Set high above the magnificent 18 hole Championship Ailsa golf course along the spectacular Ayrshire coastline overlooking the majestic Irish Sea and the bird sanctuary on the island of Ailsa Craig sits the remarkable Trump Turnberry Hotel. This is part of President Donald Trump’s portfolio of businesses. Whilst the President currently has matters of state to occupy his time, his son Eric oversees the development, refurbishment and well-being of this amazing Scottish retreat.
Whilst it is, and always has been, a golf destination and resort from its early days as a railway property when British Transport Hotels opened its doors and the greens on the golf course to visitors in 1906, it now also boasts a luxurious spa, pool and gym.
It is a stunning venue for weddings and conferences as it boasts many rooms of differing sizes suitable for a variety of uses but all decorated and furnished to the highest possible standard. The ballroom is stunning.
£200 million has already been invested in the property and golf course with more development planned for another course and refurbishment of the spa areas in the Autumn. Donald Trump and some of his family opened the revitalised resort in June 2016 by cutting the ribbon with specially designed scissors.
The hotel, club house, golf academy and half way house developments have married the old and the new magnificently. There is homage to the grandeur of the time when the hotel was built with beautiful crystal chandeliers, sumptuous carpets, leather armchairs and more than a nod to modern facilities with double glazed windows, air conditioning, fine bed linen, etched crystal glasses along with 65 inch TVs, Nespresso coffee machines and USB points in the bedrooms.
Above all however is the atmosphere. From the moment of arrival to be greeted at the door by someone in the Turnberry tartan to the smiles of welcome and genuine interest in whether you had everything you needed or whether they could do more to assist you in any way the friendliness of the staff is second to none. It comes as no surprise that staff are retained as they obviously have much pride in what the hotel offers.
When the Ailsa Championship golf course was re-designed by renowned international golf architect Martin Ebert, £1million was immediately made available for equipment for the ground staff as it was the widely held belief that you couldn’t make the finest course without the finest tools for the job.
That “finest job” has certainly been achieved and the course is a magnificent truly championship course with difficult to read large greens, many of which have severe undulations and deep pot greenside and fairway bunkers. There are eight holes that run alongside the sea and give unparalleled views across to the Isle of Arran.
The Halfway House – the iconic lighthouse – is a must for a 10minute break. There cannot be a finer watering hole half way round a golf course anywhere in the world. The scenery, the position, the comforts on offer and the friendliness of the welcome make it a very difficult place to leave.
Leaving the shelter of the lighthouse the infamous “doughnut” bunker awaits players on the 10th hole. The 11th , although a short hole, plays over a series of small bays and rocky outcrops and becomes a real challenge if the green is missed with the initial drive.
The last hole is named “The Duel in the Sun” and also gives the name to the delightful restaurant in the club house. The title refers the 1977 Open Championship, regarded by many as the finest ever played, which saw Tom Watson and Jack Nicholas battling it out over four days, shot for shot until Tom Watson finally lifted the Claret Jug after winning this hole.
The Pro Shop in the club house is home to a huge shop selling everything a golfer could possibly desire – and probably more! What is particularly impressive is the wide range of clothes for lady golfers. There are nine professionals all willing to help you with your game and I can certainly recommend Fraser who helped me enormously in just fifteen minutes. The range of teaching aids and equipment at the Golf Academy is impressive and extensive as are the many practice areas.
Trump Turnberry is inevitably a golfers paradise but if offers more than that especially for families clay shooting, archery, quad safaris, water zorbing, horse riding and also has links with several sporting estates.
It is also a place of delight for gourmets and wine connoisseurs. Il Tramonte (sunset in Italian) at 1906 is the flagship restaurant and serves Italian food with the finest locally sourced ingredients with traditional regional recipes from Sicily, Tuscany and Sardinia served with a modern twist and innovative flair. All this is under the careful watch of Executive Chef Alan Matthew. The sommelier, Sumith Alahakoon has travelled extensively and has a great knowledge of the wines he serves.
The Duel in the Sun restaurant in the Club House features a different kind of dining, once again using fresh local ingredients, but featuring a Spanish grill giving a unique flavour to the lobsters and steaks. One interesting touch was the selection of four differently seasoned salts – seaweed was my favourite.
The view from the window of boxing hares in the sunset amongst the gorse and the sand dunes is an image I shall find difficult to forget – truly magical.
Trump Turnberry is proudly Scottish and the bagpipes played at the end of the day is a special treat for visitors from all over the world.
Disclosure: Our stay was courtesy of Trump Turnberry, a Luxury Collection Resort.