What happens in between the iconic summer days when Amelia Island, off Florida's northeast coast, is filled to bursting with families and the winter months that draw northerners seeking respite? The folks at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and the Amelia Island Tourism Development Council are betting they've found a way to attract visitors during that usually quiet time.
The first Amelia Island Wellness Festival is scheduled for Nov. 10 to 12, with all activities from mid-Friday through mid-Sunday being hosted on site at the Ritz-Carlton. Shouldering those dates, additional a la carte excursions and wellness classes will be offered on Thursday and Friday morning as well as Sunday afternoon and Monday, so guests can enhance their wellness vacation with activities such as kayaking, stand-up paddleboard yoga and a variety of classes from teachers and practitioners throughout the island. Add-on activities will cost $20 to $70 each. For the full schedule, go to http://ameliaislandwellnessfestival.com/schedule/.
The organizers wanted to set the festival apart from others by tapping in to the nature aspect of the island. Said Joseph Murphy, public relations director of the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, "We wanted to have our own definition that's parallel to our laid-back island of beach, sand dunes, sun rises and night skies." The festival schedule allows for personal time to relax at the beach, pool or otherwise enjoy the island.
"The spirit of the festival is not just physical, but we want to create a feeling of relaxation and escape," said Ktimene Axetell of the Amelia Island Tourism Development Council. "Our goal is to give participants a chance to create mindfulness practices to feel more balanced once they return back home."
To that end, the festival embraces four key areas fitness, yoga, meditation and dance and is geared to all ages and levels of fitness. Each of the headlining talent is a leading wellness influencer with a strong following. Sessions include Transformation and Strength with Heidi Powell, Fitness Through Rhythm with DanceBody, Balanced Life Through Yoga with Laura Sykora, Connection Through Meditation with MNDFUL (David and Anne) and Setting an Individual Path with the festival's emcee, MC Yogi.
The organizers also envision creating a sense of community. Several group meals and social activities are included in the festival pass, which costs $599 (accommodations are extra) and includes activities such as a bonfire on the dunes and a communal dinner on Saturday night. "We are hoping for a critical mass so there is an energy," said Murphy. "We want the festival to be intimate enough so participants can interact with the masters, but also each other."
New York, Charlotte, Atlanta and Washington as well as Jacksonville are some of the markets that festival promotion is targeting. "We want to attract people who will stay for the whole weekend to capture the feeling of a getaway," said Murphy.
Rates for festival participants are offered at not only the host Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island (whose package includes a daily spa credit) but at other island properties, as well. Festival passes are sold separately.