Let the Good Times Roll
Mississippi’s Gulf Coast offers Good Times and plenty of Roll
When it comes to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, heed the words of famous blues musician BB King, “If you wanna have a ball – You gotta go out and spend some cash – Let the good times roll, let the good times roll – I don’t care if you’re young or old – Get together, let the good times roll”. It’s kind of a “fun-formula” actually, and I set out to confirm this with a few young and old friends on a four-day visit to Biloxi. From the moment I stepped off the plane, I kept the words in mind; want to have a ball, spend cash, make an assortment of good rolls, whether in the casino or on the golf course, and let the good times roll.
An easy flight into Gulfport, Mississippi lands you about 10 miles from Biloxi, and a selection of Vegas-style, resort hotels and casinos. Numerous golf courses, beautiful white sand beaches and the waters of the Gulf of Mexico await visitors to the area. There is definitely no shortage of things to do along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi year round. If exciting casino action, tasty southern cuisine, and some of the best golf courses in the country are not enough fun for you to make a visit, you could easily take in a live concert from a top national act, or maybe catch heart-pounding powerboat racing in early March. This awesome, once a year event is unique in the fact that spectators can view 40-foot power boats rumble at speeds over 150 mph only a few hundred feet away. No need for binoculars here, the boats are right in front of you!
On the other hand, if smokin’ fast boats are not your thing, maybe the rich history of American Music, which originates through the state of Mississippi, will pique your interest. It’s definitely one of my favorite things about Mississippi.
In the 1920’s, the Blues style of guitar playing originated in Mississippi by legendary guitarist Robert Johnson who is regarded as one of the best bluesmen to date. To put his legacy in perspective, modern musicians such as Eric Clapton and Keith Richards credit Robert Johnson with being the greatest folk blues guitar player, writer, and singer that ever lived. The roster of history-making musicians hailing from Mississippi is extensive and commemorated by more than 120 markers throughout the state by the Mississippi Blues Commission and The Blues Trail. Not only does Mississippi offer the birthplace of the blues, but the King of Rock n’ Roll Elvis Presley was born in Northern Mississippi. In the south, famous jazzman Jelly Roll Morton claimed to have invented Jazz music in the early 1900’s in the Biloxi, playing piano in local brothels. To honor this, a future Blues Trail marker will commemorate Biloxi’s contribution to the music history of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
If your personal fun-formula includes casino action, pampering in one of the spa’s, or just enjoying luxurious accommodations, look no further than the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and the Beau Rivage Hotel & Casino. Both hotels are located right on the beach, within a short walk of each other, and feature endless views of the Gulf of Mexico. While both top-notch, the two hotels are completely different in style and clientele, with the Hard Rock leaning to a contemporary or hip atmosphere, and the Beau Rivage lending itself to sophisticated European styled elegance.
Checking into the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, I recalled the “fun-formula”, except this time the lyrics came from the 80’s rock group, The Cars. “Let them brush your rock and roll hair, Let the good times roll”. Yeah, I was ready to rock, and you feel like a rock star in this hotel, because the hotel décor is memorabilia from virtually every aspect of rock n’ roll history. Autographed guitars from legendary rock gods hang on the walls, fancy get-ups worn by the likes of Prince and Madonna are on display, just to name a few. Rock history does not end in the lobby, the theme and rock star feeling carries over into the accommodations. Swanky-sleek rooms come equipped with an iPod dock and surround sound, a 42-inch plasma TV, stocked mini-fridge, huge bed, and an awesome 3-nozzle surround shower top off the luxury.
While the Beau Rivage Hotel Casino does not quite “Rock” as the Hard Rock does, it has no lack of character, and it fits the French meaning of “Beautiful Shore”. The hotel and casino borrow from the look of the Bellagio in Las Vegas, and you can feel the elegance from the moment you check in. The list of amenities is extensive at the Beau Rivage, from the European styled rooms; the selection of fine restaurants, to the rejuvenating spa, this hotel will meet every want and need to the fullest.
Maybe the finest amenity of this hotel is actually located 20 minutes north of the beachfront property. Fallen Oak Golf Club is reserved for guests of the Beau Rivage only, and continues the first-class service and luxury of the hotel even before you get to the golf course. Book a tee time at the highly regarded Tom Fazio designed Fallen Oak and get ready for more than just 18 holes of incredible golf, this is an unbelievable golf journey! Check this out; a fully stocked stretch limo transports you to the golf course in absolute style, from this you can feel a certain anticipation of something extraordinary is in store for you. Upon arrival to the course, your golf shoes quickly go for a complete polish and spike change, clubs get whisked-off for cleaning, assigned to each guest is a personalized locker, and shoes are waiting inside after you check in at the pro shop. The attention to service continues, when a professional caddie greets you with warm southern hospitality and kindly starts a friendly chat, which is the beginning of what will feel like your best friend by the end of the round.
If quality golf is what you want in a “fun-formula”, the Biloxi area features an exceptional list, and don’t think for a moment that the above is the only quality choice, the other golf courses within 30 minutes of Biloxi are nothing short of fantastic as well. Take the Jack Nicklaus Signature design Grand Bear Golf Club for instance, located along the Desoto National Forrest, and set among 1,700 pristine acres. This is the kind of golf course where golfers become part of the environment. No homes, no roads, no faux waterfalls, and no power-lines, just complete and utter golfing silence and serenity. Combine the quietness of the location, and add in a Jack Nicklaus golf course, and you have the makings for another special golf experience, and this one it exceptional.
Mississippi apparently has abundant locations and settings for great golf courses because the list continues with The Preserve Golf Club, located on a 240-acre savannah, and surrounded by an additional 1800-acre nature preserve, this secluded property is another wonderful golf experience devoid of anything but golf and nature. Former US Open Champion, and course architect Jerry Pate may have summed up The Preserve in one small comment, “Golf…the way nature intended”.
A short drive from The Preserve, another quality golf course is one not to leave off the list, and is a perfect one- two punch for those golfers wanting to play 36-holes at two different courses. The Davis love III designed Shell Landing Golf Club again follows suit with nature surrounding the layout. The golf holes feel like you are playing in the middle of the forest, they wind through beautiful wetlands, and jump in and out of tree lined playing corridors. From this visit, I concluded that Shell Landing is quite possibly the “Hidden Gem” of Biloxi.
As I learned from the four-day visit to Biloxi and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the BB King “fun-formula” worked perfectly. From the golf courses to the accommodations, and the restaurants and entertainment located on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, whether young or old, one can surely have a ball, spend some cash, and let the good times roll!