THE GRAND AT POINT CLEAR

On the eastern shore of Mobile Bay in Point Clear, Alabama lies the famed Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club and Spa. The Point Clear area is rich in Southern tradition and hospitality and the hotel has been open for more than 150 years. The community is peaceful and framed by large 300-year-old oak and magnolia trees. Bayside traditional Southern mansions extend for miles to the south towards Gulf Shores where Mobile Bay runs into the Gulf of Mexico. This is the South that many dream of.

The Grand Hotel has been completely renovated and features a world-class spa, large bayside pool area, marina and two championship golf courses across the street that are part of The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

The Lakewood Golf Club is within walking distance of the Grand Hotel and features the Azalea and Dogwood courses. Both are championship layouts and can be stretched to well past 7,000 yards. The Azalea is the tougher of the two with the Dogwood being a bit more “player-friendly,” as they say in these parts. Both courses were renovated within the last couple of years and have state-of-the-art drainage systems. This allows the courses to be playable almost immediately after rainstorms.

The Azalea Course features many doglegs and requires the player to shape the ball for optimum scoring. The signature hole is number 14, a par-5 of 531 yards with an island green. When I was playing this hole I struck up a conversation with a homeowner whom I spotted fishing the lake on this hole. He said the fishing was great in and around the lakes and streams on both courses, but watch out for occasional gators and water moccasins. Deer can also be seen roaming the fairways on this natural layout.

The Dogwood course features more wetland areas, especially in the beginning as it winds its way towards the Grand Hotel. Both courses were in excellent shape and feature some of the smoothest and fastest Bermuda greens that I have ever putted. The courses can be walked, though the Dogwood is a bit easier because the greens and tees are closer together.

Staying There

The Grand Hotel encompasses 550 acres and is lined with boardwalks so guests can take in the bay vistas from anywhere on the property. Most of the rooms offer harbor or bay views with downtown Mobile in view. The layout of the property is a semi-circle around Point Clear and you are never far from the amenities.

The Marina is located adjacent to the spa and is home to many medium-sized yachts. Bay tours or fishing trips can be arranged from this convenient location. There are many dining options, including the Bayview Restaurant featuring Cajun and Creole cuisine. The Pelican’s Nest and Blue Marlin Bar are also popular and are located at the large bayside pool area. Adjacent to the pool area is a manmade beach and lagoon area.

Built in 1847, the hotel offers 37,000 square feet of event space with 23 meeting rooms. In the 1860s, the hotel served as a Confederate Hospital and in the 1940s it was used as a training base by the Army Air Corps.

A couple of miles to the north of the hotel is Fairhope, whose bayside parks, magnolia tree-lined streets and traditional Southern architecture were caught on film for scenes of “Forrest Gump.”

The Fairhope area has kept its original flavor due to tough zoning restrictions. There are several blocks of antique and clothing stores with fine dining available. The Fairhope pier and park area are just a couple of blocks from the shopping district and again offer great bay views as well as tranquility.

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are about 30 minutes south of the Grand Hotel and feature miles of beach property on the Gulf of Mexico. New Orleans is about three hours away by car.

For more information on the Grand Hotel visit www.marriottgrand.com or call 251-928-9201.