Golf Mayakoba

Course and re­sort ad­here to Mayan eco­prin­ci­ples

Metro Canada (Ottawa) - - Front Page - Brian Ken­dall For more golf des­ti­na­tions, visit Brian’s web­site at cana­di­an­golf­trav­eller.com

Is there a more en­vi­ron­men­tally unique golf re­sort in the world than Mayakoba, home of this week’s PGA Tour stop?

The show­piece of Mex­ico’s Mayan Riviera, Mayakoba in­cludes four lux­ury ho­tels as well as El Cameleón, a Greg Nor­man­designed golf course that ev­ery Novem­ber hosts the OHL Clas­sic at Mayakoba.

But what sets apart this $2.4-bil­lion US re­sort 70 kilo­me­tres south of Can­cun are ecofriendly ini­tia­tives that in­clude ad­her­ence to an an­cient Mayan forestry man­age­ment phi­los­o­phy called “so­coleo.”

Aided by bi­ol­o­gists, ge­ol­o­gists and forestry ex­perts, Norman and his team learned which trees were ex­pend­able, which were cru­cial to the ecosys­tem, and how to min­i­mize the im­pact of the cuts in weav­ing El Cameleón through the en­vi­ron­men­tally sen­si­tive jun­gle and man­grove for­est.

Norman’s tight and con­stantly chal­leng­ing 7,084-yard de­sign in­cludes two par threes that play to the edge of the re­sort’s 1.6km beach­front on the Caribbean Sea. And just off­shore is a prime stretch of the Me­soamer­i­can coral reef, se­cond in size only to Aus­tralia’s Great Bar­rier Reef.

It’s a spec­tac­u­lar set­ting made all the more strik­ing by the twist­ing man-made canals that con­nect the four lux­ury re­sorts: Fair­mont Mayakoba, Rose­wood Mayakoba, Banyan Tree Mayakoba, and An­daz Mayakoba.

Com­mon to the re­gion are cenotes, cav­erns formed over mil­len­nia by rain­wa­ter fil­ter­ing through un­der­ground lay­ers of lime­stone. Plan­ners for OHL Group, Mayakoba’s Span­ish de­vel­oper, saw that by chip­ping away the top lay­ers of rock, they could tap into the fresh­wa­ter flow­ing be­neath the sur­face and build an in­ter­con­nected sys­tem of canals through the jun­gle to serve as the re­sort’s main trans­porta­tion sys­tem.

Guests get around the 240-hectare de­vel­op­ment in thatch-roofed elec­tri­cally pow­ered boats known as lan­chas, as well as by bi­cy­cles and golf carts.

Opened in 2006, Fair­mont Mayakoba was the prop­erty’s first ho­tel and is still widely re­garded as its sig­na­ture re­sort. Set un­der a man­grove canopy, the ho­tel in­cludes 401 guest suites, many of them si­t­u­ated be­side tran­quil canals and la­goons. Wildlife boat tours are sched­uled hourly at a prop­erty that in­cludes a Wil­low Stream spa with tree­top treat­ment ar­eas.

Mayakoba of­fers gourmet restau­rants, de­signer shops and all the other at­trac­tions ex­pected at lux­ury re­sorts. But it was the 2007 ar­rival of the OHL Clas­sic at Mayakoba, Mex­ico’s first PGA Tour event, that brought the re­sort in­ter­na­tional fame and stamped the Mayan Riviera as a golf des­ti­na­tion to ri­val Los Ca­bos on the coun­try’s Pa­cific coast.

Vy­ing for at­ten­tion are pop­u­lar nearby cour­ses such as Playa Paraiso Golf Club, a hero­ically dif­fi­cult P.B. Dye lay­out; Moon Spa and Golf Club, a 27-hole Jack Nick­laus sig­na­ture de­sign; Play­acar Spa and Golf Club, a Robert von Hagge jun­gle lay­out booby-trapped with wa­ter haz­ards; and an­other Nor­man­designed beauty, Playa Mu­jeres Golf Club, fea­tur­ing a thrilling mix of la­goon and ocean-front holes.

The Mayans, a so­phis­ti­cated peo­ple who closely stud­ied the stars, never fore­told of golf’s com­ing. But with the help of their an­cient knowl­edge, the game has become a nat­u­ral fit in the jun­gle land­scape.

HANDOUT

mayakoba in­cludes four lux­ury ho­tels as well as el cameleón, a Greg Norman-de­signed golf course.

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