The newly redesigned Hawk's Landing golf course at the Orlando World Center Marriott Resort and Convention Center opened recently. Redesigned and expanded to 6,900 yards by Robert E. Cupp II, the course brings water into play on 15 holes and offers four sets of tees. The course project is the first phase of an $88 million enhancement of the resort that also includes the new Hawk's Landing Steakhouse & Grille, which overlooks the course. The 1,500-room Orlando World Center Marriott offers 200,000 square feet of meeting space.
The 18-hole, 6,200-yard championship golf course at Skytop Lodge in the Pocono Mountains of northeast Pennsylvania is surrounded by 5,500 acres of mountains and wilderness. Skytop recently spent $1.5 million to upgrade the course and opened the 20-room Inn at Skytop at the "19th hole"; the Inn is designed for executive retreats.
The Great White Course at the 694-room Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Miami opened early this year. Designed by Greg Norman, the 7,100-yard "desert-scape" course complements the Blue Monster, home of the Doral-Ryder Open. The resort is owned by KSL Recreation Corp., the nation's third-largest owner/operator of premier golf facilities. Doral offers 148,000 square feet of spa facilities and 95,000 square feet of meeting space.
Sheraton El Conquistador Resort and Country Club in Tucson, Ariz., has opened the 18-hole Conquistador Course (formerly known as the Sunset Course). Greg Nash, the course's original designer, was a consultant on the renovation, which enlarged tee boxes, replaced the greens, and redesigned the bunkers. Opened in 1982, the 428-room Sheraton El Conquistador offers 45 holes of golf on three courses. The property also is wrapping up an expansion to nearly double its 30,000 square feet of meeting space.
Coeur d'Alene Resort in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, has rebuilt its Park Tower, renovating the tower's 109 rooms. The new rooms have wider panoramic views of Lake Coeur d'Alene and new soft goods. The resort's 6,309-yard Course No. 1 was designed by Scott Miller. The 328-room property offers 23,000 square feet of meeting space and is 35 miles from Washington's Spokane International Airport.
Garra de Leon (Lion's Paw), the championship golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones II for the Melia Playa Conchal All-Suite Beach & Golf Resort in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, has become the first course in that country to receive the Environmental Steward Award. The award was presented by The Golf Course Superintendents Association, which recognizes course superintendents for management excellence, including resource conservation, wildlife/habitat management, and education/outreach. The resort has 39 villas with 308 suites, plus some 5,000 square feet of meeting space.
Ojai Valley Inn & Spa in Ojai, Calif., has restored two "lost holes," now numbers seven and eight, on its historic golf course. Built in 1923 by architect George C. Thomas Jr., the course has had a colorful history. In World War II, the U.S. Army took over the resort as a training camp. Afterward, the course was rebuilt, but not to Thomas' original design. Extensive research helped Director of Golf Mark Greenslit, aided by Ben Crenshaw, to restore the lost holes, originally numbers three and four. The 207-room resort offers 12,000 square feet of meeting space and a luxurious 31,000-square-foot spa. Ojai is 45 minutes from Santa Barbara Airport, 90 minutes from LAX.
Otesaga, the resort hotel of Cooperstown, N.Y., spent $30 million to restore the 136-room hotel, refurbish its Leatherstocking Golf Course, and update its 13,000 square feet of meeting space. Open from April to November, the property has 13 meeting rooms that accommodate 12 to 300 guests.
The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, an oceanfront resort, opens in December 30 minutes from San Francisco Airport in Northern California. The 261-room hotel's design recalls the grand seaside lodges of the 19th century. The property includes the 209-room main building, three bungalows with 52 rooms, a 16,000-square-foot spa, and 17,000 square feet of meeting space. Guests have full privileges at two renowned golf courses: The Links Course, designed by Arnold Palmer, and The Ocean Course, designed by Arthur Hills.
The Breakers, Palm Beach Expanding on the splendor of its Mediterranean-style design, The Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla., is wrapping up the final phase of a seven-year, $100 million revitalization this year. Among the projects at the 569-room resort is a complete redesign of the famous Ocean Course, the oldest 18 holes in Florida. The redesign is being done with an eye toward maintaining the heritage of the course while improving its grass and drainage and adding an island green. The new course is scheduled to open in November, while a 38,000-square-foot clubhouse will open by January 2001.
Also part of the total renovation at The Breakers was the opening of the Oceanfront Conference Center and the magnificent ocean-edge spa, a 20,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor facility. The conference center, meticulously designed to blend seamlessly with the historic original art and architecture, includes the 15,000-square-foot Ponce de Leon ballroom, five new executive boardrooms, and 8,000 square feet of pre-function space. The resort offers a total of 45,000 square feet of meeting space indoors and 20,000 square feet outdoors.
Tampa Marriott Waterside In late April, Marriott Chairman & CEO J.W. Marriott Jr. welcomed media, customers, staff, and local luminaries to the opening ceremony for the Tampa Marriott Waterside, designated Marriott's 2,000th hotel. "I think I'm the only one here who was also at our first hotel ribbon-cutting 43 years ago," he said. (That was the Twin Bridges Motor Hotel in Arlington, Va.) "It's been a long road."
Local officials are thrilled that Marriott's road led to Tampa, as the city aims to become a top meeting destination. The hotel was somewhat of a catalyst for downtown development projects, including Channelside, a waterside shopping and entertainment center.
The 717-room Marriott has 50,000 square feet of meeting space and is adjacent to the Tampa Convention Center, which has 600,000 square feet of space. The hotel's dramatic two-story lobby features wrought-iron details and an indoor/outdoor bar. Waterfront windows along pre-function areas look over the Garrison Channel and out to Tampa Bay. Unexpected in a convention hotel is the first-rate, 6,000-square-foot spa and fitness center.
Tampa Mayor Dick Greco, a major force behind the Marriott project (a meeting room is named for him), likened the downtown renaissance to that of another southern city: "San Antonio took a creek and turned it into the Riverwalk," he said during a luncheon address in the elegant Florida Ballroom. "We had parking lots on our working waterfront; now we're going to have boat slips, parks, open spaces. This whole area is going to come alive."
Already very much alive in Tampa is Ybor City, established by Cuban immigrant Don Vicente Martinez Ybor, who fled his native country and built a cigar empire in Tampa. The area's most famous restaurant, the Columbia, covers an entire city block. The restaurant, which offers traditional Spanish fare in its 11 dining rooms, along with cigar-rolling demonstrations and flamenco dancing, is run by the fourth generation of the founding Hernandez family. Centro Ybor, an entertainment complex to include movie theaters, retail outlets, restaurants, and Steven Spielberg's Sega Game Works, a high-tech game room, opens this summer. Plans also call for a historic trolley traveling a 2.3-mile track from the Marriott to Ybor City to start up in late 2001.