Nestled deep in 900 wooded acres of rolling hills in the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area on Florida’s Gulf Coast, lies Innisbrook: A Salamander Golf & Spa Resort. Only twenty miles from Tampa International Airport, the resort appeals to visitors seeking the ultimate golf resort experience in a locale that is easily accessible and within minutes of the beaches on the Gulf of Mexico.
The sprawling property features seventy-two holes of championship golf, four restaurants and three bars, the Innisbrook Golf Academy, eleven tennis courts, the luxurious Salamander Spa with twelve treatment rooms and state-of-the-art fitness center, six heated swimming pool complexes, a nature preserve and three conference halls with 100,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space.
Owned by Sheila C. Johnson and operated by Salamander Hotels & Resorts, Innisbrook’s distinctive architecture is inspired by the back-to-nature movement, when eco-conscious architects designed buildings to mesh with their environment. The structures blend beautifully into the pristine nature, helping guests effortlessly become a part of their peaceful surroundings.
Innisbrook is the most infamous of Salamander Hotel and Resort’s Golf Collection. The property boasts four daring courses, all designed by golf legend Larry Packard, including the North course, the South course, the Island course and the world- renowned Copperhead course, which is home to the PGA Tour’s annual Valspar Championship held every March. The property has consistently received top accolades such as Golf Magazine’s “Top 100 You Can Play,” and Golf Digest’s “Top 75 Golf Resorts in America.”
Golf superstars such as Jordan Spieth and Charl Schwartzel have taken on the challenge of the Copperhead’s “Snake Pit” – the final three holes of the lengthy 7,340-yard course – being a part of the few that have come out victorious. The course recently underwent a six-month restorative enhancement including the regressing of all fairways and roughs, the rebuilding of each green and the reshaping of the bunkers to stay true to Packard’s masterful design. Fifteen new forward tees were also added to enhance the experience for players of all skill levels, but the length remains challenging for tour professionals. An additional tier was added to the driving range and a new practice green was also added, which may very well be necessary to prepare for an experience Innisbrook describes as “the copperhead bites back.”
The island course features six holes bordered by beautiful Lake Innisbrook and lateral water hazards that require pinpoint accuracy on tee shots and approaches. Similar in terrain to the copperhead course, the north course is known for its daunting par 3s, well-bunkered greens and recent course enhancements including additional yardage to selected par 4s and 5s. The par 71 south course is reminiscent of a links-style design and has become a favorite for its rolling hills and breezes sweeping in from the Gulf of Mexico, just minutes away by property-shuttle.
Apart from golf, the property invites guests to stay active at the Innisbrook Tennis Center, home to eleven Har-Tru® courts, a fully stocked pro shop and three racquetball courts. The resort regularly customizes programs for players from beginner to advanced levels and offers daily resort clinics, match play arranging, junior clinics and summer camp programs.
The family-fun never ends with Innisbrook Resort’s six heated swimming pools scattered around the 900 acres of property grounds. The favorite of the resort is the enormous Lochness Monster Pool. There’s an activity for everyone with two sand beach areas, a fifteen-foot waterfall, two winding water slides, water volleyball, a separate plunge pool with bubbling jets and fountains, sunbathing areas, sand volleyball and a monster-sized spa that seats up to thirty-six people. During the summer months and holidays, the younger crowd is sure to enjoy the many poolside games and family activities put on by Innisbrook’s friendly staff.
For those who wish to just sit back and relax on their vacation, Innisbrook’s Salamander Spa takes the art of healing to an elevated level. Home to some of the world’s most sought-after spa therapists, balance and harmony within the mind and body can be achieved after a day of holistic restoration. Packages vary from an hour and a half to four refreshing hours of pampering services like an eighty-minute Salamander Signature Facial or an Aromatic Massage. The Salamander Spa is open Monday through Thursday from 9am to 6pm, Friday and Saturday from 9am to 7pm and Sunday from 9am to 5pm.
The property activities are only the beginning of a vacation at Innisbrook Golf & Spa Resort. The destination begs to be explored with spots like Honeymoon Island State Park. A resort shuttle drives nature lovers right to the edge of the white sands of the Gulf Coast’s most romantic beach. With strong currents along the island, travelers who enjoy scouring for shells will have a particularly good experience, as there is an incredible variety that gets deposited on the shore.
For additional information, please visit innisbrookgolfresort.com or call 727.942.2000. To interact with the resort socially, please visit @innisbrook on Facebook and Twitter, as well as @innisbrookresort on Instagram.