The shores of Florida are brimming with diversity. As you wind your way north along I-95, each town, village and city carries it’s own charm, brandishing its own eclectic style that is wholly Florida. Big and bold, Jacksonville is no different. Named after Andrew “Old Hickory” Jackson, the U.S.’s largest city (in terms of area) with a history that is thousands of years deep is teeming with originality and hidden gems.
Atlantic Beach, a quaint town stretching along one of the prettiest shorelines in a state known for its beaches, is a haven for tanned and bikini-clad bodies, beach cruisers and tropically inspired cocktails. A luxe respite rising amid the beach tourist scene, One Ocean Resort Hotel & Spa, part of Remington’s Gallery collection of luxury resorts, takes a modernist twist on the upscale beach resort. Formerly the Sea Turtle Inn, an Atlantic Beach fixture since the 1970s, One Ocean underwent a $24 million restoration in 2007, creating the most visually striking and welcoming resorts in the state.
The interior reflects the sea, represented by curving walls that echo the surging surf and undulating dunes. The accents of deep blues, aquas, sea foam greens and taupes play on a recurring theme, while some of the most breathtaking views of the Atlantic stand unobstructed. The modernist aesthetic breaks from the overplayed opulence often seen in beach resorts. One Ocean takes those preconceived notions and makes them their own, managing luxury in a modern and unassuming package. Upon entering, guests are greeted by an open and airy energy. The Personal Docent Service offers seamless check-in, where guests are greeted by name and escorted from their car to a plush room, sidestepping the front desk and having every whim catered to.
The Spa at One Ocean, Jacksonville’s only full-service oceanfront spa, is a true treat. Carrying over the sea-inspired decor and aesthetic into the services and treatments, the spa’s menu is comprehensive and vast. Packages range from private indulgences to group and couple therapies; there is even a package for guys, with a sports massage and men’s facial. For those looking for a unique One Ocean treatment, try the Seashell Massage, a maritime twist on the classic warm stone massage, in which smooth, heated seas shells are used to ease muscle tension. The Asian Bamboo Massage couples the percussive application of bamboo with the soothing power of heat, as warmed sticks of varied widths are incorporated into the massage.
During our visit to One Ocean, the culinary talents of Azuréa’s Executive Chef Ted Peters and Executive Pastry Chef Nancy Slatsky were on display for an absolutely delicious dinner to benefit the Friends of James Beard Foundation.
Peters was invited in 2010 to cook for the James Beard House, an honor reserved for just a select few in the industry, where he created a four-course, sea-themed meal with the help of Slatsky on dessert, showcasing the culinary talents of North Florida in New York. To celebrate, James Beard Foundation teamed with Azuréa, as well as chefs Tom Gray of Bistro Aix, Matthew Medure of Matthew’s and Brian Siebenschuh of Orsay, to create an evening of culinary decadence that ranged from current gastronomic complexity to comfort foods with a modern flare in a five-course smorgasbord.
Azuréa is a culinary delight in its own right. The sleek and fashionable setting of the restaurant is only outmatched by the flavors of the cuisine, which is distinctly modern with a colonial bent. The melding of tastes from the Caribbean, the Americas and Europe merge for an urbane and inventive menu that changes as often as the seasons. For the daring diner, the Adventurous Palate is an apt and delicious culinary excursion. Peters, Executive Sous Chef Nate Lindsay and the kitchen staff will customize a five- or seven-course meal with wine pairings to the liking of each diner. After dinner, or for a break from the sun, head to the Azuréa Lounge, a place that looks straight out Las Vegas, with bold colors, stylized decor and modern sentiments. The lounge serves just about any libation under or out of the sun, from the sophisticated cocktails to the rum-laden boat drink.
For vacationing families, One Ocean has some pretty great amenities and programs to keep the kids occupied, even if the design and chic surroundings of the resort may be lost on the tot who just wants to play in the pool or on the beach. The Sea Turtle Kids Club, a marine biology-based camp, keeps the small-fry set busy with sandcastle building led by a professional artist, surf lessons, water sports, movies, photography lessons, cooking classes and much more, giving mom and dad a little bit of alone time to enjoy the resort on their own.
All in all, One Ocean is doing luxury on its own terms, and helping transform the greater Jacksonville area into a destination not to be missed.
1 Ocean Blvd.
Atlantic Beach, FL 32233
*Photography courtesy of One Ocean Resort