I think we can all agree that Eastern European countries are not really considered as typical golf destinations like Spain and Portugal.
Some of these countries made a great effort to get on the map of the global golf tourism map (e.g. Slovenia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland).
Bulgaria is among the rising stars of the region. A country that is not known as a country with high standards of living. They have got only 936 registered golfers and 6 golf courses.
When we hear time to time about Bulgarian golf resorts we hear about Thracian Cliffs & Beach Resort, Lighthouse Golf & Spa Hotel, BlackSeaRama Golf & Villas Resort and maybe also about Pravets Golf Club (managed by Troon).
Bulgaria attracted slightly more than 12 million inbound tourists in 2018. The TOP5 sources of tourists are:
- Czech Republic
However, what I saw at the IGTM, in Ljubljana in 2018 it tells me that Bulgaria understood the business potential in golf tourism by representing themselves at such a major golf tourism event.
I thought to highlight all these to understand the uniqueness and importance of the development of Okol Lake Park.
Such a comparable investment in the region, we can only find at the Czech Oaks Prague.
Actually Okol Lake Park is a kind of new settlement just 30 km southeast of Sofia the capital of Bulgaria. It will open in 2022.
Valentin Kanazirev, Okol Lake Park’s capital investor (Markan Holding AD) and visionary dared to dream in big.
Here are the main figures of OKOL Lake Park:
- 3000 decares (742 acres) – total area
- 161 acres – golf course: 7,000-yard, par 72, designed by European Golf Design. This will be Bulgaria’s 1st GEO Certified golf course!
- 57 acres – green area
- 20 acres – the farm: livestock, vegetable garden, barn
- 5-star Pullman hotel with 149 rooms and 40 Pullman Living branded residences along with a 4,900 m2 of luxury spa area with interior and exterior pool located at the roof-top.
- 15 acres – educational complex: kindergarten, school
- 30 acres – commercial area: shops, restaurants, etc.
- 50 acres – sport facilities
Pullman hotel at Okol Lake Park
The Pullman hotel will feature a 1,900 sqm MICE (Meetings Incentive Conference and Events) area with a maximum capacity for 500 people, will offer 2 world-class F&B concepts on 550 sqm area inspired by local cuisine.
The cooperation with Pullman Hotels & Resorts is showing me that they understand the importance of bleisure and global nomads. Bleisure is extremely popular among millennial globetrotters.
The Pullman brand was repositioned in 2013 to target bleisure travelers. I hope they will make Dreem available in this Pullman hotel (see Pullman Paris Centre – Bercy + Pullman San Francisco Bay) as well. It is a device that helps us to sleep better.
The 2018 Bleisure Trends Report found that 68% of travelers already mix business with pleasure between one and three times a year. I am expecting that bleisure tourism will grow as the line between our private and work hours is blurring.
The worldwide business travel spending set to reach $1.4 trillion by 2020.
Okol Lake Park & IMG
IMG has been appointed to provide pre-opening, management and marketing services to the Okol Lake Park.
The golf facilities are further complemented by extensive practice facilities and a state-of-the-art golf academy featuring IMG Performance Studios that offer the latest in swing analysis and custom-fit technology for all abilities.
Okol Lake Park – Real estate
My impression is that Okol Lake Park is more about real estate development where golf will be just one of the many services.
It is not a big surprise if we consider the low participation figure and in general the standard of living in Bulgaria.
The nationwide house price index rose by 7.29% (3.56% inflation-adjusted) during the year to Q1 2019, following y-o-y rises of 5.54% in Q4 2018, 6.27% in Q3, 7.51% in Q2 and 7.09% in Q1, according to the National Statistical Institute (NSI).
Prices of new dwellings rose by 11.9% (8% inflation-adjusted) during the year to Q1 2019, sharply up from the previous year’s 2.3% y-o-y rise.