Thursday, January 28, 2010

BRAZIL Garapua Beach Resort, Ilha de Tinhare

While the experts boldly calculate the golf construction that will inevitably occur in and around Rio de Janiero, the real development action today is taking place in Bahia, a state in northeastern Brazil that has just four existing golf courses.

With its sunny beaches and sprawling rain forests, Bahia is already a popular vacation destination for many Brazilians. What Bahia doesn’t yet have, and what it needs to attract international travelers, are more golf courses. The need is being addressed, however, as the state’s tourist office reports that eight new courses are either in planning or under construction.

One of those courses is expected to take shape on Ilha de Tinhare, a small island that’s 40 miles south of Salvador, in the Bay of All Saints (Baia de Todos os Santos). The tourism office says that Ilha de Tinhare is the 10th most-visited place in Brazil.

The course will be part of the Garapua Beach resort community, which is being developed by Harlequin Hotels & Resorts. Last year, Dave Ames, the company’s chairman, visited Brazil to talk up the project, which is to include villas and apartments and some “branded” amenities, notably a Gary Player “signature” golf course, a Pat Cash tennis academy, and a Trader Vic’s restaurant.

As of late 2009, Harlequin hadn’t officially signed any of those brands, nor had it closed on the purchase of the 1,700-acre tract where Garapua Beach will be built. But negotiations are said to be underway.

The negotiations with Player will probably go smoothly. As the World Edition reported in November 2008, Harlequin has hired Player to design a golf course for the 500-acre Marquis Estate on the northeastern coast of St. Lucia.