Mexico – A Land of Opportunity
For the past 20 years or so, the tiny fishing village of Cabo San Lucas has been rising like a meteor
on the Mexico golf horizon.With architects like Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio, Tom Weiskopf and Robert Trent Jones paving the way, gringos have flocked to “Cabo” like lemmings to the sea — or, in this case, the Sea of Cortez. Yes, golf in Mexico has become a magical mystery tour for millions of tourists, especially when one considers other golfing ports of call, such as Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta. Acapulco was the forerunner to “Jet Set” golf in the 1950s and ’60s, while Puerto Vallarta’s vast array of links popped up in the 1970s and ’80s, shortly after the Oscar-winning flick, “Night of the Iguana,” was filmed there.
But all is not well when it comes to golf in Mexico these days as a gloomy global economy has buried golf bastions like Cabo, Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta deep in a bunker of uncertainty. Americans are staying home, and the cash flow that comes with all things that are golf has started to dry up like parched earth for the Big Three of Mexican golf. Brad Wheatley, who arrived in Cabo in the early 1990s to help Nicklaus build Palmilla as well as the Ocean Course at Cabo del Sol, said he’s never seen anything like the current downturn in his nearly two decades of life on the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula.
“Everybody is crying — the hotels, the restaurants, the golf courses — and making it worse, the predictions on the economy around here for the next year or possibly two are off the charts in a bad way,” said Wheatley, who played golf at the University of Arizona.“It’s the worst crisis since the peso was severely devalued in the mid-1990s. “I know that my home is located near the 16th hole (on the Ocean Course) at Cabo del Sol, and I’ve never seen that course so quiet. And it’s the barometer of golf in Mexico.” Speaking about the Cabo area,Wheatley said it “has just been devastated since Wall Street went south and took its group business with it. The panic has set in, but I’ve noticed that some people are getting smart and backing off their prices and rates. I’m sure there’s a very good chance those bargains from the past will soon be back throughout Mexico.”
Cabo San Lucas
Cabo, with some 20,000 rooms and 180 holes of golf, was built for golfers. For a few dollars more, don’t skip Nicklaus’s Ocean Course at Cabo del Sol, which literally dwarfs Weiskopf’s effort on the Desert Course.With seven holes on the Sea of Cortez (and free seafood tacos to boot!), players can survive the $350 green fee to experience one of the Golden Bear’s very best. Some people look at this as they do famed Pebble Beach on the Monterey Peninsula; go ahead and splurge here just once in your life. Everyone, including the Bear, talks a lot about the Ocean Course’s closing stretch and the exhilarating ocean view at the 17th hole, but the front side has four beauties positioned along the beach that will have golfers keeping their cameras at the ready.
Another good bet in Cabo is pristine Palmilla, where the Desert, Mountain and Ocean nines collide gracefully — and the going rate is a few pesos less. Nicklaus also has two new 18-hole
layouts in the area, including Club Campestre and Puerto Los Cabos, and the old RTJ course called Cabo Real also is a treat at $220 as long as you can avoid the diving pelicans at the ninth hole.
The key to thoroughly enjoying Cabo, a village of 25,000, is where to stay with your No. 1 choice being the original inn at Palmilla, the quintessential Mexican retreat. The Westin Regina (big but awesome) and Hotel Cabo San Lucas (small but quaint) also are perfect places to kick back.What’s good is that all three are just a 20-minute cab ride to Cabo’s wild and crazy downtown, where the tequila pours virtually nonstop in party-hearty cantinas like the Giggling Marlin, El Squid Row and rocker Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo.
Most Americans had never heard of Puerto Vallarta until Richard Burton starred in “Night of the Iguana,” which was filmed just south of the city in the mid-1960s. Iguanas actually are the least of your worries, considering there’s a downtown course called The Marina that is loaded with alligators, as well as a Robert von Hagge-designed championship course called El Tigre that also packs some teeth. The course on everyone’s must-play list is Nicklaus’s Punta Mita-Four Seasons, where one hole, 3b, features one of the world’s true island greens. Hole 3b, which the Bear dubbed “Tale of the
Whale” because it actually looks like a whale’s tale from the tee, is accessed by an amphibious golf cart. When the tide is high or choppy, however, land-locked 3a comes into play. Two other superb offerings in the Puerta Vallarta area include Nicklaus’s Vista Vallarta, the site of the 2002 World Cup, and Weiskopf’s sister course on the same property. Of these two jungle-like experiences, stick with Jack’s version, as his course is higher in elevation and boasts views of the Sierra Madre Mountains and surrounding water. Like Punta Mita, both courses at Vista Vallarta are in the $200 range. There are two distinct options when it comes to where to stay in Puerto Vallarta.The Four Seasons Punta Mita is more than likely out of reach for most visitors (at $600 to $900 per room per night), while the Marriott is in the heart of the city, near the marina, and about one-third the price. Nightlife has a feel of yesteryear along a strip of old restaurants and shops that front the city’s flat-as-a-pancake beach. It’s why the Four Seasons remains popular despite its jaw-dropping price.
Sometimes a third alternative can offer high hopes, too, which is certainly the case with Acapulco, a classy city of 250,000 located high on the cliffs above a big bay of the same name.This is where Richard Burton and Liz Taylor once hung out and the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Elvis and The Beatles followed. Even today Acapulco offers trendy attractions like Alebrije (the largest night club in Latin America) and Baby’O, one of the world’s most famous discos. Acapulco’s course of choice is Von Hagge’s Tres Vidas, where the par-3 12th hole plays directly toward the ocean. Five holes are actually on the water in what Von Hagge refers to as his “Mexican string of pearls,”which comes with a reasonable green fee of $195. Even though Tres Vidas is somewhat off the beaten path, about 20 miles south of the city, this unique “almost islandlike” layout is well worth the drive. Otherwise there is no need for a rental car as the rest of Acapulco’s fab four of courses — the Acapulco Princess,Mayan Palace and Pierre Marques — all are near enough the Fairmont Princess Hotel to just jump in a cab. Of the three, the Princess layout is visually alluring. All three are a great value at $125 or less. Another five-star resort that’s a little out of the way but deserves consideration is Las Brisas-Acapulco, where the pale pink-colored bungalows are stacked like a pyramid on the cliffs overlooking Acapulco Bay. Legendary Las Briasa remains one of the most romantic retreats in the world, as every room comes with a picture-window view of the nearby Pacific.
Arziona Travel – Golf Along the Border
Whether it’s golf on the cliffs above Lake Powell in Page, or equally surreal golf on the bluffs above the
Colorado River near Bullhead City, or even the ricochetrabbit game off the canyon walls in Parker, there’s much to love about road trips in Arizona. One that is not to be missed is the trip from Bisbee to Nogales to Rio Rico to Tubac. Call it,“Golf on the border,” even if “Golf almost in Mexico” describes it quite
well, too. There are several reasons why this road trip to southeastern Arizona stands out more than others and it starts with the beauty and views that are tied to 4,500 feet of elevation. Ranges like the Mule,
Santa Rita and Tumacacori mountains are seemingly in every direction, and a river called the Santa Cruz runs through it. The history tied to southern Arizona also is rich. For instance, Mexican revolutionary leader Pancho Villa once roamed these parts, as did General John “Black Jack” Pershing, who was chasing
him. Actors John Wayne and Stewart Granger owned ranches on what are now golf courses, with visitors like Elizabeth Taylor and Doris Day. And an outlaw named John Dillinger once terrorized these parts, and even former Beatle Paul McCartney hung out there in a secluded canyon.
But for the most part, the lower, right-hand corner of Arizona is just a great place to get lost in and discover new things. Oh, yes, and there’s some mighty good golf to be had from classic architects like Robert Trent Jones and Red Lawrence, “the Desert Fox.”
First up on this itinerary of
stately hidden gems is Turquoise Valley Golf Course near Bisbee, down Interstate 10 and U.S. Highway 90 about a three-hour drive from Phoenix (which includes a halfhour
stop at the OK Corral in Tombstone, which is right on the way). Turquoise Valley, which actually is in
Naco, a “suburb” of Bisbee located right smack dab on the border, celebrated its 100th anniversary last year.Those first nine holes are believed to be among the oldest in Arizona, and surprisingly they blend
quite nicely with the “modern” nine built in 1999 by a local professional. That new nine includes the 747-yard 15th hole, a par 6 believed to be the longest hole in Arizona. And then there is
the Greenbush Draw, a 20-foot-deep chasm that divides Turquoise Valley right
down the middle. Bisbee is a wild place to stay, like something right out of The Twilight Zone. The downtown dates back to the early 1900s, with turn of the century hotels like the venerable Copper Queen and the Bisbee Grand, and watering holes like the Stock Exchange. It’s as if the late Rod Serling should be the tour director at the Lavender Pit, an old Phelps Dodge mining remnant in the center of the city that looks like it’s dug so deep it might reach China.
Bright and early the next morning, head for Nogales, which is about a two-hour drive over the old Pony Express route (highways 82 and 92) that runs through Patagonia. Just before Interstate 19 in Nogales, however, stop in for 18 holes at Kino Springs, a quirky layout built right on the border by Lawrence.
Kino Springs is the old Yerba Buena Ranch that belonged to Granger, who lived right next door to “the Duke.” In fact, the clubhouse was once Granger’s ranch house and the old Hollywood photos are still everywhere, along with the ranch’s crest, which features the all-white cows Granger raised called Charolais at Yerba Buena (“good weed”). For the second night on the road, one solid recommendation is the Old Mexico-styled casitas of Tubac Golf Resort, just 20 miles north of the border on I-19. Tubac is where much of the movie “Tin Cup” was filmed, and not only do the lockers carry such names as Kevin
Costner, Cheech Marin, Phil Mickelson and Gary McCord (all in the cast), but an old movie poster remains that declares Costner’s character Roy McAvoy as “Golf Pro, Love Amateur.”
Start off at Tubac Golf Resort, which also was built by Lawrence and now includes 27 holes. It is staged right along the Santa Cruz River, and several offerings actually require going back and forth over water. The 15th hole, where Costner had his infamous meltdown at a fictitious U.S.Open, is memorialized with
a bronze plaque. Even more impressive, the course was built right on top of the original Anza Trail — the historic path used by the Spaniards that once ran from all the way from Culiacan, Mexico, to San Francisco. Then head back down Interstate 19 (south) about 10 miles to Rio Rico Country Club. This is Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Jr. at their best, with brilliant doglegs and lots of outstanding par 3s and par 5s, which is why it served as a PGA Tour qualifying site on numerous occasions. The nines are as different as night and day, and the best stretch comes early as No. 5 through No. 8 is among the best runs of great golf in the entire state.
That’s the end of a solid trip: four fun golf courses in three days and two nights — the perfect Arizona road trip. Along the way the adventurous traveler will find some incredible Mexican cantinas, such Santiago’s in Bisbee, the Outpost in Nogales, Wisdom’s near Rio Rico, and Dos Silos at Tubac. They’re equally as enjoyable as the golf.•
Las Vegas Oasis
Mesquite, Nevada is a laid back "Mini Vegas" that showcases spectacular Golf
By Dan Gleason
This resort community 80 miles north up the Interstate from Vegas is becoming increasingly fashionable for Arizonans
who want to mix golf, gaming and recreation in a laid back and beautiful setting. This scenic resort community, hugging the Arizona- Utah border, showcases the same kind of small-town flavor and big-city fun that has made Laughlin a popular Vegas alternative. The half-dozen resort hotels in Mesquite—there are also several smaller motels—include a handful of golf resorts that include full-service casinos. You can enjoy big time entertainment in a small town atmosphere that is also ideal for meetings and corporate retreats, and is an easy drive up I-15 to scenic wonders like Bryce Canyon Zion National Park and Cathedral Gorge.
Yet for us golfers the main attraction is golf, golf and moregolf, and there are some dandy courses in and around Mesquite. The Oasis Resort and Casino has two of them— CasaBlanca Golf Club (www.casablancaresort.com) and The Palm Golf Club (www.oasisresort.com). You can build your own packages with several courses in and around Mesquite at www.golfmesquitenevada.com CasaBlanca Golf Club zigzags along the Virgin River and might knock you for a loop from the back tees, but there are four more sets of kinder tees to make it enjoyable for every level of player. “Fairways here are generous,” says Gary Moore, manager of golf shop operations for both courses, “but if you spray the ball you will either be fishing it out of a water hazard or you’ll be in jail in the desert.” An average of three to four bunkers a hole and water on 12 holes definitely favors the shot-maker over the slugger. The bentgrass greens are big, smooth and undulating, and usually kept at a reasonable pace of 9 on the Stimpmeter. The river coils through this scenic layout where the Virgin Mountains provide icing for the eye candy. The Palms isn’t quite as long as Casablanca, but it can get pretty grouchy from the back tees at 6,800 yards. “The front side is fairly flat and wide open,” Moore explains, pointing out that while there are several bunkers there isn’t much water. However, the back side plays up into the hills and includes several elevated tee shots, including the signature hole, No. 15, which drops 114 feet from the tee down to the fairway.
Then there’s Wolf Creek Golf Club (www.golfwolfcreek.com), perhaps unlike anything you have ever seen or played. For those who have experienced The Boulders in Carefree, it may bring that facility to mind, but Wolf Creek is even more dramatic, carved through desert rock like it was done with a giant chisel. It is one of the most visually spectacular courses in America, and one of the most exciting to play. In fact, Golf Digest rates Wolf Creek number 25 among the top 100 public golf courses and number 31 among the toughest 50 courses in America. The emerald green, rolling fairways dart in and out of the white rocks and along lakes and ponds. Another dazzling layout and a really enjoyable course, is Falcon Ridge Golf Club (www.golffalcon.com), located just off I-15. While it is truly fun to play for the average and higher handicap players, it is deceptively tough at par 71 at 6,550 yards from the tips. Golfers experience elevated tee shots from high plateaus, especially on the back nine. Besides the beauty of the high mesa views, there are plenty of water hazards that enhance the scenery and also come into play along the lush, rolling fairways and multi-tiered greens. The front nine is relatively tame, but the back nine will bowl you over with its beauty and keep you on your toes plotting your shots. The Oasis Golf Club (www.oasisresort.com). , not affiliated with the Oasis Resort, is Mesquite’s only 36-hole golf facility. Both courses are available for play on a package with most area resort hotels. The Palmer was designed by Arnold Palmer and is another scenic challenge in Mesquite’s rugged desert panorama. At par 71, with five sets of tees, the fairways work their way through desert canyons to contoured greens. Golf Digest has ranked this one among the “Top Ten You Can Play.” The aesthetic experience is enhanced by several elevation changes of tee-to-fairway plateaus that drop well over 100 feet.
To fashion The Canyons 18 at the Oasis, the existing Vistas course was redesigned and a second nine called “the Arroyo” nine was added. The Canyons course is no less spectacular than The Palmer, but compliments The Palmer with its natural beauty. With large, Bermuda grass greens and wide fairways, The Canyons makes for an enjoyable, yet more player-friendly experience. Through the www.golfmesquitenevada.com web site, there are also two golfing partners in nearby St. George, Utah—Coral Canyon Golf Club and The Ledges are a scenic, 30-minute drive north through the Virgin River Gorge. Coral Canyon is a rugged, spectacular layout carved through red rock outcroppings that may remind you of Sedona, and winding along dry washes and lakes. The Ledges, designed by Matt Dye—of the famous Pete Dye design clan—is equally scenic and challenging. It is also home to the Jack Nicklaus Golf Academy. And speaking of Jack Nicklaus, about 30 minutes south of Mesquite is another wonderful course available through the Mesquite package, the brand new PGA West course called Chase Golf Club at Coyote Springs. This Jack Nicklaus signature course is inundated with sugar-white sandy bunkers and a dozen lakes. From the back tees, it’s a monster at more than 7,400 yards, and like all PGA courses, if you take it on from the tips, you had better be able to really play the game, unless you are a masochist and like to be bruised and beaten. With multiple elevation changes and desert mountains on all sides, this layout provides an eye-catching backdrop on all 18 holes.
For those of you who want to experience the course the way the tour pros do, and they way your grandfathers might have, the course has a year-round caddie program. Another new course will be added to the Mesquite lineup at the end of 2009. Conestoga Golf Club, now under development from noted designer Gary Panks, will be a public/resort course that will add to the variety of local courses. Okay, so after a great day of golf, perhaps a soak in a mineral pool, a rubdown at a spa, a big dinner and a night of fun, where do you rest your head?
Pick and choose from several resort hotels, all of which have golf packages through the website, and several that offer gaming among their wide assortment of amenities. The Oasis Resort and Casa Blanca Resort both have full service spas, fine dining, live entertainment and their own golf courses. If you get a little trigger happy, the Oasis has a full-service gun club with target, trap and skeet shooting. After a day on the course, you can hit the spa or relax your golf muscles in the mineral soaking pools outside either hotel. You can take treatments at the spa, but you can also pay for having access to it without paying for treatments. The 210-room Eureka Hotel-Casino offers rooms with refrigerators and private spas while the Virgin River Hotel- Casino features a 24-hour casino and a 21-lane bowling center. If you prefer to be away from the casinos, you can also build your golf package with The Highlands Estate Resort’s condominiums and studios, or the nearby Falcon Ridge Hotel, which is situated at the cliffs and showcases wide, beautiful vistas. Although many people understandably love the excitement and glitz of the Las Vegas Strip, others may go for a less hectic, relaxed atmosphere that is far from the maddening crowd— but smack dab in the middle of the fun. Mesquite, surrounded by rugged desert mountains in the Virgin River Valley, showcases all of the exciting stuff that has made the word “Vegas” is synonymous with a good time.
Paradise Found: Kauai
By Wes Bolyard
First to be formed of the eight main Hawaiian Islands, this “Garden Isle” is so named because it is still mostly preserved in its natural state. With the majestic cliffs and valleys on the western side of the island, including the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”—3,567-foot deepWaimea Canyon, only the northern, eastern and southern areas can be developed. James Michener took 14 pages in his book “Hawaii” to explain the formation of the islands over millions of years. The islands have gradually moved westward since their creation due to the shifting of the tectonic plates upon which they rest. Kauai, Hawaii’s fourth largest island, is the shape of an almost perfect circle and covers 552 square miles. The driving distance from southern Poipu to northern Princeville is less than 45 miles. Don’t let the small size of this island fool you; it has a great deal to offer, especially some of the world’s best golf courses and accommodations.
The Kauai Lagoons Golf Club boasts two Jack Nicklaus designed courses: the Kiele Course and the Maile Course. Owned by the Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club, these courses are only a five-minute walk (or shorter shuttle ride) from the resort. Both courses offer beautiful views of Kauai’s natural beauty, and are currently being remodeled with nine holes open on each. Maile is more open (and forgiving) for stray shots with a greater opportunity for success for players of all abilities. Kiele offers more of a challenge via subtle undulations and narrow fairways. When the remodeling is done, Kiele will have more holes along the ocean than any other course in Hawaii.
The Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club, just a three minute drive from the airport, has 356 rooms and 11 suites with a very scenic view overlooking the pool area, the Kalapaki Beach and the Hawiliwili Harbor. Marriott also has a Vacation Club wing with 464 rooms for members. As you enter the main lobby, you can’t help but notice the hanging 35-foot dugout canoe built in the period of 1860-1890. Just outside the main lobby there is a pond with a waterfall plus short walking trails to explore. Five restaurants, a fitness center, a full service spa and a 26,000 square foot swimming pool (one of the largest in Hawaii) are just some of the resort’s other amenities. In addition to the Kalapaki Kid Camp for fun and educational activities, the Marriott also offers a full array of daily adult activities starting as early as 7:15 a.m. and as late as 7 p.m.
808-245-5050 or 1-800-220-2925
Golfweek’s top course rankings by state (March, 2008) placed Puakea Golf Course as the seventh best on all the Hawaiian Islands. This may not be evident when you first pull into the parking lot, but after playing the course, you will understand why. Kauai’s newest 18 holes offer a stimulating layout with great bunker placement, just enough water to intimidate your thinking and rolling fairways where your ball needs to stay for a good score. The course was designed by Robin Nelson (known as “Mr. Hawaii”), who is the most prolific golf course architect on the islands. Our group included Paul Ito, the Director of Golf, and Stan Kua, a Puakea employee. Stan is best known around the isle for serving 25 years as a policeman. The fact that one member of our foursome had a hole-in-one on the fourth hole only added to the excitement of playing Puakea with my new friends. Just to theWest of the golf course sits the lush tropical landscape where Jurassic Park III was filmed. In fact, more than 60 feature films have been shot on Kauai.
A northerly drive from Puakea Golf Course to Princeville will take about 50 minutes. The scenic drive meanders through towns and occasionally along the coast. You will pass private houses and condominiums before arriving at the upscale Princeville Resort on the northwest end of city. The resort offers spacious rooms overlooking Hanalei Bay where you can hear the soothing sound of rolling waves. There is a unique feature in the bathroom that allows you to magically change the large picture window from a clear view to an opaque one through an infusion of gas between the panes, giving you instant privacy with the flip of a switch. There are three restaurants within the resort, with the Café Hanalei offering breakfast on the patio. At sunset, a special romantic supper is offered on the beach. A swimming pool is available, and you can also relax on the sandy beach after a refreshing
swim in the bay.
The Princeville Resort is scheduled to be re-branded as the St. Regis Resort, Princeville, and will be the first St. Regis hotel in Hawaii. The multi-million dollar St. Regis re-branding will accentuate “refined Hawaiian luxury, seductive style and a timeless elegance.” The Princeville Resort will close for seven months between September 2008 and April 2009. It will include a complete re-design of guest rooms and meeting function space, renovation of public areas, including the lobby and swimming pool, new restaurant concepts and the addition of a luxury on-site spa.
The two golf courses on Kauai’s dramatic North Shore were both designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. Makai Course consists of three separate 9-hole courses, Ocean, Lakes and Woods, each with their own distinct personality. Originally built in 1971, the course offers some stunning views from the tees and requires well-thought-out shots. An example of both is the seventh hole on the Ocean course, a 224-yard par 3 with a carry of 200 yards across a canyon. Take time to listen to the crashing waves below the tee and note the spectacular view of the shoreline. Later this year, Makai will start a facelift program, renovating each nine at a time. Changes will include elevating some tees and updating the irrigation system. All carts at the course are equipped with Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) equipment.
Also on the North Shore is the Prince Course—Hawaii’s No. 1-ranked course according to Golf Digest, 2007-08 Best in State. Sitting high up in the 60,000 square foot clubhouse with a majestic view overlooking the course and the Pacific Ocean, you will wonder what challenges await your golfing prowess. In addition to the ladies and men’s locker rooms, the clubhouse contains a very well appointed golf shop, spa, fitness room and a restaurant which overlooks the course. A driving range and putting green will help prepare you for one of the most interesting rounds of your life.
While the Prince Course is beautiful with breathtaking views, it is also very demanding. Starting with the opening hole, you are faced with an interesting decision—try to fit a perfect tee shot into a narrow landing area, or lay back with a safer tee shot and have a long second shot over an expansive hazard. The course routing continues over undulating terrain, through and over ravines, terrific bunkering and some tees perched high above the fairway. Robert Trent Jones, Jr. said this was “one of the top five courses I’ve ever designed.”
The Prince Course has several signature holes that standout from the others. Number 7 is a long par 3 across a tree-covered ravine, and number 12 is perched high (100 feet) above a barely visible fairway that is lined with dense jungle. The 13th hole is possibly the most interesting hole on the course with a landing area 200 yards off the tee (you’re not sure where you’re going as there is thick jungle on the right and a lateral hazard along the right side). Once you get to the green you are rewarded with a beautiful waterfall behind it. Overall, this might be one of the most challenging courses you’ll ever play. The difficulty can be tempered by choosing the most appropriate of the multiple tees available. Be sure to include a camera in your bag. The course will be open during the resort’s renovation.
The southern end of Kauai is where you will find the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa and its renowned Poipu Bay Golf Course. This luxurious 602-room, 37-suite resort is spread out over 50 meticulously groomed oceanfront acres. A well planned design gives seventy percent of the rooms an ocean or partial ocean view. As you enter the foyer, you are offered the opportunity to learn about and experience Hawaiian cultural crafts. An atrium displays three parrot stations for all to enjoy. There are 12,000 square feet of retail shops offering fine art, fashion apparel, fine jewelry, gifts and sundries. Seven restaurants and six lounges should fulfill almost any culinary desire. The resort activities are designed with the entire family in mind. Children’s programs abound. Water activities, if you so desire, include an expansive saltwater swimming lagoon (and of course the ocean with 500 yards of white sand beach), a fresh water swimming area featuring a quiet pool, a meandering river pool, an “action” pool with waterfalls and a 150-foot water slide. For the adults seeking relaxation, there is the award-winning ANARA spa. This 45,000 square-foot facility includes eight indoor-outdoor massage rooms, two couple’s bungalows, special treatment rooms and a full service beauty salon.
Poipu Bay Golf Course hosted the PGA Grand Slam of Golf from 1994 through 2006. This Robert Trent Jones, Jr. design is an ocean links style course with stunning vistas. To help distract you from your shot making are 85 bunkers, five water hazards, exceptional landscaping, ocean views and wind. The course will challenge and reward you at the same time, but you can still come away with a sense of accomplishment. With all the beauty around you, it’s difficult not to enjoy your round. This course offers an array of great holes, but holes 15 through 17 will distract you with their ocean views and then 18 hits you with its blind tee shot and water hazard at the green. The 71,000 square foot clubhouse includes a golf shop, locker room facilities, snack bar, restaurant, lounge and club storage. When you are finished with your round, you can either take the shuttle to the Grand Hyatt or enjoy a short five-minute walk along paths of foliage.
The Kiahuna Golf Club on Kauai’s South Shore contains a heart warming story. In the early 2000’s, the course came under disrepair and wasn’t being maintained as well as several of the local homeowners thought it should be. In 2003, nine of them bought the course, buildings and all. They immediately went about making the necessary changes to restore the 144-acre Robert Trent Jones, Jr. course. Changes included extending the yardage from 6,400 to 6,900, adding both junior and championship tees, plus enlarging and reshaping the bunkers. Most significant was replacing the Bermuda fairways with Seashore Paspalum, which ismore drought and salt-tolerant. This has reduced the club’s dependence on water from an average of 300,000 gallons to approximately 9,000 per day. The lighter lime green color and different texture provides an attractive contrast to the Bermuda rough. At this time, it is the only course on the island with this type of grass. Prior to the upgrade, the course earned the nickname of “the longest short course you’ll ever play.” This was due to the abundant water hazards and challenging, prevailing trade winds. Trust me, hitting off the tee on number 18 is definitely a challenge. Of special note is the cave (lava tube) entrance on the second hole. The tube runs about one-half mile under the course and houses the “Koloa Blind Wolf Cave Spider.” Real estate is available for sale on the course.
While some members of the family play golf, an abundance of other activities are available on Kauai including scuba diving, kayaking, horseback riding, zip-lining, hiking, sailing, windsurfing, fishing, helicopter rides and cycling.
As you travel around the island, you will fall under the spell of its beauty. A wonderful cornucopia of flora and fauna will enthrall your visual senses while your inner being will be enhanced by the Mana you feel—the Island’s life force. So enjoy your visit, take many photos to capture your memories and start planning your return trip.
Traveling to Kauai by air will bring you into Lihue airport on the southeastern side of Kauai. Some airlines offer direct flights from a few West Coast cities, or it’s a quick “island hop” of just 30 minutes from Honolulu. Arrival by inter-island ship is also available.
1. The Wigwam Golf Resort & Spa
Since 1929, the legendary Wigwam Golf Resort & Spa has been providing quality accommodations, activities, cuisine and service. Located in Phoenix’s burgeoning West Valley, The Wigwam’s unique, garden-like setting seems a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Exceptional golf has long been a hallmark of The Wigwam experience. Steeped in tradition, the Wigwam’s three 18-hole championship golf courses offer a diversity that cannot be matched by any other Arizona resort.Here, the golf enthusiast has their pick of three 18-hole courses—54 holes of championship golf including two courses designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones, Sr. And, in true Wigwam style, each course—The Gold, The Blue and The Red—offers a unique challenge that adds spice and variety to one’s stay at this timeless and relaxing retreat.
The Wigwam offers guests a choice of 331 spacious accommodations from guestrooms to luxury suites spread across a residential-style campus. The resort offers dining pleasures that are as diverse as they are inspired. They include two AAA Four Diamond-rated restaurants—The Arizona Kitchen, featuring fine Southwestern cuisine, and the contemporary, upscale Red’s Steakhouse. The Grill at the Wigwam offers a contemporary take on casual, country club fare.
And the crown jewel of relaxation, the Red Door Spa. The two-story spa facility mirrors The Wigwam’s historic, signature adobe-style architecture and offers relaxing massages, rejuvenating wraps and other signature treatments. Many of the treatment rooms feature outdoor patios and three offer outdoor treatment areas with comfortable lounge chairs and amazing views.
2. The Omni Tucson National Resort
Nestled in the foothills of the majestic Santa Catalina Mountains and inspired by the natural environment and scenic desert setting, the Omni Tucson National Resort is Tucson’s true, legendary destination.
Following a $70 million transformation, the resort will unveil a masterful blend of nature, inspiration and luxury throughout 2009. The Omni Tucson National Resort’s new luxurious guest accommodations include well-appointed rooms and suites—all with a private patio or balcony, and extravagant views of lush vegetation, sparkling pools or breathtaking mountains. Additionally, guests can take in the emerald fairways and the pure air of this legendary golf retreat, and experience native Southwestern aromatherapy in a worldclass spa.
Selected as one of Golf Digest’s 75 Best Golf Resorts in North America, the Omni Tucson National Resort is, quite simply, a revered destination retreat featuring two distinctly different championship 18-hole courses. A mere chip shot from the back door lies a rare find—one extraordinary facility and two of the game’s most sought-after challenges.
On the original course, Catalina, championship golf awaits. This 18-hole course, designed by Robert Bruce Harris, offers the gentle contours and treelined fairways of a traditional course. Home to the PGA Tour’s Tucson Open for decades, players measure their game against champions past as they stride manicured fairways where Nicklaus, Trevino and Palmer battled for glory.
The breathtaking Sonoran course is a legend in its own right. Designed by Tour champion and Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman to fit its native desert setting, this target-style course demands precision at every turn, on every hole. Featuring dramatic elevation changes, there isn’t a more dynamic golf experience to challenge golfers of all skill levels.
3. Ventana Canyon Golf & Racquet Club
Winding through the canyons and arroyos of this 600-acre high Sonoran Desert preserve are two Tom Fazio-designed championship golf courses. The golf experience at Ventana Canyon offers a unique blend of challenge and playability. Both the Mountain and the Canyon courses meander from one unique hole to another. Four sets of tees allow each player to test his or her ability on a well-marked and manicured course.
The Mountain: The most photographed hole west of the Mississippi, the celebrated Mountain Number 3, plays across 107 yards of cactus and canyons and the tee offers a breathtaking panorama that stretches for a hundred miles across the Sonoran Desert into Mexico. A classic desertstyle, target course, the Mountain has many changes in elevation and several elevated tees. Putting is a challenge because the greens are undulating and typically fast.
The Canyon: The Canyon Golf Course winds through the inspiring beauty of Esperro Canyon and incorporates the massive rock formation known as Whaleback Rock. Golf at Ventana is a challenging and memorable event. It’s a visit with nature that not only includes the beauty of the desert foliage, but also a visit with wildlife such as deer, roadrunners, quail, rabbits, bobcats and birds of every description.
4. Camelback Golf Club
Luxury comes naturally at Camelback Inn, a JW Marriott Resort & Spa in Scottsdale. You’ll find 36-holes of championship Arizona golf, a signature Spa and lavish meeting space for conferences and events. Hotel casitas with traditional Southwestern décor are spread throughout the resort’s desert landscape. The resort includes an extensive pool complex ideal for family vacations. In November 2003, The Spa at Camelback Inn was re-opened boasting an $8 million “tothe-walls” renovation. The award-winning Spa at Camelback Inn blends the indulgences of a full-service destination spa within a spectacular resort offering the ambiance and magic of the Sonoran
Desert. Featuring a full complement of spa offerings, the 32,000-square-foot world class Spa includes a state-of-the-art fitness center, 32 treatment rooms and Scottsdale’s only spa restaurant, Sprouts. Panoramic views of crimson-hued Camelback and Mummy mountains, fiery Arizona sunsets and the picturesque, desert landscaping can be enjoyed from the Olympic size lap pool and outdoor Jacuzzi.
Padre Course: From the mind of world-renowned golf course architect Arthur Hills comes a course that promises an enjoyable and unforgettable golf adventure. The Padre Course features towering trees, subtle landforms and impressive bunkering to sharpen your game. This 6,903-yard, par 72 design is known for its strategic layout, challenging water holes, recently having had its 9th hole voted the best water hole in the state by Arizona Golf Magazine.
Indian Bend Course: This traditional American links-style course has been created in a breathtaking setting with magnificent mountain backdrops, lush palm and eucalyptus-lined fairways and scenic water holes. The 7,014-yard, par 72-course is a dynamic layout that will be sure to test your skills while offering a friendly golf experience.
5. Arizona Golf Resort
Experience warm, inviting hospitality among fine accommodations, great dining options, picturesque golf course and lush landscaping. Enjoy amazing landscape amidst one hundred foot palms, cottonwood and eucalyptus trees, sparkling swimming pool, relaxing Jacuzzis, luxurious sleeping rooms with full kitchenettes and outdoor barbecue grills. The setting is charming, tranquil and friendly. Vacationing at the Arizona Golf Resort can be just as laid back or active as you desire. Arizona activities include horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking, shopping, desert tours, golfing and more.You can also do absolutely nothing but relax poolside or on your patio, enjoying the peaceful surroundings and beautiful scenery.Vacationers and business travelers
alike will enjoy local shopping (Superstition Springs Mall), restaurants, nightlife and entertainment just minutes from your front door.
Exceptional Golf is a tradition at the Arizona Golf Resort.Well renowned for some picturesque and challenging par three holes, the Arizona Golf Resort offers 18-holes of PGA-rated Championship Golf. The lush fairways are lined with massive cottonwood and eucalyptus trees, serene lake settings, mature vegetation, expansive fairways and gently sloping, well-manicured greens. With our championship tee over 6,500 yards, this par 71 resort course is a challenging outing for any level of player. This traditional course offers a great test of accuracy with its tree-lined fairways, bunkers and other hazards.
6. Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa
Opened Feb. 23, 1929 to great fanfare, the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa was the original Arizona resort that set the stage for the development of the state into a major tourist destination. With its luxurious facilities and distinctive Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired design, from the beginning it has been a playground for the rich and famous. At the same time, it has long been a destination of choice for discriminating travelers, whether couples seeking a pampered getaway in an historic setting or families looking for amenities and services for all ages. After 78 years, the Biltmore remains Arizona’s historic Grande Dame—the state’s best-known retreat for a complete luxury resort experience and a storied landmark recognized around the world.
Biltmore guests enjoy preferred tee times at The Links and the Adobe, both located at the adjacent Arizona Biltmore Country Club and set in the shadow of the impressive peaks of Phoenix Mountain Preserve. The Links, the younger of the Biltmore family, is smart, fresh and a bit precocious. Rolling fairways lined with luscious pines meander through the homes in Phoenix, well-bunkered greens demand precision shot selection and the contoured greens roll as they come. The Adobe course is considered stately and grand, a forefather of modern design. The Adobe offers a simplistic beauty hard to find in an era when trickery is a goal in golf course architecture. The lush, 50 year-old fairways and spacious layout are a reminder of the game the way it was meant to be—a time when graphite was for pencil lead and golf balls only came in one color.