New Beginnings

A mainstay area resort opens the new year with a fresh face. • by John O'Mara • From the April 2013 edition of Jacksonville Magazine
The Omni Amelia Island Plantation resort has been around since the early 1970s. And, if we're being honest, she was starting to show her age. Years of hot Florida summers and the occasional Atlantic Ocean storm will take a toll and, as is not uncommon for those around the half-century mark, a facelift was in order.
Earlier this year, the Isle of Eight Flags landmark completed what it calls a re-imagination. To guests that means a multi-million-dollar overhaul of the 1,350-acre property, including renovating and sprucing up everything from the pools to the guest rooms and practically everything in between. The resort
features 404 oceanfront rooms and 27 suites, some with wrap-around porches overlooking the ocean. The nearby Villas provide another 330 one-, two- and three-bedroom condos.
Arguably the signature upgrade to the Plantation is the pool area, said to offer the largest deck in the region (they promise 600 chaise lounges, one for every bed in the hotel). The new multi-tiered lounging area features an adults-only infinity edge pool, as well as a family-friendly pool and a splash park. Of course, no matter where you are on the property, the sandy beach is only a walk away and taking a swim in the ocean is always an easy option. While the miles of shoreline are a primary draw here, so are the many recreational opportunities.
The Plantation has three top-notch golf courses, highlighted by seven holes from which players can view the ocean. The Ocean Links course is home to five of the oceanside holes and is considered one of the prettiest in the state. The resort’s 23-court Racquet Park played host to a women’s pro tennis event for years. Now, guests and islanders are the ones running baselines and charging nets.
Don’t play either golf or tennis? That’s okay, they have instructional schools for both. Don’t want to do much beyond lying flat on a lounge chair or massage table? That’s fine, too. The spa and salon have the requisite luxury treatments and services—aromatherapy, pedicures, manicures, herbal teas, yoga sessions and more.
No fine resort is complete without fine
dining options and the Plantation gives guests nine from which to choose. The Seaglass Lounge is right off the lobby and within earshot of the pools. Oceanside is a waterside eatery that is flip-flop-friendly during the day (fish tacos, frozen drinks with umbrellas) but leans a bit more upscale at night (steaks, broiled seafood). Marché Burette is an ideal spot for picking up picnic eats like gourmet sandwiches, ice cream, pastries and cups of fresh-brewed coffee.
With all the activities to keep one busy, it’s easy to forget many come to Amelia just to take in the natural beauty, twisting oak trees and swaying palms and the serenity that comes from finding a neat shell on the beach.