The Meh Resort Breakdown: Amelia Island's Ritz Carlton
Updated: 4 days ago
Nestled along the pristine shores of Amelia Island in Florida, the Ritz-Carlton was once the epitome of luxury and elegance. Renowned for its exceptional service, breathtaking views, and world-class amenities, this coastal haven most likely conferred an unforgettable experience for discerning travelers. From indulgent spa treatments to culinary delights and outdoor adventures, the Ritz-Carlton at Amelia Island was likely once a paradise that catered to every desire. Join me as I share my experience with this resort. Yes, I am speaking in the past tense above, and that's on purpose. I think this was the perfect island getaway, but it desperately needs some training for some of the employees, cleaning, and updates!
Also, please note that I work 365 days a year - I'm never off work as a small business owner. I have multiple lines of work to keep me going nonstop, so when I get to vacation with my family once a year (it's still a working vacation), I'm thoroughly disheartened when it's a 'meh' experience. I work too hard for that and only get the opportunity to do it once a year. So our 2023 experience was a 'boo' for me overall, but there were a few highlights. Next year, we'll try a new destination and maybe give the Ritz Carlton a rest for a while.
Accommodations 6.5/10: The Ritz-Carlton at Amelia Island boasts an array of luxurious accommodations designed to provide guests with the utmost comfort and style. From standard guest rooms to suites, every space attempts to exude a timeless charm. The soothing coastal hues and semi-elegant furnishings create a serene yet plain Jane ambiance, while the amenities and plush bedding hope to give you a restful stay. Most rooms offer ocean views, albeit not very breathtaking, allowing guests to wake up to the gentle sound of the waves and soak in the natural beauty if you strain to hear it and overlook a bit of basic architecture in the way. Let's take a walk down the long hallways to my suite:
Take a look at my Club suite and see if this is truly a luxury resort. Below are photos of the Club Terrace Suite, Ocean view:
I'm scared of that plastic bed thing. I'm not sure what it's for - but this is the Ritz Carlton - how much could it cost to get a new waterproof sheet or whatever is that is begging for freedom from that...um...mattress? The furniture is disgusting and the whole 'terrace' is very lackluster with cheap furniture. It was stifling hot - so hanging out here was not possible. Maybe for the price per night have a few misters? The ocean view is great if you can look past the roof ledge thing - not sure what that is, but the ocean is quite a way away, so that rooftop ledge thing is really what you are made to focus on.
Gastronomic Delights - only one place we found was worth retuning - Salt. The resort's culinary offerings offer a range of offerings from Coquina, which serves 'edible' poolside fare to upscale white linen foodie dining at Salt. The Ritz-Carlton at Amelia Island has a diverse selection of dining options - this is true. We dined at Coast, Tidewater Grill, Coquina, and Salt. We also had the Club's offerings.
- 8.5/10: Salt offers an elegant dining experience focusing on locally sourced ingredients and innovative flavors. Salt was amazing, but not perfect. Everyone but one person at our table loved most things about their dishes. I had the lobster. It was a bit chewy, and the grits and okra weren't all that good - but it was fine - I wasn't all that hungry. The dessert wasn't very good, though - but everyone else loved their desserts. I got the mousse cake and was the only one.
- 5/10: Coquina: Edible - nothing to ever want to eat again, but not terrible. The nachos were okay, but nobody really liked anything else.
- 4/10: Coast: Our family ate here twice. The first night - everyone reported back that it was 'meh.' I ate with them the second time and got a salad with bottled ranch dressing (my pet peeve) and brown spots all over the lettuce.
- 3/10: Club level: this is the worst club level I've experienced. I'd say the Ritz. Dallas is the best, followed by Fort Lauderdale. This club offered the same food each day - nothing was hardly changed up, and nothing was 'great.' It's very boring and not that good. The eggs were always cooked unevenly, the bacon was half undercooked, and desserts were almost always bland. The chocolate chip cookies were the best thing about the club. The servers gave every other kid in the club a package with pails for the beach one morning, but our two girls (9) had to sit there and wonder why they didn't get one. We also saw others getting chicken and fries for kids on special order but when we asked for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for a diabetic with us - we were told no by one of the hostesses until Joni heard about it and took care of it for us. Joni was great - it was only on her days off when we had issues. Also, they allowed about 50 people with badges who were at some conference to file into the club, and it became unbearable, so we had to leave. We couldn't fathom how that many people would have been staying on the Club level so if so - they overpacked it, or they just allowed these people to come for an hour and a half to make it unpleasant - they kept a line going for food (and ate most of it before we could get any) and were very loud. Overall - the furniture is a bit dingy, especially outside. There are dirty cushions and missing cushions on the outdoor furniture. It's just not what I'd expect from a Ritz Carlton. When I go on vacation, I want to sit and enjoy furniture that's nicer than what I own - this wasn't the case here. But I don't have an ocean, so be it. They win.
- 2/10: Tidewater Grill - everyone complained about their dishes. My daughter and I got the shrimp boil. Don't order Cajun dishes outside of southern Louisiana. That is all I have to say.
The Spa Experience: I've heard that visiting the Ritz-Carlton at Amelia Island is incomplete without pampering yourself at the award-winning spa. The tranquil sanctuary offers a range of rejuvenating treatments and therapies inspired by the island's natural beauty. Each session is tailored to provide ultimate relaxation and renewal, from relaxing massages to invigorating body scrubs and facials. Unwind in the luxurious lounges, plunge into the healing waters of the mineral pool, or meditate in the peaceful garden for a truly blissful escape. My son and his girlfriend enjoyed their massages and experience at the spa. A naked man cut my son's sauna experience short, as he wasn't about that, but to each their own. If you wanna hang your fam's jewels out for others of your gender to admire - you can do it here. I'm sure it's true for any men's sauna, however. We had a family convo about that, and it seems to be the norm in society that there's always a naked dude - usually older - in a sauna. Whatever.
I did shop here for a couple of Lululemon outfits. They had a cute selection. The people who checked me out were meh - I liked the boutique sales ladies better.
Unparalleled Recreation: For those seeking adventure, the resort offers many recreational activities to keep you entertained throughout your stay. Hit the beach for a volleyball game or engage in thrilling water sports such as kayaking, paddleboarding, or jet-skiing. Golf enthusiasts can tee off at the prestigious Golf Club of Amelia Island, where lush fairways and stunning ocean views create an unforgettable experience. Additionally, tennis courts, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and guided nature tours are available for those looking to stay active. We had good intentions, but never so much as hit up one of the bike trails. Sigh.
Pool cabanas: They have a decent-sized pool. There are no cool waterslides or lazy rivers, but it's big enough. We rented a cabana at the pool three times - I got a half-day luxury, a full-day poolside, and a full-day luxury. The price hovered around $1100 per day, which does NOT include food as most cabana rentals have done in my experience. For example, in Vegas, any cabana we've ever rented was for about $800 for the day, including food - so if you didn't order over ~$800 - you were charged that amount anyway. Fair enough. So you guarantee you'll spend that much to reserve that space. That's fair. The Ritz charges you an $1100 rate for the day, which is only for reserving the space. Half the time, we got our drinks from the bar. With the exception of the poolside day - our server was amazing.
The full-day luxury suite - the lady at the pool reservation desk, when we checked in, just said,' You know where it is, right?' She didn't even want to walk us over there. What? Who does that? Yes, we had been there, but not with her. There were three of them, and we weren't sure which one was ours, so we appreciated the escort. I tipped her for the 1-minute walk to show us the reserved cabana - don't worry, but she didn't really earn it. Ironically, but not surprisingly, we didn't get service that day until 11 AM, so we had to go inside the Tidewater bar until the servers started. The pool furniture was cheap, filthy, and they didn't want to give us the fruit tray on our luxury half day, but then begrudgingly did it when we asked about it. I was told on the phone we'd have it, so I asked about it. Don't blame me if you are not all on the same page.
The private Club Beach: this was a nice touch, but don't get too excited - it's unmonitored for the most part. If you stay on the Club level, you have access to the Club beach to the left of the other Ritz Carlton guests. It's quieter and less populated, which is what an introvert like me needs - but the service is VERY slow - both days we went there, we had to flag them down to walk out our way. The food they serve is inedible. Jeez, don't get food there, it's just bad. I should have taken photos.
When we left on the first day, some randoms came up and took our chairs. All I have to say is 'whatever' to that - but we're not entirely sure they didn't continue charging things on our bill with the server. The beach staff didn't seem to care that our chairs had been jacked. This reminds me to go check our bill.
Also, a lady from the Gen Pop side tried to sashay over to steal our kids' toys while they had their backs turned to work on a sand project. But we were in our chairs watching this budding criminal faction of a 40something woman and her toddler who she was using as a thieving muse. WTH. Who does that?
Unmatched Service and Amenities: One of the hallmarks of the Ritz-Carlton brand is its exceptional service, and the Amelia Island location is a slight exception. But I must interject that Charlotte's location is the absolute worst in my experience - another blog, another day. However some of the staff went above and beyond to ensure guest's needs were met, such as Joni in the club and Lydia, our housekeeper, but we had a few other Motel 6 level experiences. We didn't get a 'personalized welcome greeting,' or anything in our room like another one of our rooms did. Maybe they thought I was staying in the other room? But why wouldn't both Ocean View Terrace Club suites have the same service and amenities? We did like the sales ladies at the boutiques. We spent a small fortune there, and they were very nice each time.
The pirate campout was a disaster: I had spoken to Norma before my trip and had requested the pirate campout - well in advance. When we checked in, there was no record of it. Sigh. Okay, we signed up for it again. Waited with two anxious nine-year-old girls - and 9:30 PM came, and we called the front desk. They didn't know where the pirate was and said 'he probably left at 8 PM.' They said they'd make it up to us. Want to know how they did that? They charged my room (not even the correct room) $125 per night for a pirate tent for my entire stay - $800. So, I had to review invoices and contact them to get a credit. Just got a brief apology for the charges but nothing about never making it up to us. That's why I will not return. They had their chance to make it up to someone who paid an unholy amount to vacation there with their family but failed. Looks like we might try the Four Seasons at another Florida location next time.
The Ritz-Carlton at Amelia Island beckons luxury seekers and travelers in search of an exceptional experience but doesn't deliver on the iconic luxuries of most other properties. Is it on a decline as a whole or is it just this property that isn't hitting the mark? Time will tell.
Its idyllic location, luxurious accommodations, world-class dining with Salt, rejuvenating spa, and exciting recreational opportunities combine to give the illusion of an unforgettable escape. But with such glaring inconsistencies and motel-level qualities that are peppered throughout - it brings down the experience to a 'meh' level for me. It's kind of like The Matrix movie where you can see the real world in glitches, and it's not pretty. Prepare to be underwhelmed and frustrated at times.