Hammock Beach Resort, Florida

Hammock Beach Resort, a huge, sprawling, beachfront vacation complex just south of St. Augustine, falls just short of a five-star rating, but it’s way ahead on deluxe family fun with spacious condos, golf courses, a water park and family-friendly package pricing.

And when we say sprawling, we do mean sprawling. This enormous resort is made up of a multi-plex of units that are spread across an enormous amount of acreage. The accommodations range from 1- to 4-bedroom suites, sleeping rooms and condos in eight different lodging complexes. And, while three of the lodging units form the core of the main resort complex, the other five are located between four and 10 minutes away. Most units, however, do offer scenic views overlooking the ocean, golf course and/or the Intracoastal Waterway.

The resort itself was built for and still is a mixed-use facility with furnished condos owned by offsite owners who utilize them as vacation homes and turn them over to the resort for rental. The suites and condos in the main complex are large and spacious, beautifully and colorfully decorated in Florida motif with lots of flowery and palm tree-coated upholstery on the furnishings, rich mahogany-style side tables, full kitchens and dining area, with washer/dryer in the units. All of the units have large, deep patios, most furnished with chairs and tables and offering spectacular views of the ocean, golf course or Intracoastal Waterway.

In addition, all of the units have the usual amenities of most four-star and above resorts, including hairdryers, iron & ironing board, DVD/CD player, daily maid service, complimentary high-speed Internet access and in-room safe.

One of the biggest draws here is golf, with the resort boasting two world-class golf courses—the Ocean and the Conservatory—designed by Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson. With six holes that put the players right on the very edge of the Atlantic Ocean—one of only three courses along the east coast with more than five oceanfront holes—the Nicklaus Signature-designed Ocean Course has apparently built a following because on weekends it gets very busy. The course is beautiful, stretching across the front of the complex like a long, green lake and is often mentioned in lists of the country’s best resort courses.

The second course, the Tom Watson-designed Conservatory Course, is rated the “No. 3 New Public Golf Course in the U.S.” by Golf Digest, with 140 acres of dramatic elevation and undulating greens. With its own clubhouse, pro shop and dining facilities, the beautifully designed course is popular with corporate groups who set up tournament play during meetings and incentive programs. It’s also, the resort’s golf personnel say, the course where truly dedicated golfers come to play.

While dad or mom or both are busy on the golf course, there’s plenty to do for the rest of the family, like taking advantage of the 6.5-acre multiple-level water park where families can float together down the lazy river and the kids can soar down and twist and turn through a corkscrew water slide. A zero entry beach pool even allows tots to build sandcastles right at the pool, with sand pails and shovels provided.

Tennis enthusiasts will find plenty of fun and action at the resort’s tennis complex, with eight lighted Hydro-Grid clay courts overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway over by the marina. Located at Yacht Harbor Village, the Tennis Center offers court time exclusively to members and resort guests. Lessons and clinics with expert tennis professionals are also available.

And what would a resort be without a spa, especially a resort just 25 minutes away from the legendary location of the Fountain of Youth. The 10,000-sq.-ft. spa says that they “…draw from the bountiful resources of its unspoiled beaches, rich history and unique setting,” aligning their spa products with what can be found on the shores of the Atlantic, including thalassotherapy products rich with sea minerals and coquina-laden scrubs, a shell that’s plentiful in the region.

They have a huge menu of spa therapies—from varied massage applications such as aromatherapy and couples’ massage, to facials for teens and men, as well as vitamin cocktail facials for anti-aging and to fight wrinkles. Other services such as waxing, paraffin wraps, manicures and pedicures are also available. There is also a large fitness center with all the latest fitness machines, classes and more available.