Despite the global recession, England's St. Mellion's resort underwent a $150 million renovation, completely transforming its two golf courses, the Kernow and the Nicklaus, and will soon add a four-star hotel.
CORNWALL, England - There was a time not all that long ago when mention of a $150 million redevelopment of a golf resort would have raised eyebrows and caused something of a stir. But that was before trillion-dollar bank bailouts, quantitative easing and various other fiscal mechanisms that have been deployed recently in a desperate effort to try and prevent the collapse of capitalism.
Given the parlous state of the world economy and the fact that nearly every other business in Britain is talking gloomily of cutting back, laying off or closing down, it's wonderfully refreshing to encounter an upbeat operation that is optimistically expanding and eagerly anticipating a bright new future. And that's precisely what St. Mellion is confidently predicting.
Although geographically out on a limb in the southwest corner of England, Cornwall - the county in which you'll find St. Mellion - is not immune from the icy blasts of recession that have swept through the land. Indeed, the collapse of the company building the first of several holiday villages on the 450-acre site obliged Crown Golf, the owners of St. Mellion, to postpone the keenly awaited return of the European Tour to this famous venue.
There simply would not have been sufficient quality accommodation available. The English Open, originally scheduled for this September, has been postponed until 2011. Although disappointing, it will at least give everyone a chance to get the place looking absolutely perfect for the big day.
With both golf courses - the re-christened Kernow and the Nicklaus - now in great shape, the future is surely bright for the magnificent St. Mellion resort. As well as golf and a bright new clubhouse, there are three swimming pools, a fully equipped gymnasium, spa, exercise studio, tennis and squash courts, snooker tables (like pool only a bit more complicated) and even a bowling green. For those unfamiliar with the popular British pastime of bowls, it involves rolling a heavy biased ball across a lawn in an effort to get it as close as possible to a small white ball called a "jack."
It's an altogether appropriate game for this part of England, because it was in nearby Plymouth (15 minutes away by car) that Sir Francis Drake was famously playing bowls when told that the fearsome Spanish Armada had set sail for England. With a typically British stiff upper lip, he apparently finished the game before setting off to intercept and ultimately defeat the enemy. And, yes, it's the same Plymouth from which the Pilgrim Fathers set sail in the Mayflower.
The conditions they encountered could hardly contrast more with the fabulous, new, 80-bedroom hotel that will be opening at St. Mellion in June. The four-star hotel will complement the accommodation already on offer in the 30 lodges and three cottages. And there will be another 265 houses available when the villages are complete.
A great resort with first-class facilities and a wide choice of activities, it deserves to do well. But the jewel in its crown will undoubtedly remain the fabulous Nicklaus golf course that will surely attract discerning golfers from right around the world to this delightful corner of Cornwall.
For more, see www.st-mellion.co.uk.
May 4, 2009