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Elevated summer golf: The Coeur D'Alene Resort & Spa in northern Idaho

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Long-known for its floating green and a location beside one of the northwest's favorite lakes, The Coeur D'Alene Resort & Spa is sporting a fresh look after major renovations.

COEUR D'ALENE, Id. -- The famous island green that floats atop Lake Coeur D'Alene just scratches the surface as far as just how much The Coeur D'Alene Resort & Spa embraces its location beside one of the northwest's most alluring lakes. Even activities traditionally suited for dry land have a knack of finding their way onto the water. 

The wealth of ways to enjoy the lake -- including one of the region's top courses -- along with the resort's recent major upgrades, make it a top destination for those looking to play golf and a whole lot more.

Coeur D

Originally opened in the 1980s, the resort spent the last several years upgrading amenities, highlighted by tripling the size of the fitness center. The lobby area was redesigned, which included the addition of a giant fish tank stocked with giant koi, installed as the centerpiece. The lobby bar, Whispers, was redesigned and opened up as well to blend in with the lobby more and create more activity.

It's a first impression that shows the property, owned by the Hagadone family since it's opening in 1986, is keeping up with the times quite nicely. But you're not coming to Coeur D'Alene for much of anything indoors, at least in the summertime. You want the crisp, dry air of 2,100-foot elevation and the scenery of the Bitteroot Mountains that encircle the lake. 

Most resort activities takes place dockside or can be reached by boat. In fact, there isn't much need for a rental car, as the hotel is smack dab in the heart of downtown Coeur D'Alene. Residents with a motor boat, or guests who rent one from the resort, can even happy hour bar-hop to lakefront spots like Eddie's at Gozzer Ranch. Or, outdoor tour company Row Adventures shuttles guests to other excursions beyond the lake, like cycling the legendary Hiawatha Trail

Dockside, one of the resort's dining concepts, lures guests down first thing in the morning for a hot breakfast and cool lakeside breeze to breakfast on a boat. The resort even introduced 'Paddleboard Yoga,' blending together two of the hottest outdoor crazes, and makes 'sun salutations' and 'downward-dog' maneuvers all that more difficult to pull off.

The resort's water theme extends to the spa in a most refreshing way. After a day outdoors, the resort's spa awaits with one of the more uniquely satisfying treatments. Massages are followed by five minutes in a 15-point shower with a choreographed sequence of sprays and fluctuating water temperatures, which should have your entire body sufficiently loosey-goosey by dinnertime.

Among the various dining venues at the resort, the top draw is located on the hotel's seventh floor, Beverly's. When the elevator doors open, a floor-to-ceiling wine rack showcases just part of a $1.5 million, 16,000-bottle wine collection, which they claim to be the largest in the Northwest. The sommelier will be happy to guide you through daily tastings, while the dinner menu showcases a mix of fish and meats like buffalo tenderloin to pair a glass or bottle with.

Golf beyond the floating green at Coeur D'Alene

Coeur D

The Coeur D'Alene Resort Golf Course sports plenty of innovations, beginning with a water taxi from the resort across the lake to the clubhouse. From here, golfers warm up by hitting floater balls from the shore back out into the water. For those tensing up at the thought of watching balls repeatedly splash prior to their round, a range-side masseuse awaits golfers who need a quick rubdown prior to teeing off (range massages are included in certain packages).

The club's golf carts are customized with sporty trim, rims and hidden storage compartments, including a large cooler in the front, and resemble the decked out rides you might find on at a posh private club somewhere in Palm Springs. On the course, the fairways are unblemished, thanks to the fact carts are never allowed on them (forecaddies come along with every group), and rakes are even kept underground in small compartments beside sand traps to stay well out of sight.

But despite these novelties, the golf course has classic bones. With a traditional parkland setting set on modest acreage, it's routing is easily walkable with a caddie. And while the island green steals the show, each par 3 here is a standout. The front side, in fact, has three par 3s in four holes, each of which are remarkable in their own right. The short third hole tip-toes atop a small beach beside the lake. The fifth, which was enhanced during the course's renovation in 2003, is a short but devilish wedge shot to a boomerang-shaped green surrounded by one giant bunker, whose edges are accented with rock outcroppings. Finally, the par-3 sixth hole plays from an elevated tee straight downhill with the lake as a backdrop. All three could warrant themselves the signature hole - or at the very least the title of 'best par 3' if it weren't for the 15,000-square-foot marvel sitting off shore.

More golf around Coeur D'Alene: Circling Raven Golf Club

Circling Raven

Coeur D'Alene has become a hotbed of high-end, private golf courses in recent years, particularly with the addition of Black Rock and Gozzer Ranch. But golfers can enjoy a handful of standout public plays in the area as well.

About 30 minutes to the south of the resort in Worley, the Coeur D'Alene Native American tribe (who own the southern third of the lake) crafted their own casino resort, home to Circling Raven Golf Club.

Circling Raven showcases the expansive, open spaces of northern Idaho country. There are 650 acres of rolling hills and low-lying wetlands, where wheat fields and forests make for a surreally peaceful environment. On the back nine, no two holes play parallel and golfers get the sense they're the only group around for miles.

Circling Raven and Coeur D'Alene are darling complements to one another: whereas Coeur D'Alene is a picture perfect, lakefront resort-style course, Circling Raven is a little more of a golfer's golf course, with some great risk-reward tee shots and meatier par 3s and top-notch practice facility.

In addition to Circling Raven, other nearby plays are the Jack Nicklaus-designed Idaho Club and Palouse Ridge. Spokane residents will proudly proclaim they have one of the best value-laden summer golf scenes in the U.S., home to such muni standouts as historic Indian Canyon, which was built in the 1930s.

For online tee times in the Spokane area and greater washington and northern Idaho, visit GolfNow.com.

Getting to Coeur D'Alene

The Coeur D'Alene Resort & Spa is located on the northern shore of Lake Coeur D'Alene, 30 miles east of Spokane International Airport (GEG), which is served by the likes of Southwest, United and Delta and connects to many airport hubs in the west.

www.CDAResort.com