Amelia Island Named Top 10 U.S. Island by Condé Nast Traveler Readers

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. – Northeast Florida’s Amelia Island has placed among the Top 10 U.S. Islands in the 2017 Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards.  Amelia Island finished in the #3 spot and was the only Florida island included in a list comprised of destinations such as Maui, Nantucket and Oahu in the 30th annual competition.

“Amelia Island continues to enchant visitors, resulting in an ever-growing list of accolades and recognitions,” said Gil Langley, president and CEO of the Amelia Island Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Readers have voted our island paradise into this elite group of global destinations eight of the last nine years. It’s a true testament to Amelia’s enduring appeal, and an invaluable endorsement from discerning travelers.”

Three of Amelia Island’s award-winning accommodators also placed among the Top 25 in the Resorts in Florida category – Elizabeth Pointe Lodge, a 25-room beachfront Inn (#12); the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, a 446-room beachfront resort (#22); and the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, a 404-room beachfront resort (#23).

Condé Nast Traveler announced the results of its 30th annual Readers’ Choice Awards on October 17, ranking the best hotels, resorts, cities, islands, airlines, and cruise lines in the world. More than 300,000 dedicated readers took part in the 30th annual Readers’ Choice Awards survey submitting millions of ratings and more than 100,000 comments, voting on a record-breaking thousands of hotels and resorts, hundreds of cities, islands, and cruise ships, and dozens of airlines and airports. The result? Condé Nast Traveler’s largest-ever list of Readers’ Choice Award winners, ranking the best travel experiences in the world.

The Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards are the longest-running and most prestigious recognition of excellence in the travel industry and are commonly known as “the best of the best of travel.” Under Editor in Chief Pilar Guzmán, the Readers’ Choice Awards have become more selective and specific to the passions that inspire today’s travelers.

The Readers’ Choice Awards are announced in the November issue of Condé Nast Traveler, on newsstands nationwide on October 24, 2017. The full list is published exclusively online, at www.CNTraveler.com/rca.

About Condé Nast Traveler
As the most discerning, up-to-the-minute voice in all things travel, Condé Nast Traveler is the global citizen’s bible and muse, offering both inspiration and vital intel. Condé Nast Traveler is the most trusted and celebrated name in travel with six National Magazine Award wins and 26 nominations in its 28-year history. Advertising Age named Pilar Guzmán Editor of the Year in 2014 and CNTraveler.com attained four Webby Awards since 2015. www.cntraveler.com
 
 

More Tour Buses Coming to Fernandina Beach

Here is the latest list of the bus tour arrivals for Historic Downtown Fernandina Beach provided by Tour Time, Inc., (Diamond Tours) for June 2016.

These tours arrive between 11:30 am and 3:30 pm and each bus has an average of 40 passengers, so that is a nice chunk of folks to walk our streets, shop in our local businesses and perhaps dine in one of our fabulous restaurants. If you see any of these tours, lets show them some of our Fernandina hospitality.

Wednesday, June 15 – 3 buses
Wednesday, June 22 – 1 bus
Wednesday, June 29 – 1 bus

Tour Buses Coming to Fernandina in April

Tour Buses Coming to Fernandina in AprilDiamond Tours, a tourism bus company, plans to bring buses of tourists to historic Fernandina Beach in April 2016. As the largest bus tour company in America, they began offering bus tour destinations over 25 years ago.

The Amelia Island, St. Augustine and Jacksonville Bus Tour shows groups of about 40 people the age old spendor of St. Augustine, Jacksonville and they receive a guided tour of “stunning Fernandina Beach”.

While our downtown merchants indeed enjoy the benefits of busier shops, it may make a congested shopping day for locals.

The tours arrive between 11:30 am and 3:30 pm, and each bus has an average of 40 passengers. Here is the schedule of Tour Time, Inc. bus tours for April:

Wednesday, March 30 – 1 bus (last March bus arrival)
Wednesday, April 13 – 2 buses
Monday, April 18 – 3 buses
Wednesday, April 20 – 4 buses
Wednesday, April 27 – 2 buses

Other bus companies may make brief stops in Fernandina, too. Local business owners need this extra traffic, so please show them our fabulous Amelia Island hospitality should you encounter one of these groups.

Fernandina Beach Wins the Great Places in Florida People’s Choice Award

Fernandina Beach Wins the Great Places in Florida People's Choice AwardRepresentatives of the Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association traveled to Fernandina Beach today to announce the Great Places in Florida People’s Choice Award, granted to Historic Downtown Fernandina Beach. The Great Places Award celebrates communities that have a true sense of place, cultural and historic interest, and strong community involvement. Historic Downtown Fernandina Beach received the most votes out of the finalists.

From the Florida APA website, “Great Places in Florida is an awards program created to highlight Florida’s Great Places and the communities and people that have created them. Florida is full of amazing places that keep our communities thriving and make this state a wonderful place to live. Great Places stand out with their exceptional character and lasting value. They are memorable, perhaps even famous, but each deeply cared for and valued. Citizens, planners, business leaders and elected officials work hard to create, sustain and improve the places that we love and enjoy in our cities.”

The Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA) named four finalists in the People’s Choice Awards category of the Great Places in Florida contest. Fernandina Beach was among the final four, which also included Lakeland, Lake Worth, and the Gaines Street District in Tallahassee. The City thanks the Amelia Island Tourist Development Council for submitting the nomination, and all who voted to help Historic Downtown Fernandina Beach win the award.

For more information, visit http://www.floridaplanning.org/great-places/.

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Amelia Island Named Top 10 U.S. Island by Conde Nast

Amelia Island Named Top 10 U.S. Island by Conde NastAmelia Island, FL – Northeast Florida’s Amelia Island has placed among the Top 10 U.S. Islands in the 2015 Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards. Amelia Island finished in the #10 spot in a list comprised of destinations such as Maui, Kauai and Oahu, and only one other Florida island – Longboat Key – in the 28th annual competition.

“We’re proud of the year we are having on Amelia Island as our list of accomplishments and recognitions grows,” said Gil Langley, managing director of the AITDC. “It’s especially encouraging to see our efforts pay off as we continue to promote the destination to travelers around the globe who recognize the uniqueness of our little island paradise through awards such as this.”

Three of Amelia Island’s award-winning accommodators also placed among the Top 25 Florida Resorts: the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, a 446-room beachfront resort (#11); the Elizabeth Pointe Lodge, a 25-room, oceanfront boutique hotel (#17); and Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, a 404-room beachfront resort (#23).

Conde Nast Traveler announced the results of its 28th annual Readers’ Choice Awards on October 20, ranking the best hotels, resorts, cities, islands, airlines, and cruise lines in the world. More than 128,000 dedicated readers cast votes for more than 5,000 hotels, hundreds of cities and islands, dozens of cruise ships, airlines and airports, and in an average survey time of 20 minutes. The result? More than 1,500 of the best travel experiences in the world. The Readers’ Choice Awards are announced in the November issue of Conde Nast Traveler on newsstands nationwide on October 28, 2015.

The full list is published exclusively online, at www.CNTraveler.com/rca.

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Amelia Island Offers Free Night, Any Night Again in 2015

Amelia Island Offers Free Night, Any Night Again in 2015Amelia Island, FL – Amelia Island is continuing to invite travelers to enjoy its popular “Free Night, Any Night” deals throughout 2015. Visitors can choose from 20 participating island accommodators including celebrated bed and breakfast inns, vacation rentals, and family-owned and popular chain hotels, each offering a free night to guests who book a qualifying stay. The year round offer allows visitors to use their free night with their current stay or during a return visit.

The participating accommodators include:

*Third Night Free
Amelia By the Sea
(800) 335-0984

Amelia South Condominiums
(800) 543-0664

AmeliaVacations.com by ERA Fernandina Beach Realty
(800) 741-4011

Beachside Motel
(877) 261-4236

Ketch Courtyard
(904) 261-0677

Oceans of Amelia
(800) 331-7428

Summer Beach Resort
(800) 862-9297

*Fourth Night Free
Amelia Hotel at the Beach
(877) 263-5428

Amelia Island Williams House
(800) 414-9258

Amelia Surf & Racquet Club
(800) 323-2001

Blue Heron Inn
(904) 445-9034

Comfort Suites
(904) 261-0193

Days Inn & Suites
(904) 277-2300

Fairbanks House
(888) 891-9882

Hampton Inn & Suites, Amelia Island
(904) 491-4911

Hampton Inn, Amelia Island at Fernandina Beach
(904) 321-1111

Ketch Courtyard
(904) 261-0677

Residence Inn – Amelia Island
(904) 277-2440

Seaside Amelia Inn
(844) 347-5283

Summer Beach Resort
(800) 862-9297

Additional information is available at www.ameliaisland.com/free.

*All free night deals are based on availability and include restrictions and black out dates. Cannot be combined with any other offer. Prices vary. Please contact individual hotels for more information or to book a room.

About Amelia Island
Northeast Florida’s coastal treasure, Amelia Island is a barrier island rich in colorful history and breath-taking natural beauty. Amelia Island offers long, beautiful beaches, abundant wildlife, and pristine waters. Upscale resorts with world-class spas, championship golf and exclusive dining blend effortlessly with a captivating collection of bed and breakfast inns and historic districts. The island is home to Fernandina Beach, once a vibrant Victorian seaport village, and now a charming downtown district of eclectic shops, attractions and eateries. Forget the everyday getaway; come make memories on Amelia Island. For visitor information and online planning, visit www.ameliaisland.com.

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2014 Georgia vs Florida Rates on Amelia Island

Georgia vs Florida Rates on Amelia IslandGet Your Game On with Special Rates and Offers on Amelia Island During the Georgia vs. Florida Football Weekend

Amelia Island, FL – On Saturday, November 1, the University of Georgia Bulldogs and University of Florida Gators will hold their annual rivalry game at Everbank Field in Jacksonville, Fla. Football fans from both teams will enjoy Amelia Island’s all-star line-up of special offers, discounts and a chance to win a three-day vacation. Located 45 minutes from downtown Jacksonville, Amelia Island is home to several award-winning hotels, resorts, and inns offering discounted packages. Gator and Bulldog fans can turn a game day trip into a weekend getaway or enjoy watching the game from the comfort of their hotel room or favorite sports bar.

Amelia is also running the “Gridiron Getaway” contest in which one lucky fan will win a three-day, two-night stay at Omni Amelia Island Plantation and two tickets to the Florida vs. Georgia football game on November 1 as well as round-trip transportation to the game. To enter the contest, visit www.floridageorgiaweekend.com.

The following packages and specials are available:
-Stay at the Amelia Hotel at the Beach with a special starting rate of $149 and enjoy a Manager’s Reception on Friday evening (Oct. 31). Sunday’s breakfast for guests will also include $4 mimosas and Bloody Marys. ameliahotel.com

-Amelia Rental and Management Services is offering a 10 percent discount on stays of three or more nights at their popular rental properties located on Amelia Island Plantation, Summer Beach Resort and Surf & Racquet Club, during the Georgia vs. Florida Football Weekend. ameliarentals.com

-The 11-room Amelia Island Williams House is providing Gator and Bulldog fans with a 15 percent discount. Guests can enjoy the inn’s daily breakfast and evening social. williamshouse.com

-ERA Fernandina Beach Realty Vacation Rentals, along with Amelia by the Sea, Oceans of Amelia and Amelia South, is featuring a 15 percent discount for the Georgia vs. Florida Weekend. The discount will apply to stays between October 29 and November 1 on select properties for reservations made on or after August 18. Ameliavacations.com

-The Hampton Inn at the Beach is offering a special $1 rate for Sunday, November 2 for guests who stay Friday and Saturday night. Rates start at $159 plus tax, for Friday and Saturday nights and include complimentary breakfast each day. Offer is only available by calling the hotel directly at 904-321-1111. ameliaislandhamptoninn.com

-The Hampton Inn & Suites in downtown Fernandina Beach is featuring guests a festive Bulldog and Gator welcome reception on Friday, Oct. 31. The reception, held from 4 to 7 p.m., will feature complimentary beer and wine, as well as an assortment of food and game day paraphernalia. hamptoninnameliaisland.com

-The Omni Amelia Island Plantation is offering fans of both teams a special overnight package, including luxurious accommodations, transportation to and from the Georgia vs. Florida game, tickets to the property’s Georgia vs. Florida Bash, and arrival amenity with tasty treats representing each state. The property will also be offering a number of special events during the weekend, including a pumped up bash on Friday night, spa services tailored to devoted fans, and a special sale at The Shops. omniameliaislandplantation.com

-The Residence Inn Amelia Island is gearing up for the return of one of the biggest college football rivalries with rates starting at $159 per night. Guests will receive all the Florida and Georgia fan party favors they can handle, an invitation to a Kickoff Cookout on Friday night, as well as the hotel’s full, hot complimentary breakfast, free island shuttle, evening socials, and more. Must visit http://bit.ly/1lRXTGV or call 866-245-6099 to book. residenceinnameliaisland.com

In addition to the packages, guests can celebrate before the big game by participating in the Omni Amelia Island Plantation’s Florida-Georgia Bash. Taking place on Friday, Oct. 31 from 7 to 11 p.m., the event will feature live music from the Swingin’ Medallions, costume contests, food, drinks and more. Please visit www.flgabash.com for more information.

About Amelia Island:
Northeast Florida’s coastal treasure, Amelia Island is a barrier island rich in colorful history and breath-taking natural beauty. Consistently ranked in the top 10 North American Islands by the readers on Conde Nast Traveler, Amelia Island offers long, beautiful beaches, abundant wildlife, and pristine waters. Upscale resorts with world-class spas, championship golf and exclusive dining blend effortlessly with a captivating collection of bed and breakfast inns and historic districts.

The island is home to Fernandina Beach, once a vibrant Victorian seaport village, and now a charming downtown district of eclectic shops, attractions and eateries. Forget the everyday getaway; Come make memories on Amelia Island. For visitor information and online planning, visit www.ameliaisland.com.

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Georgia vs Florida Weekend at Omni AIP

Georgia vs Florida Weekend at Omni AIPAmelia Island, FL – The Omni Amelia Island Plantation invites Georgia Bulldogs and Florida Gators to celebrate the biggest weekend in college football with a special GA vs. FL Tailgate package at the oceanfront resort including game day transportation and drinks as well as a plethora of parties, specials and football celebrations!

From the Nature Center excursions to the annual GA/FL Boardwalk Bash or Falcon”s Nest Jagermeister After Party to a Game Day 5K, spa services tailored for the devoted fan and a special sale in The Shops.

The GA/FL Tailgate Package features luxurious accommodations in the Omni Amelia Island Plantation resort and free round-trip transportation with tailgate beverages starting at $299 per night. And guests can book either the Georgia Bulldogs or Florida Gators package.

To round out the weekend, a full calendar of football events include:

Thursday, October 25
Okefenokee Swamp at Night
4pm, Nature Center
Take an adventure to the Land of the Trembling Earth with spectacular views of the sunset over the swamp by boat while searching for emerging alligators and roosting wading birds. Includes a southern style dinner and transportation.

Friday, October 26
Camp Amelia (9am-4pm, Nature Center **Reserved for resort guests and Club members**)
Kid’s enjoy special adventure day camp while parent’s explore their own beach vacation. Available as a full day for $70; Half day from 9am-1pm for $55; or 1-4pm for $45.

Just For Kids (6:30-9:30pm, Nature Center **Reserved for resort guests and Club members**)
Nighttime themed kid’s dinner party for resort guests, the perfect evening of fun for the youngsters while the parents attend the Boardwalk Bash. $55 per child, includes dinner.

GA-FL Boardwalk Bash (5-9pm, Marché Burette at The Shops)
Football boardwalk bash featuring bounce house, crafts and tennis for kids; football toss and corn hole games; and live music with DRB from 6-9 pm featuring swinging arrangements from the ’40s to the sizzling top hits of today with a wide variety of music including big band, blues, funk, pop, rock and country. Full bar and sampling of food including grilled gator, pizzas, pork sliders, burgers and more will be available!

Movie Under the Stars (9pm, The Shops)
Grab the family and bring your blankets and lawn chairs to enjoy a complimentary family friendly flick under the stars.

GA/FL Jagermeister After Party (9pm-1am, Falcon’s Nest)
Continue the pre-game celebration with the Ron Perry Connection playing live outside on the deck from 9pm-1am with a blend of classic rock, dance favorites, acoustic music and current hits. Specialty cocktails, giveaways and prizes, full bar, and sampling of food including pork sliders, wings, burgers, and more will be available.

Saturday, October 27 – GAME DAY
Game Day 5K (9am, Racquet Park)
Benefiting Relay for Life, run or walk in your team colors at the Game Day 5K! $20 pre-registration for adults, $10 for children with a $5 increase on race day. To register email kakelly@omnihotels.com.

Camp Amelia GA/FL Special (11am-7pm; Nature Center **Reserved for resort guests and Club members**)
Kids are busy with a day of recreation extreme fun while the parents attend the GA/FL football game! $95 includes 2 meals & snacks. 24-hour pre-registration required. Camp will begin 30 minutes prior to game bus departure and end 30 minutes post return.

Falcon’s Nest Game Day Specials (9am-2am, Falcon’s Nest)
Join us for an early pre-game breakfast from 9am-12pm featuring a Southwestern Breakfast Burrito, Scramble Egg Platter, Breakfast Sandwiches, Florida Sunnyside Combo, Georgia Pancake Platter and more! From 12-6pm catch football specials on our tailgate menu including Fried Gator Bites and Bull Dawg Bites. Regular menu and drink specials available after 6pm.

Game Day Transportation (12pm, Racquet Park)
Starting October 13, guests that are not booked on the special GA/FL Tailgate Package can purchase any remaining game day transportation tickets on the bus for $75 per guest including 3 tailgate beverages per guest. Buses will park in stadium tailgate lot and return 30 minutes after end of the game. Call 904-261-6161 to book your seat after October 13th.

Beach Fire (7-9pm, resort beach **Reserved for resort guests and Club members**)
Wrap up the game day celebrations with a relaxing beach fire under the stars.

Sunday, October 28
Naturalist Brunch Kayak (9:30am, Nature Center)
Take a two hour paddle with the naturalists through the tidal marsh creek at walkers landing. After the relaxing paddle, enjoy lunch at the picnic tables along the waterfront while viewing the spectacular scenery. Choose from a variety of options on the menu. $75 adults/$65 children

Spa Specials
Relaxing 50-minute services for just $99*

    -Gator Scrub – Enjoy our three tea, ginger and sugar scrub. This treatment rids the body of old skin cells, while enhancing its elasticity and replenishing lost moisture.
    -Bulldog Rub – Relax with a gentle rhythmic massage designed to relax the body, reduce muscle tension and increase circulation.

*Available October 21-31, 2012. Specials can not be combined with any other discount.

The Shops Sale
Receive 15% off anything with red, black, orange or blue in it at Harrison’s Mercantile and Amelia’s Signature Shop. Sale valid October 26-28, 2012.

For more information visit www.omniameliaislandplantation.com or call 1-800-The-Omni.

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Fernandina Waterfront Helicopter Sightseeing Flights

Fernandina Waterfront Helicopter Sightseeing FlightsThere is a sightseeing helicopter service interested in operating near the historic Fernandina Beach waterfront. Test flights are scheduled for Saturday, March 31st, from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, weather permitting, from Mr. Cook¹s property (south of the City Marina).

This will be a great opportunity to see how this operation may or may not interfere with the usual functions of other downtown businesses and attractions.

The planning advisory board is considering this request from the helicopter sightseeing tours to add this to the list of permitted usages in the Industrial Waterfront (IW) and the Waterfront Mixed Use (W1) zoning districts. If approved by the City Commission, any property within those zoning districts could be used for that purpose.

This matter will likely come before the City of Fernandina Beach Commissioners. PAB members and the commissioners have been advised to refrain from any discussions about their reaction to the demonstration until the Public Advisory Board meets again at their next scheduled meeting on April 11th at 5:00 PM.

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Knoxville’s World Fair and some AIP Nostalgia

Nostalgia and the passing of time

While doing some research for the Nassau County Economic Development Board for its new website, I ran into a story that the original Amelia Island Plantation was the brainchild of Charles Fraser, the famous Hilton Head Sea Pines developer/conservationist, who died in a boating accident in the Turks and Caicos in 2002.  Fraser had bought the land for a reported $4,650,000 and projected that in finished state the plantation would employ some 600 people. Not bad I thought, knowing that in 2010 there were 680 employees on the books of Amelia Island Plantation.

About two years after I had moved to the US, I met Charles Fraser through my business partner Dutch Consul Hans Beerkens. Fraser at the time was divesting himself from Hilton Head and Sea Pines and was involved in the organization of the Knoxville World’s Fair, more formally referred to as the Knoxville International Energy Exposition. During one of the dinners with Fraser, he told me that before getting involved with Amelia Island, he really had his eyes on Cumberland Island, where he had bought roughly 1/5 of the island in 1969. But when his bulldozers arrived to carve out a 5000 feet runway for the planned airport, the environmental community woke up, ultimately forcing Fraser to sell his stake and move one island to the south, where there was already an airport in place. Amelia Island Plantation was lucky to be born out of a much wiser and environmentally more conscious Charles Fraser. Sometimes things just fall into place even if it’s almost a lifetime later.
While checking back some facts however I ran into a New York Times article from 1982 that made me think of my partner Judie’s $260 spent on 3 admission tickets to Disney World last week. Even though I visited the Knoxville World’s Fair several times, I didn’t really recall the admission price, until the article reminded me: $9.95 for an adult per day and a two day ticket was $15.95.
Get this…Tickets to famous comedian Bob Hope’s performances were $13 and Johnny Cash could be seen for $11.
I smiled when I read the warning that “The traveler to this first World’s Fair in the Southeast should anticipate that the extravaganza could well cost a family of four more than $100 a day in addition to food and lodging.
Inflation or supply and demand at work?
And then consider this when the article claims that: Travelers should expect to pay from $60 to $125 a night for an average motel room with two double beds. Not much has changed there I would say. Again, inflation or supply and demand?
Another  piece of nostalgia? Eastern Airlines started a direct service from New York to Knoxville on May 1, the fair’s opening day. The round-trip ”super saver” fare was $314.
Obviously I could not stand the temptation to see how much that flight would be today: US Air was the cheapest with $396 and American most expensive with a price tag of $480.
Considering that 30 years have passed and just last year we paid more than $100 to see ventriloquist comedian Jeff Dunham in Jacksonville, it’s really everything pertaining to entertainment that seems to have exploded out of balance, while flying and accommodations are still for the most part regulated by the laws of supply and demand.
The Knoxville World Fair was hugely entertaining, much more in my opinion than Disneyworld, which I visited around the same time in 1982 in my “get to know your new country” effort.
The Direct Economics were a little off
The Fair lasted 184 days and attracted some 11 million visitors. The city of Knoxville spend almost $110 million to facilitate the Fair which (very roughly) calculates a break even proposition for the organization (11 million x $9.95). However the Fair put the city on the map, based on the assumption that its business community will make the money.
Another forgotten revelation to me was that the fair’s motto “Energy Turns the World” never was more opportune than now – almost 30 years later and allow me to smile over the article’s closing sentence: “Knoxville is served by Greyhound and Trailways buses but it does not have Amtrak rail service.” The More Things Change, the more they stay the same.
Here is the link again, if you’re into comparing how much we really have gained in the past 30 years. Enjoy.
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