A spa that breaks a sweat: Turnberry Isle Resort in Miami
AVENTURA, Fla. -- The new year may have you thinking about a revamped effort to improve your health and fitness. Some golf resorts do it better than others, and a golf trip to hard-bodied Miami and the Turnberry Isle can get you on the fast track.
Fairmont properties worldwide offer Willow Stream Spas, but none are designed to make you sweat quite like the facility at Turnberry Isle. Other Willow Streams, like Mexico's Fairmont Mayakoba on the Riviera Maya, provide a relaxed luxury retreat.
Turnberry Isle veers toward up-tempo and athletic, rather than a pampering, feel-goodery.
A steady stream of runners dot the three-mile pedestrian path that encircles the resort. You'll see roller-bladers and bikers, too, many showing off as much skin as is street legal under the South Florida sun. Back indoors at the Willow Stream Spa, Fairmont recently pumped $150,000 strictly into the spa's fitness center, frequented by Fairmont guests and those who live in the master-planned Turnberry Isle community.
Gym upgrades were specifically aimed at the golfer. There's the addition of a Keiser Triple Trainer and an Advanced Motion Measurement 3-D Golf System that analyzes your golf swing and looks for methods to decrease the chance of injury.
I also received a fitness evaluation and treatment from Pete Bommarito of Pete Bommarito Performance Systems, another new addition to the Willow Stream Spa. Pro athletes from a variety of sports train here with Bommarito, as do local aspiring pros. But Bommarito's crew has come to Turnberry Isle to give special attention to Joe Golfer as well.
Bommarito looked at my posture and biomechanics. He identified some limitations in my movement to the left side and worked to get it in sync with the strength of with my right. It's easy for one side of the body to lose balance with the other, especially when you play golf and sit in airplanes often, as I had in the weeks prior to my visit.
The philosophy behind the biomechanics is simple: A sound body with a full range of motion result in a better golf swing.
Bommarito and the revamped Willow Stream contribute to Turnberry Isle's effort to enhance the golf-instruction experience at the resort, part of The Golf Academy.
The school focuses on improving the golfer's four building blocks: short game, management, ball striking and mental aspects. A tuned, fit body will help the management component, while the golf instructors focus on the remaining shortfalls.
The Willow Stream Spa treatment menu includes a golfer's massage, which I dutifully took tried. The masseuse wasn't trying to soothe me into a sedated, heavenly state so much as gear my muscles into peak shape for sport.
Redesigned golf courses at Turnberry Isle
Once you've tuned your body with Bommarito and your golf swing at the Golf Academy, it's time to take on the resort's two 18-hole golf courses.
Robert Trent Jones Sr. originally designed both golf courses for their opening in 1971. But they were entirely rebuilt at the hands of Raymond Floyd and his design team in 2007. To create more rolling definition and aesthetics, Floy aletered 700,000 cubic yards of soil. No inch of the grounds went untouched.
Newly named after the developer of Turnberry Isle, the Soffer Course is the Alpha Dog of the pair, boasting a back-tee yardage of more than 7,000 and a slope/rating that is still plenty tough from the 6,600-yard middle-back set. Narrow, water-lined fairways are the norm here, if for no reason other than to squeeze 36 holes onto such a prime real estate just a par 5 off the ocean.
Turnberry Isle's Miller Course is a shorter, more player-friendly layout, maxing out at 6,400 yards.
In terms of beauty, the Miller Course is right on par with its big brother. Both feature mighty waterfalls, capped by the 64-footer beside the Soffer's 18th hole, also equipped with an island green.
The golf courses feature the same tour-quality conditions. During the redesign, they were reseeded with paspalum turf, and the result is a playing surface much firmer and faster than you might expect in South Florida, especially on the greens.
The greens will win over any serious golfer, but area birds seems to have found a new home, too. They're ever present, part of the design plan to construct an Audubon-sanctioned refuge. Flamingo Island was built within one of the golf course's large ponds to ensure resident flamingos with a safe area to nest and nurture.
With forecaddies assigned to each foursome, the result is a posh day on the golf course.
Stay and play: Turnberry Isle
To play the private Miller and Soffer golf courses, you'll need to be the guest of a member or a guest of the Turnberry Isle Resort, which overlooks the golf courses.
The resort, with nearly 400 rooms, underwent a $100 million transformation that included the upgrading of each guest room and the public areas. You could spend all day at the redone pool area, which includes a lazy river, water slide and plenty of spots to lay out and darken your skin.
The hotel sits just a sniff off the ocean and a quick walk or shuttle to the resort's Ocean Club, home to private cabanas and a cafe.
For dining, stay on the property or make the short walk to the Aventura Mall, which features everything from a food court to fine dining. Also nearby is the Yard House in Hallendale Beach, where beer and sports lovers can enjoy a massive selection of tap beers, plus lunch and dinner dishes well above the normal pub fare.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Turnberry Isle Resort is now part of the Marriott Autograph Collection.
January 24, 2011