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More stories from my Serendipitous Spa Tour 2010

Florida Spas: Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, Jacksonville
April 21, 2010

Points of distinction: Campus-style, oceanfront, setting, historic property amidst golf courses and tennis courts, and one of the very few (if not the only) ocean-view gyms on the east coast. Ponte Vedra is a well-heeled Jacksonville community and the Inn & Club as well as the Spa at Ponte Vedra mirror that.

The resort
The spa
Fitness & other activities

The resort

Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, Jacksonville, Florida

A collection of ten buildings set up in campus style across a 400-acre oceanfront property, Ponte Vedra Inn & Club blends into a residential neighbourhood steeped in the aroma of old money.

The community, about a 30-minute drive from downtown Jacksonville, is affectionately referred to as the Palm Beach of North Florida. Features and amenities include a large and well-equipped oceanfront gym, two 18-hole golf courses and a golf club, four restaurants, oceanfront guest accommodations and 15 tennis courts.

It’s set amidst a huge tennis community and lays claim to being the number one tennis school on the east coast. The hotel dates back to 1937 and the Great Lounge is part of the orginal building. A spa was added in 2006.

The spa

Co-ed relaxation lounge at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club

Beautifully-appointed, the spacious Spa at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club is housed in its own building, a three-minute walk from the historic main inn. There are 22 treatment rooms, a large hair salon and mani/pedi area with its own garden, a private dining room and a heated outdoor pool/water circuit.

The theme is water and, no matter where one is in the spa, it seems as if there is a water feature either visible or within ear shot. The most imposing is the mermaid and seahorse fountain which acts as a visual divider and is the central focus of the dining room and spacious, co-ed relaxation lounge. “Lots of people fall asleep to the sound of water” says Cindy Stucki, spa concierge. She should know. The former head of fitness, Stucki has been at the property for the last 20 years and still teaches aqua fitness classes several days a week.

The spa also boasts a dedicated spa chef and the dining room general serves a-la-carte selections daily unless super busy when they present a $20 buffet instead.

Opened in late 2006, the spa has a strong local membership but even members who are not booked for a spa treatment have to pay the $50 fee for a day pass to use the facilities including the dining room and lovely outdoor pool/water circuit complete with five different hydro therapy grottos. Landscaping create a buffer between the pool and the golf course just beyond.

This is a sprawling and spacious spa but I liked the fact that designers have given it a more intimate feel by breaking up the treatment area into pods of three or four rooms each. The same holds true for the change room with its rich, wood-paneled lockers. There’s also a smaller, quiet room with settees comfy enough to curl up and nap. Dimmed lights act as encouragement. Even with 200 guests a day, one can find a quiet corner. Guests help themselves to tea, citrus water and fresh fruit.

For a luxury spa with such attention to detail, one thing that surprised me was that the spa robes looked a little worn and the locker room amenities, while available in good supply, were nothing special. (For spa robes and amenities my benchmark as I write this is Silver Rain Spa at the Ritz Carlton, Cayman Islands.)

Just off the spa’s reception, a large retail area carries a number of organic, medical and mineral product lines plus they are the only spa in the state carrying Omorovicza, a high end mineral cosmetology line with elements from the mineral baths of Budapest.

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Gym & Fitness

Lapis Spa, Miami - Relaxation Area

At the recreation centre, located a short walk from the spa in its own separate building, the large and well-equipped gym is one of the very few on the east coast with a full ocean view. You can watch the waves rolling in (or the action around the outdoor pool) while lifting weights or on a treadmill. Bonus marks to the resort for keeping the family pool well away from the adult pool. We all appreciate the quiet. The gym also includes four studios and offers a wide and diverse option of classes (both indoors and out) seven days a week and most are free to guests. Classes include “aquacize,” indoor cycling, core training, water jogging, restorative yoga, beginner running and distance cycling. This resort is a good choice for someone who wants their vacation days filled with plenty of scheduled, fit-focused activities including the option of golf and a tennis school.

But simply watching the ocean while relaxing on the deck of your townhouse-like accommodations is ok too. Good food with a nod to calorie counting and reasonable portion sizes is another point in this resort's favour.

What I liked best was being able to step outside my guestroom door and be right on the beach, hearing the crunch of shells beneath my feet. What a great place for a morning run!

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For more on Ponte Vedra Inn & Club and the Spa at Ponte Vedra

You might also enjoy reading about other spas in Florida and elsewhere visited on our Serendipitous Spa Tour 2010


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