Omni Amelia Island: Possibly the Happiest Place on Earth?
I wrote earlier this week on my first experience as a GHA Platinum at an Omni Hotel, which turned out pretty delightful. But even without status, our stay at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation would have been fantastic. Largely due to the staff.
They were by far the most genuinely friendly people I’ve encountered at a US hotel. It was like Disney world, but less staged. And it went way beyond the reception desk. Walking to the parking garage, the maintenance person made a point of smiling and greeting me.
In the restaurant, the person cleaning the table next to us (not our waiter) asked us how are morning was and wished us a happy Thanksgiving. It left such a positive impression, that the actual grounds and room could have been pretty mediocre and we still would have been happy.
But fortunately we were arriving towards the end of a $100 million renovation. The front entrance to the lobby was still be finished, but the inside was done. Very modern and appealing.
I particularly liked the driftwood chandelier from the Philippines.
The lobby was crowded when we arrived around 3, but they had 4 people working the front desk and I only had to wait a few minutes.
Because of my status we had been upgraded from our $129 a night TravelZoo rate Deluxe room to a Premier room which featured a little more room and a mini fridge.
The room was nicely furnished with solid furniture and marble topped tables and counters.
The bathroom ceilings lacked cracks and mold (impressive for a bathroom on the ocean with no ventillation fan)
It was perhaps a little tight for 3 adults, but there was enough seating and the fantastic balcony view helped.
The only time we heard anyone in the adjoining rooms was when they were talking while standing next to the connecting door. Otherwise it was incredibly quiet.
We only had one issue with the room — we couldn’t get the temperature above 66 degrees. So we called down on Thanksgiving morning and within 5 minutes they had someone from maintenance up to fix it.
The hotel facilities are really nice. It looked like the gym in our building had also had a recent upgrade (this picture only shows the entrance, they had a larger selection of machines and weights around the corner) and I loved the view from the elliptical machine.
The beach was huge. Not quite as nice as the sands of St. Augustine a little further south, but better than what I’ve gotten used to.
They have several pools and the hot tub was pretty popular since the highs were barely in the 50s while I was there.
The first night my dad and I decided to pop into the lobby bar to grab a quick bite to eat. I was pleasantly surprised at the selection and pricing of the wines. Nothing was cheap, but the options were diverse and not the usual hotel lineup. I really enjoyed getting to try the Etude Pinot Noir Rose (dry).
And of course I’m a pushover for a good charcuterie plate and wound up enjoying the accouterments as much as the cured meats!
Our rate came with free breakfast buffet for 2 adults in the Sunrise Restaurant. This is by far the best everyday hotel breakfast buffet I’ve seen in the U.S. And it was the first one where I thought the usual $20 price was definitely worth it!
It was set out in a large room overlooking the ocean and decorated to look like a nice kitchen. They had a variety of gluten free options. About 8 different cereals. An omelette station with a host of hot pepper options and more.
At least 10 different hot options including oatmeal, quiche, sausage/bacon, and bread pudding.
But the highlight was the pastries and bread. The center island was loaded with artisan bread and 8 different jellies and 5 different butters (whipped blueberry butter anyone?) And of course, giant iced pastries and flaky croissants. Not to mention charcuterie and cheese similar to what I’d had the night before.
Definitely a winner!
We had originally made reservations for the spa (and those people were equally nice) but wound up having to cancel. The prices weren’t terrible –$60-$130 for massages. In fact, the one thing I would change about the hotel is not really something they can fix since it’s such a huge property. And that’s the vast distance between everything.
It was quite a hike from the front desk to our room (fortunately we were near the restaurant and fitness center). And in windy 40 degree weather it felt longer.
I definitely hope to come back when its slightly warmer and I can take more advantage of everything it has to offer.
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