Florida layouts team with exotic bird life, glittering natural lakes and sunbathing alligators. Service comes with a smile and the standard of food and accommodation at the largest golf resort in the region, the Ritz Carlton, is outstanding.
The coastline here along the gulf of Mexico is tranquil, with waves gently lapping at the white sand. Greg Norman designed, Tiburon have tempted golfers away from Orlando.
Greg Norman had to come up with something pretty special for the design of his three 18-hole championship courses which surround the new luxury resort of Tiburon.
Appropriately, Tiburon is the Spanish word for Norman’s nickname and logo – the shark – a lighting fast fish showing no mercy to its prey. The same could be said for the greens at Tiburon. Combined with the challenging water hazards which seem to come into play at almost every hole Tiburon is no push-over.
The complex has been carved out of 800 acres of dense tropical foliage and parts are designated as a wildlife sanctuary.
There are four tee positions for every hole and carts are equipped with a well-planned GPS system, which is constantly updated to give players accurate distances to the daily pin position.
Tiburon has host the PGA Tour-sanctioned Franklin Templeton Shark Shootout, attracting some of the world’s top tour players. Practice facilities are complemented by a high-tech golf teaching academy.
The mansion-style clubhouse is located just a short walk from a five-star Ritz-Carlton resort hotel, where guests get priority tee times and reduced green fees.
Each of the 295 guest rooms is elegantly appointed and has private balconies with panoramic views of the golf course. Resort amenities include two restaurants, gourmet coffee shop, card room, billiards room, cigar bar, lobby lounge and an elegant club level. Additional recreation includes a heated outdoor pool, fitness centre, tennis, Ritz Kids and use of the services and amenities at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples.
Although Tiburon is one of the region’s most expensive courses during the high season (January – April) rates can drop dramatically during the hot summer months, particularly for later tee times.
The Naples Grande golf resort is located on three miles of sandy beach and has a waterpark which is great fun for big and small kids and a great way of cooling down after things start to heat up on the Par-72 course set in a tropical landscape.
Naples lies 29 miles due south of Southwest Florida international airport at Fort Myers. United Airlines (0845 8444777 www.united.com) has connecting flights from London Heathrow to Fort Myers and the resort is a two-hour drive from Miami.
Information about golf courses and accommodation in the Gulf of Mexico area can be found at www.wcigolf.com