We have stayed at The Woodlands Resort a couple times - one time as part of a four day ninety hole golfing vacation (read about our South East Texas Golfing Vacation) and again in 2015 to enjoy the resort amenities and play one of our favorite golf courses. And each time the Resort has added something new or made some improvement to retain it on our list of the Best Resorts in Texas. On this visit, they had just completed a $75 million dollar expansion and renovation!
The Woodlands Resort and Conference Center sits on 350 acres of natural forest with over 200 different species of trees and the Resort has done a fantastic job of weaving the facilities into the natural setting. In addition to ponds with water features and waterfalls, The Woodlands Resort is beautifully landscaped with a wide variety of plants and colorful flowers. And within a two minute walk from your room you can be at the restaurant, the fitness center, the tennis courts, or the pro shop.
In late 2014, The Woodlands Resort completed a 20 month $75 million dollar renovation and expansion. Part of the expansion included adding a new building (Fairway Pines III) with 184 guest rooms and suites, one side of which overlooks the 18th island green of the Panther golf course. In fact, I felt pretty good when after sinking an 8' putt on the 18th green, I got a standing ovation from several fellow golfers enjoying a drink on the patio of their 3rd floor room - turns out that was one of the only putts I made all day.
On this visit we stayed in the Fairway Pines II complex in a ground floor room with a patio that overlooks the Forest Oasis Pool Complex - hard to beat walking 20 feet out the patio door and jumping in the pool or hot tub or enjoying a drink from the Coolwater Cafe at the pool. Although I would have also enjoyed staying in the new Fairway Pines III overlooking the island green and heckling or cheering fellow golfers.
Our room was great and included: a king size very comfortable bed that I had a hard time getting out of each morning, a desk and workstation with upgraded and free Wi-Fi, an iPad mini for our use, a large flat screen which we never had time to watch, a mini fridge, a Keurig coffee maker, a table and easy chair, and a patio with two chairs and a small table - perfect!
Golf at The Woodlands Resort & Conference Center
But we didn't come to The Woodlands Resort to sleep in bliss, watch TV, or sit on our patio - we came to enjoy the golf and other resort amenities. The pro shop is a short par 4 walk from the Fairway Pines and there you can sign up to play either of two fantastic courses - the Golf Trail of The Woodland Oaks or Panther Courses. Both courses were owned and managed by Canongate which has a stable of some excellent private courses but in 2014 one of the most prestigious golf course owner/operator companies in the world (ClubCorp out of Dallas) purchased Oaks and Panther and made them a part of a portfolio of over 200 courses. Shortly after the purchase ClubCorp made significant on and off course improvements, the largest of which was redoing all of the sand bunkers (improved drainage and soft white sand) on Panther - unfortunately, it's now missing several granules of sand that I took home in my shoes, pockets, and hair because of spending so much time in the bunkers. The bunkers were so good, I felt obligated to try the vast majority of them!
On this trip we played Panther and it didn't disappoint us and, in fact, with the new bunkers it moved up a notch on our list of the Best Golf Courses in Texas and the Best Golf Courses in Houston. Some of what makes Panther one of the best includes:
In addition to that, what makes playing Panther fun is that it offers a little bit of everything - dog legs, water, challenging approach shots, some risk reward shots, and forced carries. Read our review of Panther to learn more. As a Woodlands Resort guest you can play Panther anytime but it is only open to the public during the week..
During your stay at The Woodlands make sure you sign up for a round on Oaks. Oaks is a private course that you can play as a Resort guest and it also has an excellent layout. It won't take you long to understand where the Oaks got it's name but in addition to the towering oaks, some of which are covered with that eerie draping gray moss, you'll find excellent conditions from tee to cup, water on 10 holes, large undulating greens averaging 4500 square feet of putting surface (most of which I used), huge green side and fairway bunkers (54 total), and generous fairways lined with oaks and beautiful homes sitting back under the trees. The Oaks Course is a very traditional 18 holes of golf - no trick shots, challenging but fair, and a relatively straight forward layout that is a real joy to play. Here is a link to our review of Oaks. Oaks also made our list of the Best Golf Courses in Houston.
The pro shop is well stocked with everything, including rental clubs, that you need to look good and hit the ball farther. Make sure you spend some time on the putting green and range before you head out. Service is fantastic. And above the pro shop is the Royal Mile Grill which overlooks a lake, the 8th hole of Oaks, and the putting green plus its got some very good food and a cool bar to pay off your bets.
Amenities at The Woodlands Resort & Conference Center
Some of the other improvements made to the resort in 2014 include: a new 3,036 square-foot “Living Room” connecting the three guest rooms wings which is ideal for informal gatherings or relaxing with a cold drink; an expanded arrival experience with a new entrance and a spectacular lobby featuring native Texas stone and massive three-story windows; a new lazy river winding 1,005 feet through the surrounding forest; a fully revitalized 60,000 square feet of meeting and event facilities, including the ballroom, boardrooms, breakout space, lobby and pre-function areas; and the new 156‐seat high-end steak house restaurant and lounge - Robard’s - with a private wine vault and outdoor patio overlooking the 18th hole island green.
In addition to some great golf, one of the other things that makes The Woodlands Resort special from our perspective are the amenities - so make sure you plan some time to enjoy:
On this visit, just after 18 holes of golf, we immediately headed over to the Spa for a Swedish Massage and Manicure/Pedicure (for the wife!). Wow! The massage (no, that is not me on the left or my wife or someone we found in my massage room!) was one of the best ever and I had to force myself to stay awake so I could enjoy it! The soft music, warm massage table, aroma of roses and lavender, hot towels and of course the massage itself was so relaxing and enjoyable I could have easily fallen asleep. I left the Spa stress free and with no kinks from 18 holes of golf - I was Advil free for over 4 hours. I was ready to do it again the next day, but no time! My wife also looked great and loved her pedicure and manicure. The Spa offers a wide variety of services ranging from several types of body nurturing, facials, nails, and more. Plus you can enjoy the Eucalyptus steam room, dry sauna and whirlpool hot tub.
By the way, if you're bringing some kids, they will have a blast enjoying the pools, lazy river, spray park, s'mores, swim in movie, and lots more kids activities.
Dining Options at The Woodlands Resort
I don't know about you but after a grueling bike ride (ok, it was a perfectly flat paved trail through the trees at The Woodlands), two sets of tennis, 18 holes of golf, and several laps in the pool and lazy river (ok, one lap on the river, a quick dunk in the jacuzzi and pool and the rest of the time lounging at the pool drinking delicious Pina Coladas and Margaritas) I'm ready for some calories and a new source of energy. And The Woodlands Resort has several options to give me the energy to keep going.
Sitting around the pool soaking up the rays and Margaritas, if you get hungry, you can get a bite to eat at the Coolwater Cafe which has a full bar and a large food menu. You can get appetizers like nachos, sandwiches and burgers, and more.
The Woodlands Resort Dinning Room serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Each meal has a large buffet selection as well as a lot of items that you can order off the menu. For example, the breakfast buffet was excellent and included a wide variety of fruits; rolls, bagels, biscuits and gravy; scrambled eggs; potatoes; bacon and sausage, a chef cooking omelets, pancakes and waffles to order; and lots more. There is plenty of indoor seating but the deck around half of the restaurant is our favorite place to enjoy a meal - it overlooks the 18th hole at Oaks and a huge lake with a water fountain and cascading waterfall. What a great way to start the day.
After golf, we enjoyed an outstanding lunch at Royal Mile Grille which is above the pro shop. The Grill has a full bar; floor to ceiling windows overlooking the 1st and 18th hole on Oaks, the putting green, and the lake; and a very good menu with a variety of items ranging from appetizers; soups and salads (the clam chowder was excellent); and a wide variety of sandwiches ranging from chicken salad to Philly Cheesesteaks to burgers.
Everyone we talked to said that we need to try Robard's Steakhouse for dinner. So we did - wow! It was so good and we had some much fun that I've dedicated a whole page to just our experience at Robard's - click on this link to A Fun Evening at Robard's Steakhouse. After such a great meal, thank God I only had to waddle a chip shot away to get back to our room where I immediately fell asleep in that comfy bed! And best of all I dreamt that I shot one over par and beat Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth in a round of golf. What a great way to end a perfect day and golf stay and play at The Woodlands Resort!
If you need to escape or have the time to explore, The Woodlands Resort is located close to a lot of fun things to see and do, some of which include:
What are you waiting for - call the Woodlands Resort and book a room for a fun weekend, romantic getaway, golf outing, or family vacation!
If you are planning a corporate retreat, reunion, or wedding (congratulations!), The Woodlands Resort and Conference Center is a perfect venue. You'll find full catering services, multiple wedding venue sites, banquet rooms, 60,000 square feet of meeting space, all the latest audio/video/electronic gear you'll need, and the services needed to make everything go smoothly.