By Dalia Colon
When I'm looking for a place to stay away from home, I usually scout for deals: staying in a hostel or rental property leaves more money for a worthwhile splurge.
But when my husband's job recently sent him to The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, and encouraged him to bring the whole family, I wasn't about to turn it down.
This was our second trip to Amelia Island -- and the first for our 2-year-old daughter, Norah. (I know, a 2-year-old at the Ritz-Carlton. I can't even.) We'd already spent more than four hours driving from our home outside of Tampa to Amelia Island, which is up near Jacksonville. Norah was tired of being in the car, so while Hubby gave a presentation for work, rather than driving into town, Norah and I explored the Ritz property in search of free fun. While Amelia Island is known for its summer fun and winter romance, we enjoyed these 5 free things at the Ritz-Carlton:
1) Hit the beach
Let's start with the most obvious: There's a whole Atlantic Ocean right outside your doorstep, so build a sandcastle or cool off in the waves. Borrow some free towels from the Center Beach Tiki Hut and have some fun in the sun.
2) Make a splash
If your kids are anything like my daughter, they could easily spend several hours frolicking in the kiddie pool that's adjacent to the main swimming pool. You still get the ocean view, you can flip through a magazine while your kids play safely in the wading pool and with any luck they're pooped by bedtime.
3) Have s'more
The best things in life are the simplest. I'll take ooey, gooey s'mores over a froo-froo dessert any day. End your night with a bit of glamping by roasting marshmallows around the beachfront bonfire -- one of the resort's most popular nightly activities. In Ritz-Carlton fashion, the roasting sticks, graham crackers, marshmallows and paper products are prepped by the attentive staff. On the evening we visited, there were even two musicians playing guitar and singing for our entertainment.
4) Window shop
If your kid is the type who can handle looking at toys without you actually buying them, then spend some time in the resort's gift shop. The stuffed animals, games, books and sweet treats made for fun browsing.
5) Be a Ritz Kid
There's a fee for the Ritz Kids program, but a handful of the activities are accessible without paying a dime. Norah enjoyed outdoor storytime (If You Give a Mouse a Cookie against the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean -- seriously), witnessed the daily fishfeeding and chatted up the resort's resident parrot, Amelia (get it?), all for free. When you stay at a luxury resort, how do you entertain your kids? Leave your ideas in the comments section.
- 2 minute read
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