Now that I’m part-time traveling and not full-time nomad-ding, I am making it a point to satiate my roiling wanderlust by being a tourist in my own town. It’s so easy to get caught up in my day-to-day life that I forget about the many attractions that make Florida’s First Coast such a lovely place to visit, specifically our beautiful beaches.
A few months ago I visited One Ocean Resort & Spa for another freelance story I was writing, but didn’t have a chance to actually stay overnight until recently. Growing up here, I never had an opportunity to explore any of the local hotels and frankly, back when I was a kid, there wasn’t much luxury to speak of on the First Coast. Now that I’m back, I’m happy to report One Ocean is an absolutely gorgeous and recently renovated hotel right on the beach.
Now when friends come to visit, I have somewhere swanky to put them!
The first thing you notice at One Ocean is that the service is divine — from the valet to your personal docent who looks after your every need. You don’t have to park your car and make your way to a check-in line for a credit card exchange and run-down of amenities either. Oh no.
At One Ocean, you roll up, your valet presents a room key and you’re immediately headed to your swanky room.
No lines, no waiting, no work.
The décor is soothing and calming – exactly the colors and designs I’d choose for a beachy escape. My room overlooked the pier and the very stretch of white sand I grew up on, which brought back a sense of nostalgia I don’t usually get when visiting new hotels in other places.
It was an unusual & welcome sensation.
In my personalized refreshment cabinet, aka the minibar, there was an assortment of snacks I’d selected in advance – all included in the room rate. Each of the 193 rooms and suites offers the opportunity to interact with a docent in advance of the trip, so if you have any special requests, you can assure they’re met by the time you arrive.
Upon arrival, docents will even unpack your suitcase, iron clothes and book reservations at the onsite spa and restaurant. I didn’t have time for packing or unpacking, but next time I stay I might just bring my ironing…
As the hard-hitting investigative travel journalist that I am, I just had to test my docent to see if he was really up to snuff. So, at about 1 a.m., I pressed the One Touch button on my bedside phone and asked for the wildest request I could come up with — Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
Oooh, look at me! Such a diva! I’m like the Mariah Carey of the travel blogging world! What next – color-sorted Skittles?
(Honestly, I couldn’t bring myself to do worse having had to deal with such horrid journalists in my previous life as a publicist. One pitched a fit that her hotel’s lamp was too far to reach from her sleeping position in bed, another whined there wasn’t enough free stuff on her all-expense paid media trip and another had a hissy because there was no 2% milk on a tiny barrier island in The Bahamas. Having gone through all that and more, I just can’t bring myself to be a true travel diva.)
After my late night snack of peanut butter cups, I awoke to a cloudy sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean and playful dolphins surfacing in the waves. I padded around the room in my cushy bathrobe, ate the remaining snacks in the minibar for breakfast and enjoyed the serenity that comes from waking up within earshot of crashing waves.
Pros: I was very excited to find One Ocean offers free WiFi and a magnificent hair dryer. You can’t imagine how many great hotels have piddling little low-wattage blowdryers that short out before I finish my ‘do. One Ocean’s was top-notch! I also loved the bath products – fantastic, sea-inspired creations that you can purchase in the spa.
One of the coolest features at One Ocean is the safe. There are electrical outlets inside so you can leave your computer/phone/iPad/whatever charging and under lock-and-key. More hotels should have this feature!
Cons: Downsides to One Ocean are hard to come by, but I found my bathroom & shower to be rather tiny considering how huge and well-appointed the rest of my corner suite was.
If I only had more time, I would’ve reviewed the swanky spa and the highly reputed restaurant Azurea, but unfortunately I was only in residence for one hurried night. For the first time in all my recent travels, I can actually say with confidence that I’ll be back. For once, this hotel is an easy drive and not a 15-hour flight away!
Thanks to One Ocean Resort & Spa for hosting me. All opinions and diva requests are my own.