By Danny and Alice Scott, Couple of Travelers
JW Marriott Turnberry Miami Resort & Spa
A-listers arrive daily to this exquisite resort where every guest feels special when escorted to their room with a balcony in one of the four floral towers. The Orchid tower is three years young from the 4th to 17th floor where the balcony delivers a knockout view of the pristine courses and Cascata pool, Aventura skyscrapers and ocean beyond with parrots flying by. Every service, morsel and amenity are top notch at JW Turnberry, the #1 resort in Florida – winner of Conde Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Award for three consecutive years in a row.
The 300-acre tropical paradise is home to the Miller and Soffer courses, originally designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr and redesigned by World Golf Hall of Famer Raymond Floyd. They play host to South Florida PGA and LPGA championships and many corporate and charity events. The Miller course around Lake Julius has more of a Country Club feel while Soffer is a championship course beginning with a babbling brook along the left that crescendos to the side of the green with a mighty waterfall. Don’t let the cadence lull you into complacency. Water on most holes between the palm lined corridors create a challenge for golfers and a natural habitat for birds and iguanas of all shades and sizes that form a unique gallery.
After golf, visit Ame Spa, lounge by the Cascata pool or head to the Tidal Cove Waterpark for a float on the lazy river, exhilarating water slides or even learn to surf on the Flow Rider Triple. When hungry and thirsty, the culinary experience at the “Berry” is amazing whether poolside, at the fine Bourbon Steakhouse or at Corsair by the golf courses where we met Alice Cooper having breakfast during a rest between his North American Tour stops. Menus throughout are creatively varied as are the signature cocktails like Bourbon on the Green.
The Turnberry concierge is ready to assist with activities and tours around Miami for nightlife, Everglades, Little Havana, Star Island and more. That’s if you ever want to leave your balcony. Close to Miami, Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airports, say yes to the address at www.jwturnberry.com
Innisbrook – A Salamander Resort
The many structures on this sprawling property are named after famous golf places from Pine Valley to Portrush. Plan enough time to stay and play all four courses. Bring your tree shots to the pine scented North Course and binoculars to the South Course as it is an open aviary with a possible gator on a water bank. On the Island Course, 9 and 18 require prudent judgement for layup shots to reach the greens over water. Funky roots of evil under the pines line the fairways so don’t go there. Red bottle brush blooms and berries on pepper trees complement green fairways. The most famous course is Copperhead, host to the PGA Tour Valspar Championship in March. The parkland style layout culminates with the “The Snake Pit” where holes named Moccasin, Rattlesnake, and Copperhead, reflect the danger and deadly results of poorly played shots. Striking are the giant Copperhead and Innisbrook topiaries on the banks along the water which you’ve likely seen them on the PGA Tour’s broadcast. If you want to play more like the pros, contact Director of Instruction Dawn Mercer for private lessons or partake in the daily clinics.
Innisbrook rings with a symphony of Ospreys nesting in trees throughout. Celebrate rounds at the Osprey Sports Bar or Packard’s Steakhouse named after the designer of Copperhead. The Tomahawk is big enough for all to share and use the bone to get out of a sand trap.
Rooms and suites with complete kitchens feel like home. Relax there or refresh at the beautiful full-service Salamander Spa. Lounge at five pools plus Loch Ness, a water park for entertaining kids, big or small. Complimentary shuttle service transports throughout and to Honeymoon Island State Park for a beachy keen experience. Minutes from Tampa International Airport and close to the Sponge Docks on the west coast of Florida, check out www.innisbrookgolfresort.com.
First Coast of Florida
The First Coast of Florida spans 75 miles along the north Atlantic from Amelia Island to the Palm Coast with 53 public golf courses. The golf scene is anchored by World Golf Village (WGV) in St. Augustine, America’s oldest city, where the World Golf Hall of Fame includes memorabilia showcasing the history of golf and 164 inductees. Stay at the colorful, comfortable Renaissance with the Murray Bros Caddy Shack restaurant next door. A sidewalk etched with names of hall of famers connects the village, encircling a lake with an island green replica of the 17th at TPC Sawgrass. The real TPC course in nearby Ponte Vedra is worth every penny. Sawgrass also lines the waterways at WGV’s Troon courses. Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen partnered with Bobby Weed to design the Slammer & Squires. Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus co-designed the King & Bear Course. After golf, tour the historic downtown, 20 minutes away.
The luxury oceanfront Omni Amelia Island Resort is 45 minutes from WGV and home to Oak Marsh Golf Course with sand paths and oak tree lined fairways with finishing holes along the open marsh. Tranquility meets opulence at Omni with miles of walking trails through the forested marshland and an infinite sandy beach. Every room has a balcony view of wave action and firepits beckon on the pool terraces. Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island is the birthplace of the shrimping industry and where Backwater Cat Adventures dock two-person pontoon boats for water excursions to see the Fort and Cumberland Island with wild horses. It’s a blast but the best water activity on the First Coast is simply walking the beach here or any stretch south.
At Hammock Beach Golf Resort and Spa, off the Palm Coast exit of 95 we encountered a horseback tour while strolling the isolated beach. Now managed by Troon, two courses are top rated in Florida – the Conservatory Course by Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus’ Ocean Course where the GPS on the cart warns after number 15, “You are now entering the bear claw.” 16 has a steep tricky green and when reached, the ocean roars. The palatial resort has a welcoming dolphin fountain and Fantasy Pool complex with a water flume, lazy river, soft beach, and the Ocean Bar Cafe. Savor the ocean views from room balconies or the signature restaurant, Atlantic Grille. www.florida-golf.orgWHAT'S YOUR REACTION?