DISCOVER DREAMLAND & AZERBAIJAN
Chris Bertram from National Club Golfer uncovered one of the finest resorts in Continental Europe in the unlikely location of Baku in mystical Azerbaijan. We’re talking about IMG-managed Dreamland Golf Club and you can read part of the piece on this edition of The View.
If you read that Dreamland Resort in Azerbaijan is good, you might well assume it is ‘good’ in the context of the country in which it is located.
Azerbaijan is hardly a hotbed for golf – although two hours away there is actually another fine play-and-stay option in Quba – so it is perhaps natural for one to qualify the praise for Dreamland by thinking it is impressive ‘for Azerbaijan’. That perhaps the conditioning is acceptable. The architecture makes sense. The practice facilities are enticing. The service and ambience is what we’d expect of a top venue in a more established country. The accommodation is appealing.
But Dreamland isn’t just impressive for Azerbaijan, it is impressive within the much wider scope and the significantly larger golfing pedigree of the whole of Continental Europe.
With a brand-new hotel opening this year to add to the course that has been there since 2015, it qualifies as a ‘resort’ and thus entered our inaugural Top 100 in Continental Europe we will publish at the start of October.
The allure of Baku
Without wishing to sound like the introduction to the essay you wrote in your A Level history exam when the ‘wrong’ question came up (the one you didn’t revise for), in order to appreciate how good a golf break at Dreamland can be, it is first of all necessary to understand a bit about the country and city in which it is located in.
Known as the ‘Land of Fire’, many westerners might have visions of a largely grim former part of the Soviet Union. Others may feel it is more of a Middle Eastern destination.
In fact, it has elements of both, and that adds to its mystery. Azerbaijan was part of the Soviet Union until independence in 1991 and Baku is located on the easternmost point of Eastern Europe, at the crossroads with Asia on the western shores of the Caspian Sea. So, this exotic city offers an alluring mix of Muslim culture and western decadence.
The Middle East themes centre around the superb climate that means long hot summers – yet never oppressively steamy because of the almost constant breeze that gives Baku its other name, City of Winds – as well as beautifully warm spring and autumns. You can get there within six hours from London, so Baku falls between short and long haul while offering as many as nine months of the year when it is perfect for golf.
The other key link with the Middle East is in what lies beneath; Baku is home to oil and gas. This has brought wealth to this historic city – whose core is the 12th-century Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage site – and has given it something of a reputation as a party city.
Baku’s affluence and modern outlook is witnessed in its skyline, with handsome stone buildings of great heritage mixing with huge gleaming skyscrapers. It makes for a spectacular backdrop for the F1 race that is now a fixture here.
These skyscrapers, many lit spectacularly at night, represent the new sparkling lifestyle funded by the reserves of petroleum gold. Dreamland is twinned with the most famous of them all, the Fairmont Flame Towers. It changes colour frequently and boasts spectacular views of the Bay of Baku and is close to all the nightlife. Lonely Planet reckon Baku is in the world’s Top 10 cities for urban nightlife, thanks to its numerous lively bars, restaurants and nightclubs; so, a trip to Dreamland is not a standard golf break.
Where to stay
The opening of its own 42-suit hotel, overlooking Dreamland’s excellent driving range and short-game area, is a real boon and means the club can offer stay & play packages on site as well as at the much photographed Fairmont Flame Towers.
There are also 240 villas and 350 apartments on sale to investors.
For more information about Dreamland click here: http://www.dreamlandgolfclub.com