Jimmy Buffett once mused: “If there is a heaven for me, I am sure it has a beach attached to it…”
For 100 years, the beaches of Florida have been a sunny heaven for the well-to-do escaping frigid winters of America’s northern states. Over the years, the snowbirds came in droves, touching down from Miami and Palm Beach to the most northern reaches of the state in St. Augustine and Amelia Island. Less than 20 miles east of Jacksonville is one of the state’s most welcoming hamlets for the deep-pocketed, Ponte Vedra. Here, surrounded by sawgrass, salt air breezes and miles and miles of beachfront is where you’ll find a Forbes Five Diamond resort that offers it all from world-class golf, tennis and spa as well as accommodations that impress with the finest of details done to perfection. The Ponte Vedra Inn & Club is in a class of its own among Florida’s historic beach resorts with a grandeur and gravitas that guests will immediately appreciate throughout their stay and long after the suitcase has been unpacked back home.
The Ponte Vedra Inn & Club has built a well-deserved reputation, offering summer sun and mild winters, stretches of beach, club events, and top-notch amenities. Jacksonville has drawn golf players and beachgoers for decades, but Ponte Vedra Inn & Club sought to not only cater to this crowd but also to everyone in between; for those who appreciate a fine dining experience or prefer to have day-long spa days, Ponte Vedra Inn & Club has become that special place to do it all.
Apart from the airy and cozy suites overlooking the ocean, the resort has a renowned spa, golf club, restaurants, bars, and countless other activities to best enjoy Florida’s summer sun and mild winters. Pools which are just steps from the ocean to a racquet club to a brand new croquet lawn, everything has its place here.
Before Ponte Vedra became a place of resorts, golf courses, and restaurants, the region was briefly known for its mining industry, with companies drawn to the mineral-rich sand dunes along the coast. As the area evolved into more of a town and less of a mining region, the Historic Inn, the oldest building on the property, was built in 1928 to accommodate people moving into the region for its beautiful views. It would be in this next decade that a resort community, now known as Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, developed into a sprawling place for vacationers hailing from up and down the east coast of the U.S. From the 1930s onward, Ponte Vedra has become a haven for socialites and has received international recognition for their level of service and amenities. As of 2002 and for every year since, Ponte Vedra Inn & Club has received the AAA Five Diamond designation.
The salty air is a reminder of just how close Ponte Vedra Inn & Club is to the beautiful coastline of northeastern Florida. There is perhaps no other resort that has the beach on the backdoor of every balcony, where waking up entails seeing the morning sunrise over the Atlantic horizon through expansive windows and a spacious balcony. Each house has a gated access to the beach, just steps from the front door of each suite.
Each house contains suites of different sizes and colors, but the view remains the same: the endless horizon of the Atlantic ocean. Two of the most modern houses, the Ocean House and Peyton House, completed in September 2020, are most desired because of their close proximity to the surf club, restaurants, and pools. At the Peyton House, the windows and balcony onto the ocean are so large that even soaking in the tub entails a view of the sparkling waters.
While most suites open out onto the balconies overlooking the beach, the suites offering period furnishings and replica antiques can be found in the Historic Inn. Nearby the golf club, the Island House offers stunning views of the courses. Each suite is unique in design, yet offers a high level of sophistication, design, and details, creating a standard for which the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club is known.
For instance, the Historic Inn, the center of the entire property, opens out onto the iconic island hole with the rest of the golf course expanding as far as the eye can see. Indoors, the building offers exposed wood, beamed ceilings, grand chandeliers, and sophisticated rooms. The Inn Dining Room features Victorian-era china and the smallest of details, from the fresh pastries to the presentations of classic meals throughout the day.
On Sunday mornings, however, the Seahorse Grille is the place to be for the ultimate brunch experience. With seemingly impossibly large windows stretched along the back wall, diners from any angle can see the waves and infinite horizon of the Atlantic. In the evenings, as the sun sets, ascending the circular stairs to the Seahorse Grille feels like going to another realm altogether.
With an aquarium lining the back wall, having a meal becomes more than just eating food. With a dynamic menu and the most attentive of staff, each dish is sure to leave diners with a taste of every part of the Floridian coast with fresh seafood and desserts that melt in the mouth.
In the distance, the sounds of golf balls being driven across winding greens can be heard, as the vast greens lie just across the road from the suites and Seahorse Grille. Snaking around small lakes and between classic Floridian beach houses are the two award-winning golf courses offered at the resort, each one unique and designed to test players’ skills. In fact, Ponte Vedra Inn & Club is home to the original and often dreaded island hole in Florida, challenging players to take on the daunting hole and try to keep the ball from landing in the surrounding water.
Recently redesigned by renowned golf designer Bobby Weed in September 2020, Weed sought to move some of the holes around and create a brand new short game practice area hidden amidst the tall beach grass to create the ultimate golfing experience. This redesign also saw an enhancement of the practice facility and increased size of the driving range to provide even more opportunities to perfect any skill.
Ponte Vedra Inn & Club offers two courses for players of all levels and ages to choose and test themselves, each presenting their own challenges. The Ocean Course is a championship course that stretches over almost 7,000 yards, designed to play sharp, firm, and fast games with little rough. By contrast, the Lagoon Course is more target-oriented, requiring players to use every club in their bags as they brush up on their shot skills and navigate the many bunkers and lakes in between.
There is no clearer sign that this is a Florida golf course than the distant sound of the waves and the sights of palm trees lining the edges of the course. And after a long day under the Florida summer sun on the golf course, a time of relaxation is much needed.
Ponte Vedra Inn & Club boasts the largest spa in northeast Florida and redefines the term ‘spa day’ altogether. Walking through the front doors and past the running fountains, canopied roof, and calm warm lighting, it’s no wonder this spa is always in great demand and that people will stay there for the entire day. Unlike other resort spas, the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club spa is open to members, guests, and the public. The entire spa has a clean and revitalizing scent, decked out with its own restaurant and bar, meditation rooms, saunas, hot tubs, and unique outdoor pool that features different grottos with various hydrotherapy treatments in the water.
No day is complete, however, without spending some time under the Florida sun, and whether it’s from one of the suites or the golf course or the spa, in a matter of steps, the beach awaits. Lounging on chairs in the sand under an umbrella or renting cruiser bikes are just some of the ways to soak in the rays and enjoy the vast views of the coast.
For those looking for another option to a saltwater swim, just meters away sits a newly renovated family pool with a tall slide for children, a lap pool, and an adult pool, which sits right next to a bar and Surf Club Patio, a beloved location for weddings and other events. Just above the adult pool stands the gym with the same wide windows that ensure the best views of the ocean, even when running on treadmills or working out in a movement studio. With aqua-aerobic classes overlooking the ocean and a more casual seaside restaurant for quicker bites, it’s possible to be at the beach without actually stepping onto the sand. Of course, the sand still remains for anyone wanting to run to the ocean.
What sets Ponte Vedra Inn & Club apart from other resorts is its sense of belonging and absolute care that the staff has for each guest. It would be an understatement to describe the staff as dedicated, with much of the workers having been a part of the resort family for over two decades. The personality of the staff at this resort is pleasingly unique. In having such devoted staff members, guests feel that they are well-cared for and looked after in a genuine way. This way, Ponte Vedra becomes the place to make special memories and mark important life events, from anniversaries to weddings to birthdays.
It is rare to have a resort with so many amenities, but to have a resort with everything just steps from each other on one of the most scenic coastlines in Florida is what makes this vacation exceptional. To experience the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club is to experience everything that a Florida coastal city can offer, and guests are sure to long to return to see the Atlantic coast or put feet in the sand again.
Article Written by Aoife O’Rordan and Glenn Harris.
Image Source: JustLuxe