on September 7, 2010
We were extremely happy with our stay at the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island. We have 6 year old twins and perhaps it was their age, but this resort was perfect for us and for them.After a bad experience at a resort just down the street, we relocated for the final two nights of our vacation to the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island.We arrived on Sunday, about 4:30PM, and I explained our situation - we had no reservation. This was the tail end of our vacation (3 nights at Disney World, 3 nights at Universal Studies and 3 nights on Amelia Island). This was our family vacation and celebration of our 20th anniversary.The person at the front desk told me that it would be "a few hours" before any of the "coastal view" rooms (lowest cost rooms) would be available, as they were experiencing a very high checkout and check in cycle that day due to a conference. However, she DID have one ocean front suite available, right away.I was tired, ticked off by my experience down the street and ready to redeem my vacation, so I acquiesced and took the suite. BOY WERE WE HAPPY I DID!!!It was beautiful and directly fronting the ocean.The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island is ONE OF THE BEST HOTELS WE HAVE STAYED IN for a very long time. The staff there LOVE being there, it's quite obvious. They're supremely accommodating and simply go out of their way for their guests.This Ritz is THE MOST KID FRIENDLY of any of the Ritz-Carlton properties, period. They're outstanding! The Ritz Kids camp, which my kids loved (Marybeth is one of the best counselors they have, ask for her!) is a blast - not just "baby sitting". The resort is right on the ocean, and the pools are fantastic.Plus, there are kids ALL OVER THE PLACE. The front desk manager told me upon checkout that this is the most kid-friendly Ritz in the company, they're known for it.I understand comments that express disappointment by the high concentration of kids to those who are looking for a quiet spot - but for those who enjoy quality service in a great setting AND WHO HAVE CHILDREN, this is a supremely good deal.As for other comments about the condition - we noticed nothing particularly worn out, nor did we have bad service. The hotel is undergoing a renovation, so I'm sure it will be better in the new rooms when they're complete.One of the resorts on the island markets their kids programs well online, but Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island EXECUTES a flawless stay, and that is, by far, the most important.Yes, it's expensive. My view? You're on vacation. Spend the money so you can relax and enjoy it.The difference in rack rates between the resort we had originally selected and the Ritz's "coastal view" room (all the rooms have verandas that face the water, so I'm not sure what a coastal view is vs. ocean view) is $0. Yes, NOTHING. GO TO THE RITZ. We splurged (way more than we ever, ever do, but it was only 2 nights, and it was a special anniversary) and got the suite. Oh, and what do you think a room at a Disney resort costs (BEFORE you buy park tickets!)? Same as the suite at Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island.Parking at the Ritz is mandatory valet ($17/day), and you should be prepared to tip (valets, bellmen, concierge, spa employees, Ritz Kids counselors).Food and drinks were no more expensive at the Ritz than at the resort down the street, but the atmosphere is SO much nicer. Night and day difference in atmosphere, and you get to decide what to tip at the Ritz vs. a forced 20% tip at the other place.We went the spa at the Ritz and I could write another tome about how absolutely fantastic it is there, too. Ask for Melanie if you get a massage. Carol gave my wife her massage, and she was just as good (we did the couples massage).Dining, shopping, tours, things to do are all a short drive to Fernandina Beach (the downtown), so you're not "trapped" at the resort, although you can be if you choose to be, and you won't have any regrets. The Ritz-Carlton's concierge can help with anything. Take advantage.I can't say enough positive about the Ritz, we will DEFINITELY be guests there again in the future.
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