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» Featured Columnists | By Scott Kauffman | October 30, 2009 8:15 AM ET

Jack Nicklaus to Open New Punta Mita Bahia Golf Course

(PUNTA MITA, MEXICO) -- Punta Mita, one of Mexico's most luxurious resort and residential communities, is preparing for the opening of its newest Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, Punta Mita Bahia.

The opening ceremony, to be held November 16, will feature Nicklaus hitting the ceremonial tee shot. This is the second course Nicklaus has designed for Punta Mita. Nicklaus' first course was Punta Mita Pacifico, which opened in 1999 and boasts the only natural par-3 ocean island hole in the world. Both courses are part of the private Punta Mita Club de Golf, exclusively for Punta Mita homeowners and guests.

Located 28 miles north of the Puerto Vallarta International Airport, Punta Mita is set on a peninsula with 9.5 miles of unspoiled beaches on the Pacific Ocean and the Banderas Bay. The new 18-hole championship course features breathtaking views of the blue-green sea, made even more spectacular from December to April when migrating humpback whales can easily be spotted from shore. In all, Bahia boasts five holes that play along the ocean and an additional two with ocean views.

"You would be hard-pressed to ask for a more beautiful backdrop for a golf course than Punta Mita," Nicklaus said. "To be given spectacular oceanfront land as a canvas not once, but twice, here at Punta Mita is exciting for a designer, and it reflects a commitment from ownership to provide a memorable golf experience.  I'm confident people are going to enjoy the challenge and beauty of this golf course, as well as the incredible scenery."

"With the addition of our second Jack Nicklaus Signature Course, we've transformed from a luxury destination with golf to a world-class golfing destination," says Andres Rossetto, managing director of resort development for Punta Mita and DINE, Mexico's premier real estate development company. "The superlative Nicklaus golf not only adds to the leisure options but to the excellent investment potential for buyers as well."  

Undulating greens and fairways make Bahia challenging but fun to play.  Stretching 7,035 yards, this par-72 course features Miniverde greens constructed to USGA standards, Bermuda fairways and lush tropical landscaping. Its layout includes five par 3s, eight par 4s and five par 5s. Fairways wind around Punta Mita's residential communities and the luxurious St. Regis Punta Mita Resort.

Two of the most memorable holes of this new course are Nos. 15 and 17.  The approach shot of the 462-yard, par-4 15th hole affords full views of the Banderas Bay and the Puerto Vallarta skyline. Its green has a tricky drop-off with a deep bunker on the left side.  Hole No. 17, a 387-yard par 4, is a short dogleg left, which follows the contour of a cove and requires a carry over rocks and sand to a small waterfront green.

Punta Mita's par-72 Pacifico course (7,104 yards) offers equally stunning views, with eight ocean-side holes. Its defining feature is the one-of-a-kind alternate Hole 3b, called Tail of the Whale. Players tee off from the shore to the hole 199 yards away on a natural island in the Pacific Ocean. At low tide, a submerged stone path to the green becomes passable.

The Punta Mita Club de Golf is exclusively for Punta Mita homeowners, those renting a Punta Mita residence, and guests of Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita and St. Regis Punta Mita Resort. It features well-appointed men's and women's locker rooms, a pro shop and the Tail of the Whale restaurant and bar, serving light fare.  The club also has a comprehensive practice facility and can schedule lessons with golf pros. On the course, the club's staff is readily available to provide anything from a cool scented towel, to cocktails, to a delicious snack or meal.

Punta Mita is a private and secure 1,500-acre gated resort and residential community that is home to  luxury villas and condos for rent and sale, many of which are located along the golf courses. Those who rent or own a home in Punta Mita have access to additional community amenities, including a tennis center and a Residents' Beach Club, which features two swimming pools, spa cabanas, a restaurant, and more. Punta Mita also offers two five-star resorts--the new St. Regis Punta Mita Resort and the Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, which, in 2008, was voted the "No. 1 Golf Resort in North America and the U.K." by readers of Condé Nast Traveler.  

Harlequin Hotels & Resorts Prepares to Launch Flagship Property in Caribbean

(ST. VINCENT/GRENADINES) -- The world of super-luxury resorts is about to have a new player called Harlequin Hotels & Resorts. The company's debut venture in North America, Buccament Bay Beach Resort, is located here in the Caribbean and marks the first major tourism development in St. Vincent & The Grenadines.

The islands' first luxury five-star resort is nearing completion and Harlequin Hotels & Resorts confirms  the July 1, 2010 Phase I opening is on schedule. Approximately 369 rooms will be available for occupancy at this time and the majority of the resort's amenities will be open.

The multi-million dollar Buccament Bay development occupies a 98-acre site, and is situated on the southwest coast of St. Vincent, one of the Windward Islands located 100 miles west of Barbados. St. Vincent & The Grenadines are an archipelago of 32 small islands and cays known as "The Jewels of the Caribbean.

Among the planned highlights at Buccament Bay: guestrooms and suites; 12 restaurants, including dining experiences by well-known Trader Vic's; a tennis academy headed by Wimbledon Champion, Pat Cash; England's Liverpool Football Club's Soccer Schools; a Cricket Academy; The Island Sanctuary Spa; The Kids Club; a world-class marina offering 24 berths for cruising yachts, including mega-yacht berths that can accommodate vessels up to 250 ft.; and numerous other amenities suited for the discriminating traveler.

In addition to the exquisite hotel rooms, suites and villas, the resort property will offer property investment options in terms of elegant beachfront cabanas and stately plantation homes for those looking to own a piece of paradise.

Harlequin Hotels & Resorts, which fast is emerging as one of the leading developers in the Caribbean, soon will be regarded as one of the world's top 5-star hotel and resort providers, according to Dave Ames, chairman and founder of Harlequin. With the Buccament Bay Beach Resort, Ames is fulfilling a lifelong dream of creating a top-tier hotel group linked with admired sports ambassadors and premier brand name restaurants, while providing the highest level of superior customer service, lifestyle and comfort for those who appreciate the very best in life.

"Harlequin Hotels & Resorts has set out to define a new standard of luxury, notably in our first ventures in the Caribbean," Ames said. "Our flagship Buccament Bay Beach Resort reflects Harlequin's uncompromising commitment to quality, service and the finest amenities that today's discriminating vacationer should expect. This hotel will stand up against any other 5-star hotel anywhere in the world."

Ames confirms that seven resorts of similar standard are planned in the Caribbean and Brazil and he anticipates that 60 percent of the rooms will be filled by guests from the U.S. and Canada and that United Kingdom and European travelers will occupy the remaining 40 percent.

A unique business model is being followed at all of Harlequin's properties, including partnerships with the renowned Spanish hotel chain OASIS, which will be operating the resorts.

Several of the Harlequin resorts will also feature a golf course designed by Hall of Fame golfer, Gary Player. The first Gary Player Signature Golf Course will complement Harlequin's Marquis Estate resort on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. A 2013 opening of The Marquis Estate is envisioned.

A commitment to social responsibility and protection of natural resources and the environment are important tenets of Harlequin's corporate philosophy. Already 1,000 local residents have been working on the Buccament Bay construction site and more than 1,000 new jobs will be filled once the resort is fully open.

St. Vincent is easily reached by most major airlines from key markets in the United States and Canada. Estimated travel time from Miami is 3.5 hours; New York, 4 hours; and Toronto, 5 hours. Once the new Argyle International Airport is completed in 2012, direct non-stop flights will be available from all over the world. Guests booking a stay at Buccament Bay Beach Resort for next July will fly to St. Lucia, complete customs and be transported via high-speed boat to the island of St. Vincent.

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