Scott and Charlene Cooner spend their days pampering others as owners of Tangle Me Knot, arguably the best hair salon in their town of Apollo Beach, Florida. It’s both rewarding and hectic.
Making time for a getaway can be tricky when you’re self employed so when Scott wanted to surprise Charlene with a weekend away, we started brainstorming.
February weather in Florida is tricky. Even sunny Miami can be too cool for lazy days poolside as the water is often chilly for a native Floridian. It’s also “high season” there with high hotel rates. Getting creative and throwing chilly weather aside we sent them north, to the Amelia Island Ritz-Carlton.
The Amelia Ritz is on Florida’s short list of AAA 5-Diamond Resorts. Their restaurant, Salt, on an even shorter list. As good as your favorite restaurant is, only 3 in Florida are true 5-Diamond winners, none of which are in the Tampa area.
Making sure they’d have a spectacular time we buzzed our long time friend who happens to be the Guest Relations “goddess” at the Ritz and requested VIP treatment. Immediately, a room upgrade, unlimited spa access, gifts waiting in their room and being removed from that nasty wait list for Salt, into a prime table were done.
Scott said, “We had the Chef’s Adventure Tasting Menu and it was spectacular. The attention to detail, service, creative dishes and choice of 150 varieties of salts to compliment every bite were perfection”.
You can do a lot or a little on Amelia Island. On their first day, they decided to savor that 5-Diamond luxury, spending it at the spa enjoying several treatments, thermal areas and swimming in the adults only solarium pool. Finally, taking time to pamper themselves.
Excited to explore the historic island they set out to sample her charms. Amelia is only 13 miles so seeing the sights is easy. Getting there is half the fun, driving along the ocean one minute, then suddenly surrounded by moss draped oak trees on sleepy streets filled with Victorian era homes.
Visiting the historic district of Fernandina Beach, Amelia’s largest town, they strolled the streets admiring the architecture. They visited shops -- some tacky, some quaint but most importantly stopped for drinks in The Palace Saloon, Florida’s oldest and reportedly haunted. As Florida destinations go, Amelia is different. It's very old having been claimed by the French in the 1560s. Eventually, it became a booming port town famous for it’s shrimping industry. It retains much of it’s charm and old buildings.
They visited the must-see, Fort Clinch State Park with its Civil-War fortress, situated on the Amelia River and Atlantic Ocean. The park’s 1,400 acres overlook Cumberland Island and the ruined winter mansions of the Gilded Age elite. The scenery is beautiful with panoramic Atlantic views, sand dunes, ancient oak trees, and the fortress itself. Charlene remarked, “It was so interesting to experience the fort and see what life for soldiers was like during the Civil War.”
A bit of history about those mansions over on Cumberland: Reportedly, the younger Carnegie boys (of the Carnegie Steel fortune) would ferry from their Cumberland estate to Amelia. Often imbibing too much at the local saloons they spent many a night in the county jail. Nothing too good for her boys, Mrs. Carnegie paid good money refurbishing a cell so her boys “would feel more at home”.
After their visit, we think Scott and Charlene would agree, everyone would feel quite at home on Amelia Island.
Enjoy this short video and small gallery, certain to lure you away to Amelia Island.
We're going places and so are our clients.