Both of us are big fans of the exotic, retro and luxurious Fairmont Pierre Marques hotel, just 20 minutes from downtown Acapulco. Built in 1957 as the private retreat of multi-billionaire J. Paul Getty, this resort feels like a secluded country club. Guest rooms slumber amid tropical gardens while three swimming pools overlook Revolcadero Beach, the longest and least populated in Acapulco.
The jewels of the resort are two 18-hole golf courses: the gorgeous Princess course, surrounded by a stone and wrought iron wall covered in bougainvillea; and the Marques, a championship course, remodeled by Robert Trent Jones. The Marques, in particular, is a bird-watcher’s paradise with plenty of challenging carries over water, especially on the last five holes. But whether you’re golfing or sunning, you won’t find a more genial staff anywhere — from the marshal on the golf course who’ll help you fish for your lost ball, to the singing maid who leaves hibiscus blossoms on your pillow, to the waiters who positively beam while they refill your coffee for the fourth time.
Not to be missed is a trip to the La Quebrada in the old part of town, where cliff divers have been performing since the 1930s. We suggest the evening show when the torch-bearing athletes dive from a rugged cliff 35 metres high and disappear into the dark narrow and shallow (only 12 feet deep) chasm below. It’s truly a remarkable feat, one that makes golf seem like such an easy game.
Seven nights at the Pierre Marques start at $2,169, including airfare from Toronto, transfers to and from hotel, all meals, $350 (U.S.) beverage credit, daily activities and a round of golf per day at either course. It’s a deal considering that the greens fees alone at similar courses could run you $100 a round. Mandatory carts are extra. Book this “almost all-inclusive” Sunquest Vacation through your travel agent.
East Coast swing
Closer to home, Prince Edward Island is no small potato when it comes to golf. Our tiniest province boasts 30 courses. No wonder that Score magazine named the province as Canada’s top golf destination, and Golf Digest included it among its scorecard of the world’s 50 top golf destinations.
Despite all that acclaim, resort owners are practically giving away golf packages, especially in October and May shoulder seasons. At Rustico Resort, for example, $149 per person buys you three nights in a motel on the beach in the off season, breakfast daily, four days of unlimited golf on the resort’s 18-hole course and your choice of a round at any of the island’s courses, including the acclaimed Links at Crowbush Cove. Considering that greens fees at an average course cost more than $100, this is a steal. Of course, you can always tie on a bib and spend your savings on one of the island’s renowned lobster suppers. Call 1-888-PEI-PLAY or visit www.peiplay.com.
Aglow in the snow
Where can you wave your kids off on a supervised dogsled ride while you and your partner cosy up, brandies in hand, by a three-story six-sided fireplace? Or do lengths in an Art Deco pool before breakfast, immerse yourself in sea salt before lunch, lace up your skates on a frozen lake before tea, and then hear sleigh bells jingling as a team of horses pull you through the woods after dinner? Only one place that we know of: the Fairmont Le Château Montebello resort.
Situated between Ottawa and Montreal and within an easy day’s drive from Toronto, this cedar château was the slightly crazed dream of Swiss-American Harold Saddlemire. Back in 1930, he kept 3,500 workers laboring around the clock to fashion 10,000 cedar logs into the largest log cabin in existence. The resort has retained its woodsy atmosphere while adding modern spa and sports facilities. Especially in the winter months, it’s one of the best — and most reasonable — family getaways we know.
The Family Fun package, available between Jan. 2 and March 21, costs $350 per adult (up to two kids under 18 stay free) and includes curling, sleigh ride and 30-minute massage, two-night’s accommodation, daily breakfasts, two dinners, children’s activity program and one family admission to nearby Oméga Park, home to wolves and wapiti. In case that’s not enough, active types can enjoy the resort’s cross-country skiing, swimming, tennis, squash, skating and free entertainment. Between Dec. 1 and 22, their Winter Wonderland package gives you one night’s stay, full breakfast and Table d’hôte dinner for $155 per person. Call 819-423-6341, 1-800-441-1414 or visit www.fairmont.com.
From the November 2003 issue.