Investor's Business Daily
April 9 2003

"Splendor In the grass, Lodgings At these Golf Courses"

Larry Olmsted
Investor's Business Daily
Kauri Cliffs
The hospitality industry has fallen in love with the term “boutique” following the logic that bigger is not always better. Boutique hotels have sprung up in every major city. Now the golf industry has gotten in on the craze.

After years of building mega resorts with hundreds of rooms and four to eight golf courses, the industry is turning toward smaller, more luxurious resorts, usually anchored by just one course, but often an exceptional one. At many marquee golf resorts, avid layers are there for just one course anyway, said Robert Pedrero, publisher of The Golf Insider, a high-end newsletter devoted solely to golf travel.

People go the Kiawah to play the Ocean Course or Turnberry to play the Ailsa Course, so the extra courses don’t add much, especially for Americans taking shorter and shorter vacations, Pedrero said. This is why the newer boutique resorts have proved very popular with our readers. They offer the best of all worlds: peaceful escapist seclusion, better accommodations, food and service and an uncrowded golf course, which is getting to be a rarity these days.

There is no better example than the Lodge at Kauri Cliffs in New Zealand, the pet project of ex-financial Julian Robertson, famous for his Tiger Funds. The two-year-old resort has just 16 rooms, each a luxurious private cottage. The golf course is easily the best in New Zealand. According to Bill Hogan, president of tour operator wide world of Golf and a member of Golf Magazine’s prestigious rating panel, it’s destined to be ranked among the world’s top 30 courses. On a busy day, the course gets 30 players vs. up to 300 at the most crowded facilities. Tee times are an unheard-of-half-hour apart.

With over 5,000 tropical acres full of waterfalls, beaches and jungle for just 32 guests, this golf getaway defines the luxury boutique movement (rooms from $629 including meals, But you don’t have to go halfway around the world to find boutique golf resorts. This happening everywhere, from Mexico and the Caribbean to Chicago said Pedrero. The newest entrant is Sandy Land in Barbados, which recently changed hands.

The staid old hotel was demolished and replaced with its state of the art twin, boasting plasma-screen TVs, DVD players and every other imaginable tech bell and whistles.

Sandy Land has 112 of these opulent rooms, features two excellent courses and operates perhaps the finest spa in the Caribbean. Both courses were the work of Tom Fazio, often called the greatest living designer, and the fist opened to rave reviews last fall. The second layout, the Green Monkey is being heralded as the top course in the Caribbean and opens this fall (rooms from $800)

Other top new boutique golf resorts in the US include the WaterColor Inn in Florida’s Panhandle, a charming and secluded property with the highly touted Camp Creek Golf Club.

The Glenn Club in Chicago has a course that debuted in the nation’s Top 100. In a unique twist, it features 21 guest rooms in the clubhouse itself, a throwback to the traditional clubs of the British Isles.

Last year, a Jack Nicklaus course called Ocean Hammock opened in Palm Coast Fla., and was also ranked in the top 100. This month it gets its own boutique resort, the Lodge at Ocean hammock, with 20 guest rooms designed in tropical British colonial flair, with deluxe amenities, a restaurant and a cigar bar, all overlooking the ocean.

Sea Island is Georgina is one of the nation’s most venerable golf resorts with three courses and the famed Cloister hotel. Last year, Sea Island opened vastly renovated versions of all three layouts, along with a new ultra luxurious boutique hotel overlooking two of the courses. The Lodge at Sea Island is a 40 room property that was built at a cost of more than $1 million per room, ore than twice the industry average for the luxury tier (rooms from $450. 800 SEA ISLA, Outside the US, golfers can try exclusive new resorts like Caye Chapel, which is on a private island in Belize. With just two dozen oceanfront villas, the resort offers guest’s private homes, private beaches and a nice private golf course. Mexico’s El Tamarindo is set on a 2,000-acre coastal nature preserve and has 28 luxurious thatched-roof bungalows with hot tubs, plunge pools and indoor and outdoor dining and living areas. The course is among the world’s most beautiful and least crowded, alternating between holes running to edge of the surf and those in lush jungle (rooms from $289, 888-6255144,

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