Cigar Aficionado

Coeur d'Alene Golf & Spa Resort

So here's the thing. There's this floating green and they say it's the only one in the world. If you don't play golf, you might not see the big deal. But a big deal it is at the Coeur d'Alene Golf & Spa Resort, in northern Idaho. The floating green has become the resort's logo and is even on a Christmas tree ornament.

The golf course itself sits between a glacial lake and some of the Rocky Mountains. Even if you don't play, walk the course and decompress. The views are stunning. Geraniums and juniper trees line the fairways and greens. Little wonder the course has won awards for its beauty. Just be prepared to duck as duffers tackle the challenge of a 6,803-yard, par-71 course.

The most challenging hole is No. 14, the floating green. Golfers usually tee up anywhere from 135 to 175 yards away, depending on how far the green, controlled by cables and buoyed by steel drums, has "floated."

"It's an intimidating shot," says golf pro Andy Mackimmie, adding that about 25,000 balls end up in the water every year. One is mine, but at least it went straight and did not make a big splash.

Golf is the top draw here, but the resort owners have made an effort to diversify. In 2006, it opened a completely renovated 15,000-square-foot, $10 million spa, tripling the size of the original. I particularly enjoyed a room with an immense fireplace in front of a window that looks out on the lake, and the shower that hits you from every direction. The "private barber" area is lavish, including a bright red leather barber chair.

The luxury of the spa is not matched by every room, but you'll be extremely comfortable. The key is to get a room or suite with a view of the lake and sit on the balcony at sunset. Nothing tops that.

The resort's eateries include Italian and casual cuisine, and you also have the opportunity to dine—of course—on a floating restaurant. Beverly's, on the seventh floor, is the most ambitious and has won a Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator, Cigar Aficionado's sister publication. When it comes to the food, stay close to the more simply prepared dishes, especially the meats. A $53 elk chop was on the menu the night I visited.

Ultimately, the Coeur d'Alene is about three things: First is golf. Second is the spa. Last but certainly not least is the lake. The lake makes everything about this resort unique.

Oh yeah, and the floating green. They wanted me to mention that again. (Jeez!)