"Absolutely unbelievable" are the first words that come to mind when I describe the golf at the Grand Bay Hotel Isla Navidad ("Christmas Island"), one of Wyndham's luxury resorts, in the Pacific Gold Coast town of Manzanillo, Mexico. I traveled nonstop from Phoenix to Manzanillo's Playa de Oro International Airport on America West, but other U.S. carriers go to Manzanillo, which is a one-hour flight west of Mexico City. I had been told to expect a hidden jewel, a property so luxurious that it claims a six-star rating. Arriving after a 25-minute drive at the 1,200-acre estate and catching my first glimpse of the elegant resort amid the lush hillsides and acres of coconut palms, I couldn't have agreed more.
The 27-hole course, designed by U.S. architect Robert von Hagge, features waterfront greens worked into the dunes, with a dramatic landscape of ocean on one side and mountains on the other. The course itself is perfectly manicured: Not a blade of grass is out of place. Already world-class, plans include adding a fourth nine to create two 18-hole courses.
An exclusive hideaway The resort has yet to be discovered by corporate groups. But word is getting out. The property has 15,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, including two divisible ballrooms with prefunction terraces, an executive boardroom, breakout rooms, and a tiered amphitheater. Each of the 199 suites and oversized guest rooms features hand-carved wood, Old World tile floors, and private balconies.
Would I go there again? The answer is an unqualified "yes." Especially to golf.