Rydges Formosa Golf Resort, Beachlands. Video / Matthew Broodryk
Sarah Pollok stays at Rydges Formosa Golf Resort in Beachlands, Auckland
After changing ownership, Rydges Formosa Golf Resort regains its former championship – the glory of quality. Avid golfers should get in before word gets out.
When he was invited to spend a night at Rydges Formosa Golf Resort, two things became clear rather quickly.
First of all, it was not a resort with a golf course as much as a golf course with a resort. The freshly refurbished villas have stunning harbor views and the restaurant was surprisingly popular with day visitors, but clearly the best way to pass the time is on the green.
Second, as someone unable to hit a golf ball to save their life, I was not exactly an expert in reviewing golf courses. Fortunately, my partner was not just a single-digit handicap, but deeply, passionately passionate about the sport.
Location: From downtown Auckland, you can choose to drive 40 minutes or take the 35-minute Pine Harbor ferry. Typically a commuter route, a trial weekend service is running until April 25. Future guests may be offered a shuttle service, but for now you will need to take a taxi from the marina to the resort 5 minutes away.
Perfect for:Aside from the golf, the villas and views of the Formosa hills make this a popular wedding venue, with two nuptials taking place on the Saturday we stayed. Those who want a few extra activities like a spa, gym or tennis courts will have to wait a little longer.
First impression: Rangitoto and the Sky Tower may be on the horizon, but something about the ferry ride and the terracotta-roofed villas makes the resort slightly exotic, or at least over 40 minutes from the center of ‘Auckland.
Room: The exteriors may be in need of a lick of paint, but that is almost forgotten when you enter the newly renovated villas. The 50 villas are spread around the property in semi-detached pairs. Contemporary decor, high ceilings, and generous views are luxurious yet light.
Food and drink: Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all at the resort’s Nineteen Restaurant and Bar. Dinner may have required an hour of waiting, but the time flew by thanks to friendly and attentive staff, the buzz of patrons and the sunset through the two-story glass wall of the clubhouse .
Golf: If you’ve played Formosa in recent years, we have good news: the bunkers are now sand and those palm trees are pruned. In the past year alone, great strides have been made in bringing the complex-style course back to its 1998 New Zealand Open glory.
Things get watery on the par-4 5th hole, which tasks players with clearing a lake straight from the tee. Unless you hit at least 180+, take the advice of the pro shop staff and switch from whites to yellows.
The 11th to 15th are undoubtedly the signature holes, which hug the edge of the cliff and include the dogleg straight 12th that starts off an elevated tee box and has you battling for par.
The sand in the back 9 bunkers is fresh and the back 16 bunkers still need some work, while the greens were impressive and responsive on the full shots but cut quite long.
However, making the most of a Sir Bob Charles-designed course on a sunny Saturday is no small feat, and it won’t be for long.
Accessibility: Large bathrooms, step-free villas and a golf course designed for carts make this resort ideal for those who travel with wheels.
Price: Villa accommodation starts from $215 a night ($269 including breakfast for two people). An 18-hole round of golf costs $85 or $70 for affiliate members.
For more travel inspiration, visit newzealand.com/nz.
Check traffic light settings and Department of Health advice before traveling at covid19.govt.nz