Luckily for Tampa Bay area residents, 45 holes of golf’s dreamiest Caribbean treasures are close by, alongside the Dominican Republic’s east coast at Puntacana Resort & Club. Here, small-ball enthusiasts find three challenging nine-hole courses (Tortuga, Hacienda and Arrecife) at the P.B. Dye-designed La Cana Golf Course and another 18 holes at the DR’s jewel, Corales Golf Course, designed by Tom Fazio.
Home to the 2020 PGA TOUR Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship, the Corales course thrills players with no less than six oceanside holes and plenty of opportunities to go low. Host professional of golf, and Corales operations, Jay Overton is a friendly and familiar face Tampa Bay area golfers will immediately recognize when visiting. Overton was the director of golf for three decades at Palm Harbor’s Innisbrook Resort.
Rock-star VIP service
The Puntacana Resort’s 26 square miles of properties, and reserve, provide patrons with many diversions beyond the links. Kitesurfing, paddle boarding, beachside yoga, tennis, Segway touring and scuba diving are easily arranged. Or, curl up with a breezy beach novel and settle in at Playa Blanca. With its smooth, fine sand it’s easy to see where the white beach gets its name.
Spa-seekers need look no further than the resort’s Six Senses Spa where pampering is decidedly not optional. The holistic mind/body approach to services, and distinctive Zen vibe, leave customers centered, refreshed and renewed through treatments such as Pure Oxygen Antioxidant Facial and Punta Cana Signature Massage with local coconut oil.
Eco-minded patrons are sure to revel in visiting the Grupo Puntacana Foundation. This 1,500-acre ecological park, reserve and research facility carries out environmental initiatives such as sustainable aquaculture, beekeeping, coral reef preservation and programs protecting indigenous animals and birds, such as local iguanas and the Ridgeway’s Hawk. Daily tours are offered, with special birder tours and visits to the spring-fed lagoons are especially popular.
Diners enjoy impeccable service, a comprehensive wine list with surprising global selections including reds from Chile and Argentina, and a casual elegance that make meals here memorable.
The resort’s Don Queco Cigar Bar is a must for aficionados of the best island cigars, made extra special when accompanied by a fabled DR rum. A well-stocked humidor tempts with hand-rolled beauties from renowned makers such as Charles Parker, Davidoff and Vivonte. When paired with the finest Dominican rum (Ron Barcelo Imperial, anyone?), there’s no better way to close a day in the islands.