On October 26, 2020, after a seven-month closure due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & Spa reopened its doors—and by extension, its guest rooms and suites—to discerning travelers. However, guests who are familiar with the 327-room resort will discover that the hotel and its vast suite of amenities, set across 200 acres in Carlsbad, Calif., looks and feels decidedly new.
The resort’s reopening is the culmination of an expansive renovation project, through which more than $50M was invested in the enhancement of every guest room and suite. New restaurant and bar concepts were introduced, including a new dining venue, ember & rye, that showcases fresh Left Coast cuisine, in collaboration with celebrity chef Richard Blais. Additionally, the resort’s pool scene was reimagined. It now features seven distinct aquatic experiences, such as a waterslide tower at the family pool and private cabanas at the serene adults-only area.
Despite all of the recent enhancements, the Aviara Golf Club remains Park Hyatt’s most provocative allure—at least in the eyes of golf enthusiasts. Designed by Arnold Palmer almost 30 years ago, the 7,007-yard championship layout is the only coastal golf course in California designed by The King, and from the very first tee box, players who know Palmer’s design philosophy will encounter a slew of familiar features—most notably, wide, generous landing areas in the fairways, large bunkers, equally large greens, and gradual undulations and contours across the terrain.
“The greens are the defense of the golf course for the better player,” says Renny Brown, Aviara’s director of golf. “They’re very large with a lot of slope and undulation. It’s about more than just hitting it on the green. [To score], it’s about hitting it in the right spot.”
Although the first hole introduces golfers to the overall architecture of the course, it is the third hole—a short par 3 with a green nestled between gently flowing streams and other beautiful water features—that reveals the course’s uniqueness. Thanks to an abundance of flora seemingly always in bloom, Aviara Golf Club delivers a playing experience that has been described as “golf within a botanical garden.” The third hole kicks off a long stretch of holes where that flora is boldly and prominently on display.
Set along the shoreline of Batiquitos Lagoon, the course—like many in the area—offers plenty of elevation change. So much so that caddies on the LPGA Tour, who visit the course each year for the Kia Classic, ranked Aviara Golf Club as the second-most challenging tour site to work each year, trailing only the Evian Resort Golf Club in the French Alps. That doesn’t mean the course can’t be enjoyed by golfers who prefer to walk, but it does mean that visiting golfers who typically play their rounds with a golf cart shouldn’t deem their stay at Park Hyatt Aviara as the time to give walking the fairways a try.
By the time their last putt falls into the hole on Aviara’s 18th green, golfers—whether they walk or ride—will likely find themselves yearning to play the course again. Those who do, no matter when that subsequent round occurs, will discover Aviara’s best-kept secret.
“Someone could play here three or four times a week and not get tired of it because of the variety of holes and the way the course was designed,” says Brown. “It’s one of those golf courses that you can play on a fairly frequent basis and always look forward to because it’s going to play differently based on the weather and the seasons. You never know what to expect here.” golfaviara.com
Top: Aviara, in full bloom