REVIEW: Vidanta Puerto Peñasco Golf Resort, Mexico

Hidden Treasure on the Sea of Cortez
There are legends and stories of treasures buried or hidden by pirates along every sea.  If only we could find the map with an X to mark the spot where the gold and jewels could be found.  Everyone has dreamed of finding such treasures, but know that if they exist, the odds of finding them is almost none.  Finding a hidden treasure of a golf course seems to be as difficult of a task.  If there is a really great course it tends to be famous, busy and far away.  I’d like to share with you a true hidden treasure not far from golfers in the southwest.  Vidanta Puerto Peñasco is a short drive into Mexico from Phoenix or Tucson to Rocky Point.  I had never heard of the course until we made travel plans to go to the ocean.  This Jack Nicklaus Course needs to be on your radar as a “must play” golf course.  It is a hidden treasure on the Sea of Cortez.
1. Location, Location, Location
This really is the key to Vidanta Puerto Peñasco’s success and secret.  The golf resort is around 4 hours from Tucson or Phoenix so accessibility is a fairly easy drive.  The property is on a peninsula that has the Sea of Cortez on one side and a lagoon inlet/estuary on the other side.  It has a massive beach and the course is built on rolling sand dunes.  The setting is perfect for vacation and golf.  But since it is in Mexico it doesn’t get the press or publicity of US resorts.  While the location is amazing, it also is what keeps it a secret.

2.  Peninsula Golf Course
As you already read the location of this property is awesome.  It is a dunes landscape set between two bodies of water.  The ocean comes into play on 7 holes(in view for more).  The lagoon on the other side can be seen on another 4 holes and the other holes are routed through the dunes.  The most surprising part of this course is the natural beauty of the dunes.  I’ve played every style and design of course and have never seen the array of colors in the dunes like this course has.  The blues, greens, yellows, browns and reds all blend together in such beauty as they frame each hole.  There are no trees, but this open “links” course has every hole clearly defined as it meanders through the seaside dunes.

3. Links Golf
Because of its proximity to the water and the sandy soil, this course can play very “linksy”.  My time there happened to be during a maintenance period for the course so they were working on getting everything back into tip top shape with lots of water. It was fairly soft while I was there.  Even while the course was coming out of aeration, it was still in excellent shape.  You could tell how all the mounds and contours would make this course play firm and fast and lots of fun.  It has more than enough options to play different “styles” of golf depending on the weather and conditions.  One great thing about the time of year we went was that we had the course to ourselves.  Literally there was only one other group on the course while we were playing.

4. Jack Nicklaus Design
I’ve played numerous Jack Nicklaus designed golf courses and I have to say that I think this might be my favorite.  It felt like a perfect blend of playability and challenge.  There is plenty of length required from the back tees, but yet my son who played from more forward tees also enjoyed his round.  There were only a few forced carries and a couple approach shots that were intimidating.  The variety of holes, angles, lengths and challenges were mixed into all 18 holes.  I needed to use every club in the bag and every kind of shot at my disposal. Jack carved out one of his best designs at Vidanta Puerto Peñasco.

5. Mayan Palace and Grand Mayan Resort
The resort has 2 main lodging options.  They are still constructing a large middle section of the resort, but the completed parts feel like the resort is “done”.  All the amenities and restaurants are up and running at full capacity and besides the crane and concrete, it didn’t feel or sound like a construction zone while we were there.  We stayed at the Mayan Palace in one of the high-rise towers.  Our room was huge; it was a 2 bedroom suite with a living room, kitchen and dining room in between.  The space was great for our family of 5, everyone had their own bed and privacy.  Part of staying at the resort is not only the lodging, but the things to do.  When we arrived we received bracelets for enjoying the pools, beaches and other activities at the resort.  The resort has multiple pools, cabanas, a kids club, and a lazy river.  From all the promotional material we had read, it would all be open for our use.  But once on site, certain parts are reserved for Grand Mayan guests only, like the lazy river.  We were kind of bummed getting kicked out of the pool since we had the wrong bracelets, even though it was right below our hotel room.

6. Restaurants
There are 4 on-site places to eat along with room service.  The main restaurant called Bakal has changing buffets for breakfast, and dinner.  Most of our lunches we had at the pool-side huts.  There is beach side food service too so you can enjoy a cabana on the beach, drink a margarita and have lunch.  The food was all very good and portions were plenty big.  Our whole family always found something to eat and enjoy no matter how picky of eaters we are.  If you choose the outdoor eating, make sure to use the covers they provide for your plates and it is probably best to finish right away otherwise the local birds tend to pick away at your meal before you finish it.

7. Sea of Cortez
Spending time at the ocean is always enjoyable.  The Sea of Cortez is the inlet of the Pacific ocean by the Baja of California.  The water has beautiful emerald and sapphire tones blended together depending on the time of day, tide and brightness of the sun. The sandy beach is flat and expansive so that during low tide there was plenty of flat sand to build sand castles in, and during high tide, there was hundreds of yards of shallow water to play in, even for our 2 year old.  The water is nice and warm and has small waves to make it fun, but not dangerous.  (at least when we were there)

8. Family Time
One of the benefits for our family was the accessibility of Vidanta Puerto Peñasco because of the proximity to Tucson/Phoenix. The 4 hour drive to the ocean wasn’t long, nor difficult.  Sure it required a border crossing, but that was very simple since we all had passports or pass cards.  The roads felt safe and modern and once on site, everything was taken care of, we never felt the need to get back into the car and drive around.  While I like to play golf on vacation, the rest of the family would prefer pools, beach and other activities which this resort offers.  We were able to make great memories before everyone started school for the year.  The resort is geared more for families than it is golf which was great for this family vacation; we all got what we wanted.

9.  Conclusion
Vidanta Puerto Peñasco is a hidden treasure.  I had never heard of the resort or the course prior to making vacation plans.  It is a beautiful setting and a magnificent design.  I can’t say I’ve sorted out exactly how high I rank this course, but certainly in the top 20 I’ve ever played.  I was blown away by how good the design was, how great the scenery was and how much fun we had playing it.  If you consider the location and amenities, this really sets up nicely for a great family and golf vacation.  We are already looking forward to going back.  Vidanta Puerto Peñasco is truly a hidden treasure on the Sea of Cortez.

For more information: Vidanta Website