Like the island it sits on, Anguilla’s only golf course is a quiet gentle beauty.
Standing on the teebox of CuisinArt Golf Resort’s first hole, an inviting wide-open downhill par-four, you can see the rugged hills of St. Maarten and the brilliant ribbon of azure Caribbean Sea that separates these two enticing destination islands.
The best views on this Greg Norman design tend to come on some front-nine holes that also happen to be exhilarating downhill experiences. Even the par-five sixth, which plays at 603 yards from the tips and 553 yards from the 6,243-yard middle (silver) tees, drops nicely to keep its length reasonable for an island vacation.
But make no mistake. CuisinArt, which can stretch to 7,063 yards (and a rating/slope of 75.6/134), can be an excellent test as well as a sensory delight. The silver tees (71.4/130) may be loads of fun on a balmy day. But let the wind come up, as it can do, and the story can become very different.
The fairways tend to be generous. But the bunkering around greens tends to be ominous. And on the rigorous 18th, an excellent finishing hole, the sand guarding the narrow green combines with a mangrove thicket on the right to create a major ball-striking test.
CuisinArt, which opened in 2006 as Temenos Golf Club, has had a stormy ride as a result of the world-wide real estate turmoil, which torpedoed an ambitious villa-sale plan. Most recently, it has been revived and incorporated into the adjacent CuisinArt Resort, a high-end gourmet spa that grows its own hydroponic food.
The course was purchased at auction in 2011 by Leandro Rizutto, owner of Conair Corp, which manufactures hair dryer and other appliances. Conair is the parent company of kitchen appliance-maker CuisinArt.
The resulting CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa is a true destination. It features sandy white beaches and exotic pristine villas as well as luxury spa and dining options. It is even adjacent to the Dune Preserve Beach Bar, an open-air club owned by musician Bankie Banx, an Anguillan Bob Dylan. Riffs from the Dunes Club, home to perhaps the best music on the island, can be heard on a few holes.
The golf course has some splendid views of the Caribbean and St. Maarten, which is a 20-minute ferry ride away and has the area’s major airport. Thanks to some extensive stonework, construction costs reportedly were a staggering $50 million.
Although it overlooks Rendezvous Bay, the CuisinArt golf course has no seaside holes. Its water hazards are generated mainly by the Merrywing Salt Pond.
One of the charms of the course is that it is uncrowded. Anguilla, which is remote and has only one course, is not a golf destination. In a measure of how highly regarded it is, the course has been chosen to host the 2016 Great Golf Resorts of the World annual meeting.
Until its reputation grows, and its tee-time sheet fills, CuisinArt offers golfers the feeling they’re playing on their own private course. That includes a beautiful upscale clubhouse, notable food and beverage.
Greens fees, which are $225 for resort guests (and $270 others), drop to $145 for resort guests and $170 for others at noon. Rental sets, which include top-notch Titleist and Callaway clubs, are $60.
During our round, we saw only a few other groups. Because a twosome was teeing off on No. 1 right before us, we were directed to the 10th tee.
No. 10, a tight-and-watery par five, shares a 16,000 square-foot double green—and a lovely view of St. Maarten—with the second hole.
Competing with the natural scenic beauty of the course are some rows of all-white villas, which have a modern but Middle Eastern aura about them.
While CuisinArt offers a marvelous resort golfing experience, it’s best considered in the context of an Anguilla vacation. That would include a remarkable array of fine dining on this 35-square-mile island, which has a population of about 15,000 and beach after pristine beach.
For all its charms, Anguilla, a three-hour plane ride from Miami, is likely to remain a remote getaway destination. One golf course that does not have seaside holes is not a comprehensive lure.
But when added to gorgeous weather and remarkable food alongside world-famous beaches, the CuisinArt adds to the allure of Anguilla.
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