Not only do our readers have the finest taste in golf, but they're also discriminating when it comes to service. The following resorts were chosen by the readers of ICP and our sister publication Corporate Meetings & Incentives for their excellence at both. And the winners are…
BEST GOLF RESORT FOR MEETINGS AND INCENTIVES
The Inn at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach, Calif.
For many golfers, the ultimate dream golf trip is to California, to play on the Monterey Peninsula. For our readers, The Inn and Links at Spanish Bay is the place to fulfill that dream. Whether standing on a windswept fairway surrounded by the Del Monte Forest or watching the setting sun through the wall of windows at Roy's, you know that you're somewhere very, very special.
“The staff really seems to understand how most people dream about visiting and playing there,” says Mick Luckhurst, a Golden Links Advisory Board member and president of American Hole 'n One in Buford, Ga. “They do everything they can to make sure that the reality measures up to the dream.”
“They know how to treat groups, and not just large groups,” adds Bill Colvin, another Golden Links Advisory Board member and president of MarComm Golf, Cleveland. “In my experience, small groups get the same level of attention and dedication.”
Guests have access to four golf courses of the Pebble Beach resorts: the Links at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill, and the Del Monte Golf Course. The Links at Spanish Bay is a Scottish-style links course with most holes running along the Pacific Ocean. “The vistas are outstanding, and the course is very playable for different handicap levels,” says Colvin.
Even nongolfers can have a memorable stay at the 270-room resort, whether they choose to jog along the sandy beach trails, go horseback riding through the Del Monte Forest, or shop in nearby Carmel-by-the-Sea.
La Quinta Resort & Club, La Quinta, Calif.
The manager of meetings and promotions for Equitable Life of Canada, Alison Campbell-Davidson, believes that the key to La Quinta Resort & Club's success with meeting groups is its hands-on management team and superb conference services team.
“The general manager was actually pouring wine and serving food at one of our functions,” recalls Davidson. “From an amenity standpoint, both the spa and golf courses are world-class and make an exceptional impression on attendees.”
The amenity line-up at the 700-room resort is impressive. There are five golf courses, a spa, and 23 tennis courts, along with five restaurants.
“Even though it's a large complex, my attendees love the resort because the rooms and building layout make La Quinta seem more intimate,” says Golden Links Advisory Board member Steven Jones, vice president, special events, Cendant Corp., Parsippany, N.J.
BEST NEW RESORT COURSE/RENOVATION
The Cloister, Sea Island, Ga.
The Cloister is on Sea Island, a private coastal island surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and separated from St. Simons Island by wide salt marshes on the west.
Universally regarded as one of the country's classic golf resorts, the Cloister made some waves in the late 1990s by redesigning and renovating its courses to accommodate longer-hitting, high-tech golf equipment and changing design tastes. Golf architects Tom Fazio (Seaside Course), Rees Jones (Plantation Course), and Davis Love III (Retreat Course) were recruited for the individual projects. The makeover versions clearly have been well-received by long-time Cloister visitors — and our voters.
Enhancing the Cloister's appeal is the $47 million, 40-room Lodge at Sea Island Golf Club. Even though it debuted last year, it has already become known as a world-class lodge, with amenities such as fine Irish linens and 24-hour butler service. But then, the Cloister has built its reputation around pampering guests ever since it opened in 1928. In addition to exceptional golf, the resort has five miles of private beach, an oceanfront spa, 25 tennis courts, stables, and a beach club.
“The Cloister is truly a unique American resort,” says Nancy Berkley, a Golden Links Advisory Board member and president of Berkley Consulting in Livington, N.J. “It relaxes, refreshes, and rejuvenates the spirit.”
Reynolds Plantation, Greensboro, Ga.
Reynolds Plantation, set on the shores of massive Lake Oconee, 75 miles east of Atlanta, has 50 miles of shoreline and 81 holes of golf by Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio, Bob Cupp, and Rees Jones.
The newest entrée on the golf menu is the Rees Jones — designed Oconee Course, an undulating layout with breathtaking lake views and 50-foot elevation drops. “In the past decade, Rees Jones has emerged as the leading neoclassical designer in the world, mixing traditional design features with stunning natural settings to make long courses with tees for all skill levels,” says Larry Olmsted, editor of The Golf Insider (www.thegolfinsider.com). “At 7,400 yards, the Oconee is no exception, and it has perhaps the best setting at Reynolds Plantation, along the lake with plenty of elevation change and water frontage.”
The Oconee Course is adjacent to the recently opened 252-room Ritz-Carlton Lodge and a new Dave Pelz Scoring Game School.
The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.
This Allegheny Mountain estate is one of the nation's oldest golf resorts and has been designated a National Historic Landmark. The 739-room Greenbrier has always changed with the times, adding new amenities to accommodate changing lifestyles, yet remaining committed to tradition.
One aspect that has seen little change is its exceptional level of service. A Mobil Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond award holder, The Greenbrier has always been known for consistent, superb service for all its guests, whether they're royalty, celebrities, leisure travelers, or meeting attendees. The service staff has always outnumbered the guests, and many employees have been with the resort for years.
“The high level of service at The Greenbrier goes well beyond the doors of the hotel,” says Olmsted. “Every facet of the resort, from golf to the equestrian center, has veteran staff members who are courteous and helpful.”
The only resort in the world to have hosted the Ryder and Solheim Cup matches, The Greenbrier has three championship courses with sweeping mountain views.
Four Seasons Resort Aviara, Carlsbad, Calif.
Perched on a hilltop overlooking the Pacific, the 329-room Four Seasons Resort Aviara, which opened in 1997, was clearly designed to meet the needs and desires of luxury-oriented travelers.
“One of the first things you notice about the service at Four Seasons Resort Aviara is that the staff anticipates your needs,” says Cendant's Jones.
The resort's championship 18-hole, Arnold Palmer — designed course is a nature lover's delight, sculpted around the topography of three valleys. Brightly colored wildflowers grow to the edges of the greens and fairways.