Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina, Cambridge, Maryland. Tucked into the state's Eastern Shore an hour south of Annapolis, the 400-room, nautical-themed Hyatt is the first full-service luxury resort in this tidewater region. Opened in August 2002, the handsome U-shaped structure on the banks of the Choptank River is anchored by the Wintergarden, a glass-enclosed, climate-controlled pool complex and fitness center. There's also a spa, a marina and a riverside restaurant called Blue Point Provision Company, where the lump crabcakes with avocado relish alone are worth the 90-minute trip from Baltimore, Washington, D.C., or Philadelphia.
But don't go home without tackling the resort's showpiece, River Marsh Golf Club, a Keith Foster layout that blends lowcountry, links and parkland design styles. Foster's breezy, 6,801-yard course offers wide, rolling fairways, several flanked or crossed by ponds and wetlands. Friendly from the forward tees but demanding from the tips, River Marsh tempts better players to attack the par 5s in two by cutting across water hazards -- a risky proposition on a windy day.
The par-5 18th, embraced by a bird sanctuary where ospreys and eagles nest, ranks among the best finishing holes in the Mid-Atlantic region. Reminiscent of the 18th at Pebble Beach, it's a brilliant 567-yarder that flanks the ominously named Choptank. This strategic gem can be conquered by favoring the right and playing a short iron to the raised green at river's edge. Directly behind the putting surface is a glass-walled lounge called Michener's Library, named for novelist James Michener, author of Chesapeake.
[As of September 2003] Fall golf packages at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay (410-901-1234; www.hyatt.com) range from $249 to $329 per room per night, based on double occupancy. The program includes one round of golf per person, double occupancy, per night's stay, full breakfast for two, unlimited range balls, all taxes and gratuities and other extras.