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China's Palm Island Resort offers perfect balance

By William K. Wolfrum, Contributor

Golf has taken hold in China and, as you'd imagine from a nation of more than 1.3 billion people, it's done so in a big way. And with more than 100 courses opening in recent years, there is now competition to create true luxury golf settings.

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At Palm Island Resort, even the Nicklaus-designed golf course exudes a sense of balance.
China Resort 1Palm island pool

Just 45 minutes by car from Hong Kong is Palm Island Resort, where a visitor can retreat to a soothing world and find a true sense of place. That's not enough? Three nine-hole layouts designed by Jack Nicklaus and sons will have you on the links enjoying the tropical locale.

The Lychee, River and Lake courses all live up to their monikers. The Lychee is framed with the exotic eponymous trees; on the Lake water comes into play on all but two holes. The River course is a combination of the two, flat and tree-framed with water a casual companion.

"I would compare our course to a tropical course with fairways protected by landscaped areas which always come into play on errant shots," said Shay Smart, Palm Island Resort's director of golf.

On each course the scenic beauty is on display, as Nicklaus' crew seamlessly weaved golf holes into the tropical landscape. Palm trees abound, while the water adds its own ambience. Still, some large bunkers will force you to keep your mind on his game, and the mandatory caddies will help keep duffers focused.

The way the courses mesh with their surroundings and complement each other fits in well with Palm Island's overall philosophy. The resort works hard to help guests achieve their own sense of balance.

Golfers and non-golfers alike will be enthralled by Palm Island's half-million-square-foot tropical garden, designed in a soothing Thailand style by the noted Bill Bensley Design Studio. The garden leads toward the accommodations, among them luxury villas with outdoor Jacuzzis and spectacular views on the lake and golf course.

Guests can enjoy bicycle rides, a swim in the pool, or simply saunter about, taking in the sights and smells of the gardens. There are also yoga, tai chi and aerobics classes, and children can be kept happily busy in art classes or at the outdoor learning center.

For the adults to spoil themselves, there's Palm Island's exclusive Le Spa, which bathes guests in Thai-influenced treatments that incorporate meditation, massage and yoga. Overall, the treatment is geared to leaving patrons feeling energized, rejuvenated and mentally clear.

Palm Island also offers the Country Club and Conference Center, where traditional Chinese, Southeast Asian and other cuisines are on full display at the Lotus Pond restaurant. The hard-working staff can smoothly supply any business need.

Prices for rooms can range from $300 to $700; golf will run in the $100 neighborhood, depending on exchange rates.

Guests are split between locals and foreigners, and many of the rooms are consistently earmarked for area executives.

"We have a residential community of Americans here from the Shell Oil Company and BSF. They have a project near our resort and enjoy golf," said Smart. "We receive several corporate groups as well, but we also get many foreigners."

Availability can be scarce at Palm Island, but that doesn't keep travelers from taking a look at a resort where luxury and calm rule and the golf was created by a master.

William K. WolfrumWilliam K. Wolfrum, Contributor

William K. Wolfrum keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation. You can follow him on Twitter @Wolfrum.

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