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Golden Bear Lodge

Jack Nicklaus enters the hospitality market with the first hotel bearing his iconic mark, in the Dominican Republic’s resort community of Cap Cana, where the highlights include one (soon to be two) of his most spectacular courses

By: Brian McCallen

Appeared in 2011 Nicklaus Premier Clubs

Located on the east coast of the Dominican Republic, Cap Cana is a burgeoning 30,000-acre resort community that has begun to redefine the vacation experience in the Caribbean. Cap Cana took a big step toward fulfilling its goal as the next great golf destination with the November 2010 opening of the Golden Bear Lodge, the first hotel in the world to be inspired by the life and legacy of Jack Nicklaus.

Commanding a bluff overlooking the resort, the low-rise property offers panoramic views of white-sand beaches and the turquoise Caribbean Sea. But it is more than a luxury resort property; its public spaces display a trove of Nicklaus memorabilia.

A member of the Preferred Boutique collection of hotels and designed to the highest standards, the Golden Bear Lodge has several types of rooms: studios as well as suites consisting of one and two bedrooms, with ocean views. Many come with private pools, while all 91 units have patios.

Catering to sophisticated couples and families, the lodge’s amenities include two casually elegant restaurants, an infinity pool, four lighted tennis courts and a fitness center. It is also convenient to Cap Cana’s fine-dining restaurants, exclusive membership clubs, health spas, trendy boutiques, equestrian center, hiking trails and the Caribbean’s most modern and complete marina.    

Then there is the 7,396-yard Punta Espada (“Tip of the Sword”), a lush tour de force with eight holes pressed to the brink of a serrated coral shoreline washed by the pale blue sea. Several of the interior holes weave above and below a dramatic 30-foot limestone bluff.

Dotted with saltwater ponds and grotto-like cenotes, this breezy, well-groomed layout was the three-time host of the Champions Tour’s Cap Cana Championship. Assessed by Nicklaus as one of the finest sites he had ever seen for a course, Punta Espada finishes with a memorable stretch—five of the last seven holes sit along the water. Of these, the most memorable is the 13th, a heart-stopping par 3 over a wave-tossed cove to a large green, 250 yards away.

Later this year, Nicklaus will unveil a second course, to be known as Las Iguanas. Occupying a vast coral bed, Las Iguanas will present an eclectic test with three seaside holes (Nos. 12 through 14) hugging the rocky coastline. Nicklaus artfully blended this stretch with upcountry holes that skirt a nature preserve marked by indigenous vegetation, wetland settings and a series of caves that shelter iguanas and other native wildlife. 

After their rounds, golfers can relax in the Golden Bear Lodge’s watering hole, Majors Bar & Lounge. Surrounded by trophies and memorabilia celebrating Nicklaus’ long career, the bar is the perfect place for guests to tally their scores and recount their triumphs on a course that
defines the tropical golf experience.

Nicklaus began both his playing and design careers with momentous debuts. As a rookie in 1962, Nicklaus won his first PGA Tour event at the U.S. Open, beating hometown favorite Arnold Palmer in an 18-hole playoff at western Pennsylvania’s Oakmont Country Club.

Seven years later, Nicklaus teamed up with Pete Dye for his first design, Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. The Lowcountry gem, which opened to overwhelming acclaim, is one of the seminal layouts of American golf, having helped to usher in the modern age of course architecture.

Given this history, it is no surprise that the Golden Bear Lodge, Nicklaus’ first foray into the travel industry, is a resort of uncommon luxury, beauty and hospitality.

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