Doral Golf Resort & Spa

Critical Advice Before Making Reservations at Miami’s Doral Golf Resort…or Any “Renovated” Resort


Doral Golf Resort's new course is finished, but other important areas are not.

Doral Golf Resort's new course is finished, but other important areas are not.

You’ve probably been hearing a lot about the “complete” renovation of Miami’s Doral Golf Resort, but there’s something you should know before booking your Florida golf vacations there.

Let me first say, without question, there is a lot to be excited about, including the Jim McLean Signature Course, which replaces the forgettable Silver Course.

But there’s one thing you need to know — information the resort’s reservation agents don’t volunteer — that could make or break your trip there, or to any “renovated” resort. 

This critical information is that Doral Golf Resort’s “complete” renovation is not yet complete, and there are still some very important areas awaiting refurbishment.

Most importantly, many of the rooms. When the editors of Golf Odyssey visited the Doral Golf Resort two months ago, work was complete in only three of the resort’s 10 lodging buildings.

And while the renovated rooms were a huge improvement over the older rooms (which other resort guests described as “dreary” and “very tired”), the editors were never informed about the unfinished work.

The same goes for the Spa at Doral and the fitness center, both of which were operating out of temporary facilities. And, aside from one lone dining option, none of Doral’s restaurants were open.

Said the editors in their comprehensive Doral Golf Resort review in the January 2010 issue of Golf Odyssey:

When the work is completed, Doral Golf Resort should be nicer than ever. However, if you’re contemplating a visit to Doral this winter, be advised conditions will be far from ideal if various facets of the resort are still in a transitional state.

At the least, when booking your trip, insist on a renovated room and ask specific questions about the status of the dining, spa, and fitness facilities.

Neither we, nor any other guests we encountered on our visit, were informed of the renovation work or the lack of available facilities when making our reservations.

When are resorts going to figure out that it’s better to be up-front about stuff like this?

Frankly, I expected more from the Marriott-managed Doral Golf Resort. If you have thoughts on this, or other less-than-forthcoming tactics you’ve encountered, please share your comments below.

Did you know? Golf Vacation Insider and Golf Odyssey are the world’s only golf publications that conduct “secret shopper” site inspections and do not accept advertising from golf courses, resorts or restaurants in order to provide you with expert, unbiased, and trusted advice.

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  1. Kevin

    January 19, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. Not only was it disappointing to have the spa located in a couple of guest rooms and the food options limited, but the service level at the golf courses was marginal. I noted that when I played a semi-private in Hollywood on the same visit, the pre-round treatment was first class ( ice water in the cart, wet towel to clean my clubs, a friendly review of the course), but at Doral no one did any more than throw my bag on the back of cart. Not good, especially at their premium rates.

  2. Jeff Courter

    January 19, 2010 at 3:38 pm


    Great head’s up about Doral! I actually visited there 36 years ago when I was 12, and I’ve recently thought about a return trip since it is now in the Marriott family, especially since I met Jim McLean last summer at Wakonda Club in Des Moines when he was in town to do a clinic for the Iowa PGA.

    I would assume with today’s tough travel economy, many of these resorts undergoing renovations are very hesitant to give people a head’s up on status of renovation completions for fear of losing their business. But any short-term gain is undoubtedly outweighed by long-term pain if visitors have a poor experience as word of mouth travels quickly in the golf world.

    Very similar to courses that don’t bother letting you know in advance their aeration schedules or that they’re experiencing temporary maintenance issues with scalped greens/disease infestation/overseeding problems/etc. I just returned from a trip to Palm Springs and one of my favorite 36-hole complexes – Landmark at Indio nka Golf Club at Terra Lago – was in terrible shape. A number of scalped greens with bare spots, thin fairways, dead foliage and trees. I don’t know if that was caused in part by water shortgage, financial pressure or what happened, but after playing it annually for the past 12 years, we won’t be going back and instead will double up at the Classic Club which was in fabulous shape. Even the Marrriott’s Shadow Ridge out there had maintenance issues – apparently they had problems with overseeding this winter – it was the worst shape we’ve seen that one in for at least 5-6 years, and there was no advance notice or explanation that day.

    Jeff Courter
    Des Moines, IA

  3. Craig Better

    January 19, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    “…any short-term gain is undoubtedly outweighed by long-term pain if visitors have a poor experience as word of mouth travels quickly in the golf world.” Well said, Jeff. Bravo.


    January 19, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Dear Sirs:

    As a loyal follower of your publication and as the new General Manager of the Doral Golf Resort and Spa, I wanted to respond to the article.

    It is true that the resort has been under a rather lengthy renovation, but I am happy to report that most is completed. We opened the Bossa Nova, a spectacular new lounge a week ago Monday and will be opening Mesazul, a Latin American Steakhouse themed restaurant prior ro Super Bowl. Our Spa is complete with the exception of saunas which should be fitted quite soon. Furthermore, in the next 90 days, we will unveil a fitness center overlooking the 18th hold of the famed Blue Monster.

    It is true that we have only renovated three of our ten lodges: however, our non renovated rooms are very large and we are quite proud of their clenliness. We will be replacing dressers and installing 42″ televisions in the remaining lodges later in the year but likely not until the later summer months. This not withstanding, the quality of the rooms is still more than acceptable when compared with othe top tier golf resorts across the United States.

    I am truly sorry that you felt like you were mislead when returning to the Doral and am glad that you enjoyed the McLean Signature Course with the 4th highest slope in the state of Florida. We look forward to showing your subscribers that the Doral is returning to it’s
    rightful place among North America’s premiere golf destinations.

    Paige D. Koerbel
    General Manager
    Doral Golf Resort and Spa

  5. Craig Better

    January 19, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Thanks, Paige. We applaud Doral for making the noted improvements, and we understand that it takes time. What’s objectionable is that people are not being informed about the temporary/scaled down facilities when making their reservations. Will you now instruct your reservation agents to mention these things to prospective guests?

  6. Larry

    January 26, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    “…the quality of the rooms is still more than acceptable when compared with othe [sic] top tier golf resorts across the United States.” A few problems in that response: 1) It didn’t answer the question whether Doral will inform customers in advance; 2) It says “we are no worse than our competition” which, of course, then implies they are no better; 3) It insults the customer/reviewer by not acknowledging the complaint (“I am sorry that you felt like your were mislead [sic].”) Feelings have nothing to do with it; you were indeed misled. The correct response would have been, “We’re sorry, we are working on it, we will inform our customers that some rooms are being renovated (or we will provide a discount for a return visit when things are right). Meanwhile, our golf courses are everything you expect…” Good work by GVI.

  7. golf packages

    February 17, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    I found this site on Google and love the insight to the resorts, courses, etc. I have never been to the Doral Resort in Florida, but the review definitely helps paint a picture of what to expect. When you pay top dollar for a golf vacation you obviously have high expectations for the quality of your stay/play. Thanks again for keeping the golfers informed.

  8. Craig Better

    February 17, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Thank you! Yes, we are not out to slam Doral, but if certain important amenities are not avaialble or in temporary facilities, it should be made clear at the time you’re making your reservations.

  9. arthur vieira

    May 8, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    I’m going down to Doral in a couple weeks and I have a question in regard to the forecaddies — they were included in our package. Are we obligated to tip them at round’s end, and if so, what is an acceptable amount? Any info will be helpful. Thanks.

  10. Craig Better

    May 11, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Tipping is never an obligation, but it’s the right thing to do assuming you’re happy with the service you received. Since forecaddies typically work 1 per foursome, and they’re not lugging clubs, their tips are usually smaller, per person, than regular caddies. I would think a minimum of $15-$20 per player in this case would be acceptable. Bump it up if he/she goes above and beyond just spotting drives and pulling the pin. You may also want to ask the starter, and of course, make sure the tip isn’t already included, too!

  11. Mike Gaunder

    November 15, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Our group has been visiting Doral for the past 11 years. Before Marriott took over management, the resort spiraled into a nightmare regarding service and hotel amenities. Ever since Marriott took the reins, we have seen nothing but improvement. Service is excellent, the rooms are mostly renovated, the restaurants upgraded and the golf is outstanding.

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