MCLEAN, VA—Wouldn’t it be a dream to practice footwork and perfect your pendulum or chip shot with a golf pro? To get crucial tips on how to recover in true Arnold Palmer style? To pick a pro’s brain about when to take a lob shot, or how to recognize when you’re displaying a pistol, strong, weak or open grip?
Now, Waldorf Astoria has made all of that possible with its golf experiences package. In partnership with Golf Digest, it couples elite golf events with luxury accommodations at select Waldorf Astoria properties, according to John Vanderslice, global head, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts.
The package includes a full day of golf at one of Golf Digest’s top-ranked golf courses, a dinner hosted by one of the magazine’s editors and a two-night stay at one of Waldorf Astoria’s participating properties. Additional package perks include a welcome cocktail reception, custom putter fitting by Toulon Design, Waldorf Astoria golf gear, a private group breakfast briefing prior to the golf outing, transportation, lunch, beverages and post-round cocktails.
“What would normally be impossible is made a reality. Along with a stay at Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh and a specially curated itinerary, guests will have a chance to meet with the magazine’s top pro-golf editors,” said Dale MacPhee, general manager, Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh–The Caledonian.
Each year, a new set of Waldorf Astoria locations will participate in the golf experiences program. For its inaugural season, participating properties include Waldorf Astoria Chicago, Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh, Waldorf Astoria New York and Waldorf Astoria Orlando.
The Edinburgh property is participating in the program because of its location: 90 minutes from Carnoustie Golf Links, which is one of the “World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses” as per Golf Digest.
According to Carnoustie’s website, golf has been a staple in the town of Angus, where the course is located, for more than 400 years. “When you couple our convenience to the course with the weather conditions, we believe all the ingredients are here to make this a truly memorable experience for our guests,” said MacPhee. The Edinburgh property is the only Waldorf Astoria in the U.K., and boasts unobstructed views of Edinburgh castle.
Vanderslice speculated the program would underscore Waldorf Astoria’s mission of pairing service with experience in order to cater to its core customer base of luxury-seeking guests. Additionally, brand executives say the golf package will strengthen its connection to their target market. “As a result, Waldorf Astoria becomes their preferred luxury destination when traveling,” Vanderslice noted.
Sam Berg, associate director of integrated marketing, Golf Digest, commented on the cachet of Waldorf Astoria’s global properties and cited its history as a luxury, niche hotel brand as the reason Golf Digest decided to participate in the program. “Waldorf Astoria has a long, authentic legacy within the hospitality industry and it’s important to Golf Digest that we align ourselves with brands with that kind of reputation,” Berg explained. “The program, as well as the brand itself, connects to the interests of our readers. We knew this was a unique partnership and jumped at the opportunity.”
Berg and the magazine’s other top editors will be on hand during booked events to provide discourse on the golf industry, including crucial tips and memories about golf’s finest moments. “I will represent Golf Digest during a Waldorf Astoria golf experience,” he said. “It’s a one-on-one meet up, either at the golf course or a chat during dinner, where I’ll be able to give any participating guest insight into the golf world.”
Asked what the program will add to the Waldorf Edinburgh experience, MacPhee said, “We expect to attract travelers seeking experiences that can’t be produced anywhere else in the world. This isn’t just any luxury hotel; this is a Waldorf, where guests come to expect these memorable experiences during each and every stay. Being a part of Waldorf Astoria golf experiences truly highlights what makes our destination special.”
Berg also has high hopes for what participating in the program will mean for the Golf Digest brand. “Today, consumers are inundated with information, so it’s important that brands look for creative ways to stand out. With this initiative, Golf Digest keeps its name top of mind with luxury travelers looking for authentic experiences,” he said.
Waldorf Astoria plans to market the program by using a roster of names, including guests and others who want updates on the brand and have signed up for the Hilton HHonors program. Vanderslice explained that the list they would market to consists of “members who want to be kept abreast of our latest initiatives.”
This form of experiential travel is testament to Waldorf Astoria’s desire to bring its customers unique, luxury events and experiences, according to Vanderslice. “Guests cannot find this golfing experience anywhere else. There are great golf courses and great luxury properties all over the country and world, but only through this program do they come together in such a memorable way,” he explained.
Waldorf Astoria chose to concentrate on golf rather than another sport because it is what their customers have noted they enjoy the most. According to Vanderslice: “To continue to be the most innovative brand in hospitality, we listen to what luxury consumers are asking for and luxury golf experiences truly resonate with them. With that, we set out to create the most exclusive golf experiences and we believe we’ve achieved that goal.”
With a universal appeal, MacPhee explained that golf is an ideal choice for Waldorf Astoria to offer its guests, including at his location in Edinburgh. “I am a golf fan and find this program extremely fitting for those who love the sport. Golf was chosen as the sport for this program because we know it’s a recreational activity that luxury travelers desire to partake in,” he said. HB