All the latest news and announcements from the world of Ernie Els Design.
1. New Big Easy Winebar & Grill in Miami celebrates official grand opening
A fourth Big Easy Winebar & Grill by Ernie Els™, located at Miami’s Brickell City Center, celebrated its official grand opening on Thursday, February 2, 2017. The invite-only soirée, hosted by Grove Bay Hospitality and Miami Magazine, was attended by Ernie and Liezl Els, fellow tour pros Branden Grace and Michelle Wie, alongside local media and distinguished guests. All enjoyed an authentic taste of the Western Cape region with complimentary bites by South African native and Executive Chef of the Big Easy Winebar & Grill Miami, Maryna Frederiksen. Naturally, a selection of award-winning wines from the Ernie Els Wines portfolio was also enjoyed throughout the evening.
“This is a proud moment for me and for everyone involved in this project,” commented Ernie. “Thank you to our partners at Grove Bay, Ernie Els Hospitality and everyone who attended, including my good friends Michelle Wie and Branden Grace. Our existing Big Easy’s – in Stellenbosch, Durban and Dubai – have all established themselves as go-to restaurants with our ‘South African Inspired Steak House’ concept in their respective communities. They’re also attracting a really diverse crowd, which is great to see. It looks like that’s the case in Miami, too. We’ve actually been open for business a few weeks now and already we’ve enjoyed some great reviews and customer feedback.”
Click here for a review by Digest Miami magazine.
This Miami launch represents another exciting chapter for this blossoming global restaurant brand, with existing outlets already thriving in locations in Stellenbosch, Durban and Dubai, the latter of which was voted ‘Best Food & Beverage Outlet’ at the 2016 Middle East Golf Awards. Another is due to open in Malaysia this year.
As with its predecessors, the Big Easy Winebar & Grill Miami offers a casual yet sophisticated steakhouse dining experience. The cuisine, wines, décor and hospitality are all inspired by the lifestyle, spirit and homeland of South Africa, with additional influences from Ernie’s extensive travels around the world.
The mouthwatering menu boasts a strong line-up of succulent prime cut steaks and a selection of outstanding meats including Tenderloin of Beef, Prime Ribeye, Wagyu Flank Steak, Rack of Lamb and South African delicacies such as Springbok Loin and Ostrich Fillet alongside the ever-popular Big Easy Burger. Also from Ernie’s homeland are Bobotie Spring Rolls (sweet ground beef curry with spice chutney), Grilled Boerewors and Sosatie Grilled Mini Skewers of beef, pork, lamb and chicken with tasty dips.
Ernie went on to say, “Our award-winning Executive Chef Maryna Frederiksen, a native from my homeland, is doing an incredible job bringing a taste of South Africa to Miami. Some of my personal favorites are on the menu; if you get the chance to order the Tomahawk Steak, Big Easy Burger or Bunny Chow, trust me, you won’t be disappointed!
“The diverse menu here also has a selection of dishes that celebrate Florida’s sensational seafood and Latin influence. And, as you’d expect, you can sample a selection of great wines, including many award-winning varietals from the Ernie Els Wines portfolio. In fact, one of the wonderful things about all of our Big Easy’s is the opportunity it gives Louis Strydom [head winemaker at Ernie Els Wines] and me to share our passion for wine and to introduce our portfolio of wines, of which we’re extremely proud, to a wider audience.”
The Big Easy Winebar & Grill by Ernie Els serves weekday lunch from 11.30am to 4.00pm; dinner nightly from 4.00pm to 11.00pm; and Sunday brunch from 11.00am to 3.00pm.
For more information and reservations please visit the website: http://bigeasy.miami/
2. Ernie Els Design announces new golf course in beautiful Zanzibar
The Zanzibar Archipelago, a small cluster of islands renowned for their outstanding natural beauty, is the latest exciting destination on the books of Ernie Els Design. The deal with Amber Resorts was finalised in January and will form part of East Africa’s first Signature Golf Resort Development. Construction is due to begin later this year.
Ernie Els commented, “As a golf course designer, I feel so fortunate to be working with Amber Resorts. And to be awarded with some of the most beautiful settings in the Indian Ocean is really a wonderful opportunity for us. Our clients and I share the same vision and I am confident our work here will set a new standard, leaving a lasting legacy for Zanzibar and the region’s golfers as a whole.”
The Zanzibar Amber Resort is a luxury tropical community that will deliver a contemporary lifestyle with premium hospitality and world-class facilities. As well as an 18-hole Ernie Els Design Signature Golf Course with extensive practice areas, the resort will also feature several luxury hotels, a deep-water marina, glamorous souk and a tropical aqua park. Sustainably-appointed across 650 hectares, and blessed with 4km of pristine Indian Ocean coastline, the estate has been master-planned to host an array of premium residency options that extend from penthouse condominiums to beach-side villas and private islands. The residences are supported by a 99-year lease, extendable by a further 49 years, and represent the first opportunity for non-citizens to have access to titled property in Zanzibar.
For visitors there is an exclusive portfolio of five international hotel brands to choose from, something of a hospitality ‘dream-team’ without global comparison in a single resort environment. What’s more, Zanzibar Amber Resort is easily accessible being just a short drive from the International Airport, which is serviced by major airlines such as Qatar, Turkish, Condor, Kenya & Ethiopian Airlines, along with many regional connections from major East African hubs.
Brian Thomson, the Managing Director of Amber Resorts adds, “As we began discussions with Ernie, we realized that we share the same vision to build distinctive and superior golfing destination that will further enhance the golfing experience of both professional and leisure golfers. It became clear to us that Els’ highly regarded course designs and international Hall of Fame career were the perfect fit. As the catalyst of integrated lifestyle destinations and luxury tourism products around the world, we have brought together a powerful collection of premier brands such as Ernie Els Design, Anatara, Jumeirah and others that represent the best in the business and these partnerships will create a highly sought-after tourism and leisure offerings within the region.”
About Zanzibar Amber Resort
The resort will cater for the escalating demand for high-end destinations within the expanding East African tourism market and real estate sectors. Zanzibar Amber Resort is wholly owned by Pennyroyal (Gibraltar) Limited, an SPV created specifically to undertake the Zanzibar Amber Resort development with all local operations conducted through Pennyroyal (Gibraltar) Zanzibar Limited, a 100% owned subsidiary. As of September 2016 clearance and pre-construction preparation works have commenced, including the provision of a 20km public road leading up to the resort entrance, other access roadways, site clearance, perimeter walls and entrance preparation.
The plan is to have the marina, golf course and all infrastructure work including roads and services for the whole resort completed within three years. This will coincide with the completion of the first hotels, apartment blocks and villas. Due to the scale and layout of the resort, it is possible to both complete the various segments subsequent phases and minimise disruption due to construction activity in occupied areas.
3. Royal seal of approval for The Els Club Desaru Coast in Malaysia
The Sultan of Johor, His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim Ismail Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar Al-Haj, helped officially launch the Ernie Els-designed, new Els Club Desaru Coast, Ocean Course at the end of 2016. The Troon-managed Ocean Course, located in the south-eastern region of the country, features three nine-hole loops; the Coast, Ridge and Lakes. In addition, it will be home to an Els Performance Golf Academy and two casual dining restaurants including an all-day café and bar named ‘261’, a reference to Ernie’s PGA TOUR record-breaking 31-under par aggregate in the 2003 Mercedes Championship.
Desaru Coast spans over 3,900 acres along a pristine 17km beachfront facing the South China Sea, and is easily accessible via road, air and sea. In addition to a championship golf experience, the destination will also be home to globally renowned hotel chains and resorts; Aman Resorts & Villas, The Westin Desaru Resort, Anantara Desaru Resort, and Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast; a conference centre, water park and retail village.
“We are honoured His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim blessed us with his presence and launched our 27-hole championship golf course signalling an exciting new era for the region’s tourism sector,” commented Muhammad Zainal Ashikin, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of DDC. “We are inspired by His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim’s vision to welcome visitors from all over the world that will spur positive regional impact for Johor. The Els Club Desaru Coast – Ocean Course is one of the many experiences we are offering in Desaru Coast, which will include resorts and hotels, a water park and retail outlets.”
In addition to the official launch, The Little Easy Young Athlete Scholarship Program was announced, designed to encourage local children to take up the game and benefit from the expertise at the Els Performance Golf Academy. Keen junior beginners will benefit from eight golf tuition clinics, consisting of 90-minute lessons and two months EPGA practice access, which will be run by the EPGA golf teaching professional. Targeted at primary schools, there will be 100 spaces given to primary school students in Johor throughout 2017. The scholarship program is endorsed by the Johor Golf Tourism Association, who are committed to promoting golf in Johor and growing interest and participation in the game of golf amongst primary-aged school children in the region.
Ernie Els commented, “The Royal seal of approval is an honour for all of us at Ernie Els Design. A big thank you to His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim and congratulations to all the team at The Els Club Desaru Coast. My schedule sadly didn’t allow me to be there for this event, but I hope to return soon and I look forward to seeing the progress the juniors make on the scholarship program and how the course attracts guests from across the region.”
Tee times our now available on the Ocean Course. In addition, The Els Club Desaru Coast’s new Valley Course is scheduled to open soon. Designed by Ernie Els in collaboration with Vijay Singh, it will be a world’s first bringing together two of golf’s most recognised personalities, uniting on this exceptional project.
For more information please visit the website: www.elsclubmalaysia.com.
4. Albany hosts PGA TOUR’s Hero World Challenge for second year
In December, the Ernie Els-designed Albany in the Bahamas hosted the PGA TOUR’s Hero World Challenge for a second consecutive year. Five golf courses in the company’s design portfolio (Albany, The Els Club Dubai, The Els Club Copperleaf, Anahita Four Seasons Golf Resort Mauritius and Wentworth’s renovated West Course) have now hosted professional Tour events. “It’s an accolade that we’re obviously very proud of,” says Ernie.
Albany, the luxury resort community in the Bahamas jointly owned by Joe Lewis of the Tavistock Group, Tiger Woods and Ernie Els, is nestled within 600 oceanfront acres on the southwestern end of New Providence island and is fast becoming known as the ‘Monaco of the Caribbean’. When the event was brought to Albany for the first time in 2015, it was the culmination of lengthy discussions with Joe Lewis and his team.
“Mr Lewis is a man for whom I have such a lot of respect and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to work side by side with him,” said Ernie. “Right from the start you could see that Albany was going to be a very special place and in the initial site visits with our head of design, Greg Letsche, we quickly developed a vision of a links-style layout. We felt those types of playing conditions and shot values would suit its proximity to the ocean, where the wind would make the course play different from one day to the next. It’s worked out really beautifully.”
Ernie travelled from his home in Florida to spend a day at Albany in the build-up to this year’s tournament. Speaking later he commented, “Having played here quite a bit myself, it was interesting to observe the players’ strategies and how they cope with the ever-present and often changeable off-shore breezes. And obviously having the spotlight on Albany is great news for us, as it means we got to showcase to a global audience a golf course and development that we’re all extremely proud of. I thought the conditioning of the course was superb, as it is all year round, so hats off to the whole team on that front, especially as Hurricane Matthew blew through here little over a month ago.”
Ernie has also spoken previously about the positive reactions he’s received since the golf course opened in 2010. “We’ve had some wonderful feedback in recent years from people who have played the course; members of places like Shinnecock and Pine Valley – serious golfing connoisseurs – who just want to keep playing the course over and again,” said Ernie. “They’re very impressed. So too are a lot of my fellow tour professionals who have been to Albany – guys like Tiger, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter and Adam Scott. Some of them have bought homes and here and play the course and use the incredible short game facility as preparation for The Masters at Augusta National. Albany is that good!”
5. The Els Performance Golf Academy signs deal with Vietnam Golf Association
The official signing event was attended by the region’s major TV channels and print media and means that The Els Performance Academy (EPGA) now becomes the official ‘Home of the Vietnam National Golf Team’. It also re-affirms the EPGA’s commitment to spreading its message of developing golf in the local community and schools. The EPGA forms part of the ambitious Ecopark development on the outskirts of Hanoi, Vietnam. It represents the first of many such facilities designed to redefine the art of practice and raise the bar for what’s available to golfers, not just in Vietnam but ultimately with EPGAs right across Asia and at other handpicked sites around the world.
“We’re really excited about partnering once again with our friends at Troon, alongside Chairman Ha and the team at Ecopark, to create our first ever Els Performance Golf Academy,” comments Ernie. “We believe this is the start of something really incredible. I’ve already been on site and the whole concept excites me. It’s about giving golfers an opportunity to work on their games in an inspiring environment, somewhere they can improve their golf and also have a bit of fun with friends and family.”
This new agreement with the Vietnam Golf Association (VGA) allows the EPGA to:
- Be the official partner chosen by VGA to contribute into the development of Vietnam golf industry.
- Be officially chosen by VGA and the General Department of Sports & Physical Activities as the first academy to develop Vietnam junior golfers.
- Be called ‘Home of Vietnam National Golf Team’.
- Be the first facility in Vietnam cooperating with VGA to establish a ‘Train the Trainer’ program, creating favorable conditions with internationally standardized training programs for future golf instructors.
On that final point, the EPGA will be actively involved with the golf education and training of local golf teachers to refine and hone their skills. Wayne Johnson, Senior Director of Operations at the EPGA, said: “I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to teach many elite players and collegiate golf athletes. Also, working alongside the world’s foremost golf coach Butch Harmon allowed me to be inside the ropes with many of the games finest players. The key to coaching a Tour professional or amateur golfer is to develop their belief in your guidance, knowledge and to maximise their ability to perform at the highest level. They need to trust that the coach is guiding them, following the right direction to develop the very best from their ability, improving their skills in golf”.
The EPGA will also bring opportunities and access for younger players to experience golf with the most modern training facilities in Vietnam, including an extensive grassed practice tee and practice fairway, nine-hole academy course, swing studios with video analysis, putting lab, dedicated short game practice areas, large contoured putting green, gymnasium and sports massage treatment room. These ‘tour standard’ facilities will offer golfers of all abilities the ingredients needed to improve and play better golf. In addition, the EPGA will collaborate with the VGA to develop golf programs that will help introduce youngsters to the game of golf through local schools.
“We recognise the great effort that the EPGA has put into growing the game of golf in Vietnam, especially helping new junior golfers through their SNAG (Starting New At Golf) programs and developing higher golf education for the elite players,” commented Vu Nguyen of the VGA. “We know that Wayne Johnson and his team are doing an excellent job at the EPGA to create one of the best golfing facilities in the Southeast Asia region. They are bringing to Vietnam the newest technologies of the golf industry and providing the best golfing programs for our golfers.”
For more information please contact the Ernie Els Design offices in Florida +1 561-625-8676 or visit the website: http://elsperformancegolfacademy.com.