Destination Resort: The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island
Enjoy a relaxing getaway where the rooms, amenities, and meals make up all the details you need.
Written By: Contributor
The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island
Amelia Island, Florida
Nashvillians tend to head down to 30A en masse, with its multiple beaches and styles of accommodations. But, over on the Atlantic side of the Florida coast, Amelia Island is slowly catching the eye of many locals, too. While Amelia Island and the neighboring Fernandina Beach offer a wide range of condos, hotels, and beach rentals, the standout property is The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island.
When you first pull on to the property, it’s what you might expect from a Ritz-Carlton: stunning entryway with a fountain; attentive valets at the ready. But it’s the backside of the property that’s breathtaking. The U-shaped, eight-story hotel towers over Amelia beach, where you’re mere steps from the Atlantic Ocean. And, from every vantage point, whether it’s the courtyard patio, a spot overlooking the immaculately manicured lawn, or the pool bar while you sip a mojito, the views are unforgettable.
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In early 2017, the hotel completed a major renovation of its lobby bar, which features an extensive bourbon list, sushi bar, and a signature cocktail called the Smoked Old-Fashioned, a memorable, $22 drink (it’s all in the presentation) that uses Nashville’s own Smoked Belle Meade Bourbon.
The property’s high-end restaurant, Salt, features locally caught fish and simple, yet elegant, steaks, chicken, and even elk. The Key West Pink Prawn appetizer, with grits, green tomato marmalade, goat cheese, and balsamic, is a stunner. Salt might take up one meal (or maybe two, if you’re splurging), which is why the Ritz Amelia also contains several other dining options, with everything from casual fare to pub food to a pool-side bar and grille.
Since the property opened in 1991, it has become one of the more popular conference destinations in the country, with 48,000 feet of functional space and ballrooms that can accommodate up to 1,000 people. It’s in that conference space, as well as the adjoining golf course, where the Ritz Amelia hosts the Amelia Island Concours every March; it’s a world-renowned showcase and auction of antique, luxury cars. If you apply to take part in the Sotheby’s auction, prepare to spend some cash. In 2017, the high-end cars sold for anywhere between tens of thousands of dollars all the way up to the most expensive antique sold: a 1937 Bugatti that went for $7.7 million.
Just a few miles down the road from the Ritz lies the historic Fernandina Beach downtown district. (Imagine if downtown Franklin was magically transported to a beach setting.) The Fernandina experience includes great local restaurants, like Joe's Second Street Bistro, boutiques, ice cream shops, and mom-and-pop bookstores.
One of the most alluring features of the Ritz Amelia might be its spa—the sprawling, low-lit space wraps guests up in a soothing, nature-inspired experience, where the essential oils are vegan and the salt scrubs are laced with local ingredients. Relaxation spaces feature soaking tubs, saunas, and steam rooms, and the treatment rooms offer elbow space for signature treatments like the Heaven in a Hammock, which combines a massage with meditation in a swinging contraption. Each November, they also host a Wellness Festival (November 9-11, 2018), bringing wellness masters in for a weekend of meditation, yoga, and holistic services.
Southwest Airlines offers direct flights to Jacksonville daily; from Jacksonville, it’s a 30-minute drive to the island
As seen in the November issue
of Nashville Lifestyles Magazine.