The shores of Florida are brimming with diversity. As you crawl your way north along I-95, each town, village and city carries its own charm. Big and bold, Jacksonville is no different. Named after Old Hickory, the U.S.’s largest city (in terms of area) with a history that is thousands of years deep is teeming with originality and hidden gems.
Atlantic Beach, a quaint beach town stretching along one of the prettiest shorelines in the state, is a haven for tanned and bikini-clad bodies, beach cruisers and tropically inspired cocktails. Rising like a luxe respite in the midst of the tourist scene, One Ocean Resort Hotel & Spa, part of Remington’s Gallery collection of luxury resorts, puts a modernist twist on the luxury beach resort. Formerly the Sea Turtle Inn, an Atlantic Beach fixture since the 1970s, One Ocean underwent a $24 million restoration in 2007, creating one of the most visually striking resorts in the state.
The interior is a nod to the surroundings; the sea is represented with rolling, curving walls that carry through from the surging surf and undulating dunes. Accents of deep blues, aquas, sea foam greens and taupes play a recurring theme, reinforcing the color palette of the view beyond.
The modernist aesthetic breaks from the opulence so often seen in beach resorts. Upon entering, guests are greeted not with museum quality stuffiness but rather with an open and airy energy. The docent service is a seamless check-in, where guests are greeted by name as a docent escorts them from their car to a plush room, sidestepping the front desk and thus making the experience more personal.
The Spa at One Ocean, Jacksonville’s only full-service oceanfront spa, is a true treat. Against a backdrop of sea-inspired décor, the spa’s treatment menu is comprehensive and vast. Packages range from private indulgences to group and couple therapies; there is even a package for the guys with a sports massage and men’s facial. For those looking for a unique One Ocean treatment, the Seashell Massage puts a maritime twist on the classic warm stone massage: smooth, heated sea shells are utilized to ease muscle tension. The Asian Bamboo Massage couples percussive movements utilizing the bamboo with the soothing power of heat, as warmed bamboo sticks of varied widths and diameters are incorporated into the massage.
During my visit to One Ocean, the culinary talents of Azuréa’s executive chef Ted Peters and executive pastry chef Nancy Slatsky were on display for an absolutely delicious Friends of James Beard Foundation benefit dinner. Peters was invited to cook for the James Beard House in 2010, an honor reserved for just a select few in the industry. He created a four-course, sea-themed meal with the help of Slatsky on dessert, showcasing the culinary talents of North Florida. To celebrate, James Beard Foundation teamed with Azuréa, as well as chef Tom Gray of Bistro Aix, chef Matthew Medure of Matthew’s and Brian Siebenschuh of Orsay, to create an evening of culinary decadence that ranged from gastronomic complexity to comfort food with a modern twist.
Azuréa is a culinary delight in its own right. The sleek and fashionable setting of the restaurant is only matched by the flavors. The melding of flavors from the Caribbean, the Americas and Europe merge for an urbane and inventive menu that changes as often as the seasons. For the adventurous diner who wants to test the culinary team’s mettle, the Adventurous Palate is an apt and delicious culinary excursion. Peters and his team will personally customize a five- or seven-course meal, with wine pairings, to the liking of each diner. Before or after dinner, the Azuréa Lounge beckons. It is something straight out of Vegas, with bold colors, stylized décor and modern sentiments.
For those looking to bring the family, One Ocean has some pretty great amenities and programs to keep the kiddies occupied, even if the design and luxe surroundings of the resort may be lost on the tot who would rather play in the pool or beach. The Sea Turtle Kids Club, a marine biology-based camp, keeps kids busy with sandcastle building with a professional artist, surf lessons and water sports, movies, photography lessons, cooking classes and much more, giving mom and dad a little bit of alone time to enjoy the resort.
One Ocean is doing luxury on its own terms, and in doing so, helping transform the greater Jacksonville area into a destination not to be missed.
1 Ocean Blvd.
Atlantic Beach, FL 32233
*Photography courtesy of One Ocean Resort