ON FLORIDA'S EMERALD Coast, the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort has undergone massive upgrades and changes since its acquisition in 1998 by Vancouver, B.C.-based Intrawest Corp. A new 18-hole course, The Raven, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., was added in 2000 and promptly voted the “Best New Course in Florida” by Florida Golf News. But the resort's three other courses, Burnt Pine (designed by Rees Jones), The Links, and Baytowne Golf Club have all received substantial upgrades. Both Burnt Pine Clubhouse and Baytowne Clubhouse have been redesigned. And the resort now offers an 18-hole putting course, The Dunes. www.sandestin.com
The Ocean Hammock Resort, formerly called Palm Coast Golf Resort, is located on the Intracoastal Waterway on Florida's Atlantic Coast, north of Daytona. The resort features 90 holes of world-class golf designed by Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Gary Player. The Nicklaus-designed Ocean Hammock Golf Club opened in December 2000, and the Lodge at Ocean Hammock opened two years later on the 18th green of the course. The resort features other accommodations ranging from condominiums and villas to the value-priced Harborside Inn. www.oceanhammock.com
The Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate will open its hotel and spa in October with 730 rooms and 70,000 square feet of meeting space. The resort hotel is surrounded by two courses designed by Greg Norman, and is also the home to the world headquarters of the David Leadbetter Golf Academy. www.omnihotels.com
For the fifth time, the Walt Disney World Resort has been rated by Golf Magazine as a “Gold Medal Resort.” This year, 25 resorts won the award, which rates course excellence and the overall resort experience as judged by readers and the magazine's own raters. Walt Disney World Resort is home to five championship courses.
Orlando World Center Marriott Resort and Convention Center completed a renovation and redesign of its 110 suites earlier this year. All rooms and suites now offer high-speed Internet access. In addition, Hawk's Landing Golf Course, on property, was redesigned by Robert E. Cupp II. The course is just over 6,800 yards and covers more than 200 acres. The new Hawk's Landing Golf Academy offers instruction led by one of Golf Magazine's “Top 100 Teachers in America,” Bill Madonna.
Rosen's Shingle Creek Golf Club, just east of the Orange County Convention Center, opened for play in December. Designed by David Harman, the 18-hole, par-72 championship course is laid out along historic Shingle Creek, headwaters to the Florida Everglades. The course is part of the 1,500-room Rosen's Shingle Creek Resort, which is scheduled to open in January 2007.
Wyndham International and the Miami-based Ireland Cos. have signed ato purchase and redevelop the former Wyndham Bonaventure Resort & Spa in Weston, Fla. The $75 million project will convert 494 guest rooms into 252 luxury residences, and will include the addition of a 48,000-square-foot Golden Door Spa. Renovations will begin in September, with planned completion in late 2005. The new Wyndham Resort & Golden Door Spa is set on 23 acres and includes two championship golf courses and a full program of golf clinics and lessons. The resort has 83,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 45,000-square-foot conference center with 25 breakout rooms, eight conference rooms, two amphitheaters, and three ballrooms.
On Hilton Head Island, The Sea Pines Resort has completed a four-year renovation project, which included construction of the new Inn at Harbour Town, with 60 guest rooms, and the renovation of the Harbour Town Golf Links. The Links, home of the PGA Tour's MCI Heritage, was completely re-engineered by Pete Dye, the course's original architect.
On Mackinac Island, Mich., Mission Point Resort has completed the renovation of its conference and group event facilities. It offers more than 38,000 square feet of flexible meeting, banquet, and reception space for groups of up to 1,000 people. There is an 18-hole executive putting course, The Greens, on property. www.missionpoint.com
Starr Pass Marriott Resort & Spa will open in December as Tucson's first new resort in 18 years. Among the 575-room resort's amenities is the redesigned Starr Pass Golf Club, which originally opened in 1986 and was designed by Robert Cupp. The course, renovated by Arnold Palmer's Palmer Course Design Co., reopened last October. The company is adding nine holes, which will be available for play in November of this year. www.starrpassmarriott.com
Pointe South Mountain Resort in Phoenix now offers high-speed Internet service in all of its 640 guest suites, with 510 suites offering Wi-Fi. The resort, on 220 acres, offers a newly redesigned 18-hole championship golf course with a challenging signature island green. There is a 20,000-square-foot athletic club and spa, 5 tennis courts, and more than 115,000 square feet of meeting and function space, including a 20,000-square-foot ballroom and a 20,000-square-foot exhibit pavilion. www.pointesouthmtn.com
In Los Cabos, Mexico, the Marquis Los Cabos Beach, Golf, Spa & Casitas Resort opened last year. A member of The Leading Hotels of the World, the resort is nestled between two of Los Cabos' championship golf courses: Cabo Real and El Dorado Course. Services include reserved tee times for guests, video swing analysis, and private lessons. The Cabo Real course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr, and clocks in at 6,856 yards, par-72. El Dorado is a Jack Nicklaus Signature design, a par-72, 7,000-yard course. Marquis Los Cabos has 237 suites, which includes 28 casitas with private pools. All rooms have views of the Sea of Cortez.
Turtle Bay Resort in Oahu, Hawaii, has upgraded all of its meeting facilities as part of a $60 million renovation and construction of the new oceanfront Kuilima Ballroom, completed in December. With the new ballroom, there is a total of 28,000 square feet of meeting space for up to 800 attendees. The Kuilima Ballroom is 9,340 square feet in area and has 2,863 square feet of pre-function space. For a reception, 1,000 people can be accommodated, and 560 for a seated banquet. The resort is totally wired with Wi-Fi technology, and wireless network cards and Ethernet converters are available for rent. Turtle Bay also offers 36 holes of golf, riding stables, and a new spa.
The Grove, London's Country Estate opened its doors last September. A member of The Leading Hotels of the World, 40 minutes from London's Heathrow airport, the luxury golf and spa resort offers 227 bedrooms, five restaurants, an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Kyle Phillips, and a 30,000-square-foot spa. There are 23 flexible meeting rooms, all opening directly onto formal gardens, with indoor meeting space for up to 750 and an outdoor walled garden that accommodates 1,000, rain or shine.
The International Association of Golf Tour Operators named Wales the winner of the 2003 “Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year” award. The “must plays” on a golf trip to Wales are Newport's The Wentwood Hills course at Celtic Manor, site of the 2010 Ryder Cup; Royal Porthcawl in Porthcawl, a magnificent seaside track, regarded as the best in Wales; Pennard, on the Gower Peninsula near Swansea, a little-known masterpiece; and Tenby, a links course overlooking the seaside village of Tenby. The Final, the first Nicklaus-designed course in Wales, is scheduled to open this summer on the edge of Carmarthan Bay on the southwest coast. This 7,000-yard, par-72, links-style course will have a clubhouse with spa facilities including sauna, Jacuzzi, gym, and treatment rooms, and a restaurant and bar.
The Chinese province of Guangdong is touting itself as an Asian golf haven. According to the Guangdong Provincial Tourism Administration, of the 195 golf courses in China, the highest concentration can be found here. This southern province's 70 courses are located in the metropolitan Guangzhou area and the Pearl Delta River cities of Dongguan, Foshan, Shenzhen, and Zhuhai. The new 18-hole Nanhu Lake Country Golf Club was designed by Jack Nicklaus. The course's clubhouse is nearing completion, as are ten holiday villas next to the clubhouse.