Ponte Vedra's Star Spa Has Well-Heeled Appeal; the 28,000-Square-Foot Spa, the Area's Largest to Date, Has Unique Luxury Features, Officials Say

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Byline: ANGELA DRYDEN

When Northeast Florida's first spa was built in 1987, most people associated spas with Jacuzzis, said Andrew Radovic, vice president of sales and marketing for the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club.

Ask someone today what a spa is, and the answer is likely to include massages, facials, reflexology, aromatherapy; the list goes on and on. Spa perceptions have come a long way since the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club's first 4,000-square-foot spa, and in response to an increasing number of clients and expectations for all-encompassing spa services, the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club opened a 28,000-square-foot spa Nov. 1.

The new spa, which is open to the public by appointment only, is being touted as the largest in Northeast Florida. (Although The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island's new spa, set to open in December, will have 27,500 square feet of indoor space.)

"What's different about this spa is it's separate from the fitness center," said Theresa Clements, director of Spa Ponte Vedra Inn and Club. Clements, who has worked at the spa for 20 years, said she doesn't know of any other spas independent of fitness centers.

Clements researched national and international spa trends to design the spa and said she had the task of visiting spas in locations in Hawaii and Europe. For her, the most important factors for the spa included how to make it more aesthetically pleasing, and how to have employees flow throughout the building.

One element she saw in other spas around the world that she didn't like was the visibility of linen carts, Clements said.

As a result of this, the spa has a hallway of sorts that runs along the back, designed to conceal the unsightly - but necessary - linen bins.

Beyond its refreshed scope and additional services, the spa's size is almost triple what the former space was, and, eventually, the staff size will be, too. Clements said in the next year the spa will employ around 300 people, compared to the former 10,000-square-foot spa, which had about 75 to 100 employees.

With the increase in size, Clements said the spa needed a better way to keep track of clients. The spa will use an Interior Positioning System, an idea Clements said she got from her nephew at Duke University, who told her about the IPS devices, mainly used in hospitals to keep track of patients. Radovic said this is the first time the device has been used in a spa setting that he knows of - when guests arrive for services, they'll be issued bracelets with the tracking devices, which will keep clients from losing time on their services.

The most popular services, according to Clements, are aesthetics and massages, especially its new couples massage. …