From Smart Stay

When we told our family and friends that we were visiting Amelia Island, a lot of them didn't know where it was. Situated just 30 minutes outside of Jacksonville on a barrier island, this cute corner of Florida feels like a secret with its charming downtown and pretty beaches. It's a fantastic weekend getaway for families, couples, and friends, and the ideal place to stay is the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island. It may sound chichi, but trust us, you get a lot of bang (and luxury) for your buck. Here's our review. 

The Basics

Budget Level: Upscale ($300+ per night)

Lodging Type: Large-Size Hotel (446 guest rooms and suites)

What You Need to Know

The Look

Situated on a stretch of the island’s 13 miles of coastline, the The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island is a classic when it comes to southern luxury. The lobby acts as a central meeting spot with plenty of plush seating and complimentary infused water. For perfect sea views, you can settle into an Adirondack chair or gather around the fire pit for an evening drink. If it gets chilly, there's an opulent sitting room with an always-burning indoor fireplace. Each room has a marble bathroom and private balcony. One of our favorite places is The Lobby Bar, where guests can enjoy a "first call" tasting each evening of the property's custom, house-infused bourbon blend. 

The Vibe

This property makes everything feel like a celebration. There's the children's treasure hunt (complete with an in-costume pirate), an evening bourbon toast, and, during our visit, complimentary gelato in the lobby. 

The property's classic design draws in those who appreciate luxury, and of course beach lovers. It's also a popular wedding spot for couples who want to tie the knot on the beach. There's a variety of dining options to suit all budgets and tastes: a requisite beachside restaurant (the poke salad is incredible); a pub with a build-your-own-burger option and craft beer; a casual dining spot with costal cuisine; and fine dining at Salt. Oh, and there's a picture-perfect bar for beachside umbrella drinks. 

Who Will Love It

This is a hotel that has something for everyone, and caters to each individual. During our visit, we saw a mix of honeymooners sipping cocktails in a cabana, families, wedding parties, and groups of friends. This resort hits all the marks. 

Who Might Not

Those who seek a small and quiet property. This hotel is big and bustling; there are often a lot of children at the pool. 

    Best Amenity

    The hotel’s restaurant, Salt, offers a solid reason to choose this property all by itself. The AAA Five Diamond restaurant is regarded for the 40 house-infused salts that they pair with each dish. There are both a la carte and tasting menus with affordable wine pairings.

    Also, the spa is lovely. We love a property that offers more than just a massage room, and this one offers a steam room, sauna, hot tub, a relaxation room with snacks and beverages, and a private spa pool. You can use all of them when you book a treatment. 

    Money Matters

    What’s Included

    There's an option to add on a $33 resort fee and it's worth every penny. It covers one fitness class daily, per room; two bicycles for two hours per day; umbrella and chair service on the beach; wifi, tennis court privileges including racquets and balls for one hour per day; and use of practice facilities and one bag of range balls at The Golf Club of Amelia Island. 

    Fees and Extra Costs You Should Know About

    Local taxes will be included in your final bill. Valet parking is $26. 

    How to Get a Deal

    Look for spa and "stay longer" packages that let you save when you book multiple nights. The property also hosts themed weekends like Salt and Savor, where guests can take cooking classes and enjoy exclusive meals. Come November, the hotel hosts the annual Amelia Island Wellness Festival. Tickets will include sunrise yoga sessions, nutrient-rich, sustainably farmed meals, panel discussions with wellness experts, and more. 

    Getting There

    In the Neighborhood

    The hotel is located right on the beach, and you can reach the downtown area in about 10 minutes by car. Here, you'll find historic architecture, local shops, and delicious food. Be sure to stop at The Palace Saloon, Florida's oldest bar, which is known for its strong punch and great live music. 

    Nearest Airport

    The Jacksonville International Airport is a 30- to 40-minute drive depending on traffic. Most guests rent a car but we took an Uber for about $30 to and from the airport.  

    The Bottom Line 

    For smart luxury and a beachside location, the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island delivers. 

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