Despite the rumors, Florida's destinations consist of more than the theme parks and South Beach. With a vibrant array of "things to do" for travelers of every age and budget it is no wonder so many find so much to do in a state that might be known for her mouse ears but is also no stranger to playing host to vacationers as diverse as this destination.
Whether escaping for a well-deserved family vacation, participating in a business conference, or attending a fabulous ocean-side wedding, guests of Amelia Island Plantation Resort by Omni Resorts find themselves firmly rooted in pleasure and luxury. Nestled at the tip of a barrier island off the Northeast Florida coast, the opulent resort is a 45 minute drive from Jacksonville International Airport, three hour drive from Orlando, and a world away from daily cares.
Amelia Island Plantation has a 40 year history, but a recent $85 million. "Re-Imagination" has made the resort more appealing than ever. An introduction to the 1350 acre property starts at the welcome center where guests are assigned to one of the 404 oceanfront rooms and suites or 330 spacious villas, many of which line the fairways of the resort's spectacular golf courses.
Weddings and business gatherings have access to 80,000 square feet of flexible meeting space. The Onsite Conference Center can accommodate banquets, weddings, social events and conferences from 20 to 1800 guests. Three grand ballrooms, all divisible into separate sections, thirty breakout rooms, a pre-function area, and outdoor locations such as the lush Magnolia Garden and Walker's Landing offer the ultimate in meeting flexibility. A loading dock, on-site conference professionals, recreational services for team-building, food and beverage services, and business center insure that functions run smoothly.
Guests are constantly swaddled in luxury and AAA Four-Diamond service. Their most difficult task is choosing between the three and a half miles of wide, uncrowded beach with shade-providing cabanas or the largest pool deck in Northeast Florida. The pool offers tidy changing facilities and tiered lounge seating with ample chaise lounges for comfortable relaxation -- no need to rush down in the morning to "reserve" chairs.
Laze by the Adult Serenity Pool and fire pit, family-friendly Splash Pool and fire pit, or the kid-friendly Splash Park. The Oceanside bar and grill offers fabulous "Floribbean" fare and cocktails with pool service or a sit-down menu. Don't miss the Rum + Tequila Experience, Tuesday through Saturday, from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
Ranked as one of Top 121 Golf Resorts by Conde Nast Traveler, the resort is a must-play golf destination. Three award-winning golf courses showcase 54 holes of blissful championship golf, with seven seaside holes offering stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. Guests whose golf skills are not quite up to par can improve their game at the Golf Academy, using the latest in teaching technology with video stroke analysis and a GC2 Game Changer Launch Monitor. Heron's Cove Adventure Golf, an 18 hole nautical themed miniature golf course, is available for those with a lesser golf drive.
The plantation is a world-renowned tennis resort with 23 Har-Tru fast-dry clay tennis courts and professional instruction at the Cliff Drysdale Tennis School. Racquet Park includes a fitness center, indoor-outdoor lap pool, and workout room; another state-of-the-art health club is available at the hotel. Other recreation opportunities include paddle boarding, kayaking, horseback riding, boat rides, fishing and swimming, biking, or walking on seven miles of the property's paved paths.
After an invigorating workout guests refresh themselves at the resort's nature-inspired spa, a luxury spa with sixteen treatment rooms. The spa lounge overlooks private gardens and a glassy lake. Options include sipping herbal tea in the tranquil lounge; a signature natural ion treatment, the Seaside Sensory Journey, which boosts new cell growth; or pampering treatments from Swedish Massages and Aromatherapy Massages to mani-pedis and a full-service hair salon. Guests can get in touch with their inner selves at the Spa Treehouse, a calming yoga retreat
Gastronomic satisfaction comes in the form of nine culinary options, offering meals that range from casual to gourmet. The main focus is on southern-style, farm-to-table, and fresh seafood, but burgers and ice cream are easily available for meals on the lighter side.
Rounding out the amenities are a Nature Center and boutique shopping village with designer clothing, gourmet food, art galleries and souvenirs. Amelia Wheels rents Segways, bikes, and gas-powered golf carts so visitors are free to explore on their own. Once guests plant themselves on Amelia Island they find that they really do grow accustomed to it!
Note: In the spirit of full disclosure, I was neither paid to write this article nor do I have any relationship with the commercial entities named in this article.
Photo Credit: Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort