A sun-kissed sojourn

Ponte Vedra Beach, 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 prospectors to its mineral-rich lands and pristine sands.  Once mining ceased, a stately, elegant community began rising out of the sand.

When the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club opened in 1928, affluent families from across the nation began traveling there to experience its fine offerings. In 1997, the Inn & Club and The Lodge & Club Ponte Vedra Beach combined resources to create the award-winning Ponte Vedra Beach Resorts.  Today, north Florida’s most prominent resort address remains a storied haven for outdoor recreation, family vacations, corporate retreats and social events, as I discovered during a few blissful days recently. 

The Inn & Club has 222 guest rooms and 40 suites while The Lodge has just 66  rooms. My peaceful, pastel-colored room at the Inn & Club 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 more than 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 Ponte Vedra’s Racquet Club is the “Official Tennis Club of the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) 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. You’ll also find a state-of-the-art fitness center, kayaks, paddleboards and bicycles. 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 sunroom, 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. OK, right then I wanted to make a beeline 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, I realized just how these two properties have earned their reputation of being the singular premier resort in northern Florida. Whether it’s a quiet, solitary getaway, a memorable family reunion, or a romantic wedding event, the Ponte Vedra Beach Resorts can and do 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.

For more, visit pontevedra.com.

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