If a long vacation isn’t in the cards, there’s always the option of a quick getaway. We love the idea of a place that offers tons of fun right at our fingertips, which is why, when we discovered the Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Spa in Ponte Vedra Florida, we had to share. From a private beachfront cabana club to mini golf and even a SurfStream wave pool, you won’t have to worry about running out of things to do. Keep reading to discover what this gem of a resort has to offer.
photo: courtesy Sawgrass Marriott & Spa
Where It Is
Located in Ponte Vedra, Florida, midway between Jacksonville and St. Augustine, it’s a quick (and lovely) 30-minute shuttle ride to the hotel from Jacksonville airport. You’ll be taken right to the main lobby, where a two-story lobby with stunning views of waterfalls, a lagoon, and the famous TPC Sawgrass golf course will welcome you.
What to Do
You’ll have to decide what you want to do first because there’s plenty to choose from!
There are three outdoor pools (two large, one kiddie) on the resort property, surrounded by hundred-year-old oak trees, with a welcoming staff to hand out towels, pool noodles or grab you a poolside beverage. You’ll hear a spectacular playlist filled with family-friendly tunes from early morning until the end of the day: John Mayer, Counting Crows, Coldplay, Ben Harper, Bob Marley and more.
Explore the Property
From the wide array of lawn games for kids of all ages (ping pong, gigantic connect four, cornhole) to the impressive oak trees that tower over the resort, simply wandering around Sawgrass Marriott is an experience in itself. Kids will especially get a kick out of the crossword and scavenger hunt. Since all the oak trees have names, birthdays and fun facts to discover, you can ask the staff for the brochure that will take kids all over, searching for the trees that fit the puzzle. And, by looking carefully and identifying the different animals that can be found on the grounds, they’ll earn bracelets for their work.
Relax in the Kids’ Room
What we especially love about this resort is the fully-stocked kids’ playroom, which comes equipped with a LEGO table, chalkboard walls, superheroes, barbies, giant bean bags for relaxing, movies galore and even giant building blocks. Parents, take note: this is not a drop-off area, but somewhere you can relax with your kiddos. Kids ages 13 & under MUST have adult supervision. The room is on the first floor, and there’s easy access to the lawn and pool area.
Play a Round of Mini Golf
Sawgrass is known for the famous golf course, and Ponte Vedra is home to PGA headquarters, so lots of parents enjoy playing a round of golf (or two) while visiting. Kids can enjoy the same with an 18-hole putting course that meanders through the 65-acre property.
Hang Ten at the SurfStream Wave Pool
If your kiddo is 42″ or taller, you can try to surf a wave in the new SurfStream Wave Pool that’s just a short walk from the lagoon pool. Simply let the recreation staff know you want to give it a try, and your mini-surfers can be set up for a 20-minute lesson.
Spend the Day at the Sawgrass Cabana Club
A highlight of staying at the Sawgrass Marriott is the full access to their private beachfront cabana club. It’s just a 5-10 minute, free shuttle ride from the hotel (there’s a shuttle every 15 minutes or so) to the beach, where you’ll find another expansive pool, plenty of lounge chairs and umbrellas, and Sharkey’s restaurant, which offers tasty food items such as crab specials, salads, lobster rolls, mini corn dogs and fresh fruit for the kids, as well as a full bar and ice cream sandwiches for dessert.
There’s always something happening at the club, from s’mores Fridays to activities like hula hoop contests, arts and crafts and bubbles for kids on Saturday. You can rent boogie boards, surfboards, paddle boards and even small sailboats. The beach is perfect for kids—warm water, mellow waves and even sandbars that make it easy to play.
One unique aspect of the Ponte Vedra beach is, if you and your crew comb the beach carefully, you can find fossilized shark teeth! The beach is known to be a spot where the teeth wash up, alongside shells galore.
What to Eat
There are several dining options at the hotel, and there’s a shopping center with restaurants a mere five-minute walk across the street.
The American Gator Club
We especially like this restaurant for its al fresco dining options. You can opt to have a waiter stop by your pool lounger or sit at a table that overlooks the lagoon. The menu has modern fare like avocado toast and classic bites such as chips and salsa. The tuna poke bowl is excellent and trying one of their famous drinks, like the Heat Relief, made with rum, pineapple juice and fresh lime, is a must.
Alice & Pete’s Pub
Sawgrass had families in mind when they designed their dining options, and Alice & Pete’s, the on-site pub, really shines. Settle in on the patio that’s equipped with flatscreen TVs, and let your kids dine on mini pizza, bean dip and chips or fresh guac. They can color on menus while you try the delicious seafood chowder, made with local datil peppers grown at the on-site Bee Hill micro farm (run by the resort’s very own Chef Matt—Marriott’s first official beekeeper!). There’s an expansive selection of salads, and the Farms Best Greens, made with beets, goat cheese and a feta vinaigrette, is delicious. After dining, opt to grab a bucket of balls and try your hand at the famous Sawgrass Floating Hole-in-One Challenge. Prizes await!
Vernon’s First Coast Restaurant & Bar
From the daily buffet offerings to the brand-new Sunday brunch, you’ll leave Vernon’s full and ready for the day. The Sunday brunch is especially impressive, offering themed meals—everything from southern fare to locally sourced menu items. We were especially impressed by the kids’ brunch section, that offered mac and cheese, fresh fruit bowls, adorably decorated desserts, and by far the most awesome highlight, the mini-pancake machine. Be sure to make a reservation, as it’s very popular, and spots fill up quickly.
What About the Rooms?
There are several different types of room available at Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa. And, during the recent $25 million dollar renovation, the hotel added 30 feet of space to individual guest rooms.
Resort View Room
Choose from two double beds or a single king. You’ll have a full bath with tub, coffee maker and mini-fridge for storing goodies and leftovers.
The Sawgrass Suite comes with one bedroom, with the option of a king bed or two doubles, 1.5 bathrooms and extra living space with a dining table.
The villas are located across the lagoon, behind the pools, and offer either single kings or double bed options. The Villas are perfect for multi-generational groups or families looking for more privacy.
Executive Level Suites
The newly added executive level of the hotel is on the second floor and in addition to the room options (regular or suite) comes with its own VIP working space, upgraded Wi-Fi, water filling stations, and personal concierge service.
The Presidential Suite
This over 1,000 square foot suit comes with lofty views of the lagoon, it’s own living space and a master bedroom and bath.
Rates start at $229 a night.
1000 PGA Tour Blvd.
Ponte Vedra, FL 32082
— Gabby Cullen
All images by Gabby Cullen unless noted otherwise.
Note: This trip was paid for by Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa, but all opinions expressed here belong to the writer.