It could have been a mirage. I stepped out through the back door of my first-floor suite at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club directly onto the beach. A few steps away on the sand there appeared a canopy with white drapes blowing in the breeze, oversize cushions around a round wooden table and carts filled with breakfast pastries, fruit and freshly squeezed orange juice that had been wheeled onto the sand by Inn & Club staff before sunrise.
General manager Michael Gordon and executive chef Hermann Muller had arranged the dreamlike breakfast in the middle of Ponte Vedra Beach on Florida's Atlantic coast.
The hotel has a knack for arranging custom experiences. For instance, another item on our itinerary was a private dinner on one of its two 18-hole golf courses. It's quickly apparent why the Ponte Vedra Inn has been recognized as a AAA Five Diamond hotel every year since 2002.
Located 20 minutes outside of Jacksonville, the Ponte Vedra Inn features 249 accommodations, most with ocean views. Most of the first-floor rooms of the two-story buildings feature a back door that opens onto the beach.
Adjacent to the hotel is sister property the Lodge & Club, featuring 66 rooms. Between the two properties there are 10 dining options. Among them is a restaurant inside the 30,000-square-foot spa that is reserved for spa guests only. There are many vegan and gluten-free options, and a lot of the fare is all-natural and changes seasonally.
With any booked treatment, spa guests have all-day access to its facilities, which include 23 treatment rooms, a private pool with cabanas and lounge chairs where guests can also dine poolside.
There are also two medical-grade aesthetic treatments available, the Vitalize Peel by Skin Medica and Radiance Treatment by Obagi. With advance notice, the spa staff can also arrange for nurse practitioners or a doctor from Ponte Vedra Plastic Surgery to do injectables like fillers or botox on site.
Other notable treatments include a Pink Himalayan Stone Massage using warm salt stones ($230 for 80 minutes) and the Florida Ritual (starting at $245 for 90 minutes), which includes full-body exfoliation, nourishing scalp and hair treatment and a 50-minute full-body massage. Most recently, the spa has added a cryo and compression therapy center.
Rates at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club start at $299. Visit www.pontevedra.com.