I’ve been to Punta Cana many times but I have never had the chance to stay at the Iberostar, nor play some of the great golf in the area. That changed a couple of weeks ago with a generous invite from Karel Gomez, Director of Sales Americas - Golf & Sports for Iberostar.
I was one of 7 tour operators lucky enough to be asked to join Karel, and his team, for 3 nights (well, I stretched it to 4!) at their amazing all-inclusive resort. As I mentioned, I have been to Punta Cana many times, and to many other all-inclusive resorts in other countries, but Iberostar’s offering is second to none.
Iberostar offers something for every client with what can really only be described as 5 resorts in 1 complex. Options range from the entry level offering Iberostar Bavaro, though to Iberostar Selection, and topping out at the Iberostar Grand Bavaro (a truly 5* plus experience). At both Selection and Grand Bavaro, you can upgrade to Coral Level sections which offer private dining options, lounges, exclusive areas on the beach, and other amenities not available to the other guests.
Selection and Grand were where we spent the vast majority of our time on the trip. Beautiful landscaping and architecture are complemented by an amazing beach and too many food and beverage options to list. I will highlight though that we were treated to dinner in the Selection Coral Level private beach restaurant one evening (patio on the beach, fresh seafood, great wine and company – not a bad evening) as well as a final closing dinner at the private Coral Level restaurant at the Grand. With a steakhouse dinner in between, we were truly treated to world class cuisine.
Evening entertainment ranges from music and shows, to casino and discos, quiet tucked away bars and my personal favourite at the Grand – a fully stocked cigar bar serving a very fine Tito’s martini!
For all of you reading this, golf is the real driver for your trips and while we didn’t get to play everything, I did get to play 3 of the top courses in the area.
On the resort is the Bavaro Golf Club. This perfectly maintained course is an inland style course that takes full advantage of the rolling hills, lush forest, plentiful sand, and ponds / lakes to deliver a memorable golf experience. Wide fairways, and few forced carries, mean that anyone can play the course but scoring on this course is not easy if you don’t position the ball well off the tee. Multiple bunkers and large, fast greens pose a challenge for even the best golfers.
A short 30-minute drive away from Iberostar is a course many will recognize from the PGA Tour – Corales Golf Club.
Corales is very different than the Iberostar resort course. Hard by the sea, Corales is set between rocky cliffs, coral reefs and the expansive Caribbean Sea and features six sea front holes. While the sea front holes are the big draw, many of the inland holes are the toughest, and scenic, holes you will play on your visit. Like Bavaro, the course is generous off the tee (well mostly, that pesky sea is a bit of a challenge on a couple of shots!) but tough approaching the green so enjoy the scenery and don’t get to upset by a slightly higher than normal score – the views more than make up for it!
While we didn’t get the chance to play it, located directly on the Caribbean Sea, the P.B. Dye designed La Cana Golf Course, consisting of 27-hole course featuring 14 holes with sea views, is located on the same property and, by all accounts, a great golf experience.
The last course in the area I was able to play was a bonus. While not part of the tour, a couple of us were able to get onto Punta Espada just before flying home (and many thanks to my fellow tour operator for letting me weasel in on the round – it was much appreciated!)
We played Punta Espada the day after playing what I assumed would be the best course on the trip (Teeth of the Dog – see the other newsletter article for thoughts on that great course).
I am in no way suggesting Teeth of the Dog it not a great course – it is one of the best courses I have ever played. It is just that Punta Espada was jaw dropping in my opinion (it was quite a weekend playing them on back-to-back days!), and that is even with us playing them on aerated tee and greens (it is peak maintenance season in the DR now).
Eight holes play along, and over (and the over part was like nothing I have seen) the sea and from almost any point on the course, you have unsurpassed view of the Caribbean Sea. Just know you will not play well here but that is ok. The wind is strong, and the views are just too distracting to focus on playing well. Take out your camera, get some great pictures (our caddy told us he basically feels like his second job IS professional photographer based on the number of pictures he takes EVERY round) and enjoy what will be one of the most memorable rounds of your golfing life.
There is no reason to write more about the course – just check out this videos and make sure you go there sometime!
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After having been in Punta Cana so many times on family vacations, it was a real treat to stay at the Iberostar and have the opportunity to play these great courses. In the past, I have managed to sneak in a few rounds at some pretty good courses in the area, and always enjoyed the hospitality, weather and beaches of this perfect winter getaway destination, but until I had the opportunity to play this trio of courses, and experience the luxury of the Iberostar Selection and Grand properties, I definitely did not appreciate the great golf destination that Punta Cana can be.
If you need a winter golf getaway, get in touch with us and we can put together a package that will not only get you warm in the winter, but create golf memories or a lifetime.