By Ann Liguori
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One of the classiest and most elegant resorts in the world is less than three hours by air from New York. The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida, has been a destination of preference for the savvy and sophisticated traveler for over 100 years. The Breakers has it all – a gorgeous beachfront location where the sun shines and temperatures are conducive for all of us athletes, who do not like to be confined to an indoor gym to get our work out in.
There is nothing quite like starting your day doing laps in one of five-headed, oceanfront pools. There are two fitness centers but I prefer a run on the beach along the gorgeous, multi-blue colored Atlantic Ocean coastline.
After a swim and a jog, grab one of the bicycles at the Family Entertainment Center and explore the picturesque city of Palm Beach. I always like to bike from the resort past the beautiful Bethesda by the Sea Episcopal Church to Worth Avenue to check out the designer storefronts and boutiques. From Worth Avenue, I continue to bike toward the Palm Beach Marina to check out the mega yachts and sport fishers.
And if you love to golf, you will be more than pleased. There are two, 18-hole golf courses – The Ocean Course with a sprawling clubhouse located across the street from the hotel entrance and The Breakers Rees Jones Course at Breakers West, about a 20 minute drive due west of The Breakers. The Ocean Course is tight. At 6,187 yards from the tips, it’s not long by today’s standards but the narrow fairways and small greens make this course challenging. It was originally designed in 1896 by Alexander Findlay and believed to be the oldest 18-hole golf course in Florida. The Ocean Course was redesigned by architect Brian Silva in 2000 but still retains its Old World charm. The Breakers Rees Jones course opened in 2004 and is named for the architect who designed it. This course is 7,104 yards from the tips and features 150 acres of foliage, bunkers and lots of water! The undulating fairways, raised putting surfaces and slopping greens make it a difficult test.
Rees Jones’ design team took on quite the project.
The entire infrastructure of the golf course was replaced. The project included rebuilt green and tee complexes. A new state of the art irrigation system was added. New cart paths were installed. In addition, the drainage characteristics of the entire golf course were readdressed. The water level in all of the lakes was lowered approximately a foot, new lakes were added, all of the fairways were regraded, and an entirely new network of drainage was installed. In addition, all of the exotic plant species were removed and the golf course was extensively re-landscaped
The project was awarded Renovation of the Year for 2004 by Golf, Inc. Magazine.
“I believe the Breakers – Rees Jones Course really showcases my philosophy of green design in particular,” explains Jones. “The greens are very diversified; each provides you with unique choices. They are set on angles that will give you a choice between using the open entrance or flirting with strategic bunkers to reach a particular hole location. The green surfaces themselves have distinct sections separated by subtle valleys and ridges that make reaching the proper section a birdie opportunity while reaching the wrong section leaves a difficult putt. I think you’ll find the course plays differently every day, depending on the hole location.”
I played this course Wednesday afternoon on a record high temperature day for April with the thermometer topping out in the high nineties. We started on the back and to my delight, I drained a 25 footer for birdie on the par five, tenth hole. On the 16th hole, I hit one of the best bunker shots of my life. The bunkers are quite deep and I was forty-feet away from the pin. My shot landed softly about a foot from the hole and rolled into the cup! Funny thing is, I was raking the bunker and did not see the ball go in, thinking it had stopped close to the hole. When I walked up and onto the green, you could imagine my delight when I discovered the ball had found its way into the cup! It was another birdie and what a bunker shot! I was so thrilled, I emailed Rees Jones from my blackberry to share my joy!
One of the nice features of this course is the fact that there are as many as six tee boxes so the course can accommodate any level of golfer.
And if you want to work on your game, The Breakers offers instruction through the John Webster Golf Academy. For an analysis of your swing, the Academy utilizes the Titleist Performance Monitor, using lasers, cameras and computers to provide all kinds of information about your swing and how to improve it.
And as much as I love to play tennis, there was unfortunately not enough time to smack the ball around but for all you tennis buffs, the resort offers ten, lighted Hard-Tru tennis courts.
I like to eat as much as I enjoy golfing. With nine restaurants and six bars, it’s not difficult to find a menu that pleases your palette.
Leave time to explore the interior of the hotel and learn about its incredible history. Henry Morrison Flagler founded the hotel in the late 1800’s. The Italian Renaissance architecture and design is gorgeous and transports you to the grandeur of Italian palaces. Architect Leonard Schultze designed the Main Lobby after the Palazzo Carrega in Genoa. The architects of The Breakers, Schultze and Weaver, were trained in the Beaux-Arts method of design. You may recognize their names and styles with several other luxury hotels they designed: The Pierre Hotel, the Sherry Netherlands and the Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan. One area is more beautiful than the next, from the ballrooms and dining rooms to the hallways, courtyards and the Tapestry Bar. One can get lost in the hotel’s history and opulence.
And if you are an athlete, you’ll never run out of options to work out and play in splendor!
Be sure to visit Ann’s web site at www.annliguori.com and order DVD copies of her interview shows with top personalities in sports and entertainment.