GreenLinks offers suites and concierge service at Lely Resort

By Cynthia Boal Janssens, Contributor

NAPLES, Fla. -- For the past 10 years, the 2,600-acre Lely Resort has been attracting golfers from all over Southwest Florida.

Its Flamingo Island course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. in 1990, is already a classic in an area where new golf courses have been built at a staggering rate. And Lee Trevino's Mustang Course, opened in 1996, is also a popular play. Together, the pack a 1-2 wallop for any level of golfer. (There is also a third course, The Classic designed by Gary Player, but it is private.)

But it has always been difficult to stay and play at Lely, as if you were at a full-fledged golf resort. And it could be tough to get the good tee times. Typically, you would either have to lease a condo or house at Lely and play as a renter, or you would have to drive in and pay a hefty day rate. (Many folks on Marco Island do just that.)

That has all changed now that the developer Terrabrook has opened GreenLinks Golf Resort. This all-suites resort is located next to the main golf clubhouse, itself an imposing Mediterranean-style building which opened in 2001. Together, GreenLinks and the Lely golf clubhouse offer a total resort experience, including concierge services.

I loved the entrance to GreenLinks: It is a putting green on which there are three golfers, cast in bronze. One is lining up his putt, one is tending the flag, the other is observing. It is especially riveting when lit at night. (Almost as pretty as the trademark bronze horses fountain which greets visitors at the main entrance to Lely off State Route 41).

GreenLinks resort is a cluster of low, white Florida-style buildings with aqua shutters and silver roofs. These contain 56 two- and three-bedroom suites that may be rented on a nightly basis. These "suites" are actually full condos that are available in five floor plans, so there is plenty of room for your group to spread out.

There are the usual resort amenities: A small clubhouse with a swimming pool, hot tub and fitness center and brand new tennis courts.

While you are certainly welcome to cook in your fully-equipped kitchen, many visitors take advantage of the Flamingo Island Grille Room, located in the golf club house, which is open for three meals, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

What is especially nice about GreenLinks is its concierge program. When you make your reservations you can also lock in your tee times which will automatically be billed to your account. You need only take your yellow receipt to the starter and you are on your way.

"We do everything from make dinner reservations for restaurants in downtown Naples to setting up tee times on the beautiful courses that we sit on," explains Erik Swanson, guest services manager.

"Lely accepts tee times 60 days out, so when you make your reservation you tell us when you want to play. We put a tracer in your file and make your tee times as soon as those dates are available. We keep track of it instead of you having to do it."

GreenLinks is operated by Sunstream Resorts which is also building BellaSerra, another luxury resort in Naples which will late this year. Bella Serra will also offer concierge golf arrangements for the Lely courses.

Swanson says that while GreenLinks does attract some families, its guests are mostly golfers and those wanting a quiet getaway. "There's not a lot of activity. Not a lots of kids yelling and jumping about. It's pretty quiet and our guests like it that way."

Ladies will like it, too. Not only are the prices good, but the courses are extremely playable (I favor the Flamingo course, even though it was tougher) and Naples is just 10 minutes away. With all of its shopping, restaurants, art galleries and ambiance, Naples is a great place to dine and play.

GreenLinks' suites have already proven so popular that some visitors have stayed for two months during the season.

And, be careful, or you may be tempted to stay longer yourself by becoming an owner. The GreenLinks sales office (all units will eventually be individually owned) is right next to the tennis courts. You can't miss it.

Just the facts

GreenLinks Golf Resort
7990 Mahogany Run Lane
Naples, FL 34113
Phone: (239) 732-5532
Fax: (239) 732-5561
Toll-free: (888) 992-2099


From I-75, take exit 101 and go south on County Road 951 for five miles. Turn right on Grand Lely Boulevard. Turn left on Lely Resort Boulevard. Turn left at Greenlinks entrance.

GreenLinks introductory golf packages are extremely well-priced. They include suite accommodations, full breakfast, one round of golf per day, cart fees and a bucket of range balls. Based on a foursome, the rate for a two-bedroom suite is $88 per person (through May 31) and $70 per person (through Sept. 30). For a three-bedroom suite, the rate is $91 and $73.

Golf courses

Flamingo Island and Mustang
8202 Lely Resort Boulevard
Naples, Fla. 34113
(239) 793-2223

Course Ratings

Flamingo Island:
Tips: 7,171 yards, 136/75.0
Back: 6,527 yards, 128/71.9
Middle: 6,018 yards, 123/69.8 (131/74.8 for women)
Forward: 5,377 yards, 123/71.4 Mustang:
Tips: 7,217 yards, 141/75.2
Back: 6,691 yards, 125, 72.5
Middle: 6,033 yards, 119/69.5 (130/74.8 for women)
Forward: 5,197 yards, 120/70.5 Mustang -- Yardage: 7,217. Slope: 141. Rating: 75.2.
Flamingo Island -- Yardage: 7,171. Slope: 136. Rating: 75.0.

Cynthia Boal Janssens is a former newspaper writer and editor turned freelance writer. She is the former travel editor and Sunday magazine editor of The Detroit News. In addition, she has worked for newspapers in California, Georgia, New York and Pennsylvania. She is a graduate of Ohio University.

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