North America

Florida – Golfing Mecca

written by | Posted on May 1st, 2010

With luxury resorts, sweeping coastlines and year-round warm temperatures, Florida truly is a golf lover’s paradise.

miami The Property: Situated in the elegant Coral Gables area of Miami, FL, The Biltmore hotel is a European palace-style hotel and national historic landmark that provides a relaxed retreat for golfers and non-golfers alike. The property, whose history dates back to the roaring ‘20s, features 376 guestrooms and suites, complete with Mediterranean- and Moorish-inspired decor, separate sitting areas and oversized picture windows that boast views of the beautiful surroundings, including the golf course and fabulous pool.

The Greens: Originally designed in 1925 by transplanted Scotsman and renowned golf designer of his era, Donald Ross, the par 71 Biltmore Golf Course has long attracted dignitaries, athletes and celebrities. In late-2007, the course completed a $5 million refurbishment that reconstructed and grassed all tees, greens and bunkers while retaining the course’s original routing. There was also the addition of a new irrigation system, as well as subtly contoured greens—many raised slightly above fairway level. Several of the course’s holes are crossed by the Coral Gables Waterway, a canal built in the 1920s to provide guests access to Biscayne Bay by gondola. Here, guests can sometimes catch a glimpse of the course’s resident iguanas—some measuring up to five ft. in length—that favor the banks of the canal along the eighth and ninth holes. The course also features a refurbished driving range with target greens, over 10,000 sq. ft. of practice putting green with replicas of contours found on the course, and a 2-acre practice chipping and sand play area.

Overlooking the first tee is the Biltmore’s clubhouse, which houses locker rooms, a golf shop, bar and restaurant. The property’s John Pallot Golf Academy, meanwhile, offers facilities for learning and practicing, including 1- to 3-day golf schools, customizable clinics and individual or group programs, as well as state-of-the-art computer video analysis equipment.

The amenities: The onsite amenities here are plentiful, including a pool surrounded by sumptuous private cabanas, a spa and fitness center with a dizzying list of fitness classes, and an array of dining options, including the Zagat-acclaimed Palme d’Or restaurant, the Fontana Italian restaurant, the poolside Cascade restaurant and the Biltmore Bar. The Sunday brunch is a must. Another must-do is participating in the resort’s Culinary Academy.

The scene: While visiting the resort, guests can explore charming Coral Gables, which was built as an homage to Spain and is made for afternoon strolls along tree-lined residential streets, where bougainvillea cascade down Mediterranean-style homes. Clients can shop, eat or people-watch at Miracle Mile, with boutiques and casual restaurants, or at The Village of Merrick Park, which boasts luxury stores like Gucci, Tiffany and Co., Roberto Cavalli and Neiman Marcus. The resort is centrally located and is a short drive to most of the area’s top attractions, including famed South Beach.

The rates: Through Sept. 30, The Biltmore is offering a Hole-In-One Golf package that includes an in-room arrival amenity, complimentary upgrade to a jr. suite, unlimited golf for one daily, complimentary range balls, unlimited use of practice facility, 20 percent off instruction and clinics at the John Pallot Golf Academy and complimentary town car transportation to Coral Gables shopping, dining and attractions. Rates start at $319 per night with a 2-night minimum stay.

palm beach The property: With over 90 holes of golf, including the famed Champion course—home to PGA Tour’s Honda Classic and past host of the Ryder Cup and PGA Championship—the PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, is the sunshine state’s ultimate vacation spot for golf enthusiasts. The property, which recently completed a $65 million renovation, features 379 guestrooms, suites and cottages, each with its own private balcony or terrace. All accommodations include maple wood furnishings, granite and marble-appointed bathrooms, flat-screen TVs and high-speed Internet access.

The Greens: PGA National Resort & Spa boasts five award-winning, tournament-ready par 72 courses. The Champion, for instance, was originally laid out by Tom Fazio then redesigned by Jack Nicklaus. The 7,048-yard course features the popular “Bear Trap”—a series of three demanding holes. The Palmer, meanwhile, was designed by Arnold Palmer and features a series of finishing holes with the 18th showing off some especially picturesque views. Constructed as a tribute to 5-time PGA champion Walter Hagen, The Haig course was the property’s first course opened for play. With no crossing water hazards or forced carries, this course is a more relaxed experience playable for all types of golfers. The 6,647-yard Squire is the shortest of the five courses and was named after Gene Sarazen—the first golfer to ever win the professional Grand Slam, while The Estates is a short drive from the resort’s grounds and features a mixture of sand, water and lush fairways and greens. Other onsite golf offerings include three practice facilities, the David Leadbetter Golf Academy and the David Pelz Scoring Game School for individual instruction and group clinics, the state-of-the-art PGA National Fitting Lab and a full-service golf shop for equipment, apparel and gifts.