The Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, one of the most recognized resorts in Northern Florida, comes from a much unheralded beginning. In 1912, a rich mineral vein was discovered running through the dunes. Enter The National Lead Company, a mining corporation, which bought up much of the land in the area. During World War I, The National Lead Corp support of the US War effort, mining the area for valuable ore.
In the early 1920’s, a group of local land planners began to develop the area for its natural beauty. This seaside community garnered national recognition as a playground for the upper echelon of society.
The Ponte Vedra Inn & Club has evolved considerably from the rustic log cabin clubhouse and nine-hole golf course it was when it opened in 1928. The first guests came from as far away as Michigan, Rhode Island and Connecticut to take in the resort and all its splendor. Not only were they here to enjoy the sun, sand and surf, they came for the sports as well; primarily tennis, golf and swimming.
These days, this unspoiled heritage continues as it has become the choice destination for four generations of guests. In 1997, The Ponte Vedra Inn & Club and its neighbor, The Lodge & Club joined forces to create an unparalleled resort experience known as Ponte Vedra Beach Resorts. Both properties maintain the highest standard of hospitality found in the industry and hotel guests enjoy reciprocal access to the amenities of both establishments.
The 250 luxurious rooms and suites, world class golf facilities and lavish spa are maintained by an expertly trained staff of more than 700. Their common goal is to provide each guest with the best possible level of personalized service. The hand written notes from the housekeeping staff are a testament to this.
The Ponte Vedra Inn and Club has won numerous awards and accolades. Among them are the following:
- Among the World’s Best Hotels” – Travel + Leisure
- “No. 1 Family Hotel in the Unites States” – Travel + Leisure
- 2014 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award.
- One of Florida’s Best” – Condé Nast Traveler’s Gold List
- “Guest rooms and service are rated extraordinary to perfect” – Zagat Survey
- AAA Five-Diamond rated
- Atlantic Ocean beach and surf
- 36 holes of championship golf
- 15 Har-Tru tennis courts (8 lighted for night play)
- 4 heated swimming pools
- Expansive oceanfront gym
- Daily aerobic classes and Aquacise classes
- Complete locker room facilities
- Steam room and sauna
- Award-winning Spa featuring over 100 services
- Fresh water fishing
- Children’s playground and nursery
- Kid’s summer camp
- 7 restaurants and cafes
- 4 cocktail lounges
- Catering Department to serve private parties
- Boutiques and gift shops
- A full year-round Social Calendar
Seashore Grille – Located high atop the Surf Club and offering dramatic ocean views, the Seahorse Grille is a delight for those seeking an upscale-but-casual dining and cocktail experience.
Seafoam Dining Room – This oceanfront dining classic recently received a makeover and now gushes with romance. An unrivaled wine list makes for the perfect dining complement to a Chef who artistically blends food textures and flavors. Best to make reservations, the room is designed to host a maximum of forty-five guests at a time. Gentlemen are required to wear jackets and ties are encouraged.
Inn Dining Room – Enjoy breakfast in this ornate and historic setting. Crisp table linens, glistening crystal, fresh flowers and a fabulous menu all combine for a delightful and unique morning experience.
The Golf Club Restaurant – Overlooking the area’s original “island” golf hole, the Golf Club Restaurant provides a casual and fun atmosphere. An appetizing menu of soups, salads and specialty sandwiches are all available for lunch as is an enormous buffet. The dinner menu is quite diverse and features local seafood and steaks as well as a few daily specials.
The Club Room – Luxurious surroundings of wingback chairs and rich fabrics adorn the Club Room where guests can enjoy a game of casual (or high stakes) billiards, watch the oversized TV and sip on an after dinner drink. The perfect end to a perfect evening!
The Gourmet Shop – a charming café with casual bistro tables, chairs and ornate ceiling fans. Starbucks coffee is proudly featured here along with freshly baked muffins, tarts and the Chef’s own homemade ice cream. A good selection of wines and gourmet gifts are also available for purchase. Don’t be afraid to bring your laptop and stay a while – wireless Internet access is available.
Surf Club Patio – located outdoors under a canopy of colorful umbrellas, diners can enjoy a wide selection of soups, sandwiches, salads and daily specials.
High Tides Bar – Another beachfront location where “people watching” is the main attraction. This “barefoot and bikini” cafe specializes in sandwiches, light snacks, frozen drinks and good conversation.
Golf – Ocean Course
The Ocean Course was originally designed by Herbert Bertram Strong in 1928, tweaked by Robert Trent Jones in 1947 and most recently updated by Bobby Weed in 1998. It will give just about any golfer all he (or she) can handle from the back tees, playing 6,811 yards to a par of 72 with a rating of 73.3 and a slope of 138.
Bertram Strong originally shaped the course contours with 100 mules dragging slip pans. He dredged lagoons and built up a number of earthen mounds that create dramatic undulations along the fairways. Land your ball in one of these and you’re likely to experience something rarely seen in Florida – the uneven lie!
Several holes offer a great view of the ocean and the 99 bunkers throughout the venue create a very challenging environment. Most greens are elevated and the pins can be tucked away in some very defensive positions depending upon how the greenskeeper’s night went. Thoughtful and accurate shots both off the tee and into the green will go a long way in scoring well on the Ocean Course.
Number 9: Par 3, 144 yards. I’m told that this is the area’s original “Island Hole,” although I have not been able to substantiate that claim. It is definitely the course’s signature hole as multiple bunkers, grass swales and an undulating putting surface will challenge any golfer’s quest for par. Miss the green off the tee and trouble lurks on all sides.
Golf – Lagoon Course
The Lagoon Course was originally a nine-hole course designed by Robert Trent Jones in 196. In 1978 the second nine was added at the hands of Joe Lee. Then in 2007, Bobby Weed did a renovation of the entire course. The Lagoon Course is considerably shorter than its sister course. Measuring 6,022 yards from the back tees to a par of 70 with a course rating of 68.3 and a slope of 118; the Lagoon Course is very aesthetically pleasing and easy on the eyes. But don’t let its good looks and low rating/slope fool you; the greens tend to be a lot smaller and well-guarded, making them challenging to hit in regulation. Water comes into play on 11 holes. You need to hit precision iron shots into the greens if you want to score well. Plus, it’s not uncommon to get around the course in under 4-hours which is a welcome change.
Number 16: Par 4, 414 yards. This is my favorite because it requires two precise shots to reach the green in two. You’ll need to be extremely long and accurate off the tee as the landing area is very narrow; water on the right and sand on the left can easily come into play. Hit your approach into a peninsular green with sand long and right,
When it comes to accommodations, for me it’s all about the location, and The Ponte Vedra Inn & Club certainly has it. Our room was in the Atlantic House, located just down the street from the Historic Inn and next to the gym and Surf Club. The room was very spacious and my wife was intrigued by the lighting. It was like a suite, without walls and doors. The room was very spacious, with a separate sitting area, lanai, microwave, mini fridge, and Jacuzzi tub. The closet light even came on when you opened the door. The putting green outside the historic Inn has been there since the original course was built and adds a nice touch.
My wife’s favorite amenity at the resort was the Atlantic Ocean which incidentally, was right outside our backdoor. It really made for some great views early in the morning, watching the sunrise. It’s easy to see why the resort has won so many awards and has become a year-round destination for weddings, corporate retreats and business meetings.
My favorite amenity was unquestionably the golf – 36 holes on two of the nicest courses I have played in Florida. Course conditioning couldn’t be better; it was in as pristine a shape as I’m sure it is in the winter. Greens are manicured to near perfection and the green complexes were in top shape. The Lagoon Course is a great course to warm up on; if you’re planning to play both, I advise playing the Lagoon first.
Both the Ocean Course and Lagoon Course are open to hotel guests and members; you have to stay to play! For more information or to book a great golf or family vacation, visit www.pontevedra.com.