Tuesday, March 19, 2013

One Ocean Resort & Spa - A Simple Travelers Review

The Sounds Of The Beach Are The Perfect Elixir For The Post Winter Blues

A few days ago, I posted Random Vagabond Alert No. 8 about a planned trip to One Ocean Resort in Atlantic Beach, Florida. In that post, I talked about The Nomad Architect Florida Boutique   Hotel Theory that states - while there are great small boutique    hotels in the tourist infested Sunshine State, you have to diligently search and seek out those places. I mentioned the Lotus Inn & Suites in Ormond Beach which proves my theory without argument. It took some research and serendipity to find it and, once I found it, it lived up to all the criteria that would warrant a spot on The Nomad Architect Places To Sleep Before You Die List:
  • It must be small - No large hotel    can possess the qualities that make a place special.
  • It must have a strong sense of design - Design changes everything in my book.
  • It must pay attention to detail - Mies said it - "God is in the details". 
  • It must have great staff -  Without friendly & competent staff, a hotel is just a fancy Motel 6.
  • It must take advantage of its locale - A great hotel enhances the environmental experience.
  • It must have great food - Either on site or nearby, Nomads have to eat well.
  • It must be clean and orderly - This one goes without saying, but, we all have our stories.
  • It must have a killer shower and/or tub - Nomads need to wash off the day's dirt in style.
  • It must have a bed to die for - Without a great place to lay your head, a hotel just isn't worthy.
  • It must be reasonably priced - The holy grail is the great hotel on the cheap.
Now how, you may ask, does one come up with such a precise set of criteria to judge a hotel's standing on The List? To paraphrase the great Ed McMahon of The Tonight Show - The   answer to that question "has been kept in a hermetically sealed mayonnaise jar on Funk & Wagnall's Porch since noon today".
Having stated the criteria, it is time to objectively rate the One Ocean Resort & Spa of Atlantic Beach, Florida. Each "Must" gets 0 to 10 points.
  • Size8 Points - At 193 rooms, One Ocean is not tiny but small enough to make the cut.
  • Design - 8 Points - Good design, but a little over done with the trendy colors and sea shell wall sculptures. The motif is more corporate resort than cutting edge. In addition, because the hotel is in a renovated building, it suffers from some challenges that were difficult to overcome because of the original building. Access to the rooms is rather tedious, having to go down long public corridors and taking two elevators to get to your room. And the interior designer LOVES curtains! The room, however was very elegant, with very clean detailing and what appeared to be venetian plaster behind the bed.
  • Detail - 8 Points - Pretty good. Why do architects obsess over this? Sorry. I would have replaced all of the old door hinges - but that's just me. And room doors need better closers and silencers, which would make the door close quietly. Picky, picky picky!
  • Staff - 10 + Points - When you check in, apparently a "docent" is assigned to your room. And it is not just a word to One Ocean. When you need something, all you have to do is make a one button call to the front desk and - viola! I have never ordered coffee and tea at 7 AM and had it delivered to my room in less than four minutes. And it was great and hot. The best service I have ever had at a full service hotel.
  • Locale - 10 Points - It's the beach. The balcony was large enough for two and allowed perfect views of the sunrise and ocean. If you go, make sure you get a corner room for the best view. And a higher floor would have been better. But third floor was fine.
  • Food - 10 Points - We didn't eat at the hotel restaurant, but had two great meals at the North Beach Fish Camp Restaurant only a few steps away. Excellent seafood and a pretty mean shrimp and grits.
  • Clean & Orderly - 8 Points - Room clean. Some of the public space  surfaces need some spiffing up. But, overall - very good.
  • Shower - 9 Points - Shower was a bit small, more than likely due to the existing space, but, with two adjustable shower heads, this critical component was, if not a killer, a great place to get clean. The bath products were excellent as well.
  • Bed - 10++ Points - They spared no expense on the bed. And the pillows, the comforter and the linens would have made any Sheik of Arabi feel right at home.
  • Price - 7 Points - Here is where it gets a little tricky. I have noticed hotel costs rising substantially within the past year. More proof that our dollar is suffering due to the US Printing Press. One Ocean is not cheap. The room rate was a bit high, but, acceptable. Even the resort fee was tolerable, since it included the docent services, all the in room munchies, bottled water and goodies you could consume and all the coffee and tea you could drink. What was not tolerable was the mandatory valet parking fee. The idea of requiring someone to pay for parking valet services in a 193 room hotel with the parking lot literally a few steps away is absurd. And to rub salt in the wound, that fee doesn't show up until the final bill.
So - does the One Ocean prove the Florida Boutique Hotel Theory? I would answer with a qualified yes. I must admit, this Nomad and Nomadess are just not that into the whole resort thing. All that pampering and to do is just a bit much. For my money, The Lotus Inn in Ormond Beach beats One Ocean for half the price. So, next time you need some relief from the day to day or need a little beach time, One Ocean works, but I would drive a little further south to The Lotus.
From Our Little Underground Loft in The Hinterland

Travel Quote of The Week -The three gret elemental sounds in nature are the sound of rain, the sound of wind in a primeval wood, and the sound of outer ocean on a beach - Henry Beston.

Video Artist of The Week - Maceo Parker brings blues, funk, Hammond B3 and big band sounds together for some serious music to wake you up. Hallelujah I Love Her So is worth a listen

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