including kitchens, extra privacy and spacious hangout zones that are great for families, or better yet for golf, buddies trips.
Renting from Airbnb/VRBO does have drawbacks, though. I was worried about scams and horror stories I've read about online. One of our rentals didn't have air conditioning and a very large cockroach gave me a fright in the bathroom one night.
Those pitfalls are where resorts can win the war against their new competition. Resort accommodations are all kept up to the same standards. There are no surprises. Plus, you generally get all the access to the resort amenities - the restaurants, the pools, the beach, the golf, whatever else - that a standalone unit can't deliver. Several large and well-known golf resorts have recently built new accommodations specifically to fill this void.
Pebble Beach Resorts added the Fairway One Cottages in 2018 along the first fairway of its famous course. The selling point of staying in the Palmer and Eastwood cottages is the chance to pretend that you own real estate at Pebble Beach. You and three friends can each have your own bedroom, but share a 1,000-square-foot living room with two big-screen TVs, an open kitchen, a wet bar, a patio with a firepit and giant windows looking out to the first fairway. Daily breakfast is included.
Across the country off the coast of Georgia, Sea Island has also followed suit as part of an extensive upgrade at the property. New multi-bedroom cottages literally back up to the range, practice putting green and chipping green. The new standalone King Cottage even has its own private hitting bay. The addition of the new six-lane Sea Strike & Pub bowling alley adds another entertainment option for groups.
Other top resorts turn to renovations to enhance appeal
Pinehurst Resort in the North Carolina Sandhills just completed a major renovation of the Manor, one of three hotels on property. The Manor features three community rooms - gathering spaces that can accommodate 12-20 people and can be reserved for the entire length of a group's stay. Guys can turn them into a gambling hall or football tailgate if they so wish. Between a new bourbon bar, North & South Bar, in the Manor and the Pinehurst Brewing Co. (opened in 2018) just a short walk down the hill away, there are plenty of hangout opportunities for groups looking to unwind with a drink in hand.
Innisbrook, a Salamander Resort near Tampa, Fla., has also just completed a comprehensive remodeling of its condo-style suites (executive, one and two bedroom sizes). Furniture, flooring, stainless-steel appliances, quartz counters, cabinets, lighting, drapes and more have been modernized, just in time for the resort's 50th anniversary this year. The Copperhead, home of the Valspar Championship, remains one of the favorites of players on the PGA Tour.
What major golf resort has the best buddies trip accommodations you've enjoyed? Let us know in the comments below.