By Roger Cox, Editor
It may be tempting to settle in to your spacious one-bedroom suite—at 700-square-feet the smallest rooms in Hammock Beach Resort's central tower—and just chlll out after, say, spending an afternoon strolling around the historic sites in St. Augustine, 25 miles to the north. But just to the east stretch two miles of beach bordered not by houses but by dunes and the grassy expanse of golf fairways. "Tennis can wait until tomorrow," my friend tells me. "Let's go walk on the beach."
In fact, a full two miles of unspoiled beach border this business- and family-oriented resort in Palm Coast. At its core rises two 12-story towers of luxury suites with an apron of swimming pools, event lawns, a lake, and golf fairways. Those are supplemented by a three-story Lodge—containing another 20 rooms, the golf pro shop, the ocean-view Atlantic Grille—a cluster of low-rise villas ranging in size up to four bedrooms, a spa, a fitness center, several more restaurants, a sports bar, and a cigar bar.
All of that is within easy walking distance. The tennis courts, on the other hand, are almost three miles away at Yacht Harbor Village, a marina on the Matanzas River, a free shuttle ride or short drive away. There, eight lighted Har-Tru courts have been laid out in pairs in a long line anchored by a white stucco, red-roofed clubhouse containing a modest pro shop, restrooms, and a covered plaza. Palm trees and oleander hedges frame the well-maintained courts, which are presided over by a personable and enthusiastic veteran teaching pro Gene Paul Lascano.
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Pro Shop: 386-597-5020
Lascano originally came to Hammock Beach as head pro before rising to director in 2016. A USPTA Elite Pro, he brings 20 years of teaching experience to the position. Although an active local membership ensures good turnouts for all the activities, luring hotel guests hasn't been easy. "Our biggest challenge is that you don't look out of your hotel room and see the courts," he told me. Once guests discover the courts, they're likely to be lured back by the amiable and accomplished staff and such services as bottled water and towels. "Much of the hotel traffic is return traffic," Lascano continues, "so we're able to retain clients once they come." His stable of eager locals is crucial to that success, both by being on call when a guest is looking for matches and by providing competition for teams who come for custom-tailored programs. Those locals are also loyal participants in the weekly clinics (both adult and junior), doubles drills, Cardio workouts, and bi-monthly round robins, many of the last with themes, like "Wimbledon Whites." The club also hosts a couple of USTA junior tournaments and occasional special events.
Courts & Fees. There are eight clay courts all with lights. Court Fees: $20/person/hour.
Spa & Fitness
Beach. The resort borders two miles of dune-backed Atlantic-washed beach, which while not great for swimming is known as a great spot to watch for whales. It's also pet friendly. The public have access via Old Salt Road Beach Park.
Golf Courses. Jack Nicklaus designed the 18-hole Ocean Course, laying out six of the holes along the Atlantic, while weaving the rest along inland wetlands and lakes. A second 18-hole course, the Tom Watson-designed Conservatory, is Florida's longest. It is characterized by waterfalls, brooks, and veneered field stone work given a links-style feel thanks to its many sand and coquina bunkers.
Spa and Fitness Center. The Spa at Hammock Beach offers a range of massages, body treatments, and facials. The fitness center supplements the usual Cardio and weight-training equipment with classes devoted to body sculpting, stretching, yoga, Pilates, and more.
And ... The centerpiece is a multi-level water and swim pavilion with several pools (one of them indoors) and hot tubs (some in areas for adults only), a lazy river, water slide, beach volleyball, a poolside bar, and more. There is also a putting course, bike rentals.
Broadly speaking there are three options: a 415-square-foot room in the Lodge, which affords the closest lodging to the beach; one-to-four bedroom suites in the tower; and 2- and 3-bedroom villas with fully equipped kitchens.
There are half a dozen dining options: a casual poolside cafe, a sushi bar, an Italian restaurant, and "shore-to-Table" cuisine of the oceanfront Atlantic Grille. There is also a sports bar with a limited menu and a cigar bar.
For comparison's sake, also take a look at:
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Travel Instructions. The closest major airports are Daytona Beach International (DAB) roughly 35 miles to the south and Jacksonville International Airport, 75 miles to the north.
General Tourist Information. For information about vacationing in Palm coast, visit the Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches or phone toll-free, 866-736-9291.