InterContinental Sanctuary Cove

Expired: InterContinental Sanctuary Cove

Situated just north of Queensland’s famous Gold Coast, Sanctuary Cove is a prime destination for vacationing golfers Down Under. The InterContinental Resort is nestled next to two championship golf courses – The Pines and The Palms. The Pines is Australia’s only Arnold Palmer signature course. The 7197-yard (6581-meter) layout is carved into 250 acres (101 hectares) of pine forest with golfers given narrow fairway corridors on several holes. Fourteen of the holes are shaped around six man-made lakes. It’s likely you’ll run across a kangaroo or two as you progress around the course as well as plenty of birdlife, such as ducks, pelicans and kookaburras.
You are straight into the forest on the first hole, a 406-yard (371-meter) par four that has a line of tall trees that ensure you must control your drive through before attacking a green with three bunkers surrounding it. On hole 13, you’ll be hitting across a lake on the 220-yard (201-meter) par three, which has four bunkers protecting the green.
“What takes the golfer at first is the sheer beauty of the towering pines framing most holes, and the picturesque pine straw at their bases,” said golf professional Matt Ballard. “That combination makes for some spectacular and intimidating tee shots. Again, these reflect Palmer’s aggressive style in that golfers are invited to take risky lines, only to get to the ball and realize the rough cuts in and out of the fairway edges.”
Australian Golf Digest ranked The Pines course No. 45 in the country in 2016.
The Palms Course was considered a much lesser layout until it was redesigned by Australian architect Ross Watson and reopened in April 2011. It was a complete overhaul of the original design, re-routing the layout and reshaping and regrassing the greens. It jumped up the Australian Golf Digest rankings to 48 in 2016. The fairways wind between cabbage palms, and you’ll face plenty of water hazards and deep bunkers that protect undulating greens. It is shorter than The Pines at 6456 yards (5903 meters) but will still challenge golfers of all standards with holes such as the 314-yard (287-meter) hole 3, a par 4 that has a lake on the right side of the fairway and a giant bunker on the left.
If that is not enough, Sanctuary Cove guests are invited to try the nearby Links Hope Island course, which was designed by five-times British Open champion Peter Thomson.


The challenges:
The Pines offers some narrow corridors to hit through, tricky bunkering and 14 holes wrapped around lakes. The Palms is the easier course, with more open tee shots and wider fairways.
When to play: Queensland’s sunny coastline is the ideal climate for golf, year-round.
Par: The Pines 72. The Palms 70
Yardage: The Pines 7197 yards, 6581 meters. The Palms 6456 yards, 5904 meters
Slope: The Pines 132. The Palms 130
Rating: The Pines 74. The Palms 72
Best hole:
The Pines’ par-5 third hole is a 516-yard (472-meter) dogleg left with four fairway bunkers down the left side and three on the right side. It will take two accurate shots to make the green in two. The signature hole on the Palms is the par-3 hole 16. It may only be 160 yards (146 meters) to the green but you’ll have to carry over water all the way and avoid the deep bunkering around the putting surface.
The pro says: “Don’t try to overpower both The Pines and Palms golf courses, if the tall pines don’t get you, the water hazards will … The Palms is a lot more forgiving than The Pines – at least from tee to green. Tee shots are far more open, with wider fairways, and rough populated by palm trees that offer less challenging escapes.”
– Matt Ballard
The resort experience:
InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort has become a popular spot for businesses having conferences and individuals looking for a place to relax not too far from the golden beaches of the Gold Coast. The luxury hotel offers 243 rooms and suites in a variety of buildings spread out across a leafy property next to the Coomera River and Sanctuary Cove village.

The concierge will transfer you to the golf courses by buggy and organize sunscreen, lunch or clubs. As well as access to the Sanctuary Cove Country Club (with gym, 25-meter heated pool, tennis courts, spa, sauna, and fitness classes) and Sanctuary Cove Golf Club, you can book yourself for a treatment at the Champions Hair Beauty Day Spa. The highlight that I remember from Sanctuary Cove is the one-acre salt-water lagoon pool with sandy-beach. It’s a great place to relax. There’s even a chapel for celebrating weddings.
Dine and wine:
Resort guests can choose between four dining venues. The Fireplace is Sanctuary Cove’s signature restaurant. Head chef Matt Hart is behind a kitchen that has garnered praise for its steaks, wood-fired cuisine, and wine selection (it received 2 Wine Glasses from Gourmet Traveler Wine in 2016). The menu is seasonal, with the produce sourced locally. You can also get a buffet breakfast at Cove Café, sip on a cocktail or gobble a light appetizer at The Pool House by the terrace pool, or have a chilled Australian beer at the Verandah Bar.
The resort also offers High Coffee in the afternoon with sandwiches, pastries and lamingtons.
The accommodation:
The Great House is the main hub, with the lobby, three restaurants and the spa. There are seven lodging options in different buildings throughout the property each with light interiors and modern décor. They range from a Classic Room (37 square meter, 398 square foot) to a more luxurious Manor Suite with balconies, a lounge room (with fire place), kitchen, board room and jacuzzi.

Other activities:
On the water, head out from the marina for some deep-sea fishing on a charter. It’s possible to spot a humpback whale between July and November when they are migrating. The Gold Coast is famous for its theme parks. Dreamworld has rides such as The Giant Drop and Tower of Terror II for older thrill seekers as well as Wiggles World for toddlers who like to dance. Warner Bros. Movie World has a ride called Superman Escape that will see you move from 0 to 100 km/h in 2 seconds. Sea World has all the marine life you don’t see every day up close, educational exhibits and rides, while Wet’N’Wild is the perfect spot to cool off on a steamy Queensland summer day with all kinds of water slides.
Back at the resort, you’ll find a games room with foosball, table tennis and board and card games. For outside fun, there’s a giant chess set, cricket sets (nothing like backyard cricket in summer, folks) and bocce. And Planet Trekkers is a kids’ club with a variety of supervised activities for youngsters in two blocks – to give mum and dad a break.

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