Ponte Vedra Beach is the perfect romantic setting - day or night. Soak up the sun's rays on the beach, indulge in the pampered luxuries of a world-class spa or walk hand-in-hand beneath the stars at the edge of the sea. The intimate Lodge & Club at Ponte Vedra Beach
is reminiscent of a seaside European villa and offers 24-hour room service, high tea and sherry and a beautiful in-room fireplace. The Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Spa
is just minutes away, but miles apart. The sprawling top-rated golf resort is like a luxury cruise liner with restaurants, shops and activities galore. In one weekend we experienced the best of both worlds.
From the moment we arrive at the Lodge & Club we sense we are in a magical place; where waves crash outside our window, a fireplace lights with a flick of a switch, our every whim is catered to and everybody knows our names.
Our "preferred room" has a large balcony with expansive ocean views, and doors leading out to a fountain courtyard. Classic Old World architecture echoes throughout the two-story exterior; wrought iron lampposts, Spanish tile roof, turrets and archways give it a Mediterranean look and feel. Inside, a marble-laden bathroom features a sensuous garden tub. The fireplace sits at the foot of the king-sized bed topped with fluffy, feather pillows.
Dinner finds us at Lulu's
, a casual eatery on the Intracoastal Waterway. Fresh seafood daily, homemade everything and the southern hospitality of owners Pat and Anna Finley make for a delightful sunset repast. Not that the Lodge is lacking for dining venues; among them, the Seafoam Restaurant
, an elegant three-tiered dining room overlooking the ocean. Lunch or dinner, linen-topped tables, gourmet selections, stunning views and sounds of sexy sax set the stage for romance.
The Lodge also boasts two heated pools, golf, tennis and a fully equipped fitness center, but we opt for treatments in the full-service spa of its sister property, the Ponta Vedra Inn and Club
. Don't indulge in the Milk and Honey body wrap if you are hungry; this skin-silkening treatment smells good enough to eat. Add a couples' pedicure and a dip in the coed lagoon-style Jacuzzi, and you'll be hard-pressed to find anything more urgent on your agenda. Except, of course, dinner. We've got reservations (a necessity) at the famous Ruth's Chris Steak House
. While seafood is on the menu, we sink our teeth into tasty, tender filet mignon, "exotically" seasoned, according to General Manager Andy Calloway, with salt, pepper and butter.
If Florida is the Golf Capital of the World, Ponte Vedra Beach may be the Capital City. The Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Spa
is the not only the official hotel of the Association of Tennis Professionals but also of the world-famous Tournament Players Club, where golf greats continue to make history. Here, lakes and lagoons meander through impeccably manicured grounds blanketed with bright flowers and verdant palms, a picturesque backdrop for the wedding parties being photographed, as many as six a night in season.
We can see it all from our spacious suite, which also overlooks two swimming pools as well as the rolling greens. A shuttle to the hotel's beach club, restaurants that range from Café on the Green
, which offers a daily breakfast buffet, to the highly acclaimed Augustine Grille
, shops and live entertainment guarantee you need not look elsewhere for all of your vacation needs.
One departure, however, begs your attention. Cross the footbridge from the hustle and bustle of the resort to serenity. Soothing music serenades even before you step foot into the sensational Spa at Sawgrass
. Sip champagne or fruit smoothies while awaiting your treatment; ours is the most satisfying couples massage we've experienced. My husband emerges smiling, and I feel like I've just received a giant hug. "Love fully, give freely and enjoy the journey," says my masseur J.J. Soerster, "I hope I've contributed to yours." Indeed. In Ponte Vedra Beach, the journey is filled with fun, relaxation and nothing if not romance.