Poolside meetings Rising above the sand dunes like a beacon calling to corporate and incentive groups, the new renovated Omni Amelia Island Plantation spans 1,350 acres of the barrier island off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida. Salt marshes donned with a canopy of old growth oaks covered in hanging Spanish moss sway in the constant breeze coming in off the Atlantic. Over three miles of unspoiled beaches front the hotel, which has kept harmony with nature by preserving the environment, protecting dunes, savannahs, marshes and wildlife. The two signature golf courses designed by Pete Dye and Bobby Weed are Audubon International Certified Sanctuaries. I visited the property last fall during the temporary closing. The “reimagined” resort is scheduled to reopen in March following the $85 million rejuvenation project. The new entry is sure to dazzle you when you look out beyond the infinity edge pool to the majestic Atlantic Ocean. The plantation boasts 249 existing oceanfront rooms, an additional 155 in the newly constructed tower, 330 beautiful 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom villas, three championship golf courses, 23 HarTru tennis courts, a signature spa and a multitude of eco-friendly activities and restaurants. The newly expanded conference center features 49,000 sf of versatile meeting space for up to 1,000. “Meeting planners show the Omni Amelia Island Plantation a lot of love not only because we have exceptional facilities and unparalleled views, but our Southern charm and customer service levels exceed their customer’s expectations,” says Managing Director Timothy Digby. “Our renovation of the conference center and hotel will enhance our group meeting space and increase our oceanfront room count, and our associates always provide superior customer service in an approachable and professional manner.” HEALTHY MEETINGS Groups have an incredible array of recreational and relaxing activities to choose from here. Just a sample includes kayaking the scenic waterways, riding Segways past the villas through forests along the Ocean Links Course, and strolling through the Saturday farmer’s market. Tee times are in demand at the Oak Marsh Course after extensive pruning, landscaping, irrigation work and redesign. The driving range was also expanded. Definitely try the Marsh View Bar & Grill with a large deck overlooking the 9th hole seating 120. On a gorgeous fall evening, we dined as the sun was setting over the marshes among the ancient oaks. Chef Chris Pickren grilled prime bone-in filets and milk-fed chicken served with fallot mustard glaze. Another night, Chef Melissa McKnight served up local shrimp and crab as “beginnings” followed by salads tossed tableside with divine homemade corn meal croutons. I chose the chipotle honey-glazed grilled Atlantic salmon, and then devoured tiny morsels of Amelia Island mud pie, Disaronno almond crème brulee and key lime pie. For tennis players, Amelia Island Plantation added a new Cliff Drysdale tennis program, bringing the former home of the Bausch & Lomb Championships to a whole new level. At the full service spa, there are 20 treatment rooms that can be reserved for groups using the reception area for light meals. Yoga is also available on the beach or the lovely Tree House venue overlooking a serene lake.