Incredible Golf Trip Destinations: The Cabot Collection
By Adam Stanley
The 11th hole at Cabot highlands in Scotland.(Darren Chisholm)
From the outset, Cabot Cape Breton was always going to be about great golf.
And then Ben Cowan-Dewar started listening. He realized what people really wanted was something that grew.
With a half-dozen spots open, or almost open, under the Cabot umbrella, the growth of the brand has been markedly impressive – with more key milestones on the horizon.
“The original idea,” Cowan-Dewar, Cabot's CEO, says of Cabot Links, “was just to build the best golf course I could. And I think what we’ve seen in that period of time is an evolution in food, beverage, etc. Those things are important. Other amenities are important. People are playing less 36-hole days, so, par-3 courses were important. People were travelling with their spouses and families so other pieces became important.
“I think that was sort of an evolution and we continue to listen to what guests and owners are seeking and trying to be ahead of the curve and get a sense of what that is moving forward.”
‘Forward’ is certainly the important focus for Cowan-Dewar and his entire team at the Toronto-based Cabot headquarters. Amongst the efforts underway:
Cabot Cape Breton
Now features two 18-hole courses, plus a short course called ‘The Nest’ which opened in 2021. It also offers tennis, award-winning dining, and ocean-side homes, cottages, and a hotel.
Cabot Saint Lucia
On the Carribbean island of Saint Lucia is the stunning 18-hole Point Hardy Golf Club – designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw – which is set to open in December alongside jaw-dropping housing opportunities.
Cabot Citrus Farms
Cowan-Dewar and team took over the former World Woods Golf Club in Brooksvile, Florida – is set to open in January. Citrus Farms will have two 18-hole golf courses, a 21-hole short course, a new clubhouse, practice facility, and luxury accommodations, plus real estate.
Formerly Castle Stuart – in Scotland is set to open a second 18-hole course, designed by Tom Doak in 2025 (with preview play in 2024). The original course, designed by Gil Hanse and Mark Parsinen, opened in 2009. Cabot will also expand the clubhouse and there will be new real estate opportunities.
This will be Cowan-Dewar’s first Canadian foray away from the Atlantic Coast. Whitman, Axland & Cutten will build a new course (Cabot Pacific) in the Monashee and Selkirk mountain ranges in British Columbia. A new Lodge at Cabot Revelstoke is set to be built and real estate opportunities. Construction is ongoing.
Cabot-style sunshine coming soon
Cowan-Dewar says he was on-site on Saint Lucia and in Florida in mid-October and things are looking “pretty exciting” as the official opening days get closer for both.
“I think they are both extraordinary golf courses and I couldn’t be happier with them,” the Canadian says.
Point Hardy Golf Club, which Golf Digest says could be “one of the most beautiful courses in the world” has resulted in Cowan-Dewar getting just pure joy out of seeing people’s facial expressions the first time they’ve had a chance to spin around the 18 holes. Between Saint Lucia and Florida, Cowan-Dewar believes he’s got a pair of sun-soaked destinations that offer “pretty darn fun golf.”
Much more than a strong logo game
Cabot has become synonymous with excellent golf and a strong brand. The logos of each club, minimalist in design but long in impact, are easy to spot the world over – a ship for Cabot Links, a rare blue lobster for Cabot Cliffs, an orange for Citrus Farms, and a turtle for Saint Lucia, for example – with a Highland Cow to come for the second course in Scotland.
“Originally they were my ideas,” Cowan-Dewar says with a laugh, “but increasingly we’ve got a lot of really wonderful people who have come up with some great ideas.
“Coming up with things, we can see how vitally important retail is. Coming up with great logos means great sales and more people talking about it. It’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
While there is so much day-to-day business unfolding for Cabot, it’s certainly not lost on Cowan-Dewar how important the pure golf opportunities are to people around the world. Sure, you can fly your private jet to Cape Breton and easily drop hundreds on a bottle of wine a couple of times per year. Or it could be a bucket-list place that you and three friends have saved up for a half-decade for as you celebrate a 40th birthday. Important milestones being celebrated at Cabot mean a lot to Cowan-Dewar and his team – even a decade on.
The resorts are located on world-renowned pieces of physical geography and Cowan-Dewar has made a point of hiring solid staff everywhere. People know the courses are top tier, and the locations are Instagram-worthy. But the service and overall experience has to match, no matter your income bracket.
"I think it’s something we remind each other of every day. For some people, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ and we want to deliver on all facets."
But what’s next?
Cowan-Dewar came from humble beginnings. With a laugh, he says his team was “lambasted” in the early days of Cabot by not calling it “Cabot Nova Scotia” or something similar, but the whole logic of opening it as just ‘Cabot’ was because he had hoped to do, well, more Cabot.
That’s exactly what’s happened.
He admits there is “so much” going on with the current projects but they’re always thinking about what the next thing is where they could go under the right circumstances. Cowan-Dewar is happy. Fulfilled. And ready for some big-time moments over the coming 12 months.
“I always say, if this is all we did . . . that would be enough,” he says. “I’m 44 and I think I have a few good years left in me and I’m having fun doing it. I know we’ll find something, but, I’m really focused on the slate we have in front of us – which is pretty darn exciting.”
This is Part II of a conversation with Cabot chief executive officer Ben Cowan-Dewar. Part I dove deeper into the origins of the Cabot brand.