Fairways By the Sea

In Los Cabos, Play by Suzanne Koch

Fairways By the Sea – Luxury Golf and Real Estate Options Growing in Los Cabos
By Tom Mackin

After weathering both economic and meteorological storms over the past five years, the golf landscape of Los Cabos has emerged stronger than ever with a number of new luxury developments that blend the casual, flip-flop wearing spirit the area is known for with a new level of amenities and sophistication.

Long a favored destination of celebrities—starting in the 1950s and continuing today with the likes of George Clooney, Cindy Crawford and Jennifer Aniston, who are often spotted at exclusive resorts like One&Only Palmilla, Esperanza, An Auberge Resort and Las Ventanas al Paraíso, a Rosewood Hotel—the area’s weather and easy access also draws golfers to courses located between San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas.

The person perhaps most responsible for putting the area on the golf destination map is Jack Nicklaus, who is now accountable for six courses in Los Cabos dating back to 1992. His most recent effort debuted last year at Quivira, a growing luxury real estate development on the Pacific Ocean side of Los Cabos, just a mile from the city’s marina and nightlife center of Cabo San Lucas.

The setting at Quivira—on property formerly known as “Hidden Paradise”—is simply spectacular. After a benign opening of four holes, a five-minute, uphill cart ride takes golfers to one of the more unusual holes Nicklaus—or anyone for that matter—has ever built: a 310-yard par 4, sharp dogleg left that plunges downhill to a green perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific. It lingers precariously on the line between great and confounding; pictures barely do it justice. Two par 3s (the 180-yard 6th and 148-yard 13th) are other coastal stunners, while the 12th hole is a 635-yard Z-shaped par 5 that tumbles downward from an elevated tee to a green perched near the beach. Even with wide fairways, strong winds mean you likely won’t leave the 7,139-yard layout with a new personal best score, but enjoying the views is much more important than marking down your scores.

“If you’re going to do something, you better do it really well,” says Jose Luis Mogollon, director of real estate and project director for Quivira. “In Cabo you compete against the world. That’s the reality. People who come here can get on a plane and go pretty much wherever they want. So you can’t just settle for OK. When people come here, they usually play three courses on average. We wanted to be one of those three.”

Quivira Golf Club, which debuted in December of 2014, is open to members and guests at the nearby Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort, Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach Golf & Spa Resort and the Montecristo Estates Luxury Villas and, in Cabo San Lucas, Pueblo Bonito Rosé Resort & Spa and Pueblo Bonito Los Cabos. Quivira is the centerpiece of a 1,800-acre community, which features a variety of real estate options, including Copala (with seven residential towers, condos and homes) and Coronado, a soon-to-be-built collection of single-level hacienda-style homes starting at $1.5 million.

Look northward from Quivira’s 11th tee, and you’ll see numerous holes at Diamante Cabo San Lucas, another luxury real estate development that features two private courses: the Dunes Course by Davis Love III and El Cardonal, the first course ever designed by Tiger Woods. The former is ranked 38th in the world by Golf Magazine, thanks in part to a routing that flows through a memorable dunescape, with frequent views of the nearby Pacific. Wood’s course is on less dramatic property upland from the sea but is a solid design debut with notable long-distance, panoramic views.

El Dorado Hole 16

El Dorado Hoyo 16

Diamante CEO and developer Ken Jowdy says service has been the cornerstone of the community’s success. “This is a large enough property and community to have multiple products that can appeal to a wide spectrum of potential clients and members,” he says. “The common denominator that ties all of the products within the community together is our service standards. We strive to make sure that each and every owner and guest receives the highest level of service possible when within our walls. We believe that the best way to market and sell our project is by making sure that every person who chooses to spend time with us at our resort goes home happy and looking forward to their return.”

Although buyers were primarily golf-centric when the project started in 2010, Diamante now appeals to the full spectrum of luxury vacationers, including couples, families and groups of friends. “The Dunes course was the only amenity available on-site initially,” says Jowdy. “Now, with two golf courses, a 10-acre man-made lagoon, a state-of-the-art health and fitness center, spa, and multiple bars and restaurants, we have something for all vacationers and home buyers.”

The next phases for Diamante include a 12-acre beachfront resort and real estate development, a 90-acre luxury branded beachfront hotel and real estate development, a sports and recreation facility, a “Village” boutique shopping center, and a third Woods-designed golf course designed.

El Dorado Golf & Beach Club is a private members club loaded with amenities that appeal to the very high-end buyer. The 7,322-yard Nicklaus-designed course debuted in 1999, but the purchase in 2005 by Discovery Land Company has taken both the golf and real estate options to a new level. The surrounding community includes custom home sites, beach villas, golf villas and casitas. In addition, comfort stations, that are essentially mini-restaurants, loaded with food and drink—a hallmark of every Discovery Land Company course, including Estancia in Arizona, The Madison Club in La Quinta, California and Bakers Bay in the Bahamas—are another enticing feature.

“We continue to develop at El Dorado Golf & Beach Club and offer a variety of product including estate lots and built product with plans to build more villas in the hilltop area,” says Mike Meldman, CEO of Discovery Land Company.

An exclusively private 18-hole course designed by world-renowed architect, Tom Fazio, is the centerpiece of Querencia, a luxury residential community. Access is limited to club members and their guests by invitation only, and how lucky they are to play an adventurous layout in pristine condition. The course, which opened in 2000 and is ranked the second best course in Mexico by Golfweek (just behind the Dunes Course at Diamante), is set on an inland piece of property, with numerous ravines and washes spread throughout the 7,050-yard layout. Real estate options in the 1,800-acre community include condominiums, single-family homes and home sites.

Quivira Holes 5 & 6

Quivira Hoyos 5 & 6

Puerto Los Cabos is unlike any other course in the world—since 2008 it has been comprised of a front nine (The Mission Course) designed by Greg Norman and a back nine (The Marina Course) by Nicklaus. The latter will add a second nine holes in 2016 to form an 18-hole course, while a second nine by Norman will be completed in the future. In addition to soon having 27 holes, the accommodation options here are also growing. A 299-room JW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort & Spa—with a Café des Artistes restaurant—opened in October, and current plans call for a Ritz Carlton Reserve Hotel with 124 oceanfront villas to open in early 2017.

The golf options in Los Cabos are not solely restricted to members, however. Cabo Del Sol has two courses open to the public. Since it opened in 1994, the Nicklaus-designed Ocean Course has set the standard for golf in the area. Multiple holes along the ocean on both nines—but especially the spectacular par 3 17th—garner plenty of attention. It was joined in 2001 by Tom Weiskopf’s Desert Course, making it a memorable 36-hole experience and a must play for visiting golfers.

“People come to Cabo for a variety of reasons,” says Jose Luis Mogollon. “Amazing weather, great food and great service. But it was born as a fishing town and then when golf arrived, it quickly became one of the most prestigious golf destinations in the world. The quality of the courses are very good, very scenic and with great designers. So it’s a memorable experience to play pretty much anywhere in Cabo.”

Jowdy adds some more reasons for the number of new developments in the region, such as proximity to a large part of the United States population, infrastructure and security.

“There is also a relatively low number of hotel rooms currently in Cabo compared to other resort destinations,” he says. “Developers around the world see all that the Cabo area has to offer. That not only has led to the current growth, but I believe there will be sustained growth in this very resilient market for many years to come.”

Meldman echoes that assessment, predicting a bright future for the area. “The most significant change would be development geared specifically to the high-end market,” he says. “In hotels we saw the expansion and remodeling of two of the best hotels in North America, Las Ventanas and Palmilla, and continued growth and development in the downtown areas and Puerto Los Cabos. Los Cabos also now has great lift options with numerous direct flights coming from major cities (including Phoenix) in the U.S., most of them just two hours away. The growth in the luxury segment and the best lift options of any resort destination in North America make Los Cabos perfectly positioned to attract new buyers over the next decade.”

Click HERE for our 10 favorite Los Cabos golf holes.

(Featured in InMexico Magazine 2016)

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