Mayakoba has something for everybody Greg Norman design course is a challenge

A nasty, into the wind par-3 skirts the ocean.

If you’re looking for a top flight golf experience as well as a great family vacation location then the tropical paradise of Mayakoba, Mexico has it all.

There’s never a bad time of year to visit Mayakoba and eachf year in November you can catch the PGA in action.

The 260-acre Fairmont Mayakoba is the just a short drive from Cancun and boasts an all inclusive complex that includes the PGA caliber El Camaleon Golf Club and a bevy of family friendly activities including bleached-white sand beaches, five fresh water swimming pools and meandering, turquoise blue waterways that are home to abundant wildlife.

“Mayakoba is quickly earning the reputation as one of the best golf destinations for the golfer who also wants to bring their family along for a great vacation,” said Jorge Franssen, Director of Marketing for El Camaleon. “There are so many things for a family to do here; we have that rare combination of golf and extraordinary non-golf activities.”

There are also seven other golf courses located within a 30 minute drive of what is known as the “Mayan Trail,” including the TPC Cancun, Riviera Maya Golf Club and the Golf Club at Playacar.

El Camaleon has become one of the favorite courses among PGA touring pros since it began hosting the Mayakoba Golf Classic in 2007.

“We have one of the finest golf courses anywhere and a great practice facility,” said Yayoi Garcia, Golf Sales and Marketing Executive with the Greg

Norman designed El Camaleon course. “We have a 70 person fulltime grounds crew which means the golf course is in perfect condition year round.”

Surrounded by thick mangrove forests and tropical jungles, with crystal clear lagoons and canals lining many holes, El Camaleon is quick to please right off the first tee of the 500-yard plus par 5. Lurking just beyond driving distance for most amateurs is a humongous sinkhole or as they’re called in Mexico, a cenote, smack dab in the middle of the fairway. Because the golf course is built on limestone, there a numerous cenotes, but none as massive or menacing as the behemoth on number one.

With all of its natural beauty, it’s hard to stay focused on El Camaleon especially on the signature par-3, 15 hole, which is nestled adjacent to the beach of the Caribbean Sea. Hitting directly into a husky wind off the ocean ups the ante for the tee shot.

The mangroves and jungles, which protect Mayakoba from destructive hurricanes, are home to an array of wildlife including more than 270 species of birds, iguanas, crocodiles, monkeys and assorted other creatures that often sun themselves on the limestone rocks or frolic on the fairways.

Like most seaside golf courses, El Camaleon features paspalum greens that putt slightly slower. The greens feature subtle, often hidden breaks, but clean contact will produce an even roll.

Norman’s design has done an admirable job keeping the features of each hole interesting.

On the 5th, a par 5 at 554 yards, is bordered on the left by a sparkling waterway and once on the green, you see a gentle pond and a row of casitas of the Fairmont Mayakoba. Mangrove stands protect the hole all along the right side.

Number three is a short, 389-yard par 4 that challenges amateurs with two forced carries over water, making it the most intimidating hole on the front side. The entire hole is collared by mangroves and the green is elevated with large, deep bunkers on the right.

Hole 16 is a monster 450-yard-plus par 4 with mangroves lurking on both sides. A generous sized green sits left to right, but has bunkers both right and left so iron accuracy is a must.

Because of the dense jungle, mangroves and water features, be prepared to say ‘adios’ to a lot of golf balls on El Camaleon. Errant shots quickly disappear, with little prospect of being found.

For help with your game, El Camaleon is home to the Jim McLean Golf School that features a full driving range, putting greens and short game practice complex.

There’s no better place to decompress from the rigors of El Camaleon than the Fairmont Mayakoba resort. A gentle 40-minute cruise of the lagoons on an electric powered boat takes you thru limestone caverns and mangrove stands. On the banks of the canals you’ll see Pacific crocodiles and numerous freshwater fowl.

One of the best stress reducers is beer and chocolate. In Mayan culture, chocolate was one of their most value possessions so at the Fairmont Willow Stream Spa, the chocolate addict can be satisfied with the Chocolate, Food of the Gods full body treatment.

Follow the treatment with the Fairmont’s Mexican craft beer tasting activity that includes a selection of four “cervezas artesanales” that embody aromas of orange, vanilla and even chocolate.

“We have perfect golf and perfect days and nights of fine dining and activities.” Said Stuart McColl, Regional Director of Marketing for the Fairmont. “It’s all here.”

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