Tag Archives: Hiking/Walking

Oceanfront Luxury: Omni Amelia Island Plantation

Ultimate Ocean Luxury-  Omni Amelia Island Plantation

Ultimate Ocean Luxury- Omni Amelia Island Plantation

Escape to a Barrier Island Respite
By Charlene & Richard Mixa

Miles of Atlantic Ocean views, fantastic sandy beaches, luxurious relaxing oceanfront accommodations, refreshing resort pools, challenging championship golf and a plethora of activities greet us at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation. Located on a barrier island just north of Jacksonville, FL, we find a 1,350 acre resort in lush Florida landscape nestled between the sandy beaches of the Atlantic Ocean, the green marshland, and the Intracoastal Waterway. Driving into the resort, huge live oaks draped in Spanish moss line the entrance creating a welcoming Southern charm to the Plantation. An amazing upscale resort that promises a refreshing respite from the hustle and bustle.

The scenic view from our luxury hotel room on the 5th floor

The scenic view from our luxury hotel room on the 5th floor

A wide variety of accommodations are available from resort guest rooms with ocean views to secluded villas hidden among the intriguing landscape. Breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean are seen from our fifth floor Premier Oceanfront Room. Relaxation and comfort are primary in this 439-square-foot room with two queen beds, a working desk, and a luxurious modern bathroom. Our room faces south providing a wonderful panoramic ocean vista and a reprieve from the November northeasterly winds. After a long drive we are ready for a “stretch of the legs.” Ah, the smell of the sea air and beach beckon for an afternoon stroll along the 3.5 miles of pristine seashore. While the winds deter going for a dip, we relish the refreshing walk. With the tide out, the deep seashore offers a perfect walking terrain. Along the walk we spot the various resort accommodations, a few ocean golf holes and other walkers enjoying an afternoon beach stroll.

Fernandina Beach and Palace Saloon at night

Fernandina Beach and Palace Saloon at night

Opting to do a bit of exploring while on the Island, we enjoy a delicious dinner at Joe’s Second Street Bistro in the quaint downtown of Fernandina Beach. After dinner, it’s a leisurely walk along the streets of this charming southern town. On a Monday night things are a bit quiet, but we thoroughly enjoy window shopping in the numerous unique boutique stores. The historic Palace Saloon is a must stop to belly up to the bar and hear the tall tales of Florida’s Oldest Bar.

A beautiful morning sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean begins our day. More views await at the Sunrise Café for an indulgent breakfast. Choices are many from the “Art of Breakfast” buffet but we opt to dine ala carte. The Plantation Breakfast definitely suits me with two eggs, plantation potatoes, whole wheat toast, and Earl Grey tea. The maple-blueberry organic sausage is a hit for both of us, very flavorful. Richard is thrilled with the French toast and raves about it: “The best he ever had!”

Ocean Links  - Coastal dune holes have plenty of challenge and scenery!

Ocean Links – Coastal dune holes have plenty of challenge and scenery!

Boasting a first-class golf experience, the Omni Amelia Island Plantation is home to three incredible championship courses. Today we play the Ocean Links Golf Course. Quickly checking, we warm up at the practice range preparing to tackle the course. On past visits we have golfed the Oak Marsh course which is along lagoons and marsh wetlands so we are looking forward to the Ocean Links Golf Course as it winds through six miles of natural sand dunes and seaside terrain. Teeing off on the first hole we find a course that is both welcoming and challenging. Starting with par-4’s we feel confident with pars and a bogey. Arriving at Hole No. 4 along a coastal dune ridge on the Atlantic Ocean, we find very demanding holes. What appears to be a simple short par-4 quickly brings new dimensions of winds from the Ocean, terrain and testy green. The next two ocean holes are scenic, challenging par-3’s. Hurrah! It’s pars for both of us!

Ocean Links Hole No. 15 - a demanding par-3 directly into an ocean breeze!

Ocean Links Hole No. 15 – a demanding par-3 directly into an ocean breeze!

The course then winds back through the lagoons and marshland before returning to the ocean dunes on Hole No. 15 a demanding par-3. Drives are directly into a stiff ocean breeze to an elevated green. Watching the group in front struggle on this hole, we smartly select more club that is required to reach the green. Barely, surviving this hole with bogies, we arrive at the final ocean hole, No. 16 a par-4 along the seashore that has a hidden green and narrow fairway. Errant shots and even good shots are easily lost in the rough along the narrow fairway. The undulating green is tricky. No. 17 is a long par-5 that leads us to the amazing finishing hole, a par-3 whose green is strategically place in the waters of Red Maple Lake. Precision is required to not overshoot and end up in the lake. Delightful, challenging and fun – our golf day on the Ocean Links Course is as much a nature tour as a round of golf. Now for a tasty lunch and relaxation. The Marsh View Bar and Grill is so convenient and offers a varied menu to hit the spot for hungry golfers with its Southern-inspired casual fare overlooking the golf course. Here, we enjoy tasty sandwiches as we relive our exciting morning of golf.

Adult-only infinity edge pool - Relaxing!

Adult-only infinity edge pool – Relaxing!

Ah, now to chill out! Back at our room, we quickly change into swimsuits and head off for a relaxing respite by the water. Fantastic! The Plantation has the largest multi-tiered pool deck in northeast Florida. Choices, choices, choices- there is a 10,000-square-foot family-friendly pool with a few children splashing around today, a Splash Park water playground for kids, and an adults-only infinity edge pool and hot tubs. Being November it is a bit cool, so we opt to rest our weary bodies in the hot tub in the adults-only area. Ah! The jets massage our muscles and quickly relieve any tension. Locating comfy chaise lounges in the tiered decks, away from the ocean breeze, we stretch out on the guest beach towels for an afternoon nap. The adults-only pool provides stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. Definitely, a wonderful respite for relaxing and unwinding. Afterwards, it’s a short walk along the beach before returning to our room.

Refreshed, we take a leisurely walk through the resorts walkways to Marche Burette, a gourmet market featuring wine, spirits, gourmet cookware and wine accessories. Shopping for unique items for family and friends, we then stroll around the lake and find numerous other shops offering specialty retail merchandise. Along the way, we see guests biking the many trails in this massive resort. Umm- maybe next time, we will pedal along these paths.  For dinner, we decide to check out a local eatery, and then return to Plantation to enjoy sitting around the fire pit by the pool enjoying a beautiful moonlight with a gentle ocean breeze.

Sunrise  over the Atlantic Ocean

Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean

Awakening to a beautiful sunrise with a gentle breeze, it’s perfect for a morning walk along the beach. Scenic and peaceful, we finish our walk by stopping in at the Sunrise Café for breakfast. Richard is still enamored with the French toast and has it again today. Today, I opt for the Pecanwood Smoked Salmon with cream cheese, tomato, caper, fried egg on a bagel. Excellent!

Spending three days and two nights at the Resort is a delightful respite for us. Be prepared, the Omni Amelia Island Plantation is huge with its 1,350 acres offering so many options for accommodations from condominiums to villas to traditional hotel rooms. The staff is excellent and ready to assist with any request. Boredom is not a problem unless you choose to do nothing. There are many activities to meet anyone of any age’s desire. We found great walking paths through the hammocks, numerous shops, a rejuvenating spa, challenging golf, amazing pools, expansive beaches, trails to bike, state-of-the-art fitness centers, and MORE.

If you go:
Omni Amelia Island Plantation, 39 Beach Lagoon Rd, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
904.261.6161

https://www.omnihotels.com/hotels/amelia-island-plantation

 

Northern Michigan’s Gem: The Grand Traverse Resort and Spa

The iconic Tower at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa

The iconic Tower at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa

A Luxury Resort Surrounded by Sweeping Vistas & Magnificent Lake Michigan
By: Charlene & Richard Mixa

Seeking a respite from the Florida heat, we felt “the call” for a visit to Northern Michigan Here we look forward to cooler temperatures along with lush forests, rolling greens, grape vineyards, cherry orchards and the sparkling, sugar-sand shores of Grand Traverse Bay. A favorite premier destination resort is the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa with its iconic glass Tower, creating sky-high experience and expansive views of the scenic landscape. Continue reading

Asheville: The Call of Mountain Adventures

From Treetop Thrills to Luxurious Spa Caves
By Charlene & Richard Mixa (aka Mimi & Papa)

The Mixa's  take on the Adventure Center of Asheville

The Mixa’s take on the Adventure Center of Asheville

Zip through treetops, hike to a mountain top, slide down a waterfall, ride a wacky bus, play a round of golf, relax in an underground spa and tour a mansion, the Western North Carolina Mountains beckon adventurers from thrill seekers to pursuers of relaxation. On trips to dynamic Asheville we have hiked mountains, waded in ice cold creeks and been on tours to sample foods, taste beers and sip wines. Yet, each visit to these magnificent Blue Ridge Mountains brings a distinct twist on any adventure. Grandchildren, Louis (6 yrs.) and Lucy (4yrs) and their parents, Matt and Dawn join a few adventures adding to the excitement. Continue reading

A Rainy Night in Savannah

A Town That Never Disappoints!

Ellis Square Splash Pad/Fountain

Ellis Square Splash Pad/Fountain

By Charlene & Richard Mixa

Savannah’s newest “Southern Belle,” welcomes us for an overnight visit to this always captivating town. Under cloudy skies, we are warmly welcomed to the boutique Hotel Indigo Savannah Historic District. Having seen the hotel under construction in December, we are anxious to visit the new “Belle of Savannah.” Impressive and huge! It is the second largest hotel in Savannah with over 250 rooms. Once a 19th-century dry goods storage house and shop, today with its modern style, Hotel Indigo still maintains its historic charm with a pleasing mix of old and new. Continue reading

All Aboard! Experience a Viking River Cruise on the Romantic Danube

A Touch & Taste on the Captivating Danube River

By Charlene & Richard Mixa

The Beautiful Blue Danube in November

The Beautiful Blue Danube in November

Picturesque scenes capture the magnificence of the Danube River with elegant cities, rolling hillsides, lush vineyards, and medieval castles. A romantic river that captivated musicians, artists and poets throughout the centuries. After traveling Europe a few weeks on our own, we gladly begin our Viking River Cruise and have the Viking experts orchestrate activities to assure an historical and local experience. Our cruise promises a glimpse of beguiling Budapest, the imperial architecture and gracious culture of Vienna, riverside towns in Austria’s Wachau Valley, a high-baroque abbey, and captivating German towns. Continue reading

Cruise & Explore the Gems of Spain

A Luxurious Mediterranean Cruise to Intriguing Spanish Ports

By Charlene & Richard Mixa

The MS New Amsterdam sails the coast of Spain

The MS New Amsterdam sails the coast of Spain

Roman ruins, ancient cathedrals, lively cities and remote villages entice visitors to Spain. A country where the great civilizations have risen, fallen and left behind their indelible mark. Holland America’s Gems of Spain promises enchanting glimpses of an intriguing country while indulging in a luxurious Mediterranean cruise. Continue reading

Sensational Savannah

 

A Southern City Boasting Charm and Hospitality  

By Charlene & Richard Mixa

Fountain in Forsyth Park

Fountain in Forsyth Park

Savannah! The coastal jewel on Georgia’s east coast evokes visions of sunlight filtered through thick gnarled branches of ancient live oaks. Spanish moss drips off trees while crepe myrtles burst with bright blossoms of purple, pink and white. In early June, stately old trees shade columned mansions and gardens sport summer blooms. Savannah entices visitors with her sultry ambiance, striking beauty and old-world charm. Continue reading

Enhance your Irish Adventure- Head North

By Sally James

Last year over 1.3 million Americans embraced the opportunity to visit Ireland. Yet only a relatively small proportion of these adventurers opted to enhance their Irish experience by heading over the border into Northern Ireland. Here we take a closer look at some of the delights which the region can offer and highlight why it is a must on any Emerald Isle itinerary. Continue reading

A Sampling of Asheville’s Culinary Scene

From Restaurant Dining to Food Tour to Sky Bar!

By Charlene & Richard Mixa

Ahi Tuna Salad at Grove Park In Cabana Grill & Bar

Ahi Tuna Salad at Grove Park In Cabana Grill & Bar

Asheville runs the gamut with its culinary cuisine. From downhome to uptown, the city will entice and satisfy any palate. Spending only a couple of days in the city on this visit, we are exploring and focusing on its vibrant restaurant scene. Plus our hotel, The Windsor Asheville is perfect for walking to downtown restaurants, shops, galleries and museums. Continue reading

Light up the Night at Winter Lights

A wonderland of lights at Winter Lights

A wonderland of lights at Winter Lights

The NC Arboretum Creates a Magical Wonderland of Lights

 By Charlene & Richard Mixa

Even the parking lot is decked out in lights.

Even the parking lot is decked out in lights.

Beautiful! Colorful! Unique! Arriving at Winter Lights is like driving in to a Wonderland of Lights. Lights of green, orange and blue illuminate the bare trees creating a magical feel in the parking lot. At the Winter Welcome Center, the Mixa family (four adults and 2 children -Lucy age 4 & Louis 5) prepare for an adventure at the Arboretum’s lighted gardens and landscapes. Winter Lights is a three-acre nightly walking tour. The handy Event Map shows 15 areas to explore. Continue reading