Last Thursday on Velaa Private Island in the Maldives, the Two-time Major Champion and Ryder Cup legend, José María Olazábal visits the all new ‘Academy Deluxe’ on Maldivian Paradise Island invited with the designer of the island by the developers to unveil one of golf’s most captivating new projects. The new Velaa Golf Academy by Olazábal has been created in collaboration with the golfing legend and features a stunning golf course and academy. The all-encompassing facility sits proudly amidst an exclusive private island in the Maldives that is home to 48 private pool villas, located in the northern part of the Noonu Atoll, just north of Malé. Velaa Private Island was born out of the passion for the region of owner, Jiri Smejc and his wife Radka, and their desire to create the “most Private place on earth”.
José María, who has achieved the highest accolades in the world of golf, was selected by Velaa Private Island’s ownership as the designer of the unique deluxe academy that will take centre stage in the island’s array of recreational attractions. The golf course has been crafted to give guests the option to fine tune their game as well as relax and enjoy the experience created by Olazábal’s acclaimed design team.
“I have never seen such a luxurious location,” remarked Olazábal on his visit to Velaa Private Island today.
“I have had the pleasure of working on some remarkable projects, but what Jiri and Radka have created here is simply awe-inspiring.”
The golf course itself has been designed with iron play very much in mind, a key strength of the Spaniard’s game during his prolific career as a notoriously accurate short and mid-iron player.
“We were given the opportunity to design something completely unique here at Velaa and our clear aim was to integrate the island’s charm and character into the Golf Academy,” elaborated the Major Champion & Ryder Cup legend. “Through careful use of the landscape guests can hit all the shots imaginable, from mid-irons to wedges and short-game. With six greens and nine tees we have been able to also create an exciting & challenging 9-hole Par 3 layout. Together with the high-tech Swing studio, complete with all the latest gadgets, golf enthusiasts will have the chance to refine all aspects of their game in the idyllic surroundings. In short, practise in paradise”
During a site visit with the management team from Velaa Private Island and Troon’s team of agronomy and operational experts, Olazábal stopped to hit some shots to demonstrate how his vision has been realised and showcase his much talked about touch around the greens.
“I wanted the experience to be appealing for both young and old, beginners and experts. We hope visitors to the island will be inspired by what we have created and the experience enhances their enjoyment of the game that I am so passionate about,” exclaimed the Spaniard.
The course comprises 6 immaculately conditioned green complexes; all surrounded by uniquely shaped bunkering and eye-catching water features. 9 tee options give guests a range of hole choices at a variety of lengths, with the option for guests to book private tuition and reserve the academy for exclusive use at select times.
“José María’s distinct style & passion for the game was part of the reason he was chosen as our designer. Velaa is one of the world’s most distinguished destinations, and stands out from traditional resorts. We wanted to get the match between what the island stands for and the character of the golf course. Renowned for his crisp ball striking and fierce touch around the greens, the golf course personifies José María and is befitting of Velaa,” commented Hans Cauchi, General Manager & Executive Director.
Regarded as one of the world’s most exclusive experiences, quintessentially Maldivian with uncompromised luxury, the paradise island has already made its mark on international high end travellers. Operated by renowned international golf management leaders, Troon Golf, Velaa Private Island is committed to delivering only the finest golf experience for its guests.
“Velaa is without doubt one of the finest developments we have ever seen and represents the definition of luxury perfectly,” commented Bruce Glasco, Senior Vice President & Managing Director, Troon International Operations. “We have all been impressed by José María and his team’s unwavering attention to detail throughout the design phase and have no doubt that it has the potential to attract guests from far and wide. To have such an inspirational figure as the designer matches the unequivocal commitment shown by the ownership in delivering a resort destined for iconic status.”
Credits for the pictures to Tom Tavee.