Ponte Vedra Inn & Club
A Sun-Kissed Soujourn
Ponte Vedra, Florida is a seaside community located just 18 miles south of Jacksonville and a 35 minute drive from its airport. At the turn of the 20th century, Ponte Vedra Beach was a pristine wilderness of sand dunes, swamps, alligators, twisted oaks and wild palmetto trees. It had its beginnings as a humble mining town attracting miners to its mineral-rich lands and pristine sands. Once mining ceased, a stately, elegant community began rising out of the sand.
The Ponte Vedra Inn and Club was opened in 1928 and affluent families from across the nation began traveling here to experience its fine offerings. In 1997, the Inn and Club and the Ponte Vedra Lodge combined resources to create the award-winning Ponte Vedra Beach Resorts. Today, north Florida’s most prominent resort address remains a storied refuge for outdoor recreation, family vacations, corporate retreats and social events. I spent a few blissful days at the Resorts recently. Let me tell you about it!
The Inn & Club has 222 guest rooms and 40 suites while the Lodge has just 66 rooms. My peaceful, pastel-colored room had a sweeping ocean view, a marble-accented bathroom, a private terrace, a fireplace and a lovely king-size bed – that I happily welcomed after a full day’s travel.
If you’re someone of epicurean taste – and don’t we all sometimes think we are – dining at the Resorts offers a truly mind-dazzling experience with over a dozen fine establishments, casual restaurants, lounges and bars. That evening I chose the Seahorse Grille and my feast of crab and corn bisque, buttery sea scallops and the finale, a fanciful caramel apple cheesecake perfectly topped off a delightful day.
I had no trouble filling my next few days with fun activities. I spent time languishing at a couple of the resorts’ four inviting pools. I played a bit of tennis on a Har-Tru clay court and was interested to find out that the courts here are the official tennis club of the ATP World Tour. And although I don’t (yet!) play golf, after taking a tour of the Resorts’ courses, pristine, green and glorious, I “got it.” I suddenly understood the lure of golf and found it hard to drag myself away from this seductive scene. I mentioned to my guide this feeling now stirring within me that I might just want to take up the game. With a knowing smile he acknowledged that this is how it typically begins. Besides sports, one finds a state-of-the-art fitness center, kayaks, paddle-boards and bicycles to cruise the beach; for guests with kids, there’s a playground and nursery as well.
I ask you, what would a first class resort be without a swoon-worthy spa? Not much I venture to say but never fear because the Spa at Ponte Vedra Resorts is recognized as this region’s largest with 30,000 square-feet of tranquility and sophistication. It has received glowing reviews from In Style, Vogue and none other than Oprah herself! Donning a soft terry robe and slippers, I entered a large relaxation area, part Florida sun room, part Mediterranean magic - graced with grand marble pillars, wispy white draperies, soothing music and trickling water sculptures that set the mood. And my Japanese body treatment – Hanakasumi – was mood-altering and awesome. My therapist began with an application of warmed exfoliating Cherry Blossom cream, then foot reflexology, and finished with a full body massage of melted aromatic shea butter. Okaaay……right then I wanted to make a bee-line straight to my room and head off to dreamland. Only the thought of an evening dining on the beach and sampling S’Mores under the stars kept me going….and yes, it was worth it!
Leaving, it was clear to me just how these two properties have earned their reputation of being the singular premier resort in northern Florida. Whether it’s a quiet, solitary get-away, a memorable family reunion, or a romantic wedding event, the Ponte Vedra Resorts can and does it all with style and grace. My sweet, sun-kissed visit may be ending, but not for long if I can help it. I’ll be back!
If You Go:
Ponte Vedra Beach Resorts
Barbara Barton Sloane is a Pelham-based Travel Editor/Columnist who writes for a number of both national and international publications. She delights in sharing her global travel experiences with our readers.