If golfers love something more than golf (if that is even possible), it’s the opportunity to brag about playing on a new course. To score big with meeting and incentive winners, plan an event at one of these about-to-open resorts, all which boast brand-spanking-new golf courses.
Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain
Located in the Sonoran Desert just 30 minutes from Tucson, this 250-room golf and spa resort is scheduled to open in late 2009. Besides offering 226 guest rooms and suites with expansive views of the desert terrain (including rugged rock formations), the resort will include 24 individual casitas (perfect for incentive winners and VIPs). Meeting space will include a 9,000-square-foot ballroom and a 4,800-square-foot ballroom.
The golf course: The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club will feature 36 holes of golf, all designed by Jack Nicklaus; 27 holes are already under construction and are scheduled to be completed by the end of the year; nine more holes will be added by 2010. The $60-million club will also feature an elaborate clubhouse complex (great for 19th hole events), complete with swimming pools, dining and a fitness center. Bring your cameras for this outing: Expect challenging play and spectacular desert vistas.
After tee time: The resort and setting are all about relaxation. Treat incentive winners to a special day at the resort’s 17,000-square-foot spa, or arrange for a group hike through the 20 miles of hiking trails that wind through the desert.
Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek/Waldorf-Astoria Orlando
Hilton Hotels’ new two-in-one resort scheduled to open in September 2009 will include the 498-room Waldorf-Astoria Orlando and the 1,001-room Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. Surrounded by Walt Disney World Resort, the complex will offer a combined 150,000 square feet of meeting space. Our pick for an event: an outdoor “island,” surrounded on three sides by a lagoon, would be the ideal setting for a cocktail reception.
The golf course: The 18-hole Rees Jones Golf Course will open later this fall. Its builders say it’s so close to Disney’s Epcot Center that golfers can practically walk from the course to the theme park.
After tee time: This resort is in the center of everything Disney, so booking evening events at one of the theme parks is a hot option. The resort will also have an on-property heliport offering convenient service to Orlando attractions like Cirque du Soleil, Orlando Ballet and the Orlando Museum of Arts.
Westin Roco Ki Beach & Golf Resort
Set on 2,500 acres and located about 19 miles from the Punta Cana Airport in the Dominican Republic, this new 315-room resort (including 20 “jungle Luxe” bungalows, which are on stilts) scheduled to open in mid-2009 is bordered by a three-mile-long, white-powder beach and will include five fresh-water swimming pools. Meeting space ranges from a 7,000-square-foot ballroom to its Great Lawn (a spectacular setting for large outdoor gatherings) to its lagoon-side 2,000-square-foot Palapa, which overlooks the beach and dramatic cliffs.
The golf course: A Nick Faldo championship course’s layout takes duffers through rugged cliffs, palm trees and a mangrove forest. Bring out cameras for the 18th hole, which requires shots over the incoming surf.
After tee time: Water sports are paramount here. Book a group dive or deep-sea fishing trip, or work with the hotel’s meeting planner to organize a beach Olympics event.
Campeche Playa Golf Marina & Spa Resort
The first phase of this new resort complex on the Gulf of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula includes a 500-room hotel and a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course. This phase will open at the beginning of 2009; a second phase to include 3,000 private residences will be completed in 2010.
The golf course: The 18-hole course will be a must-see for eco-friendly golfers. Set adjacent to a mangrove forest, and offering views of nearby beaches, the course was designed to preserve the environment. As an example, the irrigation system uses water purified by a plant being built for the purpose, and chemicals will not be used to maintain the course.
After tee time: Deep-sea fishing promises to be a popular group activity here; the resort has its own marina and yacht club. Attendees who head to the seas can expect to catch grouper, tuna, shrimp and shellfish (and have plenty of stories for “the one that got away”) Don’t forget the disposable cameras so attendees have a record of their excursion.
GOLF TOP 10
If you’re looking for some tried-and-true golf courses, check out America’s top 10 as voted on by Golf Digest magazine.
PINE VALLEY (Pine Valley, NJ)
SHINNECOCK HILLS (Southampton, NY)
AUGUSTA NATIONAL (Augusta, GA)
CYPRESS POINT (Pebble Beach, CA)
OAKMONT (Oakmont, PA)
PEBBLE BEACH (Pebble Beach, CA)
MERION (Ardmore, PA)
WINGED FOOT (Mamaroneck, NY)
SEMINOLE (Juno Beach, FL)
CRYSTAL DOWNS (Frankfort, MI)