Hammock Beach Resort
My recent weekend at Hammock Beach Resort https://www.hammockbeach.com/ felt more like a month away from life’s everyday little stresses here in Tampa Bay – especially the traffic. In Palm Coast, where the resort is located, the pace seems a little slower and there’s less development, more trees.
Hammock Beach is both a private club and luxury resort so it feels like you are spending time at an exclusive gated community. It’s part of the Salamander Resort Golf Collection; sister hotels include Innisbrook in Palm Harbor and Reunion in Orlando.
I was there in early November for the official ribbon-cutting ceremony to showcase extensive renovations that were recently completed. Both the resort and the Jack Nicklaus-designed Ocean Course got a make-over, especially the golf course, which was named #10 in the top 100 Florida courses to play by Golfweek.
After Hurricane Matthew blew through this part of Florida in 2016 and did extensive damage, including ripping up part of A1A, the Ocean Course closed for a 13-month restoration. The restoration of the course included replacing all the Bermuda grass on fairways, greens and rough with an environmentally sustainable, salt-tolerant Platinum Paspalum.
I’m not a golfer, but I could definitely appreciate the beauty of the now pristine course, which hugs the Atlantic Coastline and offers spectacular views. I love that the closing stretch is named the “Bear Claw.” The resort also has a second course, the Tom Watson designed Conservative Course, which is just a short distance away from the main part of the sprawling resort complex.
Restaurants and more at Hammock Beach
My group started the day with breakfast at the stunning Atlantic Grille restaurant, which offers floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Ocean Course and the Atlantic Ocean. The restaurant, one of several on property, features an all new menu specializing in fresh seafood. I had a decadent eggs benedict with lump crab for breakfast, but the dinner menu looked equally sumptuous – especially the chilled seafood platter “appetizer” featuring Florida-fresh oysters, shrimper, crab claws and Cedar Key clams.
The resort offers a variety of accommodations. We stayed at one of the 12-story oceanfront tower with beautifully appointed condo suites featuring three and four bedrooms, a full kitchen and large living room. I’m not an early riser, but one of the highlights of the trip was the chance to get up early and sit on the balcony, coffee in hand as I watched a spectacular multi-hued sunrise with the roaring sound of the Atlantic Ocean surf as a backdrop.
The Spa at Hammock Beach
Later, we indulged in an hour-long aromatherapy and hot stone massage at The Spa at Hammock Beach, followed by time in the inhalation and steam rooms and sauna. The 10,000-square-fot spa and wellness center also offers facials, pedicures and manicures, as well as yoga, Tai Chi and body sculpting at the Fitness Center.
There’s plenty to do without leaving the resort, but the historic city of St. Augustine is only a short drive away. Even closer is Marineland http://www.marineland.net/. If you haven’t visited this vintage Florida attraction in decades, put this at the top of your list. The venue is still small and quaint, but now part of the renowned Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. Marineland specializes in up-close, personal encounters with dolphins. We stepped into a shallow pool for an exhilarating, over-the-top meet-and-greet that included giving our dolphin kisses, gently rubbing her belly and offering fish treats. I think the dolphin enjoyed it as much as we did.
200 Ocean Crest Drive
Palm Coast, Florida 32137
By: Janan Talafer