Appeared in Winter 2012 LINKS
NOW: Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka’upulehu
With humpback whales frolicking just offshore, the Big Island of Hawaii is a special place to visit this time of year. The Kona Coast is filled with fantastic golf resorts like Mauna Kea and Mauna Lani, but the Four Seasons is tops. At the center of it is a broad-shouldered Jack Nicklaus course routed through black lava, which provides a striking contrast with the lush grass. The ocean finish is even more outstanding. Best of all, replays and kids under 12 are free. The ample 243 rooms and suites, housed in secluded two-story bungalows, tastefully blend the indoor-outdoor lifestyle for which Hawaii is so well known (most first-floor rooms have outdoor lava-rock showers). They were all recently updated, too, as were the spa, restaurants, and grounds in a $40 million renovation. The resort also added the adults-only Palm Grove pool with a swim-up bar and shaved-ice cocktails.NEXT: La Costa Resort & Spa
Facelifts are pretty common in California, but the one at this San Diego-area institution was a little more extensive than most. Opened in 1965, the resort played host to PGA Tour pros for more than 30 years and will welcome the LPGA for the second time this March with the Kia Classic. Greeting them will be a $50 million renovation of the property, including the two Dick Wilson-designed courses. Architects Damian Pascuzzo and Jeff Brauer, along with SoCal native Steve Pate, overhauled all 18 holes of the Champions Course (formerly the North) and four holes on the South, enhancing strategy by repositioning the massive bunkers as well as improving the irrigation and drainage on these low-lying layouts. All 611 rooms and suites, as well as villas, of the Mediterranean-style hotel were also updated, as were the spa, athletic club, and lobby, which includes a new sports bar that flows out onto terraces that overlook the new pool and courses.
THEN: Gleneagles Hotel
When most people visit Scotland, they want to play the legendary links courses on the coasts, and rightly so. But this five-star resort set on 850 acres in the Perthshire countryside in the heart of Scotland is a great addition to any itinerary, especially for Ryder Cup fans since
Gleneagles will host the 2014 Matches on its Jack Nicklaus-designed PGA Centenary Course. The King’s and Queen’s courses also offer a lot of challenge and scenery, while the historic hotel itself is one of the most luxurious in the world. In addition to 232 spacious rooms and suites, there’s a world-class spa and five excellent restaurants—Fairlie’s is the only one in Scotland with a two-star Michelin rating. The country pursuits also set Gleneagles apart: a shooting school that includes archery, equestrian school, gundog school, fishing school (there are six trout lochs nearby), and falconry school—the first dedicated one in the world when it opened in 1982. —T.C.