Jeju Island lies some sixty miles off the south coast of Korea and the 27-hole Pinx Golf Club facility is located in the southwest region of the island, less than an hour’s drive from Jeju International Airport. Jeju – known as “island of the Gods” – is a popular destination for mainly Korean and Japanese visitors who are attracted by its mild subtropical climate and wonderful scenery.
Designed by architect Itami Jun, holder of the prestigious French medal of Chevalier dans l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres, the Podo Hotel is a sumptuous boutique hotel consisting of twenty-six single-floor guestrooms which are artistically linked together like grapes on a vine.
The en-suite accommodation exudes an air of Zen minimalism, comprising one and two-bedroom apartments constructed with traditional materials and finished in either Korean or Western style.All guestrooms feature large, full-length windows that open out onto private terraces and there’s hot thermal water piped into every bathroom to help soothe away any muscular aches and pains.
The hotel restaurant offers diners creative Korean market cuisine, Japanese and Chinese dishes, and a wide variety of Western options. Breakfast is available nice and early from 06.30 and it might consist of something as simple as freshly squeezed fruit juice, natural joghurt and toast with homemade jam, washed down with a cup of traditional Omija or Hongsam Korean tea.Lunch then Dinner is served from 11.30 onwards, with last orders at 21.30. Afternoon options include grilled black pork spare ribs, broiled Jeju Tilefish or hot Udon noodles with deep-fried prawns. Dinner might then consist of stir-fried seafood, boiled pork slices or grilled pork belly – all of them accompanied by a nice bottle of Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon wine, of course!
The Jungmun Resort lies within easy reach, situated close to the coastal city of Seogwipo. Once a sleepy fishing village, the resort has been extensively developed over the last forty years to become one of the most visited tourist destinations in the country.There are a number of modern museums to visit within the resort – including the optical illusion-packed Alive Museum, the Teddy Bear Museum and Ripley’s “Believe it or not!” – and there are many exciting natural sites to explore, such as the Yeomiji arboretum, the Cheonjeyeon waterfall and Jungman beach.
The hotel is surrounded by the beautiful Cascade and Patio open-air gardens and it’s a real delight to be able to step out onto the veranda of one’s accommodation to listen to the wonderful sounds of nature at any time of the day.
The Vin Cave karaoke hall is equipped with the latest audio equipment and rooms of various sizes for a small get together of six to eight people or larger gatherings of 15 to 20.
Pinx also offers the only deep high-temperature Aragonite hot spring facility in Korea, where the mineral-rich waters are said to match those in Xian, China, enjoyed by Emperor Xuanzong and his beloved consort Yang Guifei back in the 8th century.
The discharge temperature of the hot spring is 42 degrees Celsius and a combination of different minerals in the water is believed to have a therapeutic effect on a number of muscular conditions.
Biotopia, a residential complex developed around the theme of “co-existence between man and nature,” occupies a sizeable portion of the Pinx property. Fashioned by Itami Jun, the architect behind the Podo Hotel, this resort-style luxury complex is the perfect place for healthy living, offering residents a modern large-scale hot spring, open-air bathing, swimming pool, fitness club and a club room.
Within Biotopia, four galleries – named Water, Wind, Stone, and “Two Hands Underground” – promote the expression of nature in architecture, providing a healing place for tired bodies and hearts.
The Pinx Golf Club complex was more than ten years in the making. The decision to undertake the development was made in 1991 and construction began five years later. The three nines then opened for play in 1999 before the project was completed with the introduction of the Podo Hotel two years later, at the start of the new millennium.
Incredible as it might seem, the course, clubhouse and hotel are the result of a unique partnership with an American golf course architect, a Japanese-Korean landscape designer and a group of Korean artists, so Pinx is truly a fusion of eastern and western styles and forms.
Course architects Ted Robinson and his son Ted Robinson Jnr are better known for their work in the western states of their native America – Ted Snr designed Sahalee in Washington state, host to the USPGA Championships in 1998 – and they were given the commission to design the 27-hole golf course.
The East and West nines are the private preserve of members, with public access limited to the North nine. The three loops of nine holes are laid out on the slopes of Mount Halla, offering clear views up the mountain and down to the sea below.
The championship credentials of the Pinx course were established when the Ballantine’s Championship was held at the club for three consecutive years, between 2008 and 2010, and this was the first European Tour event to ever be staged in Korea.
Leading architect Itami Jun constructed the oval-shaped clubhouse to be aligned and harmonised with the volcanic skyline of Mount Halla and its parasitic cones and this interpretation has been called “The Pivot of Architectural Beauty with the Harmony of Nature and Art.”
Built in 2001, the design of the Podo Hotel – inspired by the volcanic cones of Jeju, with high, circular guestroom ceilings – was one that the architect intended to be unique, as articulated by Itami Jun, “the concept agreed was, as a message to the 21st century, to build a golf architecture more beautiful than any other existing clubhouses.
“And secondly, create harmony with nature, a kind of dialogue with the environment, making the utmost use of its unique topography. It must be our big ‘No’ to today’s box-like and routine-work architecture without character.”
The clubhouse is a repository for works of art from various Korean artists and this artistic connection continues onto the course, where an acclaimed potter has crafted the tee markers and a renowned carpenter has formed rain shelters using traditional wood and thatch methods.