For many families Florida is the land of theme parks but it also offers beautiful beaches and luxury resorts with families in mind.
One such resort is the Hammock Beach Resort located on the Palm Coast, the north east coast of Florida. About 30-minutes south of St. Augustine, where you’ll find outlet shopping and the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum, the Hammock Beach Club Resort is nestled away in it’s own secluded oasis.
The Hammock Beach Resort is a little different than other luxury resorts we’ve been to before. Members own all the suites and villas on property. When they’re not being used, the units are put into a rental pool for other guest to use, such as the 3-bedroom suite we stayed in.
Hammock Beach Resort: Welcome Home
When you arrive at the Hammock Beach Resort you feel like you are returning home. Our first introduction to the resort was Juergan, the guard at the front gate. He was polite, friendly and relaxed and helped set the tone for the rest of our holiday.
As we pulled into the circular drive to the front door, we were greeted by the doorman, valet and bellman (valet parking is just one of the many luxuries included with your stay). All gratuities are also covered during your stay. We discovered this when the doorman graciously refused payment when we offered him a tip. The assumption might be that since my service isn’t dependant on a tip, it won’t be as attentive, but that wasn’t the case at the Hammock Beach Resort. Instead we received exceptional service from the staff we encountered and tipping was one more thing we didn’t have to worry about, re-enforcing that whole returning home feeling.
I loved that we were invited to sit at a desk during check-in, instead of standing at a counter. We experienced this treatment at the Mandarin Oriental Tai Pan Club Level. It’s one of those little details you don’t think of until you experience it.
Hammock Beach Resort: The Suites
The Hammock Beach Resort accommodations are all suites or villas, making it an ideal destination for families and extended families. We were fortunate enough to stay in one of the 3-bedroom suites located in the North Tower (the tower closest to the waterpark area).
Our suite consisted of a master bedroom with a king-size bed and private bath. There were also two additional bedrooms with Queen beds and their own private baths. This gave us enough room for everyone and more than enough bed space. Although we were only there for one day, the Hammock Beach Resort suites are ideal for extended stays. The full size kitchen, with professional grade stainless steel appliances (something that impressed my husband), included all the accessories you would need to cook a family dinner. A full kitchen helps families save money on food expenses, stocking-up on groceries for breakfast, lunch, and snacks in your suite, so you can enjoy a night out to dinner. The full size washer and dryer means you can bring less clothes and just wash the things you need (and cut down on the dreaded post-vacation laundry we all dread). No matter how much you think through your child’s activities and the clothes they will need, they are bound to dirty every items before you expect. The washing machine enabled me to avoid buying new outfits while on vacation (yes we’ve done that).
The layout of our 3-bedroom suite works wonderfully well. The kitchen, with its breakfast bar, opens into the dining room and living room space, so the kids can enjoy cartoons over cereal or you can enjoy just talking while getting lunch together. The large wall to wall windows from the balcony also filled the whole living space with wonderful light. The living room was perfect in accommodating the whole sprawling family to watch a movie on either the satellite TV or from our DVD collection we brought. But having the Televisions and DVD players in everyone’s own room was also a nice feature, especially when you’ve had enough Dora or Ben 10 for the day.
Travel tip: If you’re doing a road trip with the kids you probably have a few of your kid’s favourite DVDs packed. Be sure to bring along some family favourites to enjoy as well as some just for parents to watch after the kids have gone to bed. All they take is an extra slot in your DVD case, whether you actually end up watching them or not.
Two of my favourite features of our suite are: the master bathroom and the oversized balcony (both of which are accessible from the master bedroom). The bathroom has a large walk-in shower stall and a wonderful Jacuzzi soaker tub and the double vanity spanned the whole wall, giving us lots of space. The bathroom alone is bigger than my youngest daughter’s bedroom. The balcony is also spacious, with lovely cushioned lounge chairs and a table for dining alfresco. Our room has a view of the main water park area and further out, the ocean. The balcony is a lovely place to enjoy a morning tea or an evening glass of wine.
Wifi is also included in the room, which is a must when I travel. It took us a call down to the concierge to figure out how to get it set-up but after that we were set for the rest of our stay. It would have been a nice feature to have wifi available through out the resort but that’s a small inconvenience.
Hammock Beach Resort: Sandy Beach and Swimming Pools
When travelling to Florida to enjoy a little sun and beach, we want to have the beach right at our door and the Hammock Beach Resort delivers. Just past one of the holes on the resort’s champion golf course, a wooden foot bridge takes to you a wonderful semi-private sandy beach right on the ocean. There is a public access point to the beach down the road but for the most part it’s pretty private. There are lounge chairs and umbrellas available for guest use on the beach and during peak seasons the resort will also take food and drink orders for you while you lounge with your toes in the sand.
The kids loved playing on the sandy beach and wading into the waves. For me, nothing beats hanging out at the ocean but if you’re looking for calmer waters or doing some actual swimming, the Hammock Beach Resort can accommodate with a variety of pools on site.
Travelling with kids, your first stop should probably be the kid’s pool. The zero entry access makes it perfect for little ones while older kids (and adults) will love the corkscrew water slide. My two oldest used the slide until the water park closed. There’s also a small lazy river adjacent the kid’s pool. I’ll admit I’m a beach person. I love sitting with my toes in the sand. The Sandy Beach pool gave me the sandy surroundings while offering the rest of the family a pool to hang out in. That’s just one of the many pools available for guests to enjoy.
Hammock Beach Resort: Dining
We enjoyed using our in-suite full kitchen for breakfast and snack preparation but at night we went out. You can visit the surrounding area and St. Augustine for many dining options but we decided to try Hammock Beach Resort’s oceanfront dining at the Atlantic Grille.
It was nice being greeted and served using our names. It’s a small thing but it makes such a big impression. There was such a mix of guests in the dinning room too that is housed out by the ocean’s edge. There were families and extended families, business gatherings and even a group of ladies celebrating a special occasion. In no way were we made to feel out of place or unwelcome because we had young kids with us. Though our waiter had a hard time understanding we needed a minute to get everyone settled; he insisted on telling us the dining specials when we obviously we’re listening to him at all.
We all enjoyed the Calamari ‘Fries’ served in a cone basket with sweet thai chili sauce. I enjoyed Woohoo fish for the first time (how could I not order something by that name). There is a $4-plate share charge should you wish to order something for the kids to share; however the Atlantic Grill does offer a children’s menu too. Of course we had to top our evening off with a dessert of Bread Pudding (made with fresh banana chocolate chip bread made in-house) and the kids shared my husband’s Churros. The kids meals come with their own dessert options.
Beyond the Atlantic Grille, the Hammock Beach Resort offers other dining options such as Delfinos showcasing regional Italian dishes, the Ocean Bar and Grill for poolside dishes, Loggerhead Lounge for cocktails and evening entertainment, the Sushi Bar as well as the Coffee Bar for gourmet coffee and teas as well as some breakfast baked goods.
Hammock Beach Resort: Kid’s Club and More
From the sandy beach and kids pool, to having a children’s menu at their onsite restaurants, the Hammock Beach Resort knows that kids have different needs and desires when on a family vacation. The Kids Crew is a half-day kids camp offered for guests ages 4 to 12 (there are things for teens to do too). From 9 a.m. until 1 p.m kids can enjoy a variety of organized and supervised activities including games, crafts and kid-friendly fun. There is a fee and lunch is included. We didn’t have a chance to try the Kids Crew but the option of having the kids entertained while you enjoy a visit to the spa or play a round of gold is a nice feature. Even if you don’t want to sign the kids up for a whole morning, the Kids Crew schedule will let you know about any fun activities the kids can do during the day (some our free and some of a cost associated with them).
The Hammock Beach Club Resort just south of St. Augustine, Florida is a great example of how you can have a fun Florida getaway the whole family will enjoy, without having to step foot in theme park. I’m guessing this won’t be our last visit.
Thanks to the folks at the Hammock Beach Club Resort for the opportunity to visit.