September 26, 2019

Luxury, we know, comes at a price, yet the finest such experiences render material considerations moot. Yes, the golf on offer must reside somewhere on the continuum from top-shelf to memory-searing. But the resort’s other corner-stones — service, cuisine, aesthetics, off-course experiences — can be no less exemplary. The elegance and sophistication of these five-star stays don’t just impress guests, they enrich them, too.

Without further ado, here are GOLF’s 25 best resorts for Luxury. (For our ranking methodology, scroll to the bottom of this article.)

MORE:  Top 25 Resorts for General Excellence  |  Top 25 Resorts for Families  |  Top 25 Resorts for Buddies

The 4th hole at Spyglass Hill at Pebble Beach Resort.
Courtesy Photo

1. Pebble Beach Resorts, Pebble Beach, Calif.

500 total rooms at the Lodge at Pebble Beach, the Inn at Spanish Bay and Casa Palmero / five golf courses / 15 restaurants / spa / three pools / fitness center / tennis / horseback riding

Best time to go: Temps are moderate year-round. Explore winter deals from November through March.

Daily stay-and-plays start at: $1,370.

Golf experience: Pebble Beach Golf Links is arguably the greatest public track in the world, to say nothing of Spyglass Hill and Spanish Bay, also under the resort umbrella.

Best non-golf amenity: Pebble’s cozy in-room fireplaces win us over every time.

While you’re there: Venture into charming Carmel for dinner. Insider tip: Grab a cocktail and check out the bagpiper who plays every night before sunset by the firepits at the Inn at Spanish Bay.

Travelogue: To hear original architect Jack Neville tell it, there wasn’t much to designing what would become the great American cathedral of public golf: “All we did was cut away a few trees, install a few sprinklers and sow a little seed.” The entire ethos of Pebble Beach Resorts follows Neville’s thinking: It’s a place built for enjoying incredible natural beauty. As a result, there’s a timeless quality to the resort — and far more than just golf. Spend any time at Pebble and you’ll notice that it’s the attention to detail that sets it apart — from the unforgettable links all the way down to the chocolate strawberries.

Also good for: General Excellence. Read more here.

pebblebeach.com / (800) 877-0597

The Straits Course at Whistling Straits has a memorable collection of par 3s.
Courtesy Photo

2. The American Club, Kohler, Wis.

296 total rooms at the American Club and the adult-only Carriage House / four golf courses / spa / pool /tennis / sporting clays

Best time to go: Summer. Golf season doesn’t extend far beyond June–September.

Daily stay-and-plays start at: $600.

Golf experience: Four Pete Dye tracks, headlined by Whistling Straits, ranked by GOLF as No. 58 in the world.

Best non-golf amenity: The private cabin for rent named Sandhill.

While you’re there: Take a chartered salmon-fishing trip on Lake Michigan.

Insider tip: Beer-battered cheese curds from the Horse & Plow will soon be your favorite appetizer.

Travelogue: The eyes of the golf world will turn to Whistling Straits for the 2020 Ryder Cup, but there is so much more to the American Club. Just 63 miles north of the Milwaukee airport, four courses are at your disposal, each aptly named for their differences (the Straits, the Irish, the Meadow Valleys, the River). Your best bet for tackling all four is the Dye-Abolical Package, named after their famed creator, Pete Dye. Each of them brings you face-to-face with the best aspects of nature in Wisconsin. Birdies on the links can cede to kayaks on the lake or fishing on the river. As you might expect from America’s plumbing experts, the Kohler Waters Spa is one of the nation’s finest. Gourmet dining is on offer at the Immigrant Room, and this being Wisconsin, the cheese selection is world class.

Also good for: Buddies, General Excellence. Read more here.

americanclubresort.com / (855) 444-2838

The Cloister at Sea Island Resort.
Courtesy Photo

3. Sea Island Resort, Sea Island, Ga

400 total rooms at the Cloister and the uber-intimate Lodge / three golf courses / Golf Performance Center / spa / seven pools / tennis / beach

Best time to go: Fall or spring, with highs in the 70s and low 80s.

Daily stay-and-plays start at: $800.

Golf experience: Seaside Course (Colt and Alison, Tom Fazio), Plantation Course (Walter Travis, Rees Jones, Love Golf Design) and Retreat Course (Joe Lee, Love Golf Design).

Best non-golf amenity: Seven miles of private beach.

While you’re there: Fine-tune your game at the all-new, 17,000-square-foot Golf Performance Center.

Insider tip: It’s the only resort in the world to receive four Forbes Five-Star awards for 11 consecutive years. Soak up the experience.

Travelogue: Davis Love III grew up on Sea Island, one of coastal Georgia’s golf-rich Golden Isles. He and brother Mark, of Love Golf Design, recently completed an 18-hole putting course here, and successfully pitched ownership on a full reno of the 1998 Rees Jones redesign of Plantation. It opens this fall, prior to cohosting the RSM Classic. If golf were a stock, Sea Island would be buying. The Lodge recently wrapped a $30 million upgrade, and the new Golf Performance Center is peerlessly high-tech. Instruction has always been a major focus at Sea Island Resort. Little wonder, with resident Tour players including Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Harris English, Brian Harman and recent winners Keith Mitchell and J.T. Poston.

Also good for: General Excellence, Families. Read more here.

seaisland.com / (833) 734-9352

A scenic view at Four Seasons Resort Lana'i.
Courtesy Photo

4. Four Seasons Resort Lana’i, Lana’i City, Lana’i, Hawaii

213 rooms / one golf course / nine restaurants and bars / spa / pool / fitness center

Best time to go: Year-round; prioritize fall through spring when heat and humidity are most manageable.

Daily stay-and-plays start at: $1,000.

Golf experience: The Jack Nicklaus Signature Manele Golf Course is considered one of Hawaii’s strongest layouts.

Best non-golf amenity: Nobu Lana’i’s delicious Japanese-Hawaiian fusion creations, from sushi to Wagyu beef.

While you’re there: Put your foot down on its incredible walking trails.

Insider tip: Citi Prestige cardholders get a free fourth night when booking three.

Travelogue: To experience Lana’i is to step back in time — and into bliss. The resort’s expansive, sanctuary-like entryway is open and breezy and looks out on two lagoon-style pools and Hulopoe Bay. There are a variety of gorgeous trails, including one that leads to Jack Nicklaus’s Manele course. While the most distinctive feature of the track is its stunning par-3 12th, which is bisected by a chasm that falls into the bay, the entire course meanders around lava outcroppings and offers beautiful views of the Pacific. The resort recently began hosting yoga experiences near Manele’s 18th green, adding to a list of activities that range from snorkeling to off-roading. Nine restaurants and bars are headlined by One Forty, which offers one of the most impressive breakfast buffets you’ll ever enjoy; Malibu Farms, a go-to lunch spot between the pool and the bay; and Nobu, which is as premium as you’d expect considering the quality and richness found in every inch of this resort.

Also good for: Families, General Excellence. Read more here.

fourseasons.com / (808) 565-2000

An aerial view of Dorado Beach in Puerto Rico.

5. Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Dorado Beach, Puerto Rico

100-plus rooms and suites / two golf courses / two restaurants / spa / pool / beaches

Best time to go: Late fall into winter and early spring.

Daily stay-and-plays start at: $804.

Golf experience: Two classic Robert Trent Jones Sr. designs.

Best non-golf amenity: The private plunge pool outside many rooms.

While you’re there: Take a trip to the walled city of Old San Juan with a local guide.

Insider tip: An outdoor shower while listening to the pounding ocean surf is a divine experience.

Travelogue: An original Rockefeller resort when it opened in the ’50s, Dorado Beach partnered with Ritz-Carlton in 2018 to become the only Ritz-Carlton Reserve in the Western Hemisphere. The RTJ–designed tracks — Sugarcane and East — have long been the calling card for golf vacationers in Puerto Rico. The resort takes guest experiences to another level — an elite one. The food is exquisite, thanks to top chef Mario Pagan. And indicative of the resort’s one-of-a-kind offerings is the spa’s treehouse-like massage setting. Be sure to make time to see the five-bedroom Su Casa, an original, restored 1920s villa on the 50-acre property.

Also good for: Families, General Excellence. Read more here.

ritzcarlton.com / (787) 626-1100

Best of the rest, A-Z

Albany, Nassau, The Bahamas

Best time to go: Year-round; prioritize fall, winter and spring. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $2,500. Golf experience: The Ernie Els-designed course combines the best of links and desert features with windswept dunes and water. Best non-golf amenity: The two pools, one featuring winding slides and another adult-only option that offers ultimate pampering. Insider tip: A studio near the marina is where Justin Timberlake has been laying down tracks. Also good for: Families. Read more here.

albanybahamas.com / (242) 676-6000

Amanera, Rio San Juan, Dominican Republic

Best time to go: November through April. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $1,650. Golf experience: A Rees Jones oceanside stunner. Best non-golf amenity: Nature walks around the mountains encircling Playa Grande. While you’re there: Dive into the kitesurfing. Insider tip: Take advantage of the hotel transportation. Amanera is more than an hour from the airport, on mountain roads. Also good for: General Excellence. Read more here.

aman.com / (809) 589-2111

Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Best time to go: Late fall into winter and early spring. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $725. Golf experience: A scenic Arnold Palmer design routed through forest. The views from the clubhouse are stunning and hills are…hilly. A well-charged cart is a must. Best non-golf amenity: The private plunge pools and hammocks. While you’re there: Go zip-lining. Insider tip: Again, skip the car rental. Let the Four Seasons get you there. Also good for: Families. Read more here.

fourseasons.com / (800) 819-5053

The Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain, Marana, Ariz.

Best time to go: When it’s cold wherever you are. But great deals can be found in the steamy summer months. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $517. Golf experience: 27 holes designed by the Golden Bear, 18 of which have hosted the world’s best players during the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship. Best non-golf amenity: The indoor/outdoor spa is worthy of at least one full day during your stay. While you’re there: The 253-foot waterslide is as electrifying as it gets. Insider tip: Bring your hiking shoes and explore the wonders of the Sonoran Desert and Tortolita Mountains. Also good for: Families. Read more here.

ritzcarlton.com / (520) 572-3000

There are 27 challenging holes of golf at The Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz.
Courtesy Photo

Fairmont Grand Del Mar, San Diego, Calif.

Best time to go: It’s a welcome respite no matter what season you’re escaping from. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $613. Golf experience: The Grand Golf Cub is an inland, Tom Fazio-designed championship track that crisscrosses the lush Los Peñasquitos Canyon and features some of the best greens in San Diego County. Best non-golf amenity: The resort’s aptly named Way for Wellbeing spa. While you’re there: The adjoining 4,100-acre Los Peñasquitos nature preserve features miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. Insider tip: The Grand Golf Performance Academy is world-class, with seven acres of practice area and cutting-edge tech. Also good for: Families. Read more here.

fairmont.com / (800) 257-7544

Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii

Best time to go: Winter months are divine here, and you’ll see the whales at play. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $1,290. Golf experience: A Jack Nicklaus-designed 18 that hosts the Champions Tour every January. Best non-golf amenity: A lounge chair and the Pacific. While you’re there: The exclusively private Nanea course is across the street. Depending on your negotiating skills, it’s a worthy ask. Insider tip: Every night a Hawaiian warrior blows his war horn and runs the resort outline to light torches. Often he has a young helper. With some advance planning, your kid could be his pyro sidekick. Also good for: Families. Read more here.

fourseasons.com / (888) 340-5662

The Inn at Bay Harbor, Bay Harbor, Mich.

Best time to go: Summer and early fall for golf; winter for skiing. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $538 (for two players). Golf experience: 27 holes at the Inn at Bay Harbor overlooking Lake Michigan and 18 at Crooked Tree Golf Club. Best non-golf amenity: Lots of water sports around Lake Michigan, which surrounds the resort. While you’re there: Mackinac, a carefree island and the site of several movie shoots, is just 45 minutes north of the Inn. Insider tip: Check out the historic town of Petoskey and the nearby Gas Light District. Also good for: Families. Read more here.

innatbayharbor.com / (855) 811-4402

Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole, Teton Village, Wy.

Best time to go: For golf, rafting and hiking: June-September; for skiing: December-April. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $810. Golf experience: Resort guests have access to the Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club. Best non-golf amenity: Nature walks in nearby Grand Tetons National Park. While you’re there: A day trip to Yellowstone National Park is a memory for a lifetime. Insider tip: The pool is heated 24 hours a day, year-round. Also good for: Families. Read more here.

fourseasons.com / (307) 732-5000

A look at Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole in Teton Village, Wy.
Courtesy Photo

The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii

Best time to go: Year-round. Prioritize spring or late fall for smaller crowds. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $600. Golf experience: Of Kapalua’s two courses, the Plantation, which hosts the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions, offers the toughest test. Best non-golf amenity: The Kapalua Coastal Trail, which you can access from the resort. While you’re there: Book a sunset dinner reservation at the Banyan Tree. Insider tip: A club-level room offers free nibbles, evening hors d’oeuvres and ocean-view drinking. Also good for: Families, General Excellence. Read more here.

ritzcarlton.com / (808) 669-6200

Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, Kihei, Maui, Hawaii

Best time to go: Year-round. Spring or late fall offer more temperate weather. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $740. Golf experience: Of Wailea Golf Club’s three courses — Gold, Emerald and Blue — the Robert Trent Jones II-designed Gold offers the sternest test. Best non-golf amenity: The ultra-fun game room, where you can bring out your inner kid. While you’re there: Latch onto the resort’s complimentary scuba lessons. Insider tip: Check out the “value rates” for dates in August, September and November. Also good for: General Excellence, Families. Read more here.

fourseasons.com / (808) 874-8000

Rosewood Mayakoba, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, Mexico

Best time to go: Escape winter chills for a visit to the Riviera Maya. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $874. Golf experience: The Greg Norman-designed El Camaleón, the first Mexican course to hold a PGA Tour event, annually hosts the Mayakoba Golf Classic. Best non-golf amenity: The beaches of Playa del Carmen are internationally renowned. While you’re there: Head to the nearby Mayan ruins and get a sense of what this all was before its transformation to indulgent oasis. Insider tip: Perfect photo op? The dramatic cenote (sinkhole) in the center of the fairway on El Camaleón’s first hole. Also good for: General Excellence. Read more here.

rosewoodhotels.com / (877) 737-7538

Montage Palmetto Bluff / May River GC, Bluffton, S.C.

Best time to go: Spring and fall are the prime golf seasons. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $350. Golf experience: May River, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Design. Best non-golf amenity: The actual May River, which is a dream for standup paddleboarders and kayakers. While you’re there: Seek out the oysters, which are in season October and November. Insider tip: The May River course is private, with access for resort guests only. Also good for: General Excellence. Read more here.

montagehotels.com / (855) 264-8705

Montage Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina has a variety of high-end lodging options.
Courtesy Photo

The Ocean Club, A Four Seasons Resort, Paradise Island, Nassau, The Bahamas

Best time to go: Winter and early spring is prime time here. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $724. Golf experience: An oceanside Tom Weiskopf track, with stunning scenery. Best non-golf amenity: At least one meal at the Dune restaurant, overseen by Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. While you’re there: Take the water transfer to the dramatic Atlantis Tower and watch the 100-foot water-tube plunge through the shark-filled lagoon. Insider tip: Make time to explore the resort’s 35 acres of lawns and Versailles-inspired gardens. Also good for: General Excellence. Read more here.

fourseasons.com / (877) 312-1211

One & Only Palmilla, Cabo San Lucas, B.C.S., Mexico

Best time to go: Late May through early June (post-spring break) or early December, before the winter vacay crowds hit. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $1,150. Golf experience: A 27-hole Jack Nicklaus-designed gem split into the Mountain, Ocean and Arroyo nines, with some greens plonked right on the beach. Best non-golf amenity: The steak and seafood restaurant Seared, another nirvana run by Jean-Georges Vongerichten. While you’re there: Explore the variety of eateries and art galleries on offer at the Shoppes at Palmilla. Insider tip: Visitors between January and March are offered private whale-watching tours on their own yachts. Also good for: General Excellence. Read more here.

oneandonlyresorts.com / (855) 878-5831

The Resort at Pelican Hill, Newport Beach, Calif.

Best time to go: Hey, it’s California. Year-round! Daily stay-and-plays start at: $620. Golf experience: Two Tom Fazio-designed masterpieces that often hug the Newport Beach coastline. Best non-golf amenity: The Coliseum Pool is the place to both see and be seen. While you’re there: Crystal Cove Beach sits below the resort and features three miles of shoreline that are excellent for strolling, swimming and surfing. Insider tip: The spa’s Golfer’s Tune-Up Massage was created specifically to help golfers loosen up key areas of the body most impacted by the swing. Also good for: Families. Read more here.

pelicanhill.com / (888) 507-6427

Primland, Meadows of Dan, Va.

Best time to go: Late spring, summer or early fall. (The course is closed December-March.) Daily stay-and-plays start at: $703. Golf experience: The sprawling, Donald Steel-designed Highland course. Best non-golf amenity: The RTV trail coursing through Primland’s 12,000 spectacular acres. While you’re there: Check out the live bluegrass band at Stable Saloon. Insider tip: Sample (conservatively) the moonshine tasting with Primland’s staff mixologist. Also good for: General Excellence. Read more here.

primland.com / (866) 960-7746

A view of the Highland course at Primland in Meadows of Dan, Va.
Courtesy Photo

Pueblo Bonito Resorts / Quivira, Los Cabos, B.C.S., Mexico

Best time to go: November to May for less wind and to avoid hurricane season. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $370. Golf experience: This coastal layout dazzles unlike any other Jack Nicklaus-designed track. Best non-golf amenity: The VIP Whale Watching Lounge in the Towers at Pacifica, where you can nibble on snacks and scope out the humpbacks during their seasonal migration. While you’re there: Four comfort stations will sate your appetite, especially the Oasis, located above the 8th fairway. Insider tip: Grab an early-morning tee time to watch the fishing boats head out to sea. Also good for: Buddies. Read more here.

quiviraloscabos.com / (800) 990-8250

Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, Punta Mita, Nayarit, Mexico, with The Four Seasons Punta Mita Resort and The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort

Best time to go: Year-round. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $600. Golf experience: Two Jack Nicklaus gems, each with a personality and flair of their own, including the Pacifico course and its signature “Tail of the Whale,” which is billed as “the world’s only natural island green.” Best non-golf amenity: The infinity-edged Nuna Pool is arguably one of the best places on earth to watch the sun go down. While you’re there: Charter a 55-foot yacht to enjoy the ultimate fishing, snorkeling and diving experience. Insider tip: If you haven’t had a beachside massage, you haven’t known true bliss. Also good for: General Excellence. Read more here.

fourseasons.com / (800) 819-5053

The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, Greensboro, Ga.

Best time to go: It’s tough to beat springtime in Georgia. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $420. Golf experience: Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio, Rees Jones and Bob Cupp designed the five courses on the property, providing a full range of Low Country atmosphere. Best non-golf amenity: Georgia’s pairs a casual dining vibe with dynamite locally-sourced ingredients for a distinctly Southern meal. While you’re there: Explore Lake Oconee’s extensive trail system, whether for a morning run or an evening stroll. Insider tip: Every night at 8 p.m., enjoy free s’mores by the campfire at the Backyard. Also good for: Families. Read more here.

ritzcarlton.com / (706) 467-0600

Sandy Lane Resort / St. James, Barbados

Best time to go: Winter and early spring, though the golf is great year-round. Daily stay-and-plays start at: $1,125. Golf experience: Three 18s: the exclusive, Tom Fazio-designed Green Monkey, plus the Country Club and Old Nine courses. Best non-golf amenity: The Barbados Spa has been ranked as one of the top pampering spots in the Caribbean. While you’re there: Stroll the lengthy private beach, a perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon. Insider tip: Tiger Woods married Elin Nordegren here. Want to know the definition of luxury? He rented the entire resort. Also good for: General Excellence. Read more here.

sandylane.com / (246) 444-2000

How we ranked them

In one of the biggest editorial projects GOLF has ever attempted, we culled the names of 243 rank-worthy resorts spread across North America. Under the expert guidance of resort industry veterans and our stable of well-heeled travel writers, we placed each resort into at least one of four experience categories: Luxury, Buddies, General Excellence and Families. Then, with the help of 3,700-plus golfers just like you, we conducted an online poll, asking GOLF.com readers to rate each resort based on five key variables: golf experience, accommodations, service, food and ambience. The results of this poll were then weighed against the opinions of a select group of GOLF’s Top 100 Courses panelists and those of internal travel and editorial teams to list destinations in each category (Nos. 1–5, then alphabetically), generating GOLF’s first-ever ranking of the Top 100 Resorts. Yep — we’re in need of a vacation, too.