Golf is the soul of the PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., with fairways and greens designed by such luminaries as Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, but it is only one slice of life at this storied destination.
PGA National embraces just about every element necessary for a complete vacation, well beyond the links. This world-class getaway is just as compelling for its ravishing Spa at PGA National and the outstanding Sports and Racquet Club.
Even if you don’t tee off, you’ll be busy. Factor in luscious American gastronomy at the chi-chi Ironwood Steak and Seafood, and the social phenomenon of the iBar, which has transformed the lobby into a buzzy après-golf scene. Plus, you can shop at several fashionable sports boutiques — swim, golf, tennis and spa.
News: The PGA property has been thoroughly updated, to the tune of about $170 million. The modernization started with a voluptuous beauty of a swimming pool a decade ago; by early this year, the resort had unveiled its new lobby, renovated two golf courses (with Tom Fazio II and Nicklaus doing the designs), refurbished all accommodations, upgraded dining, overhauled the Sports and Racquet Club, revitalized the spa and created the picturesque, photo-worthy Lakeside Lawn for weddings.
PGA National is vast and dynamic, but it has intimate insider escapes, such as the serene saltwater pool at the sports club. And there are personal touches: the front desk hands out business cards so you can text if you need anything.
The bottom line is that a great deal of perks are included at PGA National, such as free tennis time between 1 and 10 p.m. and nearly 10 creative fitness classes a day, including Water Pilates, Ballet Barre and the reggae-inspired Zion Dance Fit.
The resort is so charged with vitality that the sports centre boasts almost 200 pieces of advanced cardio and weight equipment — and I saw them almost all in use at 9 a.m. by enthusiastic fitness fans.
Sleep: The accommodations are all new, top to bottom, including carpets, drapes, furniture, bedding and Simmons Black Beautyrest mattresses.
Decorated in a warm earth-toned, classic contemporary style, the choice includes luxury suites and hotel rooms; media suites, which are terrific bachelor hideaways with loungey sofas and large-screen TVs; spa suites, soothing and spacious cocoons with private massage alcoves; and golf resort villas, some of which face the 18th hole of the PGA’s prestigious Champion Course.
Spa: The Spa at PGA National is as complete as the best destination spas, with 32 treatment rooms and 100 beauty and body services, such as Hydra Facial and Bamboo Massage. The nail and hair salon is ample enough to handle everyone at a bachelorette party at the same time, and the water rituals — the indoor baths and the rejuvenating Waters of the World outdoor mineral pools — are superior spa experiences.
Eat, drink: The resort has food and drinks covered. The refurbished Bar 91 at the 19th hole fuels up golfers with “sand-wedges,” Champ burgers, chili and build-your-own hotdogs. The poolside Wave Bar and Grille delivers perky salads, milkshakes and fish tacos. The Palm Terrace puts on lavish breakfast buffets and the Spa café does superfoods like salmon and pomegranate, plus Spa-tinis muddled with fresh fruit and agave nectar instead of sugar.
The iBar lobby lounge is packed for all-day steak sandwiches, wings and shrimp salads, plus live music and dancing Thursdays through Saturdays, happy hour with such drinks as the PGA-tini, and sexy cocktails on Girls’ Night Out.
Ironwood Steak and Seafood is the new wow factor on the cuisine scene. Red leather booths add glamour, and a glass cabinet of 1,000 bottles of wine adds sophistication, featuring many choices by PGA legends-turned-vintners, including Greg Norman, Ernie Els and Nick Faldo.
Standout steaks are the Delmonico and the one-kilo Tomahawk for Two, a juicy cross of Wagyu and Black Angus beef. The Florida-fresh catch includes grouper, wahoo and red snapper, and the seafood risotto is a favourite.
Golf: Golf is right outside the door — all 90 holes (five courses) that have challenged the likes of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Gary Player and Chi Chi Rodriguez, as well as technology-driven training with an HD Golf Simulator and instruction by pros of David Leadbetter Golf Academy and Dave Pelz Scoring Game School.
Golf Magazine has named the Champion Course one of the toughest on the PGA tour, likely because of the harrowing Bear Trap, a series of three demanding holes. The celebrity-studded Honda Classic will take place Feb. 19 to 25, 2018.
IF YOU GO
Palm Beach Gardens is about 20 kilometres north of Palm Beach International Airport and about 90 kilometres north of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International.
PGA National Resort and Spa: 800-533-9386, pgaresort.com; Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Ironwood Steak and Seafood: dinner nightly from 5 p.m.
Price: Rates fluctuate. Rooms, US$159-$499; suites, US$219-$599; golf villas, US$399-$699. Rates include self-parking, shuttle around property, daily newspaper, in-room coffee, Wi-Fi, unlimited driving range balls, 24-hour business centre, 60-minute local/toll-free calls.
Fitness included: swimming pools, fitness classes, most facilities of Sports and Racquet Club, including 18 tennis courts (1 to 10 p.m.). Extra: resort fee, $25; valet parking, $30; Waters of the World/spa baths, $25, or free with $50+ treatment.
The Spa at PGA National: 800-843-7725, spaatpga.com.
Discover the Palm Beaches: 800-554-7256, 561-233-3000, thepalmbeaches.com.
Visit Florida: 888-735-2872, visitflorida.com.