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Review: Secrets Cap Cana Resort and Spa, Dominican Republic

Written by: Tony Korologos | Friday, October 6th, 2017
Categories: Golf For WomenGolf LifeGolf LifestyleHOG World TourLifeReviewsTravel
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If you were considering a Caribbean vacation but thought otherwise due to recent hurricane damage, think again.  The Dominican Republic was not directly hit by Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Harvey, and their tourism industry is 100% open for business. If you’re looking for an all-inclusive Caribbean resort suggestion or Caribbean stay and play golf ideas, read on.

Secrets Cap Cana Resort and Spa

Overview

Secrets Cap Cana Resort and Spa is a sparkling brand new all-inclusive, adults only Dominican Republic resort which opened in November of 2016.  The resort features 457 suites in several different buildings.  Some rooms feature lovely swim-outs as seen below.  In addition there is a spa, fitness area, beach, and massive pool area with bars all over so one isn’t far from a tasty and refreshing island beverage of choice, all included of course.

The resort features a spectacular open-air lobby area which contains resort registration, a bar, shops, coffee shop, and live entertainment most evenings.

Suites

My suite at Secrets Cap Cana was comfortable and spacious.  The bed was so fantastic I wish I could have taken it home with me. I slept so well on it.  Inside the room is a desk, sitting furniture, linen closet, large screen TV, safe, dressers, and secret box. The secret box is where you can request staff to put items you request, like room service.

The shower in the room was huge with three water spouts, two in the ceiling. The bathroom featured two very cool sinks, great lighting, and an isolated toilet.

The deck area in my room had a great view (night shot above).  On the deck was a nice sitting area as well as a bathtub.  I quite enjoyed my evening outdoor bath. It was, liberating.  Yes I washed behind my ears.

Next time I get back, and I hope it is soon, I hope to get a “swim out” room.  They’re rooms on the ground level with their own semi-private swimming area. See picture below:

Dining

Secrets features eight gourmet restaurants, all included with the all-inclusive resort fee. If you want to eat sushi every day of your vacation, there’s no extra cost.  There are also restaurants featuring French, Italian, Japanese, buffet, snacks, and more. I really enjoyed the spectacular buffet for breakfast and lunch (below).  There are numerous themed areas for meats, fruit, beverages, breads, entrees and custom prepared items.  The meats and cheeses were fantastic.  My go-to places were the buffet and the coffee shop. I enjoyed numerous lattes, shakes, and snacks in the coffee shop.

The resort occupies a massive acreage on the southeastern shore of the Dominican Republic, just 30 minutes or so from the Punta Cana airport. The Punta Cana airport is home to flights from most major airlines.

Activities

Naturally the fantastic weather and warm shallow waters of the Caribbean provide many possible activities.  On property of course is the beach, with soft, fine sand.  The water is very shallow and warm, and the shallow area extends hundreds of feet out. My guess is 500 feet. I thoroughly enjoyed relaxing on the beach as the service folks came by with my beverages of choice. One must stay hydrated of course.  Other water activities include snorkeling, scuba diving, boating, fishing, yachting, water sports and even working out in resort provided classes on the beach.

My group enjoyed a catamaran excursion which was very fun.  The excursion included a scenic cruise along the shoreline, snorkeling, and even chilling out sipping beverages served up in a floating bar.

Secrets Cap Cana features a huge pool area.  Sections and slivers of the pool wind in many directions.  Numerous areas have a small connected pool area which is surrounded by a small number of lounge chairs.  The pool could easily accommodate hundreds of people, yet each person would feel like it isn’t crowded because of the layout. 

There are several bars in the pool area and plenty of service people to make sure the fun is flowing.  There’s also a hot tub, but it didn’t make sense to use it when I was there.

The Dominican Republic is undoubtedly the golf capital of the Caribbean.  It’s home to the 39th ranked golf course in the world, Teeth of the Dog, the masterpiece of famed architect Pete Dye. Teeth of the Dog is located at Casa de Campo, roughly a 60 minute drive from the resort.  A mere 30 minutes away is Punta Cana, a Jack Nicklaus signature design which is ranked the #1 course in the Caribbean and Latin America.  These two courses produce some of the most scenic and dramatic oceanside golf you’ll ever experience.  There are nearly 30 other courses to choose from in the Dominican as well, including another famous Pete Dye called Dye Fore.

On most nights one can enjoy live entertainment at Secrets, ranging from small combos to full bands, and DJ’s.

Meetings/Banquets

If you have a group or business need, there is a business area with computers.  There are some great meeting areas and banquet rooms which can handle very large groups.

Staff

Service is very important in the travel industry. The staff at Secrets works hard to provide their part of a fantastic experience. Despite only being open for about a year, the management at Secrets has their system down and have trained their staff to be courteous, knowledgeable, and ready for anything. 

Photo courtesy of Greg Corbo

I was warmly greeted by every staff member and all were extremely polite and helpful throughout my entire 5-day stay.

Weather

The weather in the Dominican Republic doesn’t fluctuate much, except in rainy season.  I was there in rainy season and it rained for 10 minutes on the way to the resort from the airport. That was it. Year-round the temperatures are always going to be somewhere between 75-90.  The humidity is quite high and I did have to adjust, coming from a desert. Be ready to sweat when not in the pool or the ocean. Stay hydrated and bring plenty of sunscreen.

Final Comments

Secrets Cap Cana Resort and Spa is a fantastic choice for a romantic, all-inclusive trip with your loved one. The crisp new facilities are warm and welcoming with great dining and activities and of course, great weather.

Secrets and the fantastic golf courses nearby would also make for a great golf buddy trip.  Forget Florida, South Carolina or other golf destinations.  Make the Dominican Republic the location of your next golf buddy trip.


Checking in from the Dominican Republic

Written by: Tony Korologos | Sunday, October 1st, 2017
Categories: Golf For WomenGolf LifeHOG World TourLifeTravel
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Greetings from Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. I’ve arrived at my home base for the next few days, Secrets Cap Cana Resort & Spa. I’m here for a HOG World Tour stop to review a couple of Dominican Republic golf courses and resorts. Check out this amazing place.

While I’m here I will have quite a full schedule so I won’t be able to do a ton of blog posts. I will however be making social posts often so tune into the HOG Twitter, HOG Facebook, and HOG Instagram for more of a live stream.

I spent the afternoon relaxing on the great soft sandy beach here, sampling some of the all-inclusive “beverages” as seen in the photo below.  I swam in the warm waters. The depth is about three feet for probably 300 yards or more from the shore. It’s great.

Contrary to popular belief the Dominican Republic was not destroyed by hurricane Irma or xxx. Fortunately for this island in the Caribbean the hurricanes didn’t hit here directly like they did Puerto Rico. One may have heard that “Dominica” was decimated, but that is a small island; not the same as the Dominican Republic.

Coming up I’ll be checking out golf architect Pete Dye’s Teeth of the Dog course as well as Jack Nicklaus’s Punta Cana course.

Stay tuned here and on the social networks mentioned above. I can guarantee it’s going to be great stuff.


HOG World Tour Visits The Bear Course at Michigan’s Grand Traverse Resort

Written by: Tony Korologos | Wednesday, August 30th, 2017
Categories: Golf CoursesLifeTravel
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The last golf course played on the recent HOG World Tour visit to Michigan was The Bear at Grand Traverse Resort in Grand Traverse, Michigan. It was figuratively and literally, a bear.

The Bear is a Jack Nicklaus design.  This par-72 layout features six sets of tees which range from 5,281 yards to 7,078 yards. I said it is a bear and the slope and rating would confirm that.  Slope is 150 and the rating 76.1 from the tips.

The primary reason this course kicked my butt is because of the forced carries, and the fact that I was struggling badly to hit decent iron shots.  You can see in the photos here a shot that doesn’t carry is going to meet a watery grave.

I’ll be posting a full review of The Bear soon, but I need to lick my wounds first.  Next time I’ll wear Bear spray. Stay tuned.

 

 


HOG World Tour Visits Michigan’s Boyne Highlands Heather Course

Written by: Tony Korologos | Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017
Categories: Golf CoursesGolf For WomenGolf LifestyleLifeTravel
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I had the great pleasure of playing The Heather course at Boyne Highlands in northern Michigan today. There wind there today would make Scotland proud, and it had its way with my game but I still loved the Robert Trent Jones Sr. layout.

The Heather Course features some of the most amazing, biggest green-side bunkers I’ve ever seen. Okay, they are the biggest I’ve ever seen.

Robert Trent Jones’s courses have such a great flow to them, including the Heather.  The conditions were also very wet, with heavy rains the night before. The pond below was flowing onto the fairway.

I’ve got to head out to the next stop here in northern Michigan. Stay tuned for my full review of the Heather soon.


Review: Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort, Morocco

Written by: Tony Korologos | Tuesday, December 13th, 2016
Categories: Golf For WomenGolf LifeGolf LifestyleHOG World TourLifeReviewsTravel
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On my recent golf trip to Morocco I had the fabulous opportunity to stay at the 5-Star Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort in El Jadida, Morocco. Mazagan Beach & Golf is a very large resort with hotel, casino, spa, huge pool, beach on the Atlantic Ocean, and a Gary Player design golf course.

Mazagan Location

Location Location Location

What a tremendous location Mazagan Beach & Golf occupies. It’s basically and oceanside paradise lined with palm trees. The huge grounds are immaculately maintained and full of fantastic designs and creative landscapes.

The resort’s architecture reflects traditional Moroccan traditions but still has a modern and clean look and feel.

Accommodations

Below notice the open door?  That’s my room.

My room, lower right

Below is the view from inside the room, looking out to the pool area.

Nice patio

Turning around from the view out to the pool, this is the room.

The room…

Bath/Shower


Food and Beverage

My group enjoyed some traditional Moroccan food in the MORJANA Restaurant. The Lebanese/Moroccan food and Moroccan wine was fantastic.

Lamb, chicken, beef kebobs

Triangles with filo dough on the outside. Inside is either meat or cheese

The restaurant featured a musician playing a stringed instrument I’m not familiar with. Looked like a bouzouki but it wasn’t. Then after that we were treated to a belly dancer who was fantastic.

John (GolfBlogger.com) enjoys the show

John (above) enjoyed watching the belly dancer, but yours truly was the one she picked to dance. Never before have such awful dance moves (mine, not the belly dancer’s) been on display in the content of Africa. I guarantee it.

Spa

I had NO idea how many knots I had in my back.  It was a great thing that I was able to get a massage while at Mazagan.  The masseuse was incredible.  She found, and resolved knots in places I didn’t know existed.  It really helped out my endurance and flexibility for the rest of the golf trip.

While working out some knots the masseuse, who spoke nearly zero english asked, “you work on computer?”  She could tell. I responded, “world famous golf blogger. If I’m not on the golf course I’m at the computer penning Blogitzer Prize winning golf blog posts.”  Actually, I just said yes.

Casino

I did not test my luck at the casino, though I did take a quick look in. Very nice. My bank account thanked me for my self-control.

Golf

I’ll be posting a review of the Gary Player designed Mazagan Golf Club soon. The course runs along Mazagan beach. Huge breakers crash in on the shore. Huge. Now I know why some friends of mine take the trip to Morocco to surf.

The course is very fun to play, and not so difficult that it demoralizes you.

Final Thoughts

Think outside of North America.

Casablanca, Morocco is a 6.5 hour flight from JFK Airport in New York. From there it’s not a long drive to Mazagan. Rather than traveling in the USA or to Mexico for your next golf trip, you could be in fabulous Morocco enjoying a 5-Star resort, great food, beach, surfing, gaming, lodging, and golf at Mazagan.


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