“Romania does not have a signature 18-hole golf course yet. What we wish to do is to attract Romanian golfers to a course that is very high-standard and is very close to their country,” Oldrich Blaha, who is in charge of promoting the project on the Romanian market, tells Business Review. He says that Romania is “just starting to see the beauty of golf. We are now preparing some events and I think that in a few months we will become visible on the market.”
Black Sea Rama is located about 40 kilometers from the Romanian border and several hours' drive from Bucharest. It is on the Black Sea Coast, 30 minutes away from Varna international airport, and is also within easy reach of the historic fishing port of Balchik (a place where many Romanian inter-bellum artists, especially painters, used to go and find their inspiration) and the renowned Golden Sands resort, which is also frequented by Romanian tourists who come in great numbers. In total, seven civilizations used to live in the region, therefore it has a lot of background and is rich in historical sites.
“When we started building the complex, there was nothing there, just grass. We now have remarkable infrastructure and we found natural spring water there. All the heating in the houses is done with warm natural mineral water. All the spa facilities and recreational facilities will be supplied with this mineral water too,” says Nusha Staikova, sales & marketing manager for Black Sea Rama.
Everything at the resort revolves around golf. The resort is not lacking in other recreational opportunities, but the golf course is the focal point which is expected to attract a special and more exclusive type of tourist – the passionate golf player. “The entire idea of the project is to build a community where people can come to relax, it is not a mass produced resort,” says Neil Turley, director of Golf PGA Golf Professional.
The Black Sea Rama project is owned by three Bulgarians – Krassimir Guergov, chairman of the Bulgarian Association of Advertising Agencies; Kancho Stoychev, founder of BBSS Gallup International Plc, the first privately owned, and currently largest market and opinion research agency in Bulgaria; and Andrei Raichev, co-founder of BBSS Gallup International Plc. The project covers 100 hectares of land.
All in all, Black Sea Rama will have attracted EUR 102 million in investment, including infrastructure, in order to complete the entire project. However, the value of the project is expected to take a great leap in two to four years. “As was the case in Romania when two or three years ago the land cost EUR 100 and now it costs EUR 700, this is also happening in Bulgaria. The prices of the land around Black Sea Rama have gone up, so there is a massive increase in the value of the project,” says Blaha.
According to the representatives of the resort, the project is currently halfway done which means that only some of the villas have been built so far and the golf course will be opened partially. It is a community resort which will include first of all the signature golf course, a five star boutique hotel, villas and sports facilities.
The 18-hole golf course was designed by legendary player Gary Player, whose company is among the top three golf course designing companies internationally. The course alone will require an overall investment from EUR 10-15 million. “Signature is the highest level of course design that you can buy; it is like buying a top of the range Mercedes car,” says Turley. He adds that in the future professional golf tournaments will be organized on this course.
The Golf Academy and the first nine holes of the course will be opened on May 31, due to high interest from the owners who have already purchased houses in the resort. “We are opening half of the golf course basically to the home owners to introduce the people to the project,” says Blaha.
The game is rapidly catching on in Bulgaria, so many players are expected to come, including from neighboring countries like Romania. “For example, in Turkey in the high season in Antalya, they have 100-150 golf players a day. This is obviously our target later on in the project,” says Turley.
There will be in total 400 villas in the entire resort after completion, which current or future owners can choose to rent to golf players coming to the resort.
“In 2009 we are also preparing corporate membership and we may also have rental agreements for corporate customers, so that a company can rent several houses to entertain their customers or employees,” says Turley.
So far, between 40 and 70 villas are already built and either booked or sold, with some of the owners already moving in and living in their new properties. “The people who bought them, bought them in the starting stage of the project,” says Blaha.
There are three different kinds of villas – with a sea view, middle line with sea golf view and golf view villas. Prices range from EUR 2,000-3,500 per sqm depending on the position of the villas and the view. “We work with different companies. We have their catalogues and can offer various segments of furniture – we have middle to high range prices for furniture and it depends on the set and company the customer chooses. Everything depends on the preferences of the customer,” says Staikova.
The surface of the villas can range from 100-260 sqm. They have two-four rooms and no more than two and a half stories.
Prices include the villa but not ownership of the land around. “We sell only the houses, we do not sell the land because we want to protect the homeowners there. For example, if somebody comes with a lot of money, buys five properties and if we had sold it together with the land, they could build a hotel in the middle of the complex, which we don't want,” say resort representatives.
Buyers receive the villa and full usage of the land around, free of charge membership of the golf course (which also applies to their families) and access to free facilities such as spa, tennis or swimming pool while other services such as massage and sauna will be available at a discount.
Construction has not started yet of the five-star boutique hotel that will be built for those golf players who do not have a property in Black Sea Rama. The hotel will have at most 28-30 rooms and a view of the golf course and will be finished in two years' time.
Currently, in Romania there are 450 golf players and four golf courses, one at the Diplomats' Club, the second, Lac de Verde, in Breaza, the third in Alba County and the fourth, Club Tite Golf Resort, in Timisoara.
By Otilia Haraga