Framed by immaculate, billowing shorelines and harbored under whispering canopies, Amelia Island made my life in Miami Beach feel a million miles away. My flight arrived in Jacksonville near 9 AM, and after fetching my rental car and cruising up I-95, I pulled up to the charming Fairbanks House in Fernandina Beach’s Historic District around 10 AM.
I have always been a beach girl: I was born in Puerto Rico and raised in South Florida, so most of my seaside escapes landed me in the tropics. Though I had studied in Tallahassee, which lay just a few hours westward, I did not learn about this quaint barrier island until after graduation. Now here I was solo (due to an unexpected change in my partner’s schedule): Three years had passed since my last North Florida visit, and I welcomed the reprieve from Miami Beach’s congestion-clogged arteries. Thanks to my college days, Amelia’s geography felt somewhat familiar, unearthing a buried nostalgia. My arrival likened entering a poetic refuge.
I’m no novelist (yet), but the Fairbank’s Victorian grounds made me think, ‘This is the type of place I could write a book in.’ Before I got too lost in my bestseller daydream, the light speckling through the willows caught my eye. I quickly dug out my camera to snap it: My bed and breakfast host had forewarned me of a weekend weather shift, so capturing the fleeting natural light was a top priority. My second priority would be intentional relaxation.
I would find that in this environment – rooted in natural beauty and elevated by grinning greetings – that Amelia Island is a physical and mental haven. At first, I resisted the island’s leisurely pace, anxiously wanting to pass speed-limit-abiding citizens, but I eventually gave into it. On Amelia Island, there is an innate understanding that well-being goes beyond quick-fad buzzwords; it is ingrained in the island’s way of life, sincerely flowing into their wellness options.
Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort
Amidst its 1,350 acres of sprawling green space, Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort guests and members will find daily programming highlighting the property’s commitment to wellness. Omni houses two fitness facilities: The Racquet Park Health & Fitness Center features an indoor heated lap pool and a myriad of $15 classes while the equipment-driven hotel gym remains available to resort guests 24-hours a day. Those seeking a bit more privacy may request in-room fitness kits, which include stretch bands, dumbbells, a kettlebell, a mat, and a stress ball.
For daytime retreaters, The Spa and Salon at Amelia Island Plantation soothes the body and spirit. Here, traditional treatments are met with globally celebrated methodologies and organic or regionally sourced products.
The Spa’s Japanese Facial Massage combines acupuncture with massage, softening the face, head, and shoulders. Chinese reflexology (an ancient foot-to-organ pressure point technique) and Japanese Reiki (a light-touch energy healing practice) can both be found inside The Spa’s transformative walls. Once treatments are complete, visitors may decompress inside the garden-side, coed lounge or opt for a leisurely stroll.
Tickled with a bit of childhood nostalgia, The Spa’s unique “tree house yoga” takes place Saturday mornings at 10:00 AM for $18. This intimate gathering allows the public to namaste within Amelia’s iconic treetops. While popular, the aerial space holds only 8-10 people per class, so admittance is first come, first serve.
Omni’s wellness focuses have also trickled down into their food service, exemplified by The Sprouting Project, an onsite organic garden and aquaponic greenhouse. The Sprouting Project’s seasonal produce, herbs, and apiary are under Executive Chef Daven Wardynski’s discerning watch. Wardynski’s dedication to shifting food perspectives is a pillar for local sustainability. Wardynski and Omni organize interactive farm-to-table dinners monthly. Wardynski and his staff also lead small group tours of the expanding Sprouting Project; depending on the time of year, perusers might nibble on freshly picked peppers or waft the scent of budding Meyer lemons.
Dome Healing Center
Amelia Island’s anchor in alternative therapies is the Dome Healing Center, who provides complimentary and by donation, daily group courses in yoga or meditation. Classes are open to all ages and experience levels and often include chanting, mantras, and breathing exercises. This humble space surrounds itself with photos of respected yogis, Buddhist artwork, and Sanskrit.
As a Monroe Institute affiliate, the Dome Healing Center produces Hemi-Sync programs and workshops. Hemi-Sync, short for hemispheric synchronization, is a sound-guided process that creates varying resonances and sequences in the brain that directly relate to consciousness and ease. Studies have shown that frequent Hemi-Sync usage often results in heightened performance and concentration.
Dome’s services include hands-on modalities such as facials, Swedish and deep tissue massages, CranioSacral therapy, and lymphatic drainage.
The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Amelia Island
Layered in indulgence, The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Amelia Island beckons hours-long escapes. The stress allaying amenities include a private outdoor pool with food and beverage service, and his and hers saunas, whirlpools, steam rooms, and relaxation lounges. Treatments cover multiple genres, from anti-aging techniques to uniquely crafted processes. The Ritz-Carlton Spa differentiates itself through the use of Himalayan sea salt crystals; these pink-colored salts are the purest salts on earth, containing abundant minerals and elements that parallel the body’s functional needs. Spa patrons may lather in a Himalayan sea salt and herb bath, combine the salts with a warm honey wrap and rub, or simply opt for a salt-centric massage.