While Omini’s “Re-Imagination Project” at Amelia Island Plantation Resort has a Disney-esque ring, it’s only in name. The laid-back, coastal ambiance at Amelia Island Plantation, with its natural setting on a northeast Florida barrier island, is a world away from the Disney experience. No doubt a reason why it’s a popular Florida destination for a secluded golf, spa, and beach vacation and unique choice of venue for corporate conferences. The Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort attracts those seeking to escape crowded places like Orlando.
Omni management recently provided some insight into their ambitious improvement plans at Amelia Island Plantation that will begin next month (with completion expected to be in springtime 2013). Out-of-towners who vacation on the island and part-time residents who haven’t been around lately may have missed recent media reports about the project.
Local residents may have already read the front page article of Fernandina Beach’s newspaper, the News-Leader “$80 Million To Rejuvenate Plantation,” published September 30, 2011. It stated Omni’s plans “to make major improvements…adding 155 rooms, a new beach club…addition of 41,000 square feet including a new ballroom…two new restaurants,” and more. The News-Leader report was followed up by another article published in the Jacksonville Business Journal mentioning a figure of $87 million. An Omni news release indicated plans to spend even more — $90 million for the renovations.
Interesting details of specific design changes at Omni Amelia Island Plantion include moving the resort check-in from its current location that is tucked under oak tree canopy.
It appears the wow factor is an integral element of the “Re-Imagination of the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort.” A new lobby will greet guests with floor-to-ceiling ocean views upon arrival to register. There will also be a new ocean view bar and outdoor deck. Consider “the real jewel of this expansive resort re-imagination will feature a custom infinity edge adult pool just off the lobby area cascading down to the splash-friendly family pool with two nearby hot tubs and a poolside bar,” according to Omni’s news release.
Logistically, the Amelia Island Plantation property is sprawling, and some find it somewhat daunting to traverse (even though there’s a van transportation system within the gated resort). The Journal article reveals plans to make getting around more user friendly, including a makeover of some of the roadways, walkways, and signage to better guide and enhance guests’ connection to the oceanfront.
The 2011 South Amelia Island Shore Stabilization Project included Amelia Island Plantation’s 3.5 miles of Atlantic coast shoreline and has already been completed at the resort. With inconveniences of the process now in Omni’s rear view mirror, guests and residents can enjoy the wider beachfront.
Further investment by Omni — well above the $67.1 million initially spent to purchase assets at the Amelia Island Plantation property — bodes well for the local economy. The prospect of new jobs is on the horizon, both construction jobs plus reportedly 150 -175 new jobs at the resort after completion of the project.
Tourism fuels the local economy here on Amelia Island. The new owners are vying to steer past the stormy waters of the “Great Recession.” Omni may be the catalyst to bring Amelia Island Plantation to its full potential. An outcome that would be a “win-win” for all.
For those not familiar, the oceanfront resort covers much of the southend of Amelia Island. Amelia Island Plantation is one of the largest employers in Nassau County, Florida. Having a presence on Amelia Island since the 1970s, Omni Hotels & Resorts bid $67.1 million at auction back in August 2010, acquiring some of the property’s assets. Amelia Island Plantation is an expansive property, with 1,350 acres crossing the island from beach to riverbank. A self-contained world of its own, Amelia Island Plantation features a shopping village, several restaurants, 23 tennis courts, 54 holes of golf, spa, beach clubs, swimming pools, Nature Center, hotel and residential real estate (privately owned homes and villas, with some properties offered to guests via the resort rental program). Besides hosting visitors, the property is home to many full-time and part-time residents who enjoy the resort lifestyle. The resort has been offering coastal, resort-style living for around 40 years, with upscale amenities and a variety of dwelling types. From oceanfront villas to golf course estate homes, there are various neighborhood associations within the gated resort community. Homes and villas line the Atlantic coastline, others fringe the golf fairways, and dwellings overlook the riverfront and salt marsh (some properties have docks offering mariners deep water access).