Varadero Golf Club and the Xanadu Mansion
Since the Revolution of 1959, not many Americans have had the opportunity to test their skills at the Varadero Golf Course, one of the finest golf courses in the Caribbean. However, Canadians and Europeans frequent the course regularly and insist it offers all the challenges offered by the finest Ocean courses in the world.
The course’s intrigue intensifies for those who are able to procure one of the six prestigious suites at the legendary Xanadu Mansion, once the resort home to French millionaire Irenee Dupont de Nemours, his 8 children and 35 grandchildren.
Born in 1876, Irenee Dupont de Nemours led the esteemed Dupont corporation to prominence on the global scene. His vision and development of the Xanadu and this memorable golf course testified to his success and to the success of Dupont Corporation.
Irenee established his presence at Varadero with his 90,000 pesos purchase of 180 hectares on the Hicacos Peninsula. The investment include 8 kilometers of virgin beaches. Rather than build on the beach, Dupont decided to build his mansion on the rocky hills of San Bernadino overlooking the course and the sea.
The home enjoys a panoramic view of the course and the magnificently private beaches. It bears the name British author Samuel Taylor assigned to the exotic palace that was home to Chinese warrior Kublas Khan.
No stone was left unturned at Xanadu in Varadero. The 4-story home included 11 bedrooms with adjoining baths, three large terraces to enjoy the surrounds, seven balconies and a private dock. In the basement, Dupont installed an $11,000 organ that could be played play automatically or manually. Two shafts were installed to carry music to the mirrador and to ensure that guests were not bothered by the music when in their rooms.
The wood used to hand carve the stairs, ceilings, hand rails and columns was imported from Santiago de Cuba. Italian and Spanish marble were imported for the rich floors. By the time he was done with the house in 1930, DuPont had spent $1,300,000 on his Varadero mansion.
The original golf course was intended to be 18 holes but Herbert Strong’s plan was sidetracked in favor of a 9-hole course designed by Sim Cuthrie. Part of the problem was the soil. Only the first four holes were built on natural soil. Construction on the course began in 1931.
In September 1933, the course was devastated by a hurricane that destroyed the greens and washed away many of the holes. In 1934, Dupont began bringing in thousands of tons of new soil. By 1936, the course was in play.
Eventually, the Dupont estate expanded to include more than 1328 acres. Much of the land was acquired at a price of $0.04 per square meter. The value of the estate increased immeasurably when the causeway and power plant were constructed.
The spectacular gardens are compelling. Luxurious orchids, coconut trees, healthy vegetables and many endemic plants cohabitate peacefully in some of the most enchanting garden settings in all the Caribbean. A stay at the Xanadu includes use of the beach and golf course while residing in almost unimaginable luxury. With six spacious suites on the second floor, the décor is intended to replicate the original interior of the 1930’s. Antique furniture, large comfortable beds and marble baths set the tone for what will be a great experience.
Rooms offer cable television, a safe, a mini-bar and air-conditioning. Most rooms open onto the terraces and have large balconies with dynamic ocean views. Each room at the Xanadu is different. Each suite has its own name and distinct personality. Everything at the Xanadu Mansion is large. The international dining room, located on the Xanadu’s main floor, may be the finest restaurant in Cuba. The spacious wine cellar is fully stocked with wines from 18 different countries but can’t help but lead one to wonder what it was like when DuPont resided there.
The popular Bar Mirador Casa Blanca is located on the third floor and offers a wonderful view of activity on the course. Sociability reigns as sun-drenched golfers and beachgoers meet to review the day’s activities, missed putts, great chips and miraculous recoveries.
DuPont passed away in the United States at age 85 on December 13, 1963, one day after Cuba opened the Xanadu as the “Las Americanas” restaurant. Interested in “in the know” places and accommodations in magical Cuba? Contact Yordi or Dave at Info@travelguidecuba.com
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