Slovenia: Royal Bled


A Fairytale Golf Holiday: After significant investment on and off the course, and a location that has always been breathtaking, this is now one of the most desirable destinations in Europe.

Even in an age when travel is increasingly diverse, Slovenia is regarded by no-one as a hotbed for a golf holiday. And yet, sitting in one of the most beautiful locataions on the planet, is one of the world's most appealing destinations for a golf break. 

Royal Bled wants for nothing. It has beauty, it has history, it has a beguiling course, and it has magni cent accommodation. And although word is getting out about its majesty, this is still an undiscovered jewel.

Over the next four pages, we will try to give you an insight into the unforgettable experience that lies in wait at this majestic Slovenian golf resort. The overview Royal Bled is Slovenia's oldest golf course. Its origins date back to 1937 and many visitors believe it to be one of the most beautiful golf courses in Europe.

The facility comprises the 18-hole King's Course and the nine-hole Lake's Course. The courses are set apart by their unique location overlooked by the highest of the Slovenian Alps and the wonderful surrounding countryside and views. In 2016, the King's rose to No.47 in Golf World's benchmark Top 100 Courses in Continental Europe ranking.

Royal Bled Castle and Lake

The King's was redesigned in 1972 by the renowned architect Donald Harradine. His use of the natural characteristics of the land and emphasis on strategic thinking ensured the course quickly gained a reputation for both its challenge and unrivalled setting. In 2014, Howard Swan of Swan Golf Designs was commissioned by the new owners to bring the course up to modern standards while respecting the original heritage.

The two-year project has seen the course extended to championship length with redesigned and rebuilt greens, tees and bunkers, 10 new water features, a state-of- the-art irrigation system and comprehensive short-game academy and practice range. The King's re-opened in June 2017. The King's Clubhouse was originally built in 1938 and is designed in local Gorenjskan architectural style. It was renovated in 1981 before the careful and extensive renovation in 2016/17, which retains the original architectural style and features but brings it up to modern comforts and standards.

The 7th on the Lakes 

The backstory

The town of Bled began to flourish from 1922, when the Karadžordževic Yugoslav Royal family started to spend their holidays at the Suvobor manor and it became the summer residence of the Yugoslav court. Belgrade's political and diplomatic elite followed the court to Bled in the summer. Bled thus became, for some months of the year, a hub of political and diplomatic activity and a venue for numerous meetings.

Bled hoteliers began to think about constructing a golf course with encouragement from Prince Regent Paul and members of the diplomatic community, who often holidayed in the small town. Austrian Rudolf Von Gelmini designed the original layout and construction began in 1936. When it opened in 1938 it became the only 18-hole course in Yugoslavia prior to the Second World War and it was celebrated as one of Europe's most beautiful golf venues. After the outbreak of the Second World War, the course was largely abandoned until its resurrection by Harradine in 1972.

The golf courses

The Bled courses were acquired by the Šolak family in 2014. It was in need of investment, and some TLC. In the Solaks, they found new owners willing to invest and improve. After the family engaged the services of English architectural rm Swan Designs, the transformation has been spectacular. This is now a course to rival any in Continental Europe, mixing sensational views and immaculate conditioning with an always-interesting strategic challenge, yet one that is playable for all standards.

A view down the 1st 

At Royal Bled, stringent par 5s rub shoulders with sporty par 4s, but it is the short holes that might take the attention of most – not least the signature par-3 10th, with its island green surrounded by water. Granted and endorsed in 2017, by HRH Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, the club has become known as Royal Bled. It can play to over 7,200 yards and has hosted the European Boys' Team Championship and the European Challenge Tour among many high-profile events.

The King's clubhouse.

It is complemented by the Lake's, a challenging nine-hole 3,300-yard course on undulating land amid serene woodland. It was designed by Harradine in 1993. So there are 27 excellent holes on site, but also some fine additional golf courses in the area should you wish further variety from a longer stay. The club is a member of IMG Prestige's elite reciprocal programme, which is a guarantee of all-round quality. And a further illustration of the owners' commitment to the highest standards is the recent appointment of Steve Chappell, formerly head greenkeeper at Gleneagles.

Extensive golf amenities

The practice facilities have been extensively renovated and are now some of the nest in this part of Europe. There is an indoor E6 golf simulator and indoor putting studio, using Trackman putting technology, plus eight heated undercover driving range bays. There are extensive fitting options for key manufacturers such as Titleist and Callaway. There's also an extensive, double-ended grass-tee driving range with a backdrop of the Julian Alps as well as short-game areas and extensive Himalayan-style putting green. The golf shop stocks the latest equipment, apparel and accessories and there are Club Car buggies with the latest GPS systems as well as high-quality Titleist rental clubs.

The accommodation

The King's clubhouse encompasses 10 rooms with individual terraces and luxurious furnishings. It offers the perfect marriage of opulence and comfort, along with stunning views of the Julian Alps and Bled Castle. An additional four rooms are available within the nearby Lake's House. In the morning, at lunchtime, and in the evening, you will be exceptionally well fed. Executive chef Mirko Stojic creates modern, local and international cuisine with an emphasis on local fresh ingredients.

Signature dishes include beef steak with trufffles, sausage 'Royal', slow-cooked lamb shank with spinach puree, pecorino and parmesan cheese, sword sh steak in white wine sauce with cherry tomatoes. Oh, and visitors must try the famous Bled cream cake as well as plum crumble. In the summer, dine on the expansive outdoor terrace overlooking the course and Julian Alps. And a unique 'show' kitchen allows guests to watch their meals being prepared.

Off the course

The course is just 3km from the historic town, famous for its beautiful lake and historic castle perched on a rocky precipice overlooking the lake. You can walk around Lake Bled and the Vintgar Gorge or explore Bled Castle and museum. Mountain and extreme sports including rafting, trekking, biking, Nordic walking are also available and you can explore the area on horseback or on a bike. Even award-winning skiing at Kransjka Gora is just 30 minutes' drive away. Bled literally is a destination t for royalty. n Sumptuous bedrooms. Explore by horse... ...or by cycle. Top-class coaching. The King's clubhouse.

Getting There 

The course is a 25-minute drive from Ljubljana airport. There are direct ights from many major European cities including London, Paris, Munich, Frankfurt, Vienna, Amsterdam. Trieste airport in Italy, with low-cost flights with Ryanair, is under two hours away. Slovenia borders several countries with easy access to Italy, Austria, Croatia, and Hungary – so Bled is a great base for a European adventure. It is just a 2.5-hour drive to Venice and three hours to the stunning Croatian coastline.

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