by Emily Moody
Sometimes work and life wear you down. That’s when you realize you just need to get away for a night. You don’t want to unload the dishwasher, stare at baseboards that need to get dusted, fold laundry, or answer never ending e-mails. You need a break, but you also don’t want to drive very far to get it. Well, Jacksonvillians are in luck, because this city has decent selection of quality hotels and resorts to choose from, for a close-to-home getaway. Plus, it’s always a breath of fresh air to get out of the neighborhood you live in and experience another part of the city.
A place that might not have been my first choice (since I have always thought it was a golfing mecca, which does not interest me in the slightest) is The Sawgrass Marriott in Ponte Vedra. However, I had heard good things about the property, so I decided to investigate for myself. It was worth the 20 minute shot from Downtown to see what they had to offer, other than the biggest yearly golf tournament in Jacksonville.
The rooms are comfortable, but pretty run of the mill. After check in, I beelined it to the 25,000 square foot spa for an express manicure and pedicure that the concierge conveniently set up for me. My nail tech was quick and super personable, and I walked out in a little over an hour with my nails looking perfectly refreshed. If time had permitted I would have spent a half a day (or more!) at this facility, taking in a top notch massage, facial, and more in this luxurious, state of the art spa.
The highlight of the evening was an incredible meal at The Augustine Grille. I do not usually get too excited about country club food, as it is usually a sub par dinner at a 5-star price. That was not the case with Chef De Cuisine, Brett Smith, taking the reigns. He and his crew served up a delicious five course meal that was not only locally sourced, but made your tastebuds practically explode with flavor.
So, what’s the big deal about sourcing locally? Well, The Augustine Grille can have a direct impact on communities by purchasing from farmers in our area. The money is going directly back into those communities. By supporting businesses such as Twinn Bridges Farms, Sweet Grass Dairy, C&C Fisheries, Savannah Bee Company, Mishima Ranch, Cypress Grove Cheese, Tangle Wood Farms Anson Mills, and Fresh Start hydroponic, among so many others, they are helping to increase sales and thus grow these businesses. Buying locally also limits the amount of resources it takes to ship foods across the country or world. Why do that when you can feast on delicious ingredients right in your own backyard?
Between the mahi, new york strip with gnocci, and creme brulee I kept thinking that the next course couldn’t get any better than the last. My favorite dish of the evening, however, was the pork belly (straight from locally owned Black Hog Farm) with delectable vitamin greens and black eyed peas. After a huge dinner, I was dying to take a quick dip in the pool, but my food coma was settling in and I could not do anything more than go back to the room for some R&R.
When you are in need of a getaway close to home, keep The Marriott at Sawgrass in mind. Right now they have special room rates as low as $149 a night, so that makes it easy to be a tourist in your own town. Why not experience what Jacksonville has to offer?