Coeur d' Alene Resort
by Ron Hodges
Coeur d' Alene, Idaho - I jumped at the opportunity to visit the Coeur d' Alene Resort in Idaho on Lake Coeur d' Alene. The rooms with lakefront views are so magnificent it seems as though you can reach out and touch the water.
There are special touches that make the rooms even more appealing - an in-room, gas log fireplace - an outdoor landing with tables and chairs set to one side out of the way of the view - a walk-in change room, closet, etc - the whole room is laid out without clutter on two-levels - the King-sized bed (with two dimmer controlled lamps) on the upper level and the couch, coffee table and desk on the lower level.
The Coeur d' Alene Resort also has deluxe spa facilities, both indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a bowling alley, a 5 Star restaurant, lounge, etc. In fact, the Coeur d' Alene Resort was named the top resort in North America in 1990 and has remained in the top ten ever since.
But, Hey! All this tied up together and wrapped with a gold ribbon isn't what makes this a famous place to visit. No, it's the Coeur d' Alene Golf Course. Rated by Golf Digest magazine as America's Most Beautiful Golf Course, it draws golfers from all over the world.
On our first morning we boarded the Spirit of Coeur d' Alene for a breakfast cruise. We munched on a beautifully presented buffet and enjoyed the changing panorama of lake, mountains and trees. It was from this vantage point I first got a glimpse of the Coeur d' Alene golf course. Lucky me, because I returned at 11am for the most beautiful round of golf I ever played - the course that is, my golf as usual wasn't so pretty. I came within an inch of bagging an Eagle on the 4th hole, but didn't. At least that¹s how I remember it now - maybe in a few years I'll remember that I got that eagle.
Here's a unique feature - the green for the 14th hole is on a small floating island offshore from the main course. You tee off just above the beach and put your shot on the green. Once there you board a small, enclosed, electric powered boat and your caddie putt-putts you to the the dock on the little green island for your final putt to hole out. Each twosome on the Coeur d' Alene course gets a state-of-the art golf cart with an ice chest, trash compartment, ball washer and a club washer on board. Each foursome is accompanied by a caddy, equipped with a range-finder that will give you instant and accurate distances to the electronics on the pin flag - all of this included with the green fees.
Getting on the floating green was a challenge too - purely the intimidation of it. I shot pretty good up to that point, but overshot the green on my first try at getting on the island and then, well, then I had more trouble.
Two mahogany wood boats, built locally, run the 3 miles of lake between the resort hotel and the golf course landing. It¹s a beautiful and exhilarating ride. The boats run every half hour. It is truly amazing to see this course so perfectly maintained, even in early April, the course looked gorgeous. There's a large pro shop with the latest equipment and a small snack shop suitable for light lunches and a view of the lake. There are tennis courts and a white sand beach to keep spouses entertained. There are rest rooms available as you play the course, but they are covered from view by landscaped bunkers. Inside they are roomy, with luxury appointments and blue carpet. Only rubber spikes are allowed on the course and that means if you come they will outfit your shoes with rubber spikes or will loan you a pair of shoes free.
That evening we visited the Wine Cellar restaurant and bar in the small village of Coeur d' Alene. It is just a couple of blocks from the resort. You enter at street level, but the restaurant is "underground" on the basement level. A piano player plays jazzy blues tunes. The eclectic menu offers pizza to gumbo, paella to shrimp Diane fettuccine and oriental beef kabobs to Greek chicken.
The next day we ran over to Spokane, across the border in Washington State, where we had lunch at the newly opened, 25,000 square foot The Bayou Brewing Company and Mardi Gras Restaurant in a room overlooking the swiftly flowing Spokane River. We gorged on Bayou Gumbo, Louisiana Crawfish Cakes, Alligator & Black Bean Quesadillas Boiled Crawfish, simmered in herbs and spices, and Northwest Steamers, simmered in white wine, with butter, fresh vegetables and diced red chilies. Oh, there was more, much, much more and it was all accompanied by wine and micro-brewery beers brewed on the premises.
When in Spokane, don't miss a visit to The Cathedral of St. John The Evangelist which awed us with its soaring gothic beauty, radiant leaded glass windows, majestic organ with 4,095 pipes and 86 stops, and the cathedral's carillon with 49 cast bells played from a keyboard.
That evening we had dinner at the Mars Hotel & Casino ("It's Out of this World") - inspired by the Grateful Dead rock band and in particular the group's creative leader the late, great Jerry Garcia. It is no wonder this hotel, casino and entertainment complex dances the light fantastic between the merely eclectic and being surreal.
The Mars Hotel, although still under restoration will rival La La Land hotels like the successful Mondrian on the Sunset Strip, a magnet for rock stars and the like. Guest room restoration hasn't started yet, so there's no overnight stay for travelers, but the bar and entertainment venues are rockin'. So is the casino - yes, casino. I didn't understand the legalities entirely, but they've got blackjack tables and other forms of gambling here. We dined in the II Moon Cafe (Mars has two moons) on a very tasty halibut sautéed with extra-virgin olive oil, cilantro, fresh-squeezed lime juice, jalapenos, shallots and Riesling wine over a bed of linguine.