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|Turtle Bay Resort works in harmony with Oahu's gorgeous North Shore and its signature natural resource, the ocean waves. (Jason Scott Deegan/TravelGolf)|
OAHU, Hawaii -- Variety defines the three golf resorts on Oahu.
Turtle Bay Resort, the Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki and the JW Marriott Ihilani Ko Olina Resort & Spa are all located in completely different environments. All three deliver completely different experiences, and, therefore, cater to slightly different audiences.
Golfers will love all three, but who you're traveling with might make all the difference in the world on the trip. Here's a look:
The well conditioned Palmer Course, a former LPGA TOUR and Champions Tour host, plays resort friendly with a few tough approach shots over water sprinkled in for effect. The Fazio Course serves up a few more glimpses of the ocean with fewer shot-making demands.
Turtle Bay Resort works in harmony with the gorgeous North Shore and its signature natural resource, the ocean waves. Hollywood loves the natural setting, filming more than 150 TV series and movies on location. Guests can take a surf lesson at the Hans Hedemann Surf School of Oahu or sit safely on the bleachers on the sidelines, watching more experienced people tackle the challenge.
The beach, set in a sheltered cove, and the pool complex, featuring a separate pool and waterslide for children, are great for families. A 2011 renovation refreshed the resort's lobby and introduced Surfer, The Bar. Ongoing through the end of 2013 are enhancements to all 397 guestrooms, the 21 Degrees North and Palm Terrace/Leonardo's restaurants, the fitness center and Spa Luana.
The resort sits isolated from the rest of the island. The best options are to visit Haleiwa for a day touring and shopping in a historic town and eating the famous shaved ice at the Matsumoto Grocery Store. Or go check out the mega-waves of Banzai pipeline or eat from a shrimp truck.
Who loves it best? Surfers and golfers, followed closely by families and couples. It's pretty versatile.
A free shuttle runs to the playable Hawaii Prince Golf Club, a 27-hole Arnold Palmer/Ed Seay design 40 minutes away in Ewa Beach. If you have a car, the excellent Ewa Beach Golf Club sits less than a mile right down the road closer to the beach. It is located on one of the driest, sunniest spots on the entire island.
Staying at the Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki is all about reveling in the hustle and bustle of Honolulu and Waikiki. All of the rooms and suites in its two towers face the Pacific Ocean and the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor, as does a rooftop pool and hot tub on the fifth floor.
The supply of restaurants within walking distance is endless, although the hotel's Prince Court restaurant serves up a fantastic seafood buffet for dinner (along with lunch and breakfast buffets as well).
However, the time and effort it takes to get to the course will turn some off.
Who loves it best? Couples and buddies who like the urban nightlife, restaurants and shopping.
Across the street from the Marriott, Ko Olina Golf Club began hosting LPGA events in the 1990s, including the latest version, the LOTTE Championship, in 2012 and 2013. Architect Ted Robinson created a pretty palette for golf, accented by flowers, man-made waterfalls and rock landscaping.
Afterwards, splurge on dinner at Roy's Ko Olina Restaurant next to the clubhouse. Kapolei Golf Club, site of the Pacific Links Championship, a new Champions Tour event, is nearby as well.
Ko Olina, a resort community on the dry and sunny leeward side of the island, translates in Hawaiian to "place of joy." Adjacent to four secluded ocean coves, the Marriott certainly follows that mantra. The hotel's unique design showcases a collection of salt-water ponds filled with reef sharks and sting rays.
All 387 guest rooms and suites were refreshed in 2011. Visit the Ihilani Spa, refurbished in 2010, for a traditional Hawaiian lomi lomi massage or a seawater soak in a jetted tub. It will set the world right again. Paradise Cove, an interactive Hawaiian luau, and the Wet'n'Wild outdoor water park are fun family diversions nearby.
Does the resort have any weaknesses? Only the lack of ocean views from the golf courses.
Who loves it best? Families first, followed by couples (women will love the spa) and golfers.
March 5, 2013
Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
The Golf Advisor Top 50 courses in the U.S., compiled by ratings and reviews from golfers, were announced on Golf Channel's Morning Drive.
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