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Review: TPC Danzante Bay Golf Course at the Islands of Loreto, Mexico

Written by: Tony Korologos | Wednesday, February 27th, 2019
Categories: Course ReviewsGolfGolf CoursesGolf For WomenGolf LifestyleHOG World TourReviewsTravel
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The final Hooked on Golf Blog world tour stop of 2018 was at TPC Danzante Bay golf course, on property at Villa del Palmar Beach Resort and Spa at the Islands of Loreto, Mexico. TPC Danzante Bay is a Reese Jones design, winding amongst the mountains that surround the beautiful Danzante Bay.

Looking down at Villa del Palmar Resort from near the 18th tee of TPC Danzante Bay

Reese Jones is the son of one of golf’s all time greatest architects Robert Trent Jones Senior. I’ve had the opportunity to play many Rees Jones courses and TPC Danzante Bay is right there amongst the best of them.

Location

TPC Danzante Bay Is located approximately 300 miles northeast of Cabo, Mexico, on the east coast of the Mexican Baja. The nearest town is the quaint and historic seaside town of Loreto, Mexico. Loreto and its airport is approximately 45 minutes away.  The course’s home is the rugged desert hills and vistas in the Sierra de la Giganta mountain range, which overlooks the bay.

Course Stats

The golf course plays to a par value of 72, 36 front and 36 back. From the longest set of tees, the blacks, the course stretches to 7,237 yards. There are four other sets of tees for golfers of varying abilities.

I would normally post the course slope and rating but my score card and information I have on the course shows neither. Perhaps it is so new (2016) it has not been rated yet.

Routing

I found the course routing to be quite enjoyable. There is a wide and interesting variance as the course travels through the valley floor, up the side hills, to the tops of the mountains and back down by the sea. Along its journey the course provides stunning visuals and vistas worthy of photography on practically every hole. I nearly spent as much time taking pictures of the golf course as I did playing it.

I felt right at home and enjoyed the elevation changes on many of the holes which reminded me of my home mountain golf.  Some of the most entertaining elevation drops are on the par-3 17th and the par-3 9th. The par-4 15th and 16th holes present a fun elevation increase where calculating the proper club on approach is challenging.  If the golfer picks a club which is too short or doesn’t make solid contact, the ball could land short and roll all the way back to his position.

Tee

Tee shots are a blast and on this course you’ll love blasting your tee shots to the fairly forgiving and wide fairways. There are some forced carries from many of the tees, as much of the course style is desert target. If the golfer is playing from the appropriate tee, carrying the native areas should not be an issue.  I really enjoyed how each different tee not only gave the golfer a different choice in terms of length, but angle and elevation as well.

Fredrik Lindenblom tees off on the par-3 13th hole

There are some extremely fun par-4’s and par-5’s with large elevation changes which make driving the golf ball a hell of a lot of fun. The par-5 fifth, par-4 seventh, and par-4 18th holes come to mind.  On the par-4 7th I had one of those blasts. I hit a towering draw which caught the speed slot and traveled all the way down to about 120 yards from the green, some 320+ yards from the tee.

Fairway

As I mentioned the fairways are fairly wide and accessible. Only tee shots which are very errant will miss and find desert areas or natural hazards. There is some minor undulation in the fairways but uneven lies are not much of an issue.

I was very satisfied with the quality and grow-in of the fairways. The turf conditioning was terrific and there were no bad lies to be had.

Fairway bunkering is strategic and well-placed. Most fairway bunkers are navigable and the golfer has a chance to make the green with a well executed shot.

Green

There are a few forced carries to some of the greens like the highly publicized par-3 17th, where carrying the ball all the way to the green is necessary. Most of the par-4’s and par-5’s,  however, allow the golfer to choose the option of flying it all the way or hitting a links-style running shot short and bouncing it up onto the surface.

I found the greens at TPC Danzante Bay to be quite enjoyable to putt. Undulations and sloping are manageable. Two-putting from just about any quadrant to another is a fair proposition. Green conditioning was terrific, consistent, and the putts rolled true.

Putting Course

Par three and putting courses have really taken off in the last few years. It all started with the Himalayas, the putting course near the second tee of the old course in St. Andrews, Scotland.

Putting Course

TPC Danzante Bay offers a very fun 9-hole putting course which I enjoyed playing very much. The putting course is a great place for golfers and non-golfers to enjoy aspects of the game, settle bets from the big course, or just enjoy green grass and some frosty beverages in a friendly competition.

Amenities

The practice area is terrific. On the fun driving range golfers hit uphill, similar to the par-4 15th and 16th holes. Near the range is a short-game practice area which gives the golfer the ability to practice every possible chip, pitch, and bunker shot he might encounter playing the course.

Driving Range

The pro shop is small and modest and sits next to a café which serves great food and beverages. From the patio patrons of the café enjoy a lovely view of the resort and bay below.

The Resort

The course is part of the Villa del Palmar Beach Resort and Spa at the Islands of Loreto, Mexico. The resort offers luxury suites, beach and water activities, spa, fine dining, hiking, and much more.  Check out the Villa del Palmar review here.

Final Thoughts

Before you book a golf trip to Cabo, Mexico I strongly suggest considering Villa del Palmar and TPC Danzante Bay.  The golf course is extremely fun and fair to play. It doesn’t beat the golfer up too much like one might expect a TPC course to do. The views and variances one experiences on the course make every hole interesting and keep the golfer’s attention.  When not golfing one can enjoy all of the great activities the resort has to offer.

Related

Villa del Palmar Beach Resort and Spa at the Islands of Loreto, Mexico review.

TPC Danzante Bay image gallery


Villa del Palmar Beach Resort and Spa at the Islands of Loreto, Mexico

Written by: Tony Korologos | Monday, January 21st, 2019
Categories: GolfGolf For WomenGolf LifeGolf LifestyleHOG World TourReviewsTravel
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Current situation at Hooked on Golf Blog World Headquarters: snowed in.  We are in a massive winter storm here.  Many roads are closed.  While I love skiing and winter sports, I found myself daydreaming about relaxing by the beach with a frosty beverage in hand.  Great time to write my review of my recent trip to the Islands of Loreto, Mexico and the Villa del Palmar Beach Resort and Spa at The Islands of Loreto.  Off we go to fantasy island.

Location Location Location

Villa del Palmar is located in the Baja California Sur, a sliver of land which extends several hundred miles south from San Diego, California and sits west of the Mexican mainland.  The Baja is home to a very well known tourist destination, Los Cabos/Cabo San Lucas. Villa del Palmar is about 300 miles northeast of Cabo on the Baja’s east coast, about 30 minutes south of the town of Loreto, Mexico.  Loreto is a friendly, quaint, scenic, and relaxing place with terrific shops, restaurants and great nearby activities.

Villa del Palmar Overview

Villa del Palmar resort is a gated resort occupying hundreds of acres of pristine oceanfront land, overlooking Danzante Bay and the Islands of Loreto. The resort features numerous 1-3 bedroom suites and penthouses up to four bedrooms.

Resort amenities include five swimming pools, hot tub, 39,000 square foot spa and wellness center, arcade room, kids club, fitness center, convenience store, night club, and shuttle service to/from downtown Loreto.

Resort guests can enjoy numerous activities.  On property is TPC Danzante Bay Golf Course, a world class golf course by Rees Jones.  Other activities include swimming, beach relaxing, biking, ATV’s, hiking the local mountains, snorkeling, sport-fishing, whale watching, paddle-boarding, kayaking, breathing fresh air, having your 5-year-old bury you up to the head in sand.

The resort features several dining options, from the casual Casa Mia restaurant to the elegant Danzante gourmet restaurant.

The Bay

The bay is coral blue with barely any waves or water currents. Seriously. The largest wave I saw was about two inches. It’s dead calm, unlike many of the violent and dangerous waters in Cabo San Lucas.

The water is shallow and walkable, even hundreds of feet from the shore.  The beach is perfect for families who have small children and don’t want the fear of issues with waves.  Note how calm the water is in the photo below, where I was relaxing and enjoying the sea, sand, scenery, and serenity.

Activities in the bay include boating, snorkeling, swimming, building sand castles, kayaking, paddle-boarding and much, much more.

Pool

There are numerous pools and a hot tub for swimming and sunbathing, sans sand and salt water.  The swimming pools at Villa del Palmar Beach Resort and Spa at the Islands of Loreto are shaped like turtles.  It took me awhile to realize that. I didn’t make it to the hot tub, but it looked nice and large.

Suites

As a single player, my suite was the one-bedroom.  The one-bedroom is very spacious, and can accommodate 2-4 adults.   The main bedroom has a king size bed, and the living room has a sofa-bed for the kids or extra guests.

Living room and kitchen

There’s a kitchen area in the one-bedroom, complete with a refrigerator, oven, stove, microwave, dishwasher, cupboards, and even a washer/dryer in the side closet.

The bathroom area is large, with a big jetted tub, separate shower, closet, separate toilet, and dual sinks.

The balcony of the room is huge and comes with a table and chair set, and lounge chair setup. Oh, and depending on the room there are views of the ocean or the resort.

One remarkable thing to mention regarding the suite is the service.  Each day my suite was cleaned and made up to perfection.

Bedroom and bathroom (note the message on the bed!)

I would return from the day’s activities of golf, hiking, boating to bedroom messages made from polished stones (photo above).  “Towel sculptures” of birds and fish greeted my at the entrance to the shower.  Very nice and fun touches.

Dining

I enjoyed meals at all of the dining options at Villa del Palmar Beach Resort and Spa at the Islands of Loreto.  The breakfast buffet at The Market (photo below) was terrific.  Enjoying breakfast and the perfect weather on the patio every morning was a great way to start the day.

The Market

One “gourmet” night at the classy Danzante Restaurant I enjoyed a terrific filet with all the accoutrements.  One special part of the evening at Danzante Restaurant was getting “Mexican coffee.”  This is special coffee drink prepared at table-side. Oh, and I should mention that the drink is on fire (photo below).

Activities

This section could really take a long time to express.  There are so many great activities at Villa del Palmar Beach Resort and Spa at the Islands of Loreto Islands of Loreto.  From boating, kayaking, swimming, snorkeling to sport fishing, it is all there.  I can’t cover it all, but here are some highlights of my recent trip.

I really enjoyed the boat ride via the resort to the Islands of Loreto.  What a beautiful area.  The ride was smooth as glass and the islands are stunning.  The last quarter of the boat ride was a stop by one of the islands where we dawned snorkels and did some snorkeling.

Naturally I spent a ton of time checking out TPC Danzante Bay, the Rees Jones designed golf course on the property.  The golf course is tremendous, and doesn’t beat the golfer up like most TPC courses do.  The design and scenery added up to such a thrilling golf experience.  On my final round I managed to make a satisfying birdie on the par-3 17th, the course’s most famous hole (photo below).

On my next trip to the resort, and there will most definitely be one, I need to get in some of the activities I missed, like kayaking, hiking and so on.  Can’t wait for that.

Getting There

Getting to Villa del Palmar Beach Resort and Spa at the Islands of Loreto Islands of Loreto isn’t quite as easy as getting to Cabo or Mazatlan.  The Loreto airport is 30 minutes away and does service jets from a couple of airlines. But honestly, that’s part of what makes the resort and the area around Loreto, Mexico so great.  It’s not overrun with millions of tourists.

Final Thoughts

Warm weather, great golf, great water activities, relaxing on the beach… It all makes up a great offering from Villa del Palmar Beach Resort and Spa at the Islands of Loreto Islands of Loreto. The next time you are considering a trip to Mexico, take a solid look at Villa del Palmar Beach Resort and Spa at the Islands of Loreto Islands of Loreto and the area of Loreto before you book another trip to Cancun, Cabo, Mazatlan or any of the other heavily trafficked Mexican tourist destinations.

 


Review: Michigan’s Grand Traverse Resort and Spa

Written by: Tony Korologos | Monday, March 19th, 2018
Categories: Golf For WomenGolf LifeGolf LifestyleReviewsTravel
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Michigan is home to over 800 golf courses and I’m doing my best to experience as many as possible by traveling there about once per year.  It might take a while to finish off the task, but it will be worth it.  Michigan golf is tremendous, especially in the north.

Now that I’ve convinced you to plan a golf trip to Michigan, you’re going to need a great place to stay.  Grand Traverse Resort and Spa has you covered.

Grand Traverse Resort and Spa

Location

Grand Traverse Resort and Spa is located just outside of Traverse City in Williamsburg, Michigan. There are endless nearby attractions for golfers and non golfers alike.  The resort is close to the east arm of Grand Traverse Bay, an arm of Lake Michigan. It’s a beautiful area.

Golf

On property are three very fun golf courses which boast widely different architectural styles, the Resort Course by William Newcomb, the Gary Player Wolverine Course, and the Jack Nicklaus Bear Course.  I had the pleasure of playing The Bear and The Wolverine during my stay.

The Wolverine Course (Gary Player Design)

Rooms/Suites

Grand Traverse offers various rooms in their tower and hotel as well as condos and suites.  I stayed in the tower and my room was very spacious, warm, roomy, and comfortable.  Plus I could watch the golf courses from an eagle’s vantage point (image below).

Room With a View (of the golf course!)

Amenities

Other than golf the resort offers WiFi, HDTV’s, two indoor and outdoor pools, three outdoor and one indoor hot tub, indoor water playground, private beach club, spa, salon, large fitness center, tennis courts, day care, nearby gaming/casino, business center, watercraft rental.

Marketplace

I did some shopping in the Marketplace during my stay.  There are numerous shops offering all sorts of great gifts, apparel and more.

Lobby

Dining

There are five restaurants and lounges at Grand Traverse.  I enjoyed a couple of meals at The Grille, which is conveniently located near the golf, the place I need it.  The foot there was very well prepared, with generous portions and a great selection.

On the fancy night out I enjoyed the 5-star Aerie Restaurant and Lounge, which is one of the highest rated in Michigan.  Fantastic steak.

Staff

I found all of the staff to be very friendly, helpful, and professional.  No matter what I needed or where I was, the staff was well prepared and able to provide a great customer service experience.

Final Thoughts

You MUST plan on Michigan for your next golf getaway or a golf buddy trip.  Aside from the on property courses at Grand Traverse, there are dozens of amazing courses you can play. Check out the other Michigan golf course reviews here at Hooked on Golf Blog.  Grand Traverse Resort and Spa is a great choice for a home base on your Michigan golf trip.

Related

Grand Traverse Resort and Spa Gallery

The Bear – Jack Nicklaus Course

The Wolverine – Gary Player Course


Review: Secrets Cap Cana Resort and Spa, Dominican Republic

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.


HOG World Tour Visits Michigan’s Grand Traverse Resort Wolverine Course

Written by: Tony Korologos | Sunday, August 27th, 2017
Categories: Golf CoursesGolf For WomenTravel
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The final golf day of the 2017 Michigan HOG World Tour event took place on the Wolverine Course at Grand Traverse Resort in Traverse City.  The Wolverine is a very playable Gary Player signature design which doesn’t beat you up and as tired I was at that point it came as a relief.

I started out birdie-birdie and quickly checked out the course record, LOL. A couple more birdies on the front and I turned in a surprising 2-under 34.

Trying not to completely gag away a good round I managed a 3-over 39 on the back for a rather unexpected and welcomed round of 73, one over.  Somehow I had the green reading and speed dialed in.

I’ll be posting a full review of the Wolverine course soon.  Stay tuned.

Next up The Bear and boy was it…


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