by Erin Davis
For years, locals wondered what would happen to the former Holiday Inn on Jensen Beach, in Florida’s Treasure Coast. The Hutchinson Island hotel had been destroyed in a hurricane back in 2004 and sat vacant and defunct ever since.
As of late 2017, the beautifully designed Hutchinson Shores Beach Resort & Spa – Opal’s latest property – has taken its place, breathing new (completely remodelled) life into the bones of the breezy beachfront property. Located 45 minutes north of Palm Beach, the sleek and airy, 178-room resort is the first to open on Jensen Beach in nearly two decades.
Last November, the resort invited Travel to Wellness to visit, so I got to escape the chilly Toronto temperatures and check it out for myself.
A stay here makes a perfect option for those looking for an escape from the grind for a few days; one where you can eat well, indulge in spa treatments, lounge at one of two pools, practice yoga by the ocean, do water sports all afternoon, run along miles of pristine white sand beach and ride calmer-than-calm horses beside the Atlantic.
The nice thing about a stay at Hutchinson Shores is that it offers more of a low-key and comfortable alternative to a sprawling, cookie-cutter beach resort. It’s big enough to have all of the frills and amenities, but small enough to feel more boutique-like and refined. Its crisp and clean, coastal-inspired design incorporates the water motif, nautical elements and natural woods throughout, with highlights that include living walls of greenery and pebble walls. For an added touch, NEST candles offer a light fragrance of ocean mist and sea salt upon arrival.
For a truly soul-soothing experience, book one of the fifth floor, oceanfront rooms. I slept with the doors open with the sounds of the crashing ocean in the background each night – a far cry from the bitter Canadian wind howling outside my condo window right now. Not only do the pristine rooms have views of stunning sunrises (perfect for morning meditation on the balcony), but also often of afternoon rainbows and a star-filled sky. Other rooms offer view of the pool or of the reliable sunset.
When it comes to staying active, there are a many options at Hutchinson Shores. The resort features a gym that’s on the small side but has all the essentials, as well as yoga classes on the beach (which are moved inside to one of the event spaces if the weather doesn’t cooperate). Naturally, you’ll find options for water sports like stand-up paddle boarding, surfing, kayaking and canoeing, all of which are arranged through the front desk. The 15-mile beach is perfect for those with a soft spot for long walks or runs in the sand. The concierge team is also happy to suggest alternate running routes. If a round or two of golf is a vacation staple, you’ll find some of the state’s finest golf courses a short drive away.
The nearby St. Lucie and Martin counties are also known destinations for fishing, sailing, boat charters, kite surfing and other water sports. Here, you’ll also find no shortage of spots for fresh, locally sourced food.
After a morning of sand and sun, or to kick off your day, the spa offers a great way to truly escape. Hutchinson Shores’ premium oceanfront spa shares staff with the nearby Juniper Beach Resort and features signature massages, facials, ocean-inspired body treatments, reflexology and makeup services. It was still under construction during my stay, so the resort organized an in-room massage that was definitely worth giving up an hour of prime beach time for.
A dining experience of fresh, local fare is made even better when it’s enjoyed oceanfront – especially breakfasts. The menu at the resort’s modern Drift Kitchen is full of options to start your day off properly, including healthy choices like granola, fresh local fruit, steel cut oatmeal (with candied walnuts, raisons and brown sugar), and fresh smoked salmon. If you’d rather indulge (it’s all about balance, right?), you’ll also find guilty pleasures like Amaretto French toast, buttermilk pancakes and a traditional eggs benedict, to name a few. Accompanying the meals are things like fresh juices, a banana berry smoothie and a quality latte.
Lunch was consistently packed at Drift during my stay, with a bustling dining room full of both hungry (and curious) locals and wine glass-clinking hotel guests alike. Lunchtime menu highlights include things such as the tuna poke, a caprese salad made with soft burrata, a grilled steak sandwich and the fish tacos.
Memorable dinners are enjoyed indoors or outside, complete with Atlantic views on the Ocean Veranda. The seared local snapper was delicious, as was the roasted chicken penne (all pasta is made from scratch in plain view). If you’re not counting calories or are taking a “cheat day,” the Chairman’s Reserve Center Cut NY Reserve is definitely worth indulging in and is complete with some of the best truffle mashed potatoes you may ever taste. The delicious wood-fired pizza (available in gluten-free) is completely worth writing home about and is a must-try – even if you only have a piece. The resort also offers a beach bar and a pool bar that serve up lighter fare and memorable cocktails (again, it’s all about balance, right?).
One of the best – and most surprising – things about a stay at Hutchinson Shores is that it comes with a price tag that won’t dent the credit card too much. All of the food and drink offerings are reasonably priced given the value, as are the rooms.
If you’re in the market for a low-key beach escape to refresh and recharge, you’ll find it at Hutchinson Shores.
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As part of the Travel To Wellness team, Erin Davis handles social media and is a regular contributor. Follow her @erinnicoledavis