LOS CABOS, Mexico – Solmar Hotels & Resorts, a collection of seven all-suite properties in Los Cabos, has embraced the destination’s emphasis on environmental stewardship by implementing sustainable regulations and developing eco-friendly projects.
At Grand Solmar at Rancho San Lucas, a new resort fronting 1.2-miles of beachfront on the Pacific Ocean 15 minutes north of Cabo San Lucas, 106 acres of the development’s total of 834 acres has been preserved in its natural state. An additional 186 acres is dedicated to the golf course. Together totaling 292 acres, this parcel represents 35% of the development and has resulted in the creation of a low-density resort community. Utilities were buried underground to further preserve the site’s open space and natural beauty.
The Grand Solmar resort hotel, partially opened last year, preserved as much of the natural environment as possible, starting with a landscape palette of native vegetation. On the golf course, endemic species adapted to the region’s arid climate were used to minimize water usage. Finally, roads throughout the complex were engineered and contoured to preserve centuries-old trees and tall cardon cacti.
Course designer Greg Norman is very upbeat about the layout taking shape at Rancho San Lucas. Known for employing a ‘least-disturbance’ approach in his design projects, Norman has created an intricate routing that offers ocean views from 17 holes. The site’s contours and topography, he explained, are ideal for the routing of a world-class course. Earthmoving, he said, was kept to a minimum.
“We have three different ecosystems, which is very exciting,” Norman explained. The course meanders through a thick cactus forest creased by canyon-like arroyos before descending to enormous windswept dunes. The 7,260-yard layout also has a few holes on the beach, notably the par-3 third, which parallels the sea and will give players fine views of breaching whales during the winter months. A fall 2019 course opening is anticipated.
During a recent visit, Norman discussed numerous course enhancements at Rancho San Lucas, including re-vegetation plans to conserve flora and fauna. “We look at integrating indigenous landscapes and grass varietals that use the least amount of water,” he said. “Our goal is to build a sustainable course that is playable from all perspectives.”
The creation of wildlife habitats has been a boon to the region’s native fauna. The layout’s water holes, both beautiful and functional, have attracted numerous local species, from birds and hares to deer and bobcats, while simultaneously creating pleasant oases for the resort community’s guests and residents. The club also features a man-made lake at the par-3 17th hole that attracts ducks, cranes, egrets and other waterfowl.
Tees, greens and fairways at Rancho San Lucas are surfaced in Paspalum, a disease-tolerant, drought-resistant cultivar that requires a fraction of the amount of pesticides, insecticides and fertilizer required by normal grasses. Pasplaum tolerates brackish water and can be irrigated with recycled water, an important consideration in the Baja desert. The grass responds well to lower mowing heights; the speed of ball roll is comparable to that of hybrid Bermudagrass.
One of the defining characteristics of the links-style course at Rancho San Lucas is its revetted pot bunkers. These sharp-edged, steep-walled sandy pits are the product of EcoBunker, a British company with a patented technology that provides for the design and construction of golf bunkers that use recycled materials. The fairway and greenside bunkers at Rancho San Lucas, constructed from recycled artificial turf, are nearly identical to the natural sod-walled bunkers found on British seaside links courses. Resistant to wash-outs, the club’s synthetic low-maintenance bunkers are a first in Los Cabos.
“I wanted to be a differentiator,” said Norman, a two-time British Open champion. “There are a lot of great golf developments in Los Cabos, but I’m very pleased that Rancho San Lucas is the first to have revetted pot bunkers. Technology has helped us.”