PH Tower Westgate – click for more
A year and a half a go I tied the knot with the finest lady on this planet. We spent the honeymoon in Vegas at the very classy Vdara Hotel & Spa and had a fantastic stay. Unfortunately that stay was cut short due to a family emergency. We wanted to make up for that shortened honeymoon so we booked another trip to Vegas a year later on our 1st anniversary. This time we chose the Planet Hollywood (PH) Westgate Tower. We chose the PH because the architecture looked so cool and the suites looked spacious and nice. We couldn’t have picked a worse place to spend a classy, quiet and relaxing 2nd honeymoon.
From the second we arrived we were not impressed with the PH Tower Westgate. The PH Tower Westgate is a smoke free facility, but apparently only inside the building. When we got there, we had to make our way through and around about 20 people smoking outside the front door. “Excuse me, hack hack, cough…” There was always a big group of smokers in that entrance, and also a group by the entrance from the parking garage.
Dorado Beach East Course Hole #4* – click to enlarge
Dorado Beach East Course Overview
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of playing on the first official day play resumed at the recently “restored” Dorado Beach East Course at Dorado Beach Golf Club in Puerto Rico, designed as a nine hole course originally in 1958 by one of golf’s most famous architects, Robert Trent Jones Sr. The course was brought up to 18 holes in 1966. Many of the palm tree lined holes on this track are bordering or looking out over the beautiful blue water of the Caribbean. The weather is always warm and the course always plush because of the massive amount of precipitation the area receives year round. The East Course is one of four courses at the resort and one of two RTJ Sr. designs, the West being the other.
Over the years shot values, sight lines and aesthetics changed on the East Course. Natural changes in vegetation, advancements in golf equipment technology, and subsequent redesigns by other architects were the cause of those aesthetic and playability issues. It took some serious golf balls for Dorado Beach to recognize that the course needed work to return it to its original great form and to stay competitive and comparable to other resort courses. It took even more golf balls to shut it down for a year and a half and get the job done. Naturally, the best choice for restoring the East Course would be someone who knew Robert Trent Jones Sr. designs and concepts first hand, someone named Robert Trent Jones II (Jr.).
Santa Claran Hotel – click to zoom
Quick quiz: What is the best hotel between Santa Fe, New Mexico and Durango, Colorado?
You guessed it, the Santa Claran Hotel and Casino in Espanola, New Mexico. And if you take my advice, you WILL be staying at the Santa Claran.
Why mention this place and where the heck is Espanola? When you travel to New Mexico to play one of the best courses on this planet and possibly my all time favorite, Black Mesa Golf Club, you’ll need a place to stay. There you have it.
Santa Claran Overview
The Santa Claran is a new hotel and casino, recently built by the Santa Clara Pueblo tribe. The location is in the town of Espanola, about 30 miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
I’ve finished uploading my photos from the Robert Trent Jones Sr. designed, and Robert Trent Jones Jr. restored Dorado Beach Resort’s East Course. There are about 70 images of the course, many with my new killer Nikon mega-wide lens.
Beautiful morning lighting at Dorado Beach’s East Course- click to magnify
Adventurous day one of the current HOG World Tour stop in Puerto Rico at the Dorado Beach Resort & Club. Getting here from Salt Lake took about 12 hours, then I spent another 12 hours lost on this gigantic property in my own personal golf cart (comes with the suite, pictured below) in the dark looking for the restaurant! Fortunately I found it, and had the pleasure of sitting down with none other than Chi Chi Rodriguez. During the flights here, I read David Feherty’s 2005 book, An Idiot For All Seasons. First time I’ve sat down and read a book from start to finish. I guess fart humor is the way to keep me glued to the pages…
Left to right: Jay Flemma, Chi Chi Rodriguez, yours truly (Tony Korologos)
Man how cool it was to sit and talk to Chi Chi for over an hour and listen to the amazing stories. I even mentioned a shot I saw him hit live in the Jeremy Ranch Shootout decades ago which he REMEMBERED! He told me the club, distance and how close to the hole the shot was! 220 out, uphill, in the face of a bunker, 4-wood, 12 inches, birdie. So many other Chi Chi stories…
The resort room here is fantastic. Here’s a shot of my amazing 3 bedroom suite. My clubs have their own room, closet, bathroom and fridge.
The kitchen and living room of my suite here at Dorado Beach – click for more
I’ve gotta call it a night. Tomorrow morning we tee off on the famed East Course here at Dorado Beach for the grand re-opening. You think I’ll shoot some pictures tomorrow?