By Roger Cox, Editor
Poised on a bluff of dunes overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, this 443-room hotel provides every guest with a view of the ocean from their balcony or patio. Steps away is a mile and a half of broad, sandy beach, its waterside recreation supplemented by six clay and three hard courts laid out just behind the dunes as well as an 18-hole PGA golf course, two heated outdoor pools, a fitness center, and new 27,500-square-foot spa.
South Carolina-born former college tennis player John Watson opened the tennis center in 1991 and ran the programs for five years. He returned in 2006 and has put in place game-matching (drawing on 100 or so local members) and daily clinics for adults supplemented during the summer and major holidays by junior clinics. "My goal is to develop more activity," he says, adding that he's looking at programs like Cardio tennis.
The Ritz Kids program includes such activities as bonfires on the beach, pirate tuckins and hayrides, while teens hae their own "Our Space" option with a separate room where teens can gather plus activities like surf lessons, bike hikes, and pizza and movie nights. There are several dining options, the newest of them Salt.
Meanwhile, the historic houses, cobblestone streets, shops, and restaurants of Fernandina Beach are a short drive away.
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