The par-3 7th at El Camaleon Golf Club (Fairmont Resorts)
PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico – While much of the golf world this week is focused on the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship near Tucson, Ariz., the rest of the PGA Tour isn't taking the week off. But they're not exactly toiling either at the Mayakoba Golf Classic on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.
The ordinary guys – like rookie sensation Jhonattan Vegas and last week's Northern Trust winner, Aaron Baddeley – get a pretty good deal this week, spending it basking in the Caribbean sun on the Riviera Maya about 40 minutes south of Cancun. They're playing a pretty fair golf course, the five-year-old paspalum-grassed El Camaleon Golf Club, a Greg Norman design that winds its way through natural mangroves with a couple of stops along the ocean.
But more importantly, perhaps, the tournament affords the field an opportunity to bring their families or girlfriends down for a super relaxing vacation.
This 240-acre nature preserve, set among the territory of the ancient Mayan people, is one of a kind. Throughout the Mayakoba Resort (pronounced Myah'kobah locally) are miles of man-made canals, which were dug through the limestone to reveal crystal clear water that harbors a unique ecosystem.
Guests of the Fairmont Mayakoba can take a guided cruise around the resort on beautiful mahogany boats, getting a close-up view of the hundreds of species of birds, fish and iguanas that make their home here. They can also get around the resort riding $1,800 BMW bicycles, which are parked throughout the property for everybody's use, or simply walk along the miles of white sandy beaches.
The Fairmont Mayakoba, where 80 percent of the tour players are staying this week, pampers as well as any stop on the PGA Tour. The staff members, not surprisingly, are eager to please. Accommodations range from luxurious to super luxurious, offering rooms and suites along the lagoons as well as the golf course, with some overlooking the beach, complete with rooftop dip pools. There's a wonderful full-service spa, state-of-the-art fitness center, countless swimming pools, and four exceptional restaurants.
And speaking of dining, tour players and their guests will have to look far and wide to find another resort that matches the AAA five-star Fairmont Mayakoba's culinary delights. With the ocean at its back door, guests can enjoy a variety of fresh ceviches, game fish and tuna, but it doesn't end there. There's New Latin cuisine, outstanding steaks and short ribs, an awesome breakfast buffet featuring fresh tropical fruits and juices, and one of the best clubhouse menus you'll find anywhere at the El Camaleon Golf Club.
In short, missing out on the WGC-Accenture Match Play isn't such a bad deal if you're settling for the Mayakoba Golf Classic and Fairmont Mayakoba Resort. After all, it’s the only PGA Tour event in Mexico, so it’s no surprise they did it up right.