ALABAMA'S QUEEN OF SOUTHERN RESORTS
The Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa
By Ed Stone
"The Queen of Southern Resorts is beginning to look better than ever," said Scott Tripoli, general manager of the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa in Point Clear, Alabama. "From pool, spa and golf upgrades to exceptional indoor and outdoor improvements, the excitement continues to build."
In 2018, a new name was given to this beautiful resort that opened in 1847. The Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa is part of the Autograph Collection properties that are high end and remarkably independent while still benefiting from Marriott's expertise.
Let's briefly reflect on the storied history of The Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa. When first constructed, it had only two floors and 40 guest rooms. It was used as a hospital for the Confederates during the Civil War and some 300 soldiers died and are buried in the nearby Confederate Rest cemetery. During World War II, the property was used by the Army Air Force as a Maritime Training School. During that period of time, all who lived on the property had to follow strict "Navy style" rules. Each floor was referred to as decks and time was kept by a ship's bell. Some 5,000 Army Air Force servicemen were trained at the Grand Hotel. Today the hotel honors the military influence with a processional that begins in the lobby, weaves around the grounds, and concludes with the firing of a cannon at 4:00 p.m.
Recently, we visited the Grand Hotel for an opportunity to enjoy the spa and play the Azalea golf course. This 405 room hotel has been totally renovated and updated including the accommodations, meeting space, spa & exercise areas, restaurants & bars and pool areas. It's like an all-new and improved vacation product.
The spacious rooms are very tastefully decorated and close to the pool and marina. There are some eight dining and bar offerings with three of the restaurants being unique to the Grand Hotel. All of the 37,000 square feet of meeting space and 20,000 square feet of the spa with 12 treatment rooms & exercise areas have been remodeled and upgraded. Even the tennis courts and 36-slip marina got a facelift. It is deserving of its new name!
Director of Golf
The resort offers two 18-hole golf courses that play out of the Lakewood Club, the Azalea and Dogwood. These 36 holes are part of the famed Robert Trent Golf Trail. The Dogwood course underwent a total renovation in the spring & early summer of 2018. The Azalea course underwent a makeover in 2019. Niall Fraser is the director of golf for these two layouts. He was part of the planning and overseeing the construction of the RTJ Golf Trail from start to finish. The 26 courses are now called the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, a total of 468 holes at 11 locations across the state. The Azalea course was the last to be added in 2005 to the Trail and he choose to take on his current position as a "finishing up" the overall project. Dogwood was finished and added in 2002. Niall was born in Alberta, Canada, attended Michigan State and now calls Fairhope, Alabama home.
Playing the Azalea golf course was a real pleasure. The one iconic feature about this course can be summed up in three words: "beautiful live oaks." The huge century-plus old oaks are found throughout the 550-acre resort and provide not only shade but character. Of the two courses, Azalea is the longest stretching some 7,432 yards from the tips. Dogwood's longest tees are 7,104. Handicaps for one and two on Azalea are holes numbers 8 & 12 with both being par 4's. Hole 8 is 467 yards from the back tees and 12 is 440. What makes #8 difficult is there are two oaks about 100 yards off the tee requiring a small target landing area. From the 150 yard marker, the fairway slopes to the right and is guarded by two large sand traps. The 12th hole is a dogleg right and downhill to a green some 40 feet from your second shot. There are trees left and right just as the plateau begins to slope.
The signature hole is number 14, sporting an island green. A nice tee shot can allow you to layup and have an easy wedge to 8 iron to the green. The sand trap behind the green is almost hidden, so be advised...it is there.
Overall, the course is most enjoyable and presents a challenge on just about every hole. Water is found on four holes but not to the point of causing big trouble.
The Experience is a five-acre teaching and enjoyment of the golfing facility. This is where guests can be taught the game or relax while playing parts of the game and still feel the pleasure of the sport without committing four-plus hours. There are three acres allocated to the teaching tees and two acres for improving your short game. This innovative addition presents USGA chipping and putting greens, practice bunkers and club fitting services. There are moveable targets to help you improve shot accuracy.
The Experience approaches today's time conscience and tech-savvy families helping them enjoy the game of golf while allowing time to still be involved with other pressing activities. They have truly integrated the best in teaching golf with today's technology and a place to experience specific portions for improvements.
USGA chipping and putting greens, practice bunkers and club fitting services. There are moveable targets to help you improve shot accuracy. The Experience approaches today's time conscience and tech savvy families helping them enjoy the game of golf while allowing time to still be involved with other pressing activities. They have truly integrated the best in teaching golf with today's technology and a place to experience specific portions for improvements.
This is one of those resorts you need time to enjoy and soak up the great warm Southern hospitality for which this area is famous. The new Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa is located less than an hour southeast of Mobile and enjoys the location of being on Mobile Bay with cool breezes in the warms months and the Gulf of Mexico warm breezes during the winter. Certainly a grand year-round resort!
EDITOR'S NOTE:We were scheduled to play one of the Magnolia Grove Courses in Mobile. However, the weather did not cooperate and we had to pass, due to our schedule. The following is taken from the Robert Trent Jones publicity information. "This is a complex of three 18-hole courses. The Falls is laced with large, liberally contoured greens and massive cloverleaf bunkers. Its 570-yard, par-5, 10th hole has a waterfall that cascades across steps immediately below a green that falls eight feet from front to back. The Crossings is a shot-maker's heaven, with several pulpit greens elevated well above fairway levels. Most of the holes on the Short Course call for forced carries over a marsh to liberally sloped, bulk-headed greens. Magnolia Grove has hosted several LPGA tournaments in the past."
The Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa
One Grand Boulevard : Box 639
Point Clear, AL 36564
Revised: 02/12/2022 - Article Viewed 5,365 Times
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About: Ed Stone
Ed has played golf on more than 350 courses in the United States and foreign countries. He loves the sport and enjoys promoting outstanding locations that helps to preserve the game.
With over 40 years of experience in the travel and hospitality industry, Stone has a wealth of knowledge and experience in tourism and attraction marketing. He has held director and vice president positions with Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia and Opryland USA in Nashville, Tennessee. For thirteen years he owned his own Marketing & Communications Agency, Stone & Associates in Hendersonville, Tennessee with major regional and national accounts.
Ed has major accomplishments in the areas of marketing, research and development planning, advertising, public relations, publicity, sales, television and event production. While vice president of marketing at the Opryland USA complex, he was the executive producer for several major television specials on NBC, ABC, CBS, TNN as well as working on many syndicated television specials.
He is a graduate of the University of Georgia's Henry W. Grady School of Journalism with a B.S. degree. Ed is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) where he has been honored with Marco Polo status (the highest honored SATW can bestow upon an Associate member) and a trustee for the SATW Foundation.
He is the recipient of a coveted "SATW Bill Muster Photo Award" and the Central States Chapter of SATW has awarded Ed with over a dozen prize-winning photography awards in the areas of scenic, people and overall.
Ed is an accomplished photographer and an avid golfer. He lives in Tennessee in the summer and Florida in the winter.
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