April 26-May 3, 2008
Golf: Huatulco, a golf destination? I believe it is. Huatulco has everything that all good golf destinations have in common. It is a place where you can go for a week or two and enjoy the surroundings while you play some golf. The only negative about Huatulco as a golf destination is that it only has one golf course. This destination does offer golf at a reasonable price compared to other Mexican golf destinations.
Click here to read the review of "Campo De Golf Tangolunda"
Destination: Huatulco is a tropical location located on the Pacific Ocean in the state of Oaxaca. Oaxaca is in the southern region very close to the Guatemala border.
Huatulco was designed by the Mexican government to be their next large tourist destination.
Huatulco has nine beautiful bays lining it's coast line with a number of national parks. Within these bays there are 36 different beaches. Each one has it's own distinct characteristics but all of them have warm water and clean sandy beaches. The climate is warm, semi-humid with a year round average of 28 degrees. The easterly back drop is the southern end of the Sierra Madre Mountains. These mountains along with the ocean and bays nicely frame this lovely part of Mexico.
Huatulco is made of several different parts. The three main parts are La Crucecita (downtown), Bahia de Santa Cruz and Tangolunda Bay. La Crucecita is a lovely town with a typical zocolo, shops, markets and restaurants. Bahia de Santa Cruz has some shops and restaurants and is the area where all the tour boats depart on the day tours of the bays. Tangolunda Bay was set aside for the hotel zone. There you will find the major resorts.
During the winter months there are several tour operators that provide flights direct flights from Canada. Transat Holidays was our host for the week and they offer some excellent packages and provide outstanding service. If you are interested in Huatulco have your travel agent check the Transat Holiday prices for you.
Huatulco is a safe, clean, environmentally friendly destination for all Canadians.
Activities: Even though your primary activity will be golf you probably will not play everyday. Even if you are keen enough to play most days you will probably be free from lunch on if you tee off in the morning. You can of course just hang out at your hotel and enjoy the beach, pool and activities that your resort offers. During my week in Huatulco we took three different tours. Each one was unique.
Our first tour was a short 2 hour tour of the town and area. A great way to start your vacation as you get a good idea of the lay out and some history of the development of the planned resort. One of the stops on this trip is at a Mescal store where you get to taste all the different kinds of Mescal as well as learning how it is made.
The second tour was a day tour of the 9 bays by boat. This is a very popular activity as you get to see Huatulco from the ocean. If you like to snorkel this trip is for you. The boat stops for lunch at a small beach where the locals run a number of restaurants where you can have lunch right on the sand.
Finally we took a another day tour into the mountains with stops at a Mexican village, coffee plantation and finally a walk through the jungle for a swim in a mountain stream beneath a water fall. The drive in the morning seemed like a long one but at the end of day every one thought the day was a good one.
Hotels: There are approximately 29 hotels in the area ranging from two to five stars. Everyone should be able to find a hotel to fit their budget.
We stayed at the Las Brisas (www.brisas.com.mx) which is located in the hotel zone on Tangolunda Bay. We enjoyed our stay and I would certainly recommend this hotel. Las Brisa is located on a large property with wonderful gardens, four private beaches and great views of the bay. Since the hotel is so large they provide mini trucks to shuttle you from your accommodation to the various parts of the hotel. The staff were very friendly and helpful. Since the hotel is an all inclusive hotel there is plenty of food, drinks and activities. Given that I am a wine lover, I did have one complaint. Domestic drinks are included and international drinks cost extra. A decent bottle of wine is expensive so I decided not to purchase any during the week. They serve white and red jug wine which is not all that good. If you decide to stay here make sure you ask for ocean view and a balcony. There is nothing better then having morning morning coffee on the balcony over looking Tangolunda bay. The above picture is from their web site and shows a couple of the private beaches. You will need to take a taxi to town but it is not expensive.
The Camino Real Zaashila (www.caminoreal.com/zaashila) is another hotel that we were able to spend some time visiting. This hotel is not an all inclusive and is a five stay property. It to is located on Tangolunda Bay with spectacular ocean views. This hotel reminds me more of a Mediterranean Hotel because of its location and being white in colour. The hotel has a large beach that is protected by rocks at either end thus making it a semi private beach. You can climb around the rocks and proceed to walk the beach in front of some other beach front hotels. The hotel has many outstanding features of which two stood out for me. One was the pool. Can you imagine a 120 metre long pool where you can relax, swim and look out on the blue waters of the bay. Yes Camino Real has one of the largest pools in Mexico. The other feature of the hotel that sets it apart from the rest is the fact that 69 rooms have private plunge pools. Due to its location you can walk out the front and within a couple of blocks you will find area of small shops and restaurants. If you are not fan of all inclusive resorts then I suggest you stay at the Camino Real. You will not be disappointed.
Both of these hotels are very close to the golf course.
Dining: When dining in Huatulco make sure you order the sea food. It was fresh and delicious. I would stay away from the beef unless it is imported. Since we stayed at an all inclusive we did not experience many of the restaurants in the area. We did take a taxi into town for some shopping and ate one meal there. Did we participate in fine dining? No, we decided to have a pizza. La Crema was recommended to us and it did not disappoint. If you are a pizza fan try their house special which has sour cream as a topping. It was delicious. What could be better then a Corona and pizza over looking the zocolo.
Another eating experience presented itself on a number of occasions. The Mexicans of this area eat grasshoppers. I am sure you will find some on your table at some time during your stay. They are cooked, lightly seasoned and have a crunchy texture. They were quite good.
We did experience fine dining at the Camino Real. We had a great lunch at the sea side restaurant and an outstanding evening meal on the beach. Life is great when you are eating good food, drinking fine wine, under the stars, on a warm night with you shoes off and wiggling your toes in the sand.
If you are staying at one of the other hotels you should plan one to have one of your meals at the Camino Real Zaashila.
Campo De Golf Tangolunda, Huatulco, Mexico
The greens were in good shape, cut low and had a speed between medium and high. The fringe s were well identifiable. The green side bunkers had plenty of sand and for the most part were well trimmed. There were a few large greens that had two levels so make sure you pick the right club and stay below the hole.
The fairways were in good shape and very green. They are not the typical resort course fairways that offer generous landing areas off the tees. You will have to place your shots carefully. There is a large cement aqueduct that runs parallel to a number of fairways. I believe this required for flash floods and drainage during the rainy season. The fairways also have a number of mature tree located on the same trajectory that your ball is on. The second cut is longer and can be difficult to hit out of as the ball sometimes sinks in the grass.
All the tees were flat and angled in the right direction. There were ball washers and garbage cans along side the tees. There was nothing outstanding about the tees but the grass was good and there was no problem playing from them.
The course is situated in a valley with the mountains to the east and the ocean on the west. The design is a elongated circle with a bend around the lake as you finish you game. I can only remember two holes that were some what parallel to each other, the 13th and 14th. However the 14th is a dog leg left and 13th is not really in play. There were a number of interesting holes with 13 having the green right beside the beach. The 14th tee was also close to the beach so you got good views of the bay from these two locations. The par threes were all between 169 and 179 yards.
When comparing this course with other similar course in Mexico this one represent excellent value. Most of the hotels offer 30% discount when you book your tee times through them. I think I paid $56 for the round. Given the rates charged in other resorts in Mexico this is very good rate. The course was not crowded and you could play at your own pace.
With the fairway being a little tight and the aqueduct running along side a number of them you could get into some trouble. Water comes into play on a few holes as well. The par is 72, with index of 74.6 and 73.8. The slopes are 131 and 126 and the course plays to 6851 yards from the back tees. You can see from these figures the course can be difficult. The blue tees present more of a problem then the whites as the angles are tougher and the landing areas harder to hit. Even though the slope from the white tees is 126, I had a decent score and a good time. The holes that have a tree or two in the fairway make those holes a little more difficult. Since most of us will be playing here in our off season the temperature and humidity will add to the difficulty. Try and play early in the morning.
This course has different flora and fauna then you are used to seeing. The course is framed nicely with the mountains and hills. The two holes that were mentioned above give you a wonderful ocean view. It is too bad that there were not more holes along the beach side.
All the staff were kind and friendly however I did have a language problem but the found someone that could translate for me. They have caddies if you would like to use them. The fellow in the restaurant was very good and called a cab for me so I could get back to the hotel.
They have a attractive but small club house done of course in a Mexican design. There is a small but nice outdoor patio and a attractive bar and restaurant area. The pro shop is poorly stocked and the rental clubs were a little old. There is a pool close to the club house that might be nice to use after a your game.
The club has power carts and caddies. You can also walk the course. As mentioned they have a pool and tennis courts. The beverage cart came around quite a few times during the course of the round.
I enjoyed my round, the course and the scenery. I would certainly return for a golf vacation. I would take my clubs rather then rent and probably play 3 to 4 times during the week. I played in the afternoon and it was hot, but I had a power cart so it was not too much of a problem. Next time I will play in the morning then do the beach thing in the afternoon. There were a number of Americans around the club house that owned property in the area. When talking to them they indicated that they were members and did not mind playing with other golfers staying at the resorts.