Amelia Island Plantation
| Amelia Island, Florida
On the northernmost of Florida's Atlantic Coast islands, the 1,350-acre Amelia Island Plantation is truly a nature-lover's paradise: Paths wind through oak-, cedar- and cypress-filled forest and marshland to the white-sand beach and ocean beyond. And because much of Amelia is designated Audubon-sanctuary land (the island is home to great blue heron, purple sandpipers and snowy egret, among other feathered friends), it's a bird-watcher's paradise, as well.
The Plantation itself is also a haven for tennis enthusiasts. Host to the Women's Tennis Association's annual Bausch & Lomb Tournament, the resort's oak-shaded Racquet Park features 23 Har-Tru clay courts, some lighted for evening play; USPTA- and USPTR-certified pros conduct daily skill-sharpening programs and interactive drills for all levels of player. Thursday through Sunday, the Vermont-based Gunterman Tennis School offers its own intense four-day clinics, including small-group and private lessons, video analysis, unlimited use of the Plantation's fitness center and a welcome cocktail party.
Off the Court
In addition to tennis, Plantation recreation offerings include scenic hiking and biking trails, horseback riding, fishing, racquetball and a spa and meditation garden. There's also a 54-hole golf course/bird sanctuary, and a Beach Club loaded with paddle-boating, kayaking, boogie-boarding and sun-bathing necessities.
Accommodations and Dining
There are 418 hotel rooms and villas on the Plantation, about half of which -- each with private patio or balcony -- are at the Amelia Inn & Beach Club. The other lodgings, individually owned one-, two- and three-bedroom condos, are scattered throughout the property. Dining options include five restaurants and two lounges: On the more formal end, the Ocean Grill specializes in regional cuisine and dramatic vistas; the Racquet Park's Verandah leans toward local seafood. For more casual meals, guests head to Marche Burette, a gourmet deli and al fresco café.
Tennis packages -- including accommodations, unlimited court time, round-robin entry fees, use of a ball machine for an hour a day and fitness-club access -- require a two-night minimum stay.
- Hotel room: $220 - $410/night
- One-bedroom villa: $270 - $480/night
- Two-bedroom villa: $400 - $880/night
- Three-bedroom villa: $510 - $1,118/night
- Gunterman Tennis School: $437/person (not including accommodations)
*prices may vary
Children ages 3-10 can participate in the Plantation's supervised Kids' Camp Amelia daily activities program. Young guests hoping to get a crack at some tennis-court time are also in luck: Kids 15 and under play for free when accompanied by a paying adult.
The Amelia Island Plantation is 29 miles north of Jacksonville International Airport (JAX). Both shuttle service and car rental are readily available.