In continuing on the theme, “Where do I want to go when this is all over,” and where is it safest to go? Puerto Rico is one of those places, having been to most of the islands in the Caribbean but not this one!
Statistics show that as domestic travel begins its revival Puerto Rico is faring far better than the U.S. average according to the April Travel Recovery Insights Dashboard from the U.S. Travel Association. This holds true for many of the Island’s travel niches, not the least of which is golf.
The Recovery Dashboard, developed in partnership with Tourism Economics, includes not only a national overview of where key indicators stand but also a state and territory breakdown. In this, it is evident Puerto Rico is faring far better than the U.S. average, with travel spending in March 2021 only 17% lower than the same pre-pandemic period in 2019.
Discover Puerto Rico, the Island’s Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), is sharing updates for U.S. inbound travelers stemming from the local government’s latest Executive Order. The order, which goes into effect on May 28, 2021, includes modified restrictions such as the elimination of negative COVID-19 PCR molecular test requirements for fully vaccinated travelers on domestic flights and the ability to utilize a negative antigen (rapid) test result when entering the Island, for passengers who are not vaccinated or those arriving internationally. As of May 24, the local curfew is lifted, which was established in March 2020. For us Canadians we will just have to see when our fearless leaders will get things figured out so we can get there too!
These encouraging facts bode well for overall travel to Puerto Rico going forward, as well as for the golf niche, which has been thriving during the pandemic due to the inherent safeness and ideal social distancing found in the game and on the Island.
“It is fantastic to see the increased volume of inbound Island visitors coming to enjoy Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Golf & Beach Resort,” said Seth Henrich, PGA, Wyndham Grand’s Director of Golf. “The increase in tourism coupled with a membership boom has set the stage for banner years to come.”
TPC Dorado Beach is doing so well that it has shifted strategy due to growth and demand.
“We are seeing a significant increase in resort golf rounds and membership sales for the club,” said Jeff Willenberg, PGA, Director of Golf at TPC Dorado Beach “Due to the growth of our membership over the past six months, the club now only allows members, their guests, and hotel guests from Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve. We expect the momentum of resort rounds and membership sales to continue to grow as the year progresses.”
While both TPC Dorado Beach and Wyndham Grand Rio Mar are on the northeastern coast near San Juan, courses and resorts throughout the Island are experiencing similar success.
Located on the northwestern tip of Puerto Rico, boutique resort Royal Isabela reports increased demand for its Links Golf Course and luxury casitas. “It is exciting to have tourists traveling again to enjoy Puerto Rico,” said Eugenio Lopez, Royal Isabela Sales Director. “We are maximizing this opportunity by continuing to improve our golf facilities and services.”
Palmas Athletic Club in Humacao on the eastern coast is home to two 18-hole courses designed by Gary Player (Palm Course) and Rees Jones (Flamboyan). Like TPC Dorado Beach, handling the high demand has required the club to proactively balance needs.
“We have seen exponential growth in our rounds and membership levels,” said General Manager Seth Bull. “We are open to the public on Monday through Thursday, with tee times available by calling our Golf Pro shop. Play on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings is reserved for members. However, non-members may play after 11:00 am when accompanied by a member. This schedule has allowed us to serve well our continually growing membership.”
There are 18 golf courses on Puerto Rico. Sixteen are open to the public. The other two – at TPC Dorado Beach – allow play by guests staying at the Dorado Beach, Ritz-Carlton Reserve.
Island courses range from luxury resort to municipal, spread throughout Puerto Rico with several clustered near historic San Juan. Oceanside views, coconut trees, and mountain and rainforest vistas frame their settings. Price points, terrain, layout style, and related amenities are varied and complementary.
Traveling to the Island is convenient with many choices as it is the air hub of the Caribbean. Further traveler friendliness is found in Puerto Rico’s bilingual culture, U.S. currency, and no passport required for American citizens.
For more information on Island golf courses, resorts, and other destination attractions, visit: