Just in time for Valentine’s Day—or whenever you want to score some points with your significant other—here are the resorts where the greens are red hot.
Las Ventanas al Paraiso, Los Cabos, Mexico (lasventanas.com)
For years, whenever my wife and I traveled to some romantic or exotic luxury resort that wowed her, I had the same pat response: “It’s nice, but it’s no Las Ventanas.” Las Ventanas al Paraiso—which very accurately translates to “The Windows to Paradise”—is the sexiest resort on earth, and since they have a good golf course on-site (Cabo Real), and other great ones (Cabo del Sol) nearby, I guess that makes it the sexiest golf resort as well. How sexy is it? Let me count the ways: Every room is clearly designed for romance, from the private but open-air rooftop terraces and his and hers robes that come in five sizes (drivers use a code to report your stature when they call en route from the airport) to the elaborate nightly turn-down service and the complimentary bottle of tequila that helps get things jump started. Las Ventanas is small and intimate yet with so many swimming pools you can usually have one to yourself, and the highest level of privacy, coupled with the best imaginable service, all reasons so many A-list celebrities come here. I finally got the chance to bring my wife to Las Ventanas, and after all those years of feeling like I was full of it, she realized I was right the whole time.
—Larry Olmsted, larrygolfstheworld.com
Villas of Grand Cypress Golf Resort, Orlando, Florida (grandcypress.com)
What injects the romance into Grand Cypress is its grownup sophistication—set against the sing-song, minivan madness of nearby Disney World. A telling detail: I rolled through the gates of this lush, low-slung property one Saturday to see a veiled bride being photographed against the bougainvillea blossoms, and it looked oh so right. Walk into the lobby bar, the 18-story Trellises Lounge, and your pulse quickens. The villa rooms will remind you of that swank apartment you couldn’t possibly afford, back before the kids were born. They say golf is better than sex, but this is one hideaway where the couple that plays together finds plenty of time for both.
—David Gould, davidlgould.com
Verdura Golf & Spa Resort, Sicily (verduraresort.com)
Crossroads of civilizations, Sicily—the triangular-shaped island at the tip of Italy’s boot—is etched with more than 3,000 years of history. But it’s a recent newcomer that’s proven to be every bit as smoldering as Mt. Etna. Slated to open on March 1, Verdura is a 45-hole seaside complex set on a large estate near the Valley of Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Well-preserved antiquities not sexy enough? The stylish resort is a stage set for La Dolce Vita, from its private beach (perfect for intimate cuddling) to an airy, contemporary hotel accented by volcanic tufa, exposed timber, and vibrant splashes of local color. The Roman within you will love the spa: blood oranges, lemons, volcanic mud, and seawater season the treatments. Musicians will serenade you at the Torre Bar, but there can’t be a better place under the Mediterranean sun to nuzzle than La Granita, which serves Tapas-style dishes and vino on a terrace above the pool and gardens. While the resort’s brawny East and West courses weave through olive and orange groves near the sea, the nine-hole short course is ideal for a let’s-not-keep-score, his-and-hers outing. Exotic, sun-drenched, and intensely beautiful, Verdura is the perfetto place to ignite or rekindle a romance.
–Brian McCallen, BrianMcCallen.com
Fairmont Scottsdale, Scottsdale, Arizona (fairmont.com/scottsdale)
It’s hard for people, much less a golf resort, to fake real corporal passion. Sure, many a resort promotes its spa services as rubs in the right direction, but lascivious, carnal fervor isn’t something that can be packaged and sold—not legally, at least. Yet despite its predictable attempts at peddling lust, the Fairmont Scottsdale resort succeeds in setting the mood for some after-round fooling around better than any golf resort I’ve visited. This month, the Awakening Aphrodite Valentine’s Day package includes a private mud bath for two (also available throughout the year at the Willow Stream Spa), which gives you and your date the means to smear the stuff all over each other’s stuff. The new all-seafood menu at The Grill is another good way to excite one’s passions, starting as it does with Beausoleil oysters and American caviar. (At the very least, the special Valentine’s Day menu will excite your tongue; just whispering “macerated strawberries” can do it.) But the bad behavior doesn’t have to stop mid-month: On the last weekend of February, the Waste Management Phoenix Open comes to the adjoining TPC Scottsdale, and while its name isn’t dirty in the way I had in mind, this event features more bikini tops than all other PGA Tour stops combined.
–Jason Kerkmans, jasonkerkmans.com
Anantara Phuket Resort and Spa, Phuket, Thailand (phuket.anantara.com)
Searching for hot—weather, food, “extra-curricular” activities, whatever—it’s hard to out-sizzle Thailand, where the most luxurious and sensual resorts are the half-dozen Anantara properties. My steamy favorite is the Anantara Phuket, where the private villas have pools with built-in bathtubs, open-air cabanas stocked with wet bars, and numerous beds, couches, and other soft surfaces for laying, and lying, around. If you can’t work up a sweat within the villa walls, tee it up at nearby Blue Canyon or Red Mountain golf. BC’s up-and-down Canyon course is sure to leave you panting: It’s walking only, and in the tropical heat just might be where you die with your cleats on. And if you still haven’t had enough, take a cab into Phuket City, where “giving strokes” takes on a completely different meaning in the local massage parlors and rowdy nightclubs.
—Jim Frank, jimgolfrank.com
Delta Sherwood Inn, Muskoka, Ontario, Canada (deltahotels.com/en/hotels/ontario/delta-sherwood-inn)
With a name like the Delta Sherwood Inn, it sounds more like a quaint respite to take Grandma for her birthday. But behind closed doors in the white, plantation-style Inn—located in the Muskoka area of Ontario two hours north of Toronto—the place can be rocking. And I don’t mean to AC/DC. Sherwood Inn provides the setting, atmosphere, and opportunity to make your own kind of adult music. Sheltered on a bay of lovely Lake Joseph among century-old pines, this is a pristine play land of massive lakes, rock outcroppings, and dense forests. The décor of the cottages and suites reflects the region’s deep woods and granite ambiance, but they feature modern amenities such as king beds, flat-screen TVs, and private balconies, and some rooms have whirlpools so you can do your own kind of skinny-dipping. In public, the main attraction is the renowned restaurant, with a mix of regional cuisine and a wine list of 200-plus selections from Canada, California, Australia, Italy, and France. There also are plenty of cool on-site activities such as walking trails, tennis, and spa, while shopping and golf at the acclaimed Lake Joseph Club are close. But these are just things to do in between getting hot, which is the main reason to come here. I’ve been twice with my significant other, and we can’t wait to go back. Now, there’s a distracting thought.
—Tim O’Connor, timoconnor.ca
The Grove, Hertfordshire, England (thegrove.co.uk)
Hot like a Bond girl, The Grove is a slinky, provocative five-star resort 30 minutes outside London. As you cavort through the black-velvet-lined hallways of the 19th-century manor house you can’t help thinking about a quick tryst behind the pettable curtains. Then you get to your room, which might feature surprises from a fireplace and piano to a red day-bed (beckoning like a casting couch) and a four-poster king crowned with ostrich feathers—perfect for tying up loose ends, if you know what I mean. Some rooms were specifically designed to be “Hot and Sexy,” decorated in black and aubergine with velvets and sheer fabrics and other sumptuous textures. Once the mansion of the Earl of Clarendon, the main building was the scene of lavish weekend parties for Queen Victoria and her posse in the notoriously sexy era when “Victoria’s secret” had an entirely different meaning. The Kyle Philips golf course out back is also full of delicious curves and knolls lolling across gorgeous grounds. If you can’t get lucky here, start looking for work as an iceman.
—Jeff Wallach, jeffwallach.com
Masseria San Domenico Resort and Spa, Savelletri di Fasano, Italy (imasseria.com)
After toasting your limbs on a private beach on the Adriatic, a plunge into the salt water Talassotherapy spa sets the senses tingling at Masseria San Domenico in Puglia, which has refined the art of Mediterranean lotus-eating. Feast on succulent fruits and oil from the onsite orchard and ancient silver olive grove; dine in a blazingwhite stone 15-century watchtower. Don’t neglect the sumptuous San Domenico Golf Course, where the Masseria Cimino, a 15-room guesthouse perched on the eighth hole, is the all-in aphrodisiacal option: light the candles, uncork the Prosecco, savor the chocolates, and remember to turn down those cool white sheets.
—Tom Bedell, tombedell.com
Fairmont Mayakoba, Playa del Carmen, Mexico (fairmont.com/mayakoba)
Spring-fed canals weave through the Fairmont Mayakoba, giving this retreat 40 miles south of Cancun a taste of Venice. But the sultry sea breezes, waving palms, and thick stands of mangrove quickly remind you that this is the Mayan Riviera, where the Yucatan jungle meets the dazzlingly blue Caribbean. Casitas are graced with tall windows that let in plenty of light, and you can greet the morning on the deck overlooking the lagoon, or from a private terrace or infinity pool. Golf here is at El Camaleòn, a Greg Norman design on a parcel of land that encompasses three distinct landscapes—tropical jungle, mangrove swamp, seaside beach—and is site of Mexico’s only PGA TOUR event. After golf, couples can retire to Fairmont’s Willow Stream Spa for a “Hip Honeymooners” treatment (think lots of rose petals), the Mayan bath ritual, or the Ritual of Two, where you give each other spa treatments, enjoy a mud bath, and conclude with side-by-side aromatherapy massages. End the day with a tamarind margarita and fresh yellowfin tuna at the seaside Las Brisas Restaurant, then savor a moonlit stroll through the mangroves back to your casita for a “nightcap.”
—Chris Santella, chrissantella.net