Hilton Garden Inn at PGA Village offers golfers plenty of creature comforts
The Hilton Garden Inn at PGA Village in Port St. Lucie offers Florida golfers a convenient and upscale hotel option when playing the PGA of America's three golf courses, working on their swing at the PGA Learning Center or even taking in a New York Mets Spring Training baseball game nearby.
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Coming to this sleepy Florida town -- a place that's basically only on the map because of New York Mets Spring Training -- you don't expect much in terms of accommodations.
It's Port St. Lucie. The hotel's probably going to be serviceable, but disappointing.
The Hilton Garden Inn at PGA Village quickly crushes those preconceived notions -- in a good way. Opened in November 2006, this hotel is bound to surprise golfers and baseball fans alike with its comfortable rooms and everything-under-one-roof mantra.
Hilton Garden Inn, you sneer. No, really, tell us something that's believable.
No, really. Hilton Garden Inn at PGA Village stands up as a high-end quality stay in a town where you expect the room to be the lodging version of a soggy ballpark hot dog.
It's that surprisingly good.
"If we're not the nicest Hilton Garden Inn in the entire chain, we're certainly in the top two," General Manager Michael Dahlam said.
Dahlam's not just giving the usual corporate happy speak. Everything's new at the Hilton Garden Inn at PGA Village, which means the beds are comfortable with mattress sag non-existent, the carpets are stainless and the furniture in the surprisingly large lobby cozy.
"If we do our due diligence with preventive maintenance, we should be a step ahead," Dahlam said, stooping down to snag a piece of lint under a cushiony lobby chair.
Suddenly, a golf maniac's heaven in the Florida hinterlands -- Port St. Lucie boasts three courses at the PGA Village and an unparalleled 35-acre practice facility in the PGA Learning Center -- has a hotel where discerning travelers will not mind staying for a while.
"A big reason why the PGA of America came here is because we were the only game in town," PGA Village Head Professional David Trout said. "Now we're sort of seeing the area grow up around us."
The Hilton Garden Inn is growing into the most golf centric hotel in the region. It's right across the street from the PGA Learning Center. It's right at the entrance to the PGA Village, putting the clubhouse to the three courses a two-minute drive away.
Thanks to a deal with the PGA of America, it's also becoming something of an impromptu golf laboratory.
With a small stake in the hotel, the PGA has all of the pros visiting the village or Learning Center for classes stay at the Hilton Garden Inn now. Scenes of golf pros and young would-be pros gathering in the lobby, going over something, early in the morning or late in the afternoon are common.
You have a great chance of literally bumping into someone who could give you a golf lesson.
When you do, you might be carrying a load full of laundry. The hotel has a coin-operated washer and dryer down the hallway from the lobby, which -- as any frequent traveler knows -- can be a Godsend. It's also something that's extremely rare in a higher end hotel.
The little things just might make your stay at the Hilton Garden Inn at PGA Village: The free wireless Internet in all the rooms. The phone call from the front desk 10 minutes after you check in to make sure everything is all right with the room. The refrigerator in the room to store those leftovers and the microwave to reheat them, too. The workout room that's open 24-7.
These people seem to realize that golfers don't have a lot of free time to waste. Not when they're trying to get in 36 a day or attempting to test out all nine different types of sand in the practice bunkers at the Learning Center.
"We're definitely geared toward the leisure market," Dahlam said. "Golfers are a major priority."
No surprise then that the restaurant is a Sam Snead's. Golf memorabilia fills the walls and dark wood booths give it something of a steakhouse look. The restaurant was still a week from opening on this visit, but Dahlam says it's going to be "a little more upscale than your average Sam Snead's."
Spend any time in Port St. Lucie and you'll quickly realize any new restaurant is a welcome addition. The PGA Village and Learning Center have served as sort of a golf monastery through most of their existence. This is where hardcore golfers go to work on their games with no chance for distraction.
Hilton Garden Inn at PGA Village is changing that at least a little. Don't look now, but there is suddenly a very comfortable place to chill in the hours you're not locked in on your swing. There's even a big high-definition TV in the lobby to go with the flat screens in the rooms.
Then again, you might not want to mention all this to your golf instructor.
April 17, 2007