By Robert Vasilak – Golf Inc. Magazine
One of the biggest developers in South America has hired Arnold Palmer’s company to design golf courses for upscale resort communities in Uruguay and Brazil.
The communities are being developed by JHSF Participacoes, SA, a Sao Paolo-based company that owns the Fasano hotel chain. The courses have been designed by Eric Wiltse, an associate in Palmer’s office in Orlando, Fla.
JHSF expects to break ground on the course in Uruguay, part of a private community called Las Piedras, in March. Las Piedras, which translates as “the rocks” — the property is said to be strewn with boulders — has been designed to attract well-heeled South Americans in search of second homes in a luxury setting. It’ll include a Fasano hotel with meeting space, 205 Fasano-branded villas, high-end estate lots, a spa, an equestrian center, polo fields, a private beach and other attractions.
Las Piedras will take shape on a site — either 480 or 1,200 acres, depending on the source — just outside Punta del Este, a popular summertime destination along Uruguay’s southern coast. The town is the center of a vacation area roughly 100 miles east of Montevideo that’s been called “the St. Tropez of Uruguay” and “the Riviera of South America,” and its beaches and night life have lured high-rollers for decades.
In the fall of 2011, JHSF plans to break ground on its track in Brazil, the centerpiece of a 1,730-acre community called Fazenda Boa Vista. The community will feature single-family and estate houses (some on 20-acre parcels), a Fasano hotel with 26 condos and 22 two-bedroom suites, a spa, three polo fields, an equestrian center, several soccer fields and a boat house.
Fazenda Boa Vista is in Porto Feliz, a city of about 50,000 that’s 60 miles northwest of Sao Paolo. The property has long been the home of what’s been described as a fairly ordinary nine-hole course. Randy Thompson of American Golf Course Design, a firm based in Santiago, Chile, has redesigned the existing nine and added a new nine that opened last year.
Fazenda Boa Vista’s Palmer-designed, 7,200-yard course will be capable of hosting professional tournaments. The site, Wiltse has said, reminds him of the rolling hills of Kentucky, and the course will be built amid the property’s lowlands, with some holes located along a river that runs through it.
The course at Las Piedras will probably open nine holes at a time, most likely in 2012 and 2013, while the one at Fazenda Boa Vista could open all 18 holes sometime in 2013.