For more than 25 years, I've traveled the highways, byways and waterways of Florida. I've devoured conch fritters in America's southernmost city, Key West, and feasted on fresh smoked grouper in the panhandle, so the Guru knows a thing or two about the good life in the Sunshine State.
One of my favorite places to visit is Amelia Island, a 13-mile long barrier island about 35 minutes from Jacksonville. It has a great mix of controlled development and untouched natural surroundings. What I love is you can enjoy a beautiful, walkable beach, numerous bike and nature paths and lots of great resort and public golf, dining and sightseeing without ever leaving the island.
The Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, which sits on 1,350 acres, is perfectly positioned oceanside with easy access to the village of Fernandina Beach (about a 15-minute drive).
Two of my favorite course architects, Pete Dye and Tom Fazio, have separately designed the two championship layouts accessible to Omni Amelia Island guests.
Oak Marsh--Appropriately named, the course meanders along saltmarsh creeks through moss-draped oaks. A classic Pete Dye design built in 1972, Oak Marsh has several Dye signature features, including long, contoured fairways and bulkheaded greens. Like all Dye courses, Oak Marsh demands accuracy and shot-making ability from its challengers. If you're a spray hitter off the tee, be prepared for the nature walk of your life as you roam the fairway fringes to locate your ball.
Long Point--A Tom Fazio design, this layout takes you on an amazing trek through a well-preserved wilderness area. Dense forests, fifty-foot high sand dunes and marsh and ocean views dominate the experience. Fazio requires you to hit a wide variety of shots, ranging from those over menacing marshlands to those aimed at narrow, tree-lined fairways and oceanside greens surrounded by dunes.
Taking full advantage of its Atlantic Ocean setting, the resort has 404 oceanfront guest rooms and suites with patios and balconies. With an impressive amenity package, the rooms (as all Omni rooms) are, in the Guru's humble opinion, an exceptional value.
Room Amenities include:
--Ocean views from all 4004 guest rooms
--Furnished balcony or patio
--Serta Pillow Top mattress with 330-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets
--Plush terry cloth robes
--Exclusive skin care products
--Coffee maker with premium coffee
--Work desk with lots of outlets and ports
--3.5 miles private beach
--Infinity edge adult swimming pool
--10,000-square-foot family-friendly pool with a children's splash par and 2 hot tubs
--23 Har-Tru court tennis complex
--Shopping village with 14 boutiques, deli and market
--Hiking and nature trails
--Fishing, kayaking, paddleboarding and surfing
--Guided Segway tours, bicycles and golf carts
--Fully equipped fitness center with a 20-yard lap pool, personal trainers and group classes
--80,000 square feet of versatile indoor and outdoor meeting space
1. The friendly southern hospitality you receive throughout the resort.
2. The great veranda and fire pit at the golf clubhouse.
3. The packed hard sands on the beach, which are ideal for sunrise and sunset strolls.
4. Blueberry Margaritas at the pool.
5. Plush, comfortable bedding. I always get a good nights sleep at an Omni property.
6. Fire pits and whirlpools in the pool area.
7. Great balcony overlooking the pool and Atlantic Ocean. A phenomenal place to wind down after a good or bad day on the course.
8. Delicious in-room coffee with the Keurig Coffeemaker.
9. Convenient and prompt tram service throughout the resort.
10. Boutique shopping center near the front of the resort.
You don't have to leave the resort premises for great dining. Here's the menu:
--Bob's Steak & Chop House--Prime steaks, great whiskeys and an excellent wine list can be found here.
--Verandah--A contemporary design dining room featuring fresh seafood and varied wine list.
--Oceanside--It's swimsuits, flip-flops and margaritas during the day and later it transforms into an upscale ocean-side dining venue at night where you can hear waves crashing and smell salt air.
--Marsh View Bar & Grill--Features casual fare with stunning panoramas of the marsh and 9th hole of the Oak Marsh Golf Course. (Available only to registered guests and members).
Other options on resort grounds include Falcon's Nest (pub-style menu and build-your-own-burgers), Natural Slice (pizza joint with fresh ingredients and hand tossed dough), Marche Burette (French-style market and deli), Sunrise Cafe (features great breakfast buffet) and Seaglass Lounge (handcrafted cocktails and small plates).
THINGS TO DO NEARBY
--Shopping, dining and entertainment in Fernandina Beach, a walkable fishing village with a quaint downtown area with lots of great restaurants and local shops. I highly recommend the Salty Pelican Bar & Grill on North Front Street. Get a table on the second floor open-air porch and enjoy the superb seafood. No exaggeration alert: At the Salty P I had the best fried shrimp platter ever in my many years of travel.
--Amelia Island is a bicyclers paradise with excellent trails. You can rent bikes, baby trailers, jogging strollers, tandem bikes ant Island hoppers at the resort.
--Visit Fort Clinch State Park where you can explore a Civil War era fort.
--Ride a horse on the beach (Kelly Seahorse Ranch 904-491-5166 or Amelia Island Horseback Riding 90753-1701)
--Take a fishing charter from Fernandina Beach.
It's situated about a 45 minute drive from downtown Jacksonville and 29 miles from Jacksonville International Airport. If you're traveling on I-95 north or south, take exit 373 (Route A1A East) and it's about 17 miles to the resort entrance. Address: 39 Beach Lagoon Road, Amelia Island, Florida 32034
GET THE SCOOP
Call 904-261-6161 or 1-888-444-OMNI. Visit their website by clicking HERE