Think of Varadero, Cuba, and it’s likely a vision of turquoise waters, tropical sunshine and sipping mojitos under a beach palapa that immediately springs to mind. But for those who prefer their vacation with tee time, the popular resort town is also home to the only 18-hole golf course in the whole country: Varadero Golf Club.
Located in the middle of the Hicacos Peninsula, the island’s largest green sits on what was once the private estate of French-American millionaire Irénée du Pont de Nemours, who purchased the property in 1927 as a post-retirement winter getaway. The current par 72 golf course dates back to 1999 and has a Canadian connection: It was designed by Canmore, Alberta-based architect Les Furber — a legend in the business — who has created more than 65 original golf courses around the world.
Furber is famous for making golf courses that are visually appealing, creatively routed, and fun to play no matter what your skill level — all qualities reflected in Varadero Golf Club. If you prefer variety in terrain, you’ve come to the right place: the layout incorporates three distinct architectural styles.
You’ll find the classic design (broad treelined roads, and wide, minimally protected greens) along with the challenging or “target golf” design (narrow roads and well-protected greens, surrounded by sand traps and lakes) as well as the links design (with holes along the shoreline). Other unique features include several saltwater lakes that flow right into the Caribbean Sea.
The sections that will put your skills to the test the most include Hole No. 8 (Paraíso), where the breeze is constant and known to blow in different directions throughout the day. Similarly, Hole No. 18 (El Vigía) will challenge you with coastal winds, if you’re not already distracted by the gorgeous view.
Golfing enthusiasts can prove themselves at numerous tournaments held at Varadero Golf Course throughout the year, including the Meliá Las Américas Golf Cup (May) and Grand Tournament Cuba Golf (October).
Players looking for pre- or post-game fare can find an à la carte menu with French flair at Xanadú Mansion. Originally built as du Pont’s colonial-style home, it’s now a six-room luxury hotel and clubhouse deemed a Cuban National Monument. Dine on dishes like chateaubriand with Béarnaise sauce at a table overlooking the sea, or head to the third-floor bar, Casa Blanca, a hotspot for romantic cocktails at sunset. For those who prefer to experience this stunning property, located at the heart of the Golf Club, Hola Sun Holidays offers accommodation packages with meal plan options at the Xanadu Mansion.
Varadero Golf Course is easily to reach from all of the peninsula’s hotels, including Meliá Las Américas (the only one with direct access to the club) and Meliá Varadero. Many resorts also offer seasonal golf packages; depending on the room category and stay, promotions may include one to three rounds of golf per week, or unlimited green fees. Hola Sun Holidays also offers the option to pre-purchase golf packages at the Varadero Golf Club from Canada, which can be added to your all-inclusive travel package.
For more information, visit holasunholidays.ca
As originally published by the Toronto Star