We all know the reason for the Christmas season and Villa del Palmar Beach Resort and Spa at the Islands of Loreto is decked out with holiday trimmings but they have another “Reeson” to celebrate this season – the completion of Rees Jones’ stunning Danzante Bay Golf course. Each hole is as photogenic as the next with striking views along the Sierra de la Giganta desert mountains and the Sea of Cortez in Baja Sur, Mexico.
We were honored to attend the grand opening weekend with Rees Jones, his wife Susan, owners Owen Perry and Luz Marie Perez along with government dignitaries and special guests Byron Scott and Don Felder from the Eagles. Don and his band entertained under the stars with “Peaceful Easy Feeling” and “Take it Easy,” which fit the resort to a tee. The group’s strong vocals, chords, and energy showed no signs of aging as they played their timeless songs. While stars sometimes seem to go through the motions on such occasions, this band enthusiastically performed on and on, thrilling the dancing crowd.
Rees Jones is happy to still be designing new courses in new countries in the 4th quarter of his life. He believes architects get smarter with age and experience as opposed to most professions. The diversity of the terrain made Danzante Bay very special for him to create. His associates said that he listened to all parties and considered their ideas. Danny the pro said, “It’s been fun watching Rees and his team and putting in my two cents.” Last year the course opened with 11 holes, the most magnificent being # 17. Tee boxes are elevated one above another in the rocks of the mountain positioned over a deep chasm to the small green perched 250 feet above the ocean on a narrow peninsula and surrounded by a gift wrapped bunker.
Gees, Rees could you make it any more challenging or exciting? He is a forward thinking architect regarding the forward tees and so their carry is minimized with a side position on this hole and favorable yardage on all holes. This year holes 2-8 were completed in equally spectacular fashion through the canyons and arroyos dotted with saguaros and ocean views.
It took three years to complete the entire course, partially because Mr. Perry does not take on debt for new projects. The timeshare mogul would increase lodging units, sell more timeshares and invest in another few holes. While Susan Jones does not always attend grand openings, Rees told her, “You’ll want to come to this one.” After all the years of stories she was happy to meet everyone and experience the beauty of Loreto.
The actual town of Loreto is small and quaint with boutique hotels, a water walk, cafes, shops and the oldest mission in Baja. Loreto is much like Cabo was 30 years ago and there is a commitment to keep it natural. En route to town we stopped for a herd of goats passing by on the road, a pastoral scene with the Sea of Cortez in the background.
Villa del Palmar Resort is situated on an inlet beach with excellent snorkeling along the mountain in the shallow cove. Reach this prime spot by wading, swimming, paddle boarding or a glass bottom kayak. Carlos is the director of excursions by ATVs on trails, town tours or Zodiak adventures, island hopping. Jacques Cousteau called this the Aquarium of the World where 40% of the global marine life thrives. An abundance of starfish, purple and gold dance over the coral with elongated limbs. Blues, Humpbacks and the friendly and magnificent whale shark can be seen up close and personal in Loreto Bay. The zodiac boats do 360’s to form large wave action that is like ringing the recess bell for the dolphin school. They gleefully dance across the foamy ramps of water.
The Sabila Spa at Villa del Palmar provides the ultimate in services and hydration therapies with hot and cold pools, tubs, showers and saunas. Named after the healing aloe plant, herb extracts are incorporated in its menu of spa treatments. Every therapist is well trained in healing massage techniques. Relaxation lounge chairs face the mountain and sea with holes #12 and 14 in the foreground. Workouts carry the same view from the well-equipped fitness center on the first floor below.
Hiking trails reach hole 17 and beyond for non-golfers to experience the cliff scenes and watch shot attempts. 5 swimming pools, Jacuzzis, hammocks, beach chairs and 3 restaurants with fabulous food round out the resort experience. A 2-hour flight from Los Angeles on Alaska Airlines transports golfers and guests to a truly phenomenal course and paradise resort.
Danzante Bay is the “Reeson” to go in any season.