Ponte Vedra Lodge and Club

By: Lisa Codianne Fowler

Romantic seaside splendor at the luxurious Ponte Vedra Lodge and Club in northeast Florida.

Ah, there's nothing quite like the roar of waves crashing on the beach, the warm glow of a fire and, yes, the commentaries of television sportscasters during a football game. We had just arrived at The Lodge & Club at Ponte Vedra Beach in northeast Florida.

We curled up on the loveseat together and unwound. Patrick watched the game and I fired up my laptop computer, but not before sampling finger sandwiches and cookies at the daily high tea and sherry hour.

If relaxation is a prelude to romance, we were well on our way. Our oceanfront suite had two televisions, a CD stereo system, gas fireplace, kitchenette and spacious bathroom with a large whirlpool tub, all fringed by a wrap-around balcony overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The bright Florida decor contrasted with the lodge's Mediterranean-styled architecture, and the stormy sea created a cozy New England ambiance. And since this intimate resort has only 66 rooms and suites, the congenial, unpretentious staff knew everyone by name. We were so comfortable we felt like we were home.

Sipping sherry back in our suite, we reviewed an array of available activities. There's much to do here; a weekend will whet your appetite for a longer stay. The Lodge is one of two Ponte Vedra Beach Resort properties; the other is the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, just a mile and a half down the road. When you stay at one, the amenities of the other are available to you for a mere three-minute shuttle ride.

At the Lodge (where we stayed), you can lounge, walk, bicycle or go horseback riding on the beach, fish or kayak, swim in one of two heated pools, work out at the fitness center or arrange for a massage. Have a cocktail at the rustic Innlet Lounge; eat breakfast, lunch or dinner while enjoying panoramic ocean views at the casual Innlet restaurant. In summer, the patio Oasis restaurant offers ocean- and pool-front dining.

The much larger Inn & Club has two 18-hole champion golf courses, 15 tennis courts, four swimming pools, a fully-equipped gym, organized children's activities, a selection of shops, and the coups de grace, an award-winning, full-service spa. Choose from body wraps, manicures and pedicures, facials, makeovers and hair styling or just enjoy a glass of wine or juice in the relaxation lounge. A spa cuisine lunch is served at La Cascada, a 2,000-square-foot outdoor garden featuring a cascading waterfall and an oversized coed Jacuzzi. (Bathing suits are required.) There are also seven different types of massage treatments.

Restaurants at the Inn range from swimsuit-casual to the formal Seafoam Room, one of our choices for dinner during our stay. The Seafoam Room's tiered tables afford every diner an unobstructed view of the ocean, and weekends bring live piano music and dancing in the nearby Seahorse Lounge. The cuisine was as delectable as it was reasonably priced.

When we first arrived, our bellman suggested we try a seaside dinner on our balcony. As always, we had traveled with our favorite CDs. There's nothing like Sinatra to set the mood and to inspire an impromptu dance. Familiar Florida thunder and lightning accompanied the music, and candles and flowers accompanied the meal.

We began with baked oysters topped with goat cheese, followed by Caribbean grouper and Moroccan-spiced cobia. We shared desserts of crème brûlée and strawberries soaked in Grand Marnier over ice cream. And the three votive candles delivered with dinner cast an even warmer light much later when dusk gave way to a starlit night.

St. Augustine, America's oldest city, is a 25-minute drive south of Ponte Vedra. Stroll hand-in-hand down St. George Street, a pedestrian-only corridor of shops and cafés. Take a quiet moment in the Basilica Cathedral, the nation's oldest parish. Museum lovers should visit the St. Augustine Lighthouse, the Oldest House and the Lightner Museum.

If you go: The Lodge & Club at Ponte Vedra Beach, 800-243-4304, www.pvresorts.com.

Sponsored listings by VISIT FLORIDA Partners


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