“This was my 13th year in Sand Valley and this year will be the one I will always remember. It has been a year where often our world has shrunken inside the walls of our own homes, a year where everyone is feeling the need to breathe again, to hug again, to travel again and most importantly – to not to be afraid again.
All in all, in Sand Valley we lost half of our business due to the fact that we lost 90% of our Scandinavian visitors. 2019 Scandinavians were close to 90% of all of our business. If you live in Scandinavia, you might have heard how all the courses in your country were full and that it was the best year ever. When it comes to Poland however you must remember one important thing – there are only 6000 golfers in the whole country, so there is no way to make the courses full down here. You Scandinavian guys and gals were to play 15000 rounds of golf here this year, but only 1500 of them were ever played. We truly hope to see you in 2021 – we miss our old friends!
That being said, we kept our Team together and we kept our costs sensible in order to exist when the dust settles. I figured that if I lose the Team, then there is no way back in our business.. I know I was right because all the people working in Sand Valley have shown it to me during this challenging year. Those are the people I want to thank the most!
When the summer started, something quite beautiful happened – we had a “Polish Invasion ❤” that resulted in many things. Firstly, our members kept on believing and supporting us. They also brought their friends to visit and that helped us even more. We made some serious amounts of green card courses and were part of the revolution that saw people in Poland finally start playing this game. We hosted families, events and Polish golfers who for the first time found Sand Valley and as far as we see it – are sure to come back next year! Golf really was the safe way to enjoy fresh air and exercise while Pandemia surrounded us all.
We also sold Villas and apartments. We sold a lot of them. Interestingly all of them were sold to people who took part in this “Polish Invasion ❤”. In fact, within a year we are going from 130 beds to over 200. It looks like Sand Valley is growing faster than ever. Next year will also see our Pelican apartments and Pool Club finished and there is a lot more to come.
Our Team is already preparing for the 2021 season and we are all hopeful and optimistic that 2021 will be a year when things will turn around and the world will once more be open for travel. We would also like to thank all of you fantastic people that visited us this year – it is you who have made it possible for us to keep living the dream here at Sand Valley!
World Golf Awards prize as the Best Golf Course in Poland continues the well-documented history of Sand Valleys recognition as one of the TOP100 golf properties in Continental Europe. As one of the most prestigious awards in the world it also gives a clear signal that Sand Valley together with Polish golf is one of the hottest new destinations for 2021 golf holidays!
Despite the many challenges that the golf tourism and hospitality industry has faced in this most unprecedented of years, votes were cast by hundreds of thousands of golf consumers from a record 129 countries. Strong support has also come from the leading golf industry professionals and media from every single participating nation in the programme. I can happily report that the appetite for golf tourism has never been as keen, as golf fans pushed for World Golf Awards to continue, and for the leaders in our industry to be acknowledged and rewarded. This bodes well for golf tourism’s future as the global recovery begins.
With all of this taken into account, this year’s World Golf Awards winners are more deserving than ever before. Rewarding your commitment to excellence, whatever the challenges, and the determination to become the undisputed market leader.
This has been a challenging year in our industry and winning the Best Golf Course in Poland really means a lot for our Team – after all it was voted by all of you fantastic people! We take this recognition as a motivation to keep perfecting the golf holiday experience for the years to come. For the season 2021 we wish that all of you will #visitusagain and by doing so, get to see the new Pelican apartments that are currently under construction!
The season starts to come to its end and we are already looking towards the next season. We are proud to announce that the construction of the Pelican Apartments has started this week! All of the units have been sold to the investors and they will be ready to rent from July 2021! Now a few words from our CEO @Antti Pohjonen on how this development came to be and why it is called the “Pelican”.
Sand Valley is full of luxurious Villas with private pools, saunas and everything that you can wish for from your holiday home. That being said, for some time it has been obvious that we were unable to cater to the needs of couples and smaller groups as our Villas were simply too big for them. Something needed to be done and I knew it had to be something that fits nicely to the existing Villas.
The real spark for this development came from my business trip in February 2019. I was lucky enough to be hosted by The Resort at Pelican Hills in Newport Beach, CA. There I finally saw something that would perfectly fit to our needs – a flexible real estate concept where you can connect 1 & 2 bedroom units and therefore rent your units out to 2, 4 or 6 people – that was exactly something that Sand Valley needed! When I came back, I started to design these units keeping in mind our clients needs and here we are. I know that together with the joint Pool & Beach Club this complex will be simply epic!”
When it comes to naming this project I simply followed my instinct. I thought it would be suitable to name these units according to the place where I had the idea, after all our Resort dog is called GIN and there’s a reason for that name too 😉
Here are a few renderings on how the new units will look like once they are finished. Let’s see all of you fantastic people next year and in the meantime – let’s stay healthy and soldier through this Covid filled winter in the comfort of our own homes!
Sand Valley TEAM
ps. Summary of this season is coming soon!
This year has started out as a global rollercoaster ride and now that Sand Valley’s season has started, our CEO wanted to share some of his thoughts on when the Scandinavian golfers can come back, how does it look before that happens and how has it been in Sand Valley for the last few months:
How was it for you and your Team when all this started?
It started off as a slow brewing shock and a quick realization that this is not going to be an ordinary season. Thousands of foreigners had already booked their holidays by late February and now the world was coming to a stop. I had to make quick assessments on the situation and then I and my managers went to work, initially from our own homes. Those in our Team who couldn’t work for now simply stayed home and waited. The important thing to note is that all these months we in Sand Valley have stayed as a Team and every week more and more of our Team members are coming back to work – large amounts of Polish families are now starting to visit us and we need our Team to take care of them!
How did it happen, that Poland’s #1 touristic destination that is normally full of Scandinavian golfers is now seeing a fast increase in the number of Polish visitors?
I figured early on in March that there is a big chance that our customers will for now be people who are living in Poland. The only thing we had to figure out was, how do we tell them that we are here? For years it had taken most of our resources to make sure we did our best in catering to the Scandinavian golfer’s needs – after all, over 80% of our turnover was from them. I had a look at our Polish webpage and decided it needed to be rebuilt from the ground up. My conclusion was that our products and information were not up to date and the page also didn’t say what I wanted to tell to the Polish people. I went to work with my Team to rebuild that page, created a new organization structure so that everyone would know what they are to do, launched a marketing plan that wouldn’t require a lot of money and made sure we are able to communicate for the Polish people the following things:
A: Golf is a safe outside sport for the whole family
B: Our Villas are a safe place to stay with your family
C: We have a selection of easy and attractive products for both golfers and non-golfers
D: Our Team is ready and eager to help you and your family to relax during these stressful times
If I look at all this now, I can say we have succeeded – few weeks from today, our new Polish friends have rented all of our Villas – Sand Valley has again a weekend that is FULLY BOOKED! ❤
When it comes to the small amount of Polish golfers who have been travelling the world actively for years I would say like this. They have now finally travelled to us and realized that there is a TOP100 Golf Resort in Poland where our Team will make you feel like you’re abroad. They have realized that you don’t always have to travel to the far ends of the world in order to get a unique golf holiday experience. I believe they will keep coming back to us for years to come.
When do you think Scandinavians can / will return to Sand Valley?
It starts to look that it will happen around August – in stages of course. Many flight connections to Poland are already started in July, but unfortunately, we have also received information that some connections will not come back before March 2021. Many of our clients currently have holidays booked for August – September and our sales Team is in contact with them to react to the ever-changing situation. This has not been easy for anyone to say the least. For me, the most amazing feeling is that many of our old friends are already booking their flights and we will be seeing them soon! We are also starting to get some requests from new clients for 2020 which is amazing! I will be happy if we start to see people from abroad from mid-August onwards – that will be the perfect mix with the new friends we have found from Poland!
Has something changed or will something change as a result of this crisis?
I think everyone who is in our industry and operating a business that relies on foreign flight connections can say that everything has changed due to this crisis. It has been a steep learning curve for me and my Team, but I feel we have come out from the other end stronger than before. That being said, everyone knows this is not over yet. We have been tested and we have learned that if we stick together, we can overcome anything. Outside of our Team, we have also learned that we have a lot of friends both in Poland and abroad and that feels good – as they say, in crisis, you will truly know who your friends are. I decided from very early on in March that whatever we will do as Sand Valley for the Polish market now, can not be done in a “products for the crisis way only”, but those products will have to be available also after the crisis. By doing so, our business will have in the future one more leg to stand on – if things get difficult.
That being said, Sand Valley is a colourful place that needs the complexity of many different nationalities. We can’t wait for all the Scandinavians to come back – VISIT US AGAIN and join the atmosphere, we can’t wait! ❤ 😀
What happens in a situation like this when you are running a business like I am? This might be long..
During the first week, you lose 50% of your annual business you scale down your costs and start making predictions on when it will all be over. You come up with a plan on how to stay afloat and then again how to start with full power as soon as you can. You talk with your Team and wait to see if the government will be there for you and for them. Then you see that you are alone when it comes to the government, but not alone when it comes to your Team.
Firstly you naturally run out of money, but to your surprise you don’t run out of hope – at all. Most importantly you realize that you are surrounded by amazing group of people. They are your workers, playing members, your family, your friends and customers that have become your friends. It’s a bit soft to say for me, but I like that part.
Facts are facts though. There is nothing you can sell, nothing you can produce and nothing you can ask most of your workers to do. You need to innovate, stay on top of things and come up with ways how to “Finance The Corona.” Then I realized it. If I can’t sell “today”, just maybe I could sell “tomorrow”. Just maybe some of those people would be ready to bet on us and buy the experience we are selling for the last 10 years with a twist of course – by buying it now.
We will be launching these products shortly and if you are one of those people who believe in Sand Valley and our Team, keep your eyes open – there are some deals coming your way!
we will now take an early spring break from playing golf before we all come back and re-start the 2020 season.
Following on from the announcement made by the Polish Ministry of Health in relation to the #coronavirus epidemic, a temporary ban on all sporting activities is now in place in Poland. As a result, also Sand Valley will be now closed for a while.
Naturally, we will keep maintaining the course so that everything is in perfect shape when we open again.
We will update all of you as soon there is new information!
Like everyone else in the world, also our Team is struggling with the crippling effects of the #coronavirus. I think all of us are only slowly starting to understand how this historic crisis is not only affecting our health, but also our way of life. In Sand Valley there is almost 40 people in the Team and as of last week, all of our business activities have been suspended and the borders to Poland are closed – for now. Situation is less than optimum for golf tourism.
We all know that right now the most important thing is to #stayhome and #stayhealthy. And then later, the normal way of life will start to make its comeback. Our only comeback here in Sand Valley is that you fantastic people will still come and visit us. Our Team’s wish is a simple one ❤️ If you have booked an early spring trip, consider moving your trip to the end of the year instead of canceling it. Paul & Marek will help you like always!
This would mean a lot to us and it would give us hope that together we really can survive anything. Hope to see you soon and in the meantime – stay healthy and take care of yourself and your loved ones.
We are happy to inform that this week our golf course is officially opened for the 2020 season. Our Team has been working hard on the course since the first week of February and things are looking good. Winter was mild and this means very early growth and perfect condition of the course – from the very beginning. Last season was good, but this year we are aiming higher!
There will be some new things for our members and old friends. Our legendary 3rd hole looks nowadays quite different. The left side of the green was cleaned during the winter, creating a beautiful lake view that is framed by the tee boxes on 4th. We were also thinking about those of our friends whole love golf carts. Last week 10 new babies joined our fleet! From April onwards we will also be making our new hotdog stand open at Triple Shack bar and there are some other surprises to be announced.
2020 started off with amazing news #GolfDigest rated Sand Valley AGAIN as The Best golf course in Poland
Sand Valley being Nr 1 is not an accident and it’s also not the first time it has happened. Pretty much every impartial company that has rated European courses has had us as TOP100 in Europe and No.1 in Poland for years. All that is thanks to our architects, my brother – Kai Hulkkonen – and amazing greenkeeping staff! See you all during 2020 season!
Antti Pohjonen, SV CEO
For our course, these ratings are very important, as Poland is still an emerging market that most golfers don’t even know about. At the moment interest towards Sand Valley is growing fast, which can be seen in the number of new visitors Sand Valley is getting. Now we simply concentrate on showing our clients what else our world-class Golf Resort has to offer.
If you are searching for amazing golf destination, Sand Valley for sure is the right place. Check our 2020 Stay and Play packages here.
2019 is coming to an end with #10yearsofsandvalley celebrations and many amazing memories behind us. What a year ? it was thanks to all of you and our very own Sand Valley TEAM. Over 14 000 rounds were played by thousands of tourists and another 6000 by our members and polish friends – new records for golf in Poland!
People got to enjoy our amazingly prepared TOP100 course in its finest form ever. Sauna-Pool-Sauna games at the Private Villas seemed to never stop once the season started
Our kitchen made over 5000 burgers ? and Triple Shack made sure no one got dehydrated during the round ?
2020 is just around the corner with loads of surprises for all of you fantastic people – Stay tuned!
Happy New Year 2020 and CU sooooooooon at Sand Valley!!!!