I had the great pleasure of spending this past weekend enjoying the Ritz Carlton Amelia Island, which is about 30 minutes northeast of Jacksonville, Florida. It so was nice to visit this area, as it is a short flight from Dallas, and American flies to Jacksonville directly 4 times a day. Amelia Island is the southernmost of the barrier Sea Islands and is located right at the Florida/Georgia border. It is 13 miles long and home to Fernandina Beach as well as the historical town of Fernandina, which offers quaint restaurants and shops. Amelia Island is the only location in the U.S. to have flown 8 different flags in its history.
The Ritz is ideally situated behind the white sand dunes, and is U-shaped, so every room has an ocean view! Also, all rooms and suites boast private balconies, coastal chic decor, and marble bathrooms. The oceanfront suites measure 1,100 square feet and are ideal for families, as they have one-and-a-half bathrooms, a master bedroom with king bed, and double french doors that open into the living area which has a pull-out sofa. There are connecting rooms in all categories if you need even more space. The Club level offers complimentary breakfast, snacks and drinks throughout the day, as well as two computers with printer, and is a great place to unwind with your friends or family. From the wood paneling in the lobby areas, and beautiful chandeliers draped across the ceilings, the ambiance throughout the hotel is that of a very traditional country club. I saw families with young children, couples, and at least 3-4 weddings this weekend.. I can imagine this is the kind of place where the same families return year after year. Of course the Ritz service was always friendly and top-notch, without being intrusive.
There are several dining areas, the nicest being Salt. One of only three AAA Five Diamond award restaurants in the state of Florida, Salt offers an elegant dining experience and delicious dishes such as chilled tomato soup with Tasmanian crab salad, seared diver scallops with stone-ground grits, and wagyu beef flank stead.. yum!! Also offered on the table are specialty salts to accompany your meal, including citrus Adriatic sea salt from Croatia, Himalayan rock salt, and smoked Yakima salt. A more casual counterpoint to Salt is Cafe 4750, which offers delicious food in a less formal atmosphere, and a patio, too, if the weather is nice enough to dine outside! There is even a sports lounge called Eight, with TVs and pool tables.
Days may be spent relaxing by the pool with a favorite beverage, walking the beach (beach chairs are complimentary, with umbrellas available for rent), indulging in a spa treatment, playing tennis, playing a round of golf on the on-property golf course, or for the kids, enjoying the Ritz kids club! You can also go off-property to the historic downtown Fernandina (which has the oldest bar in Florida, built in 1878!), or take a boat cruise on the Amelia River, which is one of the things I did. The Amelia River converges with the St. Mary’s River and Cumberland River to empty into the Atlantic Ocean and is a place steeped in history. With an old Civil War fort, tales of pirates and shrimp boats, and views of wild horses playing on Cumberland Island, this is a really interesting and fun way to spend an afternoon.
Who should go: Couples looking for a long weekend getaway, families with young children, girls spa weekend
When to go: From spring through fall, the weather is best (though the beach may be too cold to swim, as it was this weekend in mid-March) and sea turtles are nesting. Upper level wind currents help shield this area a bit from hurricanes.
If you book through me, I can offer you upgrade on arrival subject to availability, $100 spa credit (you want this- I had the best massage ever here), and full breakfast daily.