His beady eyes leered lustily at the redhead. She was so nervous, she squawked. No, this was not a scene at the lobby Ibar, but in one of the many waterways at the PGA National Resort and Spa where a gator was scouting a common moorhen during our leisurely stroll on the spacious grounds. Unless you are a native Floridian, there is nothing common about the variety of beautiful birds in this sanctuary. On our return, both the bird and gator had disappeared, nature’s secret, much like the resort itself. Somewhat overlooked on lists, this is an over the top destination for any conference, family or friends to consider.
The long, lush entrance drive sets the stage for plentiful pleasures. The wide open reception area blends into the lobby Ibar that is abuzz with sports screens, mingling and live music. The entire length is open to the terrific view of the palm lined stately pool outside, the centerpiece of the resort, with its immense Roman archways and sculptured lizards on columns.
90 holes of golf afford a fairway view from every corner and what can be better than walking a tournament course with a caddy that includes the famous Bear Trap? At time of publication, the winner of the Honda Classic will be awarded and we will have watched with new enthusiasm, remembering on each hole, where our ball lied in comparison with the legendary players. It’s always exciting when the grandstands are going up and the employees regale with stories of past events. The Champions course is a Tom and George Fazio original, re-designed by Jack Nicklaus in 1990 with the Bear Trap paying him tribute. The series of holes 15-17 sandwich a long par 4 between two par 3s all requiring carries over water. Any famous golfer may succumb to its claws. Add wind and you have a perfect combination for nerve tightening swings that either devour or delight.
After golf, work your kinks out at the European Spa, starting with the Waters of the World. First enter the warm Dead Sea salts pool for muscle relaxation, then the Pyrenees Mineral waters from France for skin toning and finish with the pulsation of the Jacuzzi, indoors or out. More tension is relieved by the dry and wet saunas along with a shower that has umpteen nozzles. Among the many treatments offered, the Swedish massage will leave you bumping into walls with limpness.
Hungry? Nine restaurants answer the question, “What do you get when you cross an Irish chef with one from New Orleans?” Cuisine choices without boundaries and delectable flavors, such as the blackened snapper with the perfect blend of spices and texture, bacon wrapped shrimp that are huge and sweet, or tenderloin that melts in your mouth.
Burn the calories on the tennis courts, booming with pairings or at the most comprehensive workout facilities we have experienced, with the latest equipment, activities, and personal trainers. Or back to golf, The Squire course has more birds wading through the water and a chance on every hole for errant balls to become a gator gulp. Flat as most of Florida is, the sporadic wind is the only elevated element. Hole 13 is tricky as you may hit the ball over the water, just to have it sucked back in. Rounding out the golf challenges are The Haig, The Palmer and the Estates Courses. You will want to play them all.
“Not a bad shot” on any of the courses means dry and particle free. If you find yourself in too many bunkers, it may be a sign to head to the beach. The luxurious zero entry pool setting is so divine, you don’t need the beach, but five miles away, you can go for it. Jupiter Beach is the closest for a quiet encounter or Del Rey Beach has more “action”, while Palm Beach Island is the place to admire the latest Bentleys.
Instead, you could stay and hone your golf skills with a lesson at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy or Dave Pelz Scoring Game School. Multiple driving ranges and putting greens facilitate practice to perfect your swing.
The PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens has so many acres of recreational options, you never have to leave and never get bored. Conveniently close to 3 airports, for more information about PGA National Resort & Spa, please visit www.pgaresort.com, or call (800) 533.9386.