When Jack Nicklaus first started coming to Cancun and the Riviera Maya, he recognized two characteristics that would make that part of Mexico's Yucatán ideal for golf: great weather and miles of sandy beaches. So he started doing his part to turn the Mexican Caribbean into a premier golf destination, first by designing the 27-hole golf course at the Moon Spa & Golf Club. Now, he's followed that up with another Palace Resorts course: the 18-hole Riviera Cancun Golf Course.

In November, the new course was christened with a tee-shot by the great man himself — a 220-yard drive straight down the first fairway, which was remarkable considering he was swinging with just one good arm, after damaging a shoulder while fishing.

Carved out of mangrove swamp and jungle, the course uses the natural contours of the terrain to create an experience for any golfer, from the professional to the novice. The signature holes include the 14th and 15th, both of which skirt the Caribbean.

After a hot trek around the course, this duffer was particularly grateful for the sight of the cool blue, calming waters of the Caribbean at the 14th green. And making my way to the 15th hole, I was delighted to see that Nicklaus had raised the tee, creating a beautiful panoramic view of the water for the tee shot, which I proceeded to slice into the mangrove swamp. The view was lovely, even if the swing was not.

Yucatán Palaces

While each of the Cancun Palace resorts is unique (there are five: Le Blanc Spa Resort, Beach Palace, Sun Palace, Moon Palace, and Cancun Palace), they share some signature elements. The one bound to grab any guest's attention is the double Jacuzzi found in every guest room. At the Le Blanc Spa Resort, a Palace Resort deluxe brand, the guest rooms are tiered, with the Jacuzzi sitting on a lower tier next to the balcony, overlooking the sea. The adults-only resort has 260 rooms and 8,000 square feet of meeting space. The largest Palace property in Cancun is the recently renovated Cancun Palace, with more than 600 guest rooms, a 12,650-square-foot convention center, and 4,140 square feet of additional meeting space. For even more space, Moon Palace has over 2,100 rooms and abuts the Moon Spa & Golf Club. Its ballroom, with 55,850 square feet of flexible meeting space, can host up to 5,000 attendees. On the second floor, another ballroom offers 36,000 square feet of conference space.