Fore!: Teeing It Up in Florida

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The Breakers’ Oceanfront Suites have living rooms overlooking the ocean, plus two separate balconies.

 

The Breakers Palm Beach is an icon of Palm Beach luxury, and is as famous for its golf course as it is for its opulence.

We hear that oceanfront guest rooms and Flagler Club (club level) rooms are the most popular options, while Imperial Suites are the most luxe choice. Note: The Flagler Club is a private section of the resort with limited access to rooms on the sixth and seventh floors of the hotel, exclusive concierge service and enhanced amenities, such as fresh-baked cookies, tea service and evening hors d’oeuvres. Note: Personal concierge service is also provided in signature suite category rooms.

And then there’s the golf. Breakers has two 18-hole courses: Ocean Course, which we hear is the oldest 18-hole course in Florida, and the Breakers Rees Jones Course, which plays a lengthy 7,200 yards from the back tees. At a comparably shorter 6,100 yards, the Ocean Course is, as past players say, “a true test of shot-making.”

The front nine of the Rees Jones Course has only one par-5, while the back nine features three risk-reward par-5s with one drivable par-4. The unusual par-35 front and par-37 back makes for great matches coming down the stretch, we hear.

Nice Touch: Caddies can be requested 24 hours in advance of a tee time. A valet, locker for the day, range balls and an amenity package (metal bag tag, ball-repair tool and ball marker) are complimentary. Hint: If you are bringing your own clubs, best bet is to ship them ahead of arrival. Clubs can also be rented.

Pre- or post-round, golfers can relax in the 32,000-square-foot Golf and Tennis Clubhouse with a pro shop, locker rooms and a fitness center with free weights, sauna and steam. The Flagler Steakhouse, a restaurant with porch seating and views of the fairways, is on the second floor of the facility. The Breakers West Country Club Clubhouse, on the Breakers Rees Jones Course, offers casual dining.

The Waldorf Astoria Golf Club’s layout follows the land’s existing contours, a signature of designer Rees Jones.

 

To arrange golf activities, luxury travel advisors should contact Director of Golf Tim Collins ([email protected]; 561-659-8466, ext. 4653).

Next door to the resort is the Mediterranean-style Beach Club, complete with a 17-treatment-room indoor/outdoor spa that includes several Spa Suites. Massages can be enjoyed outside at the new Oceanfront Sanctuary or private, day-use bungalows, both with direct views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Contact Leisure Sales Managers Valerie Lund ([email protected];
561-653-6673) or Laurie Rapaport (
[email protected]; 561-653-6610).

Up the coast and a bit inland, the Waldorf Astoria Orlando opened to great acclaim this fall, creating a genuine luxury option in the heart of Mickey Mouse-land.

The resort is surrounded on two sides by the first-ever Waldorf Astoria Golf Club. Hint: The hotel offers special golf-view rooms that should be requested at booking. We hear the resort’s most-requested premium room category is the Deluxe King Suite with Balcony. While the two-bedroom Deluxe Suites are great for families, we hear the Deluxe King Suites with Balconies have great vantage points for the park’s nightly fireworks display. Note: Only the two 3,300-square-foot Presidential Suites come with private butler service. Luxury travel advisors are advised to contact Director of Marketing Tom Parke ([email protected]; 407-597-5500).

Like The Breakers, Rees Jones designed Waldorf Astoria’s golf course. Conforming to the natural environment of central Florida, the 7,113-yard course took 10 months to develop before it was ready to open. We say it was worth the wait. All golfers are welcome to play on the course, including those staying at the adjacent Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek.

The challenging par-72 course was designed with a five-tee system for all playing abilities and winds through a large wetland preserve. The holes, our sources say, are “visually arresting from tee to green” and require intelligent course management. Players will find the sand traps testy: The bunkers were reportedly designed to evoke the hazards of classic courses. Lovely natural touches are all throughout the course, like the towering pine and cypress trees that line the fairways. The layout of the course was dictated by the land’s existing contours, which Jones enhanced, always being mindful of the natural elements.

Waldorf Astoria Orlando’s Deluxe Suites work well for groups of four and have marble bathrooms with soaking tubs and separate glass showers.

 

The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples’ Presidential Suite has two private balconies with views of Tiburón Golf Course.

 

The course’s clubhouse has plenty of amenities, including The Grille, which features  burgers, chicken sandwiches and salads with farm-fresh produce. Players can send their clubs to the resort ahead of time, or rent from the clubhouse. Note: The resort does not employ caddies. Luxury travel advisors with golf-related questions should direct them also through Parke.

On the southwest of Florida, The Ritz-Carlton Resorts of Naples is two resorts in one. Golf Resort, Naples, as the name suggests, has two 18-hole championship courses.

We hear the most-requested rooms are on the Club Level. Nice touch for golfers: Rooms with golf course views are available upon request. For families and groups, we suggest requesting connecting rooms like the Resort or Golf Course view rooms, or the two-bedroom suites (Presidential, Tiburón and Executive). Luxury travel advisors should contact Director of Travel Industry Sales Janet Miller ([email protected]; 239-598-6699).

On-site is the popular Greg Norman-designed Tiburón Golf Club. The club has two 18-hole championship courses. The Gold Course is 7,288 yards from the tips, while The Black Course also measures over 7,000 yards. Courses alternate each day for resort play. A full-service practice area with chipping and putting greens is also available. Tiburón is carved out of 800 acres of native Florida foliage and plays like a classic links course. The course blends traditional and modern elements to create an experience that is challenging for golfers of any level.

Golfers can either rent clubs at the resort, or ship their own ahead of arrival. The resort does not provide caddies, but all golf carts are outfitted with GPS (the next best thing to having a human on-course advisor). Guests can also participate in the Rick Smith Golf Academy, which boasts one of the lowest student-teacher ratios in the industry at 2:1. Luxury travel advisors can call 239-593-1111 to arrange times for their clients to attend.

The Tiburón Golf Club offers fine dining in Tiburón’s Clubhouse restaurant, and other golf-related social and dining activities. For any golf-related inquiry, contact Director of Golf Kyle Mercer ([email protected]; 239-254-3340).

Fun Note: Each December, Tiburón’s two courses host the annual Shark Shootout, one of the most unique events on the PGA Tour. The Shootout features 24 of the world’s top golfers playing on two-man teams in a mixed-format of modified alternate shot, better ball and scramble. The tandem of Jerry Kelly and Steve Stricker took last month’s title.

To unwind after playing, visit the 30-treatment-room spa at the nearby Ritz-Carlton, Naples Beach Resort (complimentary shuttle service runs between the two resorts every half hour from 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.). Contact Spa Director Michelle Kelthy ([email protected];
239-514-6127) or Spa Group Sales Coordinator Carmon Price (
[email protected]; 239-514-6071) for appointments.

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