Earlier this year, I made my first visit to the Marco Island Marriott in southwest Florida, and it turned out to be one of my “top finds” of 2011. Now comes news that the Marriott has acquired Hammock Bay Golf Course to complement The Rookery at Marco, its existing course.
The courses are located off-site – The Rookery is nine miles inland, Hammock Bay six miles away – and will alternate daily between members-only play and member-and-guest play. Green fees will range from $79 to $179, depending on the season.
Hammock Bay is a 7,080-yard layout designed by Peter Jacobsen and Jim Hardy. It should be a good addition to an already-impressive resort.
A few years ago, a friend urged me to visit Marco Island to see the Gulf-front Marriott and The Rookery. Once I visited, I could understand his enthusiasm for the property.
The Marco Island Marriott is simply fabulous – one of the best oceanfront resorts I’ve seen in Florida. The resort went through a $225 million renovation that was completed in 2007 and was billed as the largest capital investment ever to an existing Marriott property. What you’re left with is considerable: 727 exceedingly comfortable rooms, 10 acres of private beachfront and a 24,000-square-foot spa. It struck me as a place that held equal appeal for couples and families. (The NFL Players Association held meetings there shortly after I visited in March, and it’s safe to say those guys don’t scrimp when they travel.)
Some of those remodeling dollars were spent on The Rookery, which is a thoroughly entertaining course in the best tradition of Florida architecture. There is water on 15 holes – including an island green on the par-5 15th and the lovely little par-3 16th over water – yet you won’t walk away feeling battered.
It’s also simply a pleasant communing-with-nature experience, owing perhaps to its proximity to the Rookery Bay Reserve, a 110,000-acre sanctuary of mangroves and protected waters. Sightings of bald eagles and other exotic species are not uncommon.
Upon returning from Marco Island this past spring, I told my friend who had recommended the resort that I could understand his enthusiasm for the property. It’s a bit of a “sleeper,” but one well worth checking out, particularly with the addition of Hammock Bay.