By Mary Awosika
You can't go wrong in romance with Jacuzzis, beaches, massages and seductive dinners at The Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach.
My boyfriend and I exchange a playful glance as we pull up to the hotel valet - it's the beginning of a long-overdue and beautifully romantic weekend getaway.
We disappear into The Shores Resort & Spa, an oceanside Florida resort in Daytona Beach. Immediately, we're greeted by the resort ambassadors in a grand foyer befitting a mansion. There are mahogany pillars, giant chandeliers and deep red- and green-cloth couches. Paintings of monkeys wink at us as we're escorted to our room, one of 212 cozy, Caribbean-themed spaces accented by water colors and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean or Halifax River.
Exploring the property, we find that the oceanfront deck offers several lovers' nooks, from the fire pit to the private lanai. Escapism is a specialty here. We seem to find evidence of the hotel's theme - "playful, yet provocative" - around every turn.
A Taste of Bliss
The steaming Jacuzzi lures us to slip into our bathing suits and matching robes. As part of the Bliss Couples Spa Package we signed up for (it includes a Couple's Medley Massage, cabana dining and in-room gifts that are sure to inspire a memorable time during our romantic weekend getaway), our Jacuzzi moment was accented by chocolate-covered strawberries, champagne and more chocolate.
We nap on the king-sized, pillow-top bed, and then prepare for dinner. And not any ol' resort dinner, either: The Shores' new one-of-a-kind Florida cabana dining experience. This is a silverware optional dinner with five courses prepared especially for us by the resort's Azure restaurant chef. It's the first of its kind in Daytona Beach, and we are among the first couples to test our inhibitions.
We opt for the server to leave the silverware in the kitchen.
Our sensual supper begins with the Attraction Course of chilled lobster napoleon, shrimp remoulade, ahi tuna and vegetable spring roll. The tantalizing mix of moist lobster with a crunchy spring roll is offset by the second dish, the First Date Course: a refined Belgium endive salad. Our appetites gear up. We're eager to devour the main dish, but our desires are kept at bay with the Infatuation Course, a perfect scoop of passion fruit sorbet in the center of a shapely martini glass.
While sipping Taittinger champagne and munching Azure's famous monkey bread - a rosemary-infused, fluffy cake-like appetizer that's peeled like a banana - we bask in the ocean breeze. My mind floats away, almost entranced by the sound of waves washing up on shore.
We're hidden inside the red-and-white-striped cabana, and only an outdoor indicator light (which I have the pleasure of turning on and off) informs our personal server to bring the next course: the Courtship.
We feed each other the savory, pepper-crusted petite veal rack and sensual butter-poached Florida lobster tail, dipping each in a menagerie of sauces. Our favorite is the truffle.
Dinner ends with the Seduction Course, an assortment of fruit and shortcake, to be dipped in a rich and creamy chocolate fondue. At this point, the goddess of love is working her magic... we retire to our suite.
Morning comes. We feel like we've awakened on a remote island. We don't have to notice anything except the sunrise, nor hear anything but the ever-present, soothing sound of waves. We welcome the warm glow of the sun while enjoying a breakfast of vanilla-coated French toast, fresh fruit and coffee.
Our second day is consumed with more lounging, but not before a walk on the beach. We stroll along the beautiful shore that still allows cars to park and ride, a Daytona Beach signature. We notice couples of all ages, enjoying their moment - like us - hand-in-hand beneath a bright blue sky. Contrary to Daytona Beach's spring break reputation, there's no loud music, no groups playing touch football, just waves breaking and seagulls calling.
In the afternoon, we take a meandering drive south along Atlantic Avenue toward Ponce Inlet for a picnic on the grounds of the historic Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in Florida. We tour the museum and then watch the boats pass along the south tip of Daytona Beach.
Back at The Shores, we lie by the pool to absorb a few more rays before heading to the resort's East internationally influenced Indulge Spa for a pre-dinner Couple's Medley Massage. Dim lighting, the whisper of music and the scent of lavender, jasmine and almond fill the room for two. My head touches the pillow, and I get lost in the therapist's motions. Nearly an hour later my boyfriend and I are left alone to soak in a Ritual Bath infused with fresh flower petals, aromatherapy, sea salts and body oils.
As the resort ambassadors say, "What happens at The Shores stays at The Shores."
When you go…
The Shores Resort & Spa
2637 South Atlantic Avenue
Daytona Beach Shores, FL 32118