Watching the sapphire-blue breakers unfurl on the groomed beach of oatmeal-colored sand, it was hard to believe that such a spectacular shore could have remained untouched for so long. The 66-room Ponte Vedra Lodge is located in an oceanside community 24 miles southeast of Jacksonville and is the kind of quiet and beautiful place that most people discover through word-of-mouth.
The Lodge’s sister property, the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club (217 guest rooms and 32 suites), has been a much-loved getaway for northern Floridians ever since its rustic beginnings in 1928. It first became nationally known for its 18-hole Ocean Course, which was designed by the famed British architect Herbert Bertram Strong (with later revisions by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Bobby Weed). The Ocean Course has hosted the U.S. Open qualifying round five times.
The Lodge, which opened in 1989, recently completed a thorough renovation. On arrival, its manicured tropical gardens seemed to convey a kind of gentility. We instantly loved our Preferred Oceanfront Room, with its king-size bed, gas fireplace and picture window overlooking a spacious private balcony. A gray cathedral ceiling and a mahogany-colored armoire were complemented by pale citrus-green curtains and lemon-chiffon-colored walls. The lighting was excellent, and the travertine-tile bath came with an oval soaking tub, plus a separate walk-in shower. As the Lodge was built right on the beach, we could turn off the air-conditioning and fall asleep while enjoying the iodine scent of the ocean and listening to its roar.