The ‘Spa Trail’ and 6 other things we love about RTJ Golf Trail resorts

The ‘Spa Trail’ and 6 other things we love about RTJ Golf Trail resorts


We don’t talk enough about Spas here at Golf Trip Experts. But given how more and more golfers now rely on health and wellness practices to fortify their bodies and extend prime golfing years, we probably should. After all, top golf resorts nationwide are getting into the game when it comes to providing everything from whirlpool and sauna facilities to all manner of massages. In fact, travelers can even get manicures, pedicures and facials in more golf-related locations than ever before.

So it’s no surprise that one of the country’s leaders in destination golf has gone all-in on the spa revolution. Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, which offers a wide range of amenities at eight lodging locations throughout the state, has now launched the Spa Trail as well.

“We’ve got six world-class spas now — we’ve just opened the latest one in our Auburn-Opelika facility at Grand National, and it is spectacular,” says John Cannon, president of the RTJ Golf Trail. “And that attracts different demographics of customers to the state who are looking for a 360-degree experience beyond the golf course.”

In addition to the Auburn Marriott Opelika Resort & Spa at Grand National, spa facilities are now available at these RTJ Trail accommodations properties: The Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa (part of the Autograph Collection) in Point Clear; Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa; Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa; Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa; and Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa in Florence.

“From traditional warm stone massages to red carpet-ready facials, the RTJ Spa Trail features six spas across Alabama offering innovative treatments in exquisite settings,” says Taylor Fields, corporate director of spa for the RTJ Resort Collection. “From therapeutic massages to pampering treatments, the Spa Trail is ideal for individual golfers, couples traveling together or for groups of friends coming to play golf in Alabama.”

All of which gives traveling golfers yet another reason to head to the South where the hospitality continues to advance and evolve. And your itinerary will need to grow along with it to fit in all the golf, dining and amenities the RTJ Golf (and now Spa) Trail has to offer.

Other lodging options on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail include Montgomery Marriott Prattville Hotel & Conference Center at Capitol Hill and Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel.

And if all this isn’t enough to make you book your next golf getaway, here are six more reasons we love the lodging along the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail:

Water, Water, Everywhere

At The Grand Hotel in Point Clear, the water comes at you from all directions. Set on Mobile Bay with its own pier and water park, plus a waterfront boardwalk with hammocks and chair galore, most visitors’ biggest off-course dilemma is figuring out where to hang out and relax. The resort likes to say, “Swimming at the Grand Hotel is no ordinary adventure.” And that’s a pretty good description — in addition to multiple spots where you can just sit and soak up the sun while having drinks delivered poolside, there’s also a water slide and splash pad providing fun for the entire family.

The View from Above

Food and beverage takes center stage high above it all at the Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa where the revolving rooftop restaurant appropriately named 360 Grille takes you on a ride with stunning views of surrounding Florence. If you’re staying here, be sure to add this literal high-end dining experience to your itinerary (and don’t forget to make a reservation). And don’t stop there — Golf Trip Experts’ Eric Hart also loves Swampers Bar and Grille, calling it possibly the best bar-pub scene on the Trail. With all the Southern dishes you find yourself craving (from shrimp-and-grits to beer chili) plus live music and outdoor dining available, it makes for a perfect hangout after a day of golf. And the hotel is set right on the Tennessee River adjacent Wilson Dam, a National Historic Landmark, which you can walk across for some pretty amazing photos.

Swimming with History

Speaking of true top-shelf attractions, downtown Mobile has a pretty impressive skyline of its own. And guests of the Battle House Renaissance Hotel & Spa should make sure to take advantage of the heated rooftop pool to combine some time in the water with panoramic views. The Battle House is in the heart of downtown with a number of attractions within walking distance. And the hotel oozes historic luxury — the current building was built in 1908 (after the original, which was built in 1852, was destroyed by fire in 1905).

Tip of the Cap to the Old World

We’re suckers for any golf resort that sends a bagpiper out at sunset to enchant its guests, but the Renaissance Ross Bridge in Hoover has so much more than just a nod to the customs (and architecture) of the United Kingdom and Europe. Brock’s restaurant is a Golf Trip Experts favorite (the pasta dishes feel like they were crafted in Italy, and Porterhouse is so good it’ll make you weep). But the casual side of the resort is also perfectly appointed — the water park, within a relatively small footprint that never feels crowded, offers fun for all members of the family, and both indoor and outdoor pools and whirlpool tubs are available. And Ross Bridge is also centrally located to a big chunk of RTJ golf — the 18-hole course on property is among our favorites on the entire Trail, and Oxmoor Valley just down the road offers another 54 holes.

Belly Up to the (Wet) Bar

If it seems like we talk a lot about pools at Golf Trip Experts, it’s because we do. To us, there’s nothing better after a workout on the golf course than to find cool water and cool beverages. And if you can get both at the same time, more the better. And that’s why the Marriott Resort & Spa at Grand National in Opelika is another of our favorite places to stay. First, there are pools galore — both inside and outside. And if you’re looking for a resort where the kids have their own spot, the family waterpark is ready and waiting, while the Splash Bar is designed to serve adults looking to sip cocktails and watch sports on flatscreen TVs while soaking in a pool that actually has tables built into the water.

Get Your ‘Group’ On

Over in Prattville, not far from the state capital of Montgomery, the Marriott at Capitol Hill might be the winner when it comes to lodging for golf groups. The Golf Villas are a well-designed option for those looking for accommodations away from the main hotel — and the complex includes a gathering room with TV and pool table, the perfect spot for getting together after dinner to watch a game, settle some bets or whatever else strikes your late-night fancy. Capitol Hill also boasts one of the most dramatic holes on the entire Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail — the opening tee on the Judge overlooks the Alabama River and miles beyond, and it’s just the kind of shot that will pass Judge-ment on your golf game.

For more information about the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, visit

And for more on Alabama golf, visit

About the author

Darin Bunch

Award-winning golf-travel journalist Darin Bunch is Travel Editor for and an all-around good guy who plays hickory golf clubs and likes walking courses with his dogs — Ragsy, Franny and Theo. He’s the co-host and producer of the “Talking GolfGetaways” podcast with longtime friend, actor and comedian Mitch Laurance. Darin’s previous credits include Managing Editor of GolfGetaways Magazine; Owner and Publisher of Fairways + Greens Magazine; and Sunday Editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper. His trademark white goatee can reportedly be seen from space, and he lives in Bakersfield, Calif., but is working hard every day to move to Port Orford, Ore.