JUAN DOLIO, Dominican Republic -- The name Guavaberry Golf &
Country Club doesn't register with many golfers in the U.S., but
executives of this Gary Player signature course here are hoping to
The 7,156-yard, par-72 course near Santo Domingo recently
celebrated its first full year of operation. The course is 20
minutes from the capital city's airport and less than a two-hour
flight from Miami.
Club executives also play up the relationship with Hilton
Hotels. Golfers stay at the nearby 548-room Costa Caribe Coral by
Hilton. The resort and the golf course are owned by Coral Hotels
& Resorts, a Dominican company that joined forces with Hilton
to market and promote its four inclusive resorts as one brand,
Coral by Hilton.
"Americans know the Hilton name," said Tomas Hungria, general
manager of Guavaberry. "It's a name that should help us appeal to
the U.S. market."
The other name with appeal is Gary Player, who has won more than
160 golf tournaments, including the Grand Slam. Player also has
designed more than 200 golf courses around the world, including
some premier properties in the U.S.
The 998-acre Guavaberry course, set in rolling terrain in the
southeastern Dominican Republic, should live up to golfers'
expectations of a Player course. Fairways are wide and lined with
tropical plants, and the property's coral deposits were
incorporated into the course to create natural bunkers.
Each hole has five tees, ensuring the course is challenging yet
fair for golfers of all levels. Several U.S. golfers who have
played the course described it as "very friendly." Classes and
lessons are available.
Hole 13 is the course's signature hole -- a 146-yard, par-3
carved out of an old limestone quarry with a waterfall. Hole 15 is
a challenging 155-yard, par-3 with an island green in the middle of
a 12-million-gallon lake -- the only hole of its kind in the
Guavaberry's large practice area includes a driving range, two
pitching greens, a putting green and three practice holes.
The multistory Spanish-style clubhouse has balconies, a gourmet
restaurant, a terrace bar, a swimming pool and several tennis
Coral Hotels & Resorts built Guavaberry for $45 million; $8
million alone went into the golf course. And they're not done yet:
About 600 residences and a beach club soon will be part of the
project. In addition, a second golf course and an equestrian center
are planned for 2005.
"We see Guavaberry as a premier golf destination in the
Dominican Republic and Caribbean over the next few years," said
That's an ambitious plan, given the competition from other
Caribbean golf resorts. But Guavaberry does have some advantages,
including good access from the U.S.
American Airlines has direct flights to Santo Domingo from
Boston; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Miami; New York; and Philadelphia.
Continental offers direct service from Newark.
In addition, the Dominican Republic is one of the least
expensive Caribbean countries. "Golfers can stay and play here for
a lot less than in Puerto Rico, for example," said Hungria.
Guavaberry also is 90 minutes from what some golfers still
consider the best course in the region -- Pete Dye's Teeth of the
Dog course at Casa de Campo at the eastern end of the island.
Historic Santo Domingo, the oldest city in the Americas, is less
than an hour's drive in the other direction.
There's also plenty to do at the inclusive resort, a 10-minute
drive from the course. Costa Caribe Coral by Hilton has a casino, a
beach, several pools and tennis courts, buffet and gourmet
The three-night Gary Player Style golf package is priced from
$465 per person, double, through Dec. 23. Children ages 6 to 12 are
The golf portion includes roundtrip daily golf course transfers,
three rounds of golf with cart, welcome drinks, club storage and
one basket of balls each day for the practice range.
The resort portion covers roundtrip airport transfers,
accommodations, meals and alcoholic beverages, land and water
sports, a kids' club and use of the gym, sauna and Jacuzzi.
Commission is 10%.
For information, call (809) 333-4653 or visit www.guavaberrygolf.com.
To contact the reporter who wrote this story, send e-mail to
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