S.L: How long have you been at Santa Clara golf club?
R.R: One year on the golf course, background in advertising, in fact he remains an owner of advertising agencies in Spain and USA.
Social media marketing – commercial – specialize in making conversions – most advertising entities focus on creating branding and brand awareness for their clients, our expertise is the next step of the journey, using social media to generate conversions, that is converting interest into orders.
S.L: How do you feel about Santa Clara Golf?
R.R: I have a range of emotions, all extremely positive!
I have a burning enthusiasm for golf on the Costa del Sol in general and enormous excitement about Santa Clara Golf in particular. We have a great product here at Santa Clara Golf and that is what gives us such confidence in our potential and our role in making Marbella Europe’s finest golf resort. I am truly glad to be here at Santa Clara Golf.
We have a great product that is perfect not just for golfers visiting the Costa del Sol, but for local golfers too.
S.L: What would you say is your USP here at Santa Clara?
R.R: That is an interesting question. Believe it or not it’s not all about the golf, to make your customers happy it has to be about the overall experience. From the moment the guests enter Santa Clara Golf until the moment they leave us it has to be an amazing experience. Fun. We want our guests to have fun! When our guests leave here with a big smile then we know that we did a good job! We are happy!
S.L: How do you manage the balance between members and visiting golfers?
R.R: Right now we have 35 members. We only want 50 members. We want our members to become part of our family, for them to feel truly at home here. If you have 100 or 200 members then you lose that feeling. As an example, one of our members is celebrating a birthday today. He is playing at the moment, unknown to him the guys at the Academy, our owner, the pro shop team, we have a cake for him. We will surprise him and his playing partners after their round. He is part of our Santa Clara family.
S.L: How important are visiting guests to you?
R.R: Golf tourists are extremely important to us. Over the last 18 years 90% of our green fees have been from golf tourism. We were a hidden secret as far as local golfers were concerned, they just did not discover us.
We have changed that balance in recent years. The ratio is now 70% from visitors and 30% from locals. Golfers visiting the Costa del Sol remain the life blood for golf tourism, not just for Santa Clara Golf but for the Marbella resort and the Costa del Sol as a whole. It is so important to serve our local community. It is our local golfers that keep us on top of our game. The local community comes to see us often, they give us important feedback that helps us to keep innovating in terms of creating amazing experiences for our guests.
S.L: Who are the local golfing community?
R.R: We are very lucky here in Marbella, we have a strong Spanish community of golfers but also there are a lot of second residence visitors, that is people from across Europe that visit and stay with us maybe for a few months or even permanently.
S.L: Which nationalities have discovered you here at Santa Clara ?
R.R: The British – always the first ones to come are the British. Then we have the Scandinavian players from Norway and Sweden, right now we have a Polish and Belgian community that come every day. Last year they didn’t know about us, now they discovered us and they love it here.
S.L: Who are your golf tourists ?
R.R: Again it’s the British, they are the biggest golfing travellers. It is because there are more golf courses, more affiliated golf club members and far more casual golfers in Britain than anywhere except perhaps the USA. The newest markets right now seem to be Belgian, Czech and Polish are growing rapidly in numbers that we see here. The other traditional countries are Germany, France and Scandinavia. .
We are expecting new records to be set and broken for visiting golfers as life goes back to normal across Europe. Thousands more people have started playing golf since the Covid crisis began.
S.L: How do you feel about the future of golf tourism on the Costa Del Sol?
R.R: After this Covid situation customers are going to make choices based on the destination. It’s all about the destination. There are 19 golf courses in Marbella! That’s 19 golf courses in 27Km! Marbella is a golf resort. We have to continue to enhance Marbella, the services, the conditions, the luxury. The whole supply chain. The travellers come to spend their money. We need to give them the reason to choose to spend it with us.
It doesn’t matter how fantastic a golf course is. If the hotels are shabby, the restaurants complacent and the overall lustre of the area is poor then the travellers will not come. The destination is Marbella. We are one of the reasons to come to Marbella, not the other way around.
The prime mover for golf tourism are the golf courses. For Marbella on the Costa del Sol to be at the highest pinnacle of service providers in Europe we need to be sure that facets of our infrastructure is outstanding.
We have everything here for our guests, the golf courses, the hotels, restaurants, chiringuitos, the beaches – all of it within a few hundred meters. Marbella is an incredible place.
I believe that the Costa del Sol will be the focus of golf tourism not just in Europe but globally and Marbella will be the jewel in the crown.
Florida and Costa del Sol. The two linchpins of global golf tourism. The differences are that in Florida you go to a golf resort. You play golf, you dine at the resort restaurants. The resort is in the middle of nowhere if you want to visit downtown Miami or Fort Lauderdale it’s a 45 minute drive. Here we are lucky, Marbella is the resort. Everything in Marbella are the attractions, the 19 golf courses, the fine dining, the casual dining, the music clubs, the night clubs all of just five or ten minutes away. Marbella is a Disney World for discerning golfers.
Think about this. Nineteen golf courses on 27 Km. You have championship courses, mountain courses, seaside courses, parkland courses, here we have everything at all price points.
We have to promote the destination. Marbella, the Costa del Sol. It’s all about the destination. All of us working in golf here, we are not competitors, we are all working together to make Marbella the best golfing experience that you can find anywhere!
S.L: What are your immediate plans for Santa Clara Golf Course in the coming months and years?
R.R: Everything at Santa Clara is about enhancing the experience of our guests. We want you to feel comfortable, to feel at home. Our clubhouse is very beautiful, elegant. We are remodeling it in order to give it different facets each of which will become part of the Santa Clara golf experience.
On the first floor we will have an events salon, we will be able to host weddings, receptions, conferences in wonderfully appointed comfort with beautiful views all around us.
On the top floor we are designing a professional golf facility. A clinic designed to enhance golf. We will have “Trackman” and physiotherapists, state of the art fitting, it will be a professional golf laboratory. It is going to take another 6 months to get this prepared for launch, when we do it will be unique on the Costa del Sol.
This year we are moving the restaurant downstairs, this will make the experience for our guests so much better. We are creating an amazing restaurant facility for our guests to enjoy. The clubhouse is between the 1st and 10th tees, and the 9th green, it could not be better. Also it means that by having the restaurant close to the terrace and the 9th green our staff can give much better service to the guests, if you want a beer as you come off the ninth green then we will have it ready for you.
On the back of our terrace will be a putting green especially so that our guests have more fun. You will be able to putt to decide who buys the next beer, to settle bets, it will be amazing!
S.L: What benefits if any have you been able to take from the lessons of the Covid pandemic?
R.R: The Covid situation reminded us all how important our local community of golfers are. There are 5000 registered golfers resident around Marbella both national players and second residence.
These customers have been extremely important to us during the restricted times. But, more than that, the feedback we get from our local customers is extremely important. It is their feedback which helps us to keep improving the service and add value to the experience we offer.
S.L: What is the general feedback you receive from members and guests? How helpful is that feedback
R.R: The most frequent feedback we hear from guests is that we have spectacular conditions. It is very rewarding for us when our guests tell us this. Everyday our staff make a huge effort to sustain and maintain the golf course to the highest levels. When we hear these comments from our guests it does feel good.
S.L: What can golf on the Costa del Sol as a destination learn from golfing destinations in the Carolinas or Florida?
R.R: Well, again, it’s all about the experience. When you go to play golf in America they make you feel like the king of course. You are paying for that experience, top golf courses there can be 500 or 600 dollars. I am from America, I believe that the experience is everything. I am going to spend my money where I feel that I had the perfect experience. This is what we strive for here at Santa Clara Golf.
In Portugal or Turkey, often to me you visit a golf resort, play a lovely golf course and then spend your evening at the resort.
What’s different about us is that Marbella is the resort. You can do anything you want here. From 19 golf courses , hundreds of top quality restaurants, night clubs etc. Marbella is a Disneyland for golfers – in Disneyland you have everything – it is the same here in Marbella. All of us here at Santa Clara Golf are proud to be a part of that.