GOLF AND SPAS have become twin amenities these days: It's as if you can't have one without the other. Planners have discovered that resorts with both championship golf and a high-profile spa appeal to a wide range of tastes and needs, and golfers have fallen in love with spas because they provide a soothing respite after a long day of play.
To find out which golf and spa resorts stand above the rest, we asked a panel of readers, editors, and members of our Golden Links Advisory Board (see page 57). Following are their top 10 picks.
So carefully has The Boulders been integrated into the Sonoran Desert foothills north of Scottsdale that at first glance, you almost miss the resort's adobe-style casitas, guest accommodations built in clusters among large granite boulder formations.
Golf at The Boulders on two Jay Moorish — designed courses is the quintessential target-style, desert golf experience with groves of large cacti, and awesome rock formations.
At the Golden Door Spa, traditional therapies are accented by signature treatments such as the Turquoise Wrap, which features a smudging ceremony, dry-brush massage, ionized turquoise clay, and indigenous herbs such as aloe, yucca, and sage. (480) 488-9009; www.wyndham.com
Standing on the fairway with flawless blue skies above and snow-capped mountains in the distance, it's hard not to fall in love with this resort.
The three golf courses, dotted with blue spruce, Siberian elms, and Douglas firs, are surrounded by mountains. The East Course is a Donald Ross design with super-slick greens and waterfalls.
Pampering abounds at The Broadmoor's two-level lakefront spa, noted for its hydrotherapy and balneology treatments and inhalation rooms. Don't leave without trying the signature Broadmoor Falls, a water treatment involving multiple shower-heads and a high-pressure hose. (719) 634-7711; www.broadmoor.com
Seventy miles south of Savannah, The Cloister has been a bastion of Southern gentility and seaside elegance since 1928. The Cloister's three courses offer panoramas of the island, salt marshes, creeks, the ocean, and St. Simons Sound. Most notable of the trio is the Seaside Course, a symphony of tidal creeks, dunes, and salt marshes that was developed in the tradition of Scottish links.
The Sea Island Spa features traditional treatments and unique offerings such as Beach Tai Chi, Fairway Flexibility, and hatha and kundalini yoga. (912) 638-3611; www.seaisland.com
The 148,000-square-foot, Mediterranean-style Spa at Doral combines the elegant atmosphere of an Italian retreat with a contemporary American spa. Recently renovated with new spa suites, the spa offers more than 100 treatments, highlighted by the Blue Monster Massage and Sports Recovery jet hydrotherapy.
The Blue Monster Massage is an inviting experience, especially for those who play the course sporting the same moniker. The Blue Monster is a tough, unyielding layout with water everywhere. When you are through with the Blue Monster — or it is through with you — there are four other championship courses at Doral. (305) 592-2000; www.doralresort.com
The Grand Wailea Resort & Spa is the ultimate stress-busting tropical paradise. It's difficult to imagine, but the three golf courses take second place to the spa. This isn't your standard resort spa: Besides many water-based treatments, Wailea has a full array of treatments for men and after-golf massages.
The must-play among the resort's trio of courses is Robert Trent Jones Jr.'s rugged Wailea Gold, a wonderland of sloping fairways, indigenous Hawaiian grasses, and lava rock walls. (800) 888-6100; www.grandwailea.com
Set apart from the madding theme park crowds is Grande Lakes Orlando, a sprawling complex that has both a Ritz-Carlton and a J.W. Marriott.
A subtle citrus fragrance wafts through the air at the 40,000-square-foot Ritz-Carlton Spa, which offers a full menu of health and beauty treatments and wellness and workout programs. Amenities include 40 treatment rooms, a full-service salon, and a spa cafe.
The pampering continues on the Greg Norman — designed golf course, which winds through wetlands and wooded areas at the headwaters of the Florida Everglades. A caddie concierge accompanies each foursome, tending to a range of needs, from lining up putts and raking bunkers to retrieving cold libations and making post-round dinner reservations. (407) 206-2401; www.grandelakes.com
One of the nation's original golf/spa resorts, The Greenbrier, surrounded by 6,500 acres of gardens and woodlands and the Allegheny Mountains, has been hosting golfers and spa lovers since 1913.
The hotel is built on a therapeutic mineral hot spring, and the spa blends old-fashioned comfort with high-tech spa treatments. Hydrotherapy is a key focus, with 17 sulphur and mineral treatments.
The Greenbrier offers three golf courses, including the Old White Course, a Scottish-style layout designed by Charles Blair MacDonald, as well as the Sam Snead Golf Academy. (304) 536-1110; www.greenbrier.com
Nestled on 235 acres of lush manicured lawn and desert terrain at the base of Camelback Mountain, The Phoenician is a dazzling resort with a multimillion-dollar art collection, a 2-acre cactus garden, a stunning spa, and 27 holes of golf.
The Phoenician Centre for Well-Being emphasizes spirituality and tranquility. Calming herbal wraps with sage, juniper, and rosemary are offered.
Equally inspiring is the golf experience, which is dominated by picturesque waterfalls, towering saguaro cacti and other Sonoran Desert flora, and steep drops from the mountainside. (480) 941-8200; www.thephoenician.com
Set in a meticulously landscaped 2,340-acre resort/residential community, the 339-room hotel is connected to a 52,500-square-foot, European-style spa.
The five golf courses are designed by a star-studded lineup of architects: Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio, George Fazio, Arnold Palmer, and Karl Litten. The headliner layout is the Champion Course, which was redesigned by Jack Nickluas in 1990, a long, tough course that has hosted the Ryder Cup and the PGA Senior Championship.
At The Spa, the European philosophy of cleansing the body of impurities and toxins is a strong focus. A key feature is an outdoor pool complex called Waters of the World, which incorporates salts from the Dead Sea and the Salies de Bearn in the Pyrenees. (561) 627-2000; www.pga-resorts.com
If you don't have the connections to drench yourself in American golf tradition at Augusta National, Pinehurst Resort is arguably the next best thing. The hallways of this classic Victorian hotel are dotted with vintage golf photos paying homage to its glorious past.
With eight championship courses, the golf menu at Pinehurst Resort is one of the largest of any resort. Its premier course is Pinehurst 2, the site of the 1999 U.S. Open. Donald Ross engineered dips, swales, bunkers, and crowned greens into this timeless beauty.
Opened in 2002, the 31,000-square-foot Spa at Pinehurst offers more than 40 services, including its most popular treatments, the Hot Stone Massage and the Magnolia Facial. Golfers' massages and pedicures are among the most popular men's services. (910) 295-6811; www.pinehurst.com