A great golfing vacation requires three things: a picturesque layout, immaculate course conditions and temperate weather. Add first-class service, exotic locales and plush accommodations into the mix and you have the makings of an unforgettable few days on the fairway. From October through April, Mexico offers some of the best golf experiences you can find anywhere on the continent. These are the four fall trips worth organizing right now.
Rosewood Mayakoba, Riviera Maya
Nestled along the Yucatan Peninsula south of Cancun in Riviera Maya is the posh Mayakoba community. Surrounded by a six-mile stretch of freshwater lagoons and connected by canals, interwoven into the indigenous flora and fauna, Mexico’s own version of Venice awaits guests who’ve brought their golf clubs along to paradise. For a truly spectacular vacation, plan a stay at the all-suite Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Rosewood Mayakoba, where you can choose from lagoon, spa island or ocean-view accommodations. November through April is peak golf season at Mayakoba’s 7,000-yard, 18-hole championship golf course, El Camaleón. The Greg Norman-designed beauty distinguishes itself with fairways lined with mangroves. Pristine conditions — we won’t even mention advanced GPS systems on the golf carts and a messaging system that allows guests to request beverages, towels and most anything else they desire while on the course — only heighten the experience. Golf buffs looking to brush up on their game can take a one- or two-day course or have a private lesson at the on-site Jim Mclean Golf School, which also offers state-of-the-art Trackman Analysis, a technology that captures your swing’s data on a 50-inch television screen. After a day’s exertions, plan on a bone-melting massage at Four-Star Sense, the 17,000-square-foot sanctuary, plus a tequila and sushi pairing dinner at Agave Azul. And if you want to truly hobnob with the elite, book your room now for November 9 to 15, 2015, when El Camaleón hosts the OHL Classic, Mexico’s only PGA Tour event.
Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita
Perched on a peninsula north of Puerto Vallarta is Punta Mita, a resort community carved amidst the tropical foliage overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Behind the gilded gates you’ll find this Five-Star property alongside multimillion-dollar vacation homes, oceanfront rental villas, beach clubs and two Jack Nicklaus-conceived oceanside golf courses, the Pacifico and the more challenging Bahia. Consistent to Nicklaus’ design philosophy, fairways are generous, terrain mounding is plentiful, and accurate approach shots are a must on either layout. These two courses are private, catering to well-heeled members and resort guests only. Expect flawless conditions to come in the form of carpeted fairways, an abundant amphitheater of palm trees and pure rolling greens.
Beyond the golf, serious thought has also been given to preserving the secluded feel of Punta Mita, especially at the resort, where you’ll find romantic four-poster beach beds, lattice-covered cabanas around the multi-level pool, open-air tables at the beachfront grill Bahia and a subtle sexiness at the Asian-inspired seafood restaurant, Aramara (which literally translates to “sacred place by the ocean”). Staff is always just a glance away, but never intrusive or hovering, making this Four Seasons a favorite R&R destination for the who’s who of Hollywood and Silicon Valley. The must-not-miss annual event is the Punta Mita Gourmet & Golf Classic, a four-day food and golf extravaganza featuring guest chefs from all over Mexico and a special appearance by LPGA legend Lorena Ochoa. The next one tees off January 28 through 31, 2016.
One & Only Palmilla, Los Cabos Resort
It doesn’t matter if you choose a single-story unit or three-story “casa” at the One & Only Palmilla, all spaces come with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean or Sea of Cortez’s azure waters. This Los Cabos standout prides itself on providing guests with a superlative experience in their rooms (24-hour butler service), at the restaurants (famed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s recently debuted Seared Steakhouse) and everywhere in between. Another property highpoint comes with its greens. Though a short private shuttle ride from the property, the 27-hole, Jack Nicklaus-designed Palmilla (the Golden Bear’s first Latin America layout) delivers staggered tees, stunning fairways and challenging shifts in elevation that were designed to flow towards the water. Overnight guests have perks that include complimentary use of the practice facility and rental of the most current Callaway golf equipment (the property gets brand new rentals every year). Golfers who score the Classic Golf package receive a three-night’s stay, full breakfast and dinner, three days of unlimited golf at Palmilla Golf Club (including rental sets, his and her Palmilla Golf Club shirt, cap and visor and two sleeves of golf balls) and private chauffeured round-trip airport transfers.
Le Blanc Spa Resort, Cancun
Mere blocks from downtown Cancun, this adults-only all-inclusive hideaway on a hill is a chic, modern, all-white edifice where couples and groups come to play in the sun. The marquee resort within the Palace Resorts portfolio, Le Blanc ensures that guests not only have unlimited alcohol and dining priveledges (there are four signature restaurants), but they also have access to six other local properties within the portfolio. For the golf vacationer, this means having the ability to enjoy the creature comforts of Le Blanc Resort, but also have access to the 27-hole Jack Nicklaus golf course at Moon Palace, just 20 minutes away by shuttle. The gorgeous configuration offers three scenarios — Dunes & Jungle, Lakes & Dunes and Jungle & Lakes — that players strategically attack according to their skills. Le Blanc Resort’s Unlimited Golf Package (book through September 30) comes with practice balls, food, transportation to the course and all the driving, chipping and putting you can muster during your stay.