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Now open: Mukul Resort’s Guacalito del La Isla by David McLay Kidd

Attention early adopters: Nicaragua’s Pacific Coast is the world’s newest luxury golf destination, sporting an outstanding design by David McLay Kidd.

Surfers, eco-tourists and backpackers long have known about Nicaragua’s Emerald Coast, but Kidd — who designed Bandon Dunes when he was just 27 — now returns to his conceptual roots, wrapping up four years of work on a naturalistic, minimalist design through the jungle along Nicaragua’s Emerald Coast.

Guacalito de la Isla Golf Club, Tola, Nicaragua

No. 18 spills out onto a broad sandy beach

Part of the Mukul Resort, the 18-hole Guacalito de la Isla, has multiple landing areas, superb salt-tolerant Platinum TE Papsallum greens, fairways, rough and tee boxes and plenty room to miss.

Here’s a quick take from a recent site visit:

6,676 yards from the tips through a tropical forest;

Howler monkeys in the trees, iguanas lounging off the tee boxes, eagles soaring overheard;

Consistent sand bunkers and virtually untouched arroyos that signals vast respect for what happens in the rainy season (Memorial Day through Thanksgiving);

Terrifically playable tees for women;

And plenty of room to maneuver over, through, under and around 300-year-old Guanacaste trees that Kidd absolutely was forbidden to cut down on orders of the resort’s developer, Carlos Pellas — who is shaping up to be a combination Bill Gates/Warren Buffett for his native Nicaragua.

“Great bones, great routing,” said Ed Gowan of the Arizona Golf Association, who marked the hazards on the course at the invitation of Scotsman Andrew Gilchrist, who ran the  Mayan Palace golf course in Puerto Penasco, Mexico, before being recruited to oversee Guacalito.

Want to see the Mukul Resort property in Google Earth? Load the following lat-long into the search box: 11°22’15.91″ N  86°00’36.13″ W

The Mukul Resort launched a soft opening in late January. There are different types of spa treatments — one for every day in the week — private bohios, or villas, with private plunge pools and more luxury than a helicopter or jet owner (at whom the resort and residential development ultimately is aimed) could ever ask for.

How to get there?

United, American, Copa, Delta and Taca all fly to Managua, the nation’s capital. Flights are surprisingly short: two to three hours from Houston, Miami and Atlanta.

A car and driver from the resort will pick you up for the drive south one the newly widened road south to Tola — although it’s a harrowing drive at night, so it’s best to arrive during the day, owing to the vagaries of  Nicaraguan drivers and traffic, animals, unlighted vehicles and such.

For the time being, label Nicaragua adventure golf travel. But it’s pretty special to see the birth of something new and excellent and luxurious. Check out airfares to Managua because the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua just got itself a great luxury golf destination.

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