Florida Stay & Play

Great Getaways That Aren’t Far Away

Florida Stay & PlayThere is the Florida we’ve all heard about and visited many times before; destinations that roll off our tongue and memories that come quickly to mind. There is, however, another Florida that for many remains a mystery. We're talking about places where the same beauty and adventure await, but without the sense of “been there, done that.” Perhaps then, now is the time to meet those parts of the Sunshine State.

It could be as short as an overnight excursion, or a mid-week surprise. How about a weekend near the water, or a week-long opportunity you’ve put off way too long? Whatever the trip, Florida’s backyard is waiting, with great golf values and Stay-and-Play packages that can make your summertime getaway a whole lot more about relaxation and a lot less about relocation!And what a backyard it is. The National Golf Foundation reports there are still more than 100 more public courses in Florida than any other state. And you’d think Florida would have all the great golf courses it could handle already, but the NGF’s latest numbers show that there were twice as many course openings in Florida than any other state in 2006, with 50 percent more courses under construction than any other state in 2007. Clearly, the future of Florida golf is bright, and who better to take advantage of all this golf than Floridians themselves?


Florida Stay & PlayA perfect example of what you can find just outside the metro areas that get so much attention is a place that calls itself “Florida’s Best Kept Secret,” yet is within two hours of nearly every major Florida attraction – golf or otherwise. Highlands County, just inland from the Gulf and just south of metro Orlando, features 15 courses around the Avon Park, Sebring and Lake Placid areas.

Nestled beside a nature conservancy and a 260-acre lake stocked with fish near Sebring, Highlands Ridge might be the Florida respite you’ll want to escape to forever. Included in this active adult, age-restricted community are 36 holes of championship golf woven through golf villas that promise 100 percent maintenance-free living. The Native Florida North Course winds its way under moss-covered oaks and through a nature preserve while the Legendary South Course has a more orthern feel to it as it rolls over the terrain of “the ridge.” If you think old Florida charm mixed with modern amenities tucked away from all the traffic sounds like a winning combination, visit www.highlandsridge.com.


While many think of the Naples/Marco Island area as a luxuriously peaceful enclave for lovers of art, nature and solitude (and they’d be right), there are also more than 200 golf courses in Collier (Naples) and Lee (Ft. Myers) counties. In fact, Naples is second nationally to Myrtle Beach in the amount of golf available per resident, meaning there’s more room for visitors to play here than anywhere in Florida, especially during what many consider the “off” season for tourist golf.

With so much to offer, the question is where to stay while you play all that available golf? In either French or Spanish, “Trianon” suggests a special place with pleasant surroundings, beauty and balance. You’ll likely find “trianon” means pretty much the same thing in English when you arrive at the Trianon Hotel - Bonita Bay on the lakefront entrance to the upscale Bonita Bay community in Bonita Springs. This boutique hotel features 100 spacious guestrooms around a heated pool, just minutes from the Gulf. In addition to providing a memorable stay, the staff at Trianon is glad to arrange golf for you at any of the dozens of courses we told you were out there (a quick visit to www.naples.golfersguide.com can help with that particular choice). For more information and reservations at the Trianon-Bonita Bay, visit www.trianon.com.

Florida Stay & PlayIf your preference is to stay-and-play right outside your condominium door, GreenLinks Golf Resort features 200 one-, two- and threebedroom suites with kitchens, separate living and dining areas, multiple cable TVs and a private screened balcony. The Players Club & Spa at Lely Resort has a spa on par with the best that Naples has to offer, and the on-site golf is truly remarkable.

The Lely Flamingo Island Club is the only Robert Trent Jones, Sr. signature course in Naples. Golfweek has twice designated this course as one of “America’s Best.” With hourglass fairways, fingered bunkering and large, undulating greens, this course provides a different challenge every time you play it. And the picturesque par-3 fifth, the “Flamingo Island” hole, is unforgettable.

Flamingo’s sister course, the Lely Mustang, is pure Lee Trevino — challenging and fun. Like Trevino’s style of play, Mustang makes you think, but always gives you a chance to recover from an errant shot, and if you’re successful, laugh all the way to the green. Punctuated by 12 sparkling lakes, the Mustang flows across undulating fairways and through stands of towering Florida pines. Visit www.greenlinksnaples.com for more information.

Located just minutes from the sandy Gulf beaches and the upscale shopping and boutiques of downtown Naples, the Quality Inn & Suites Golf Resort is a first class, family-friendly Golf Resort with a full array of amenities and recreational activities for all. The Resort offers 180 spacious rooms, including one and two bedroom suites. Right on site is the par-72 Dick Wilson/Joe Lee-designed Golden Gate Country Club.

Florida Stay & PlayChallenging to the experienced golfer while still accommodating to the novice, Golden Gate has plenty of water hazards and over 50 strategically-placed bunkers in a very aesthetically pleasing layout. Also offered is a lighted driving range and putting green for post-round relaxation. For more information, visit www.naplesgolfresort.com.

From Naples to the Panhandle, Amelia Island to Miami and all points in between (especially those suggested above), Florida’s golf options are second to none. With only half the population of California, the Sunshine State still has 30 percent more golf holes, and this summer might be just the time to play some different ones. Call it supporting the local economy, research for future visits from your northern friends or just the vacation you’ve deserved for a long time, you just might remember the experience for much longer than it took you to take it.


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