“Hello, Pretty!” was the welcome we got from Amelia, the friendly blue and green parrot whose main gig is being the mascot of the Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island. We recently took a short flight to the Florida property for a long weekend–now that we have a little one tagging along on our travels, short flights and a relaxing atmosphere are sine qua non. A 40-minute drive from Jacksonville airport and we were right on the beach, enjoying the waves and warmth. The hotel is nestled among rolling sand dunes, and several boardwalks connect to the private beach, where the crew is eager to help you get settled and entertained.
The style of the Amelia Island Ritz-Carlton draws from a successful blend of old versus new, infusing personality and a touch of grandeur to the resort while keeping it refreshed. The original lobby and bar areas preserve aged wood for a clubby atmosphere, while the signature restaurant Salt is elegant and contemporary. The rooms have all been renovated with light colors and beach-chic, while bathrooms boast beautifully preserved carrara marble. Even the base level rooms have a partial view of the ocean, and are available up to the eighth floor, the top of the hotel. Each of the 446 rooms also has a balcony or terrace and include 45 suites.
The pool areas are the stars of this show- all three of them! The main winding pool hosts a live reggae band, playing my favorite Bob Marley and other beachy tunes. The kiddie pool right next to it was a favorite of our baby girl, who loved the fun spraying fountains and waddling knee deep from one side to the other. The spa pool is adults-only for a quiet break from families and kids.
Four restaurants are on the property, with enough variety to keep your taste buds entertained. We loved eating al fresco at Cafe 4750 for breakfast and lunch. The staff was friendly and accommodating for requests for a high-chair or an orange for the baby. The Campanelle truffle pasta was so delicious I placed an order to go on our last day! The award-winning restaurant Salt has a beautiful bar area with tall sectionals for a touch of privacy, perfect for starting out a date night. The main dining room has a prime ocean view, maximized by sprawling windows. For special occasions, the Chef’s Table in the kitchen can be booked for a front-row seat to the action, and the menu customized for the lucky patrons.
My husband loved the private championship golf course designed by Mark McCumber and Gene Littler, which was right at the doorstep of the hotel. The twilight rates were a steal, even with club rental. Private tutoring sessions are also available.
We enjoyed friendly service throughout our stay, being greeted by name and followed up with on requests. The town of Amelia Island itself is a 15-minute drive away, and is full of charming restaurants and boutiques. Our favorite fish-shack, Timoti’s, was a highlight of the trip with fresh bouncy shrimp and delicious fish. A Harris Teeter is just a couple minute drive away if supplies are needed. At the end of the day, it is always nice to return home to the Ritz-Carlton. Until next time, Amelia Island!