Ritz Carlton

Ritz Carlton

A hidden gem, right near the beach, boutique shopping and four centuries of history, why not go there? If you are fortunate enough to find out about Amelia Island . . . it’s worth a visit. Last year, we found it by accident on our way home from Florida. This year, we planned a visit. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Intercoastal Waterway, this unspoiled barrier island is just two miles wide and 13 miles long.

Amelia island sandWith wide white beaches, sand dunes and the oldest lighthouse in Florida, it is a perfect setting to write your next book, paint your beach scenes or sketch the charming waterfront town that serves as an island hub.

Amelia is footsteps in the sandBeachcombing is popular to walk barefoot and feel the cool sand between your toes, gathering shells and shark teeth. Endangered sea turtles are also partial to Amelia Island’s beaches and return every year to lay their eggs in protected nests on the island’s shores.

amelia mapimage



The 19th century well-preserved Fort Clinch and Park is not the only history to be discovered. With 4,000 years of natural and human history, Amelia Island is the only piece of land in the entire United States that has actually been under the rule of eight different flags, six of which are France, Spain, England, Mexico, Confederate and their own Patriots of Amelia Island. You’ll have to visit to find out more. Or, that pirates once roamed off Amelia Island shores.

Amelia is beachWe stay in Fernandina Beach on the northern half of Amelia Island. Honored by the National Trust for its historic preservation, and home to a 50-block Historic District. Fernandina Beach is a lively town that is popularly described as a “tropical Mayberry.”

gardens in the rear of Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island

Gardens in the rear of Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island

We saw golfers challenged by the oceanfront holes and marsh-view greens. The charm of this city is art-inspiring. We have two favorite places to stay, both Marriott, Residence Inn where you can eat in and have a free breakfast or order the best pizza ever from Towne Pizza, or the Ritz Carlton, depending on your mood and wallet . . . country informal or high-brow formal. Jeans are acceptable everywhere!

The Red Door Spa

The Red Door Spa

Red Door Spa

The Red Door Spa embodies the spirit of good health. The time spent is worth gold. The atmosphere is not perfumed, but yet it has the virtual scents of rest, spiritual awareness, and clean sparkling water.

The first stop on our trip south was Marriott’s richly decorated Fairway Villas in Galloway, NJ, just outside Atlantic City. The Red Door Spa is on the grounds, just a driveway walk away. The spa complex has a great workout gym and pool as part of the Marriott resort with five tennis and two golf courses nearby.

We stopped at the villas for a few days in early December. I decided to spend one of those days relaxing at the spa. So, taking a few hours away from my writing, I headed to the Red Door for hours of self-indulgence along with an Arden group talk and makeup demo, a magical way to discover new products. Of course, you need not ponder, I volunteered my face for the demo. Nothing new this time. Same ol’ face.

Red Door Fifth Avenue New York City

The Red Door originated in New York City, have salons and spas at all Marriott locations.  Gorgeous space – current, clean, spacious, and bright with natural light.  Before my services started, I was led to the “Relaxation Room”, which is a very cool room with comfy chairs, magazines, tea/water, etc.  A very nice start to the treatment!  The pedicure and manicure chairs were comfortable, and they offered aromatic neck warmers to wear.  The nail technician was friendly, but I especially liked Lisa, who treated me.  She was friendly, caring, and attentive.  She even remembered me, even though it’s been at least six months since I was last there. If it appeals to you they have healing therapies, delicious coffees, teas and biscotti, and the most delicious water I have ever tasted.

Caring hands

Galloway has become a favorite place for us as it is only a three hour drive. Shea’s, an amazing breakfast place nearby is a must. We cannot go to Galloway and not go there for breakfast. Stuffed French toast, filled with cream cheese. Sorry, no description can serve it well. Breakfast at Shea’s is an experience.

Shea’s Stuffed French Toast w/candied walnuts and real whip cream (OMG)

If you want to visit Shea’s Cafe & Bakery for their sumptuous breakfasts here’s the place:

Address: 195 S New York Rd, Galloway, NJ 08205

Phone:(609) 748-7000
More of our trip south to come …
Have you ever done a spa? What’s your favorite at a spa? Better still, which is more fun, a spa or a sumptuous breakfast?


The style of Art Nouveau and the flower forms of the plant live on. But not

Gaudi double bench Casa Batilo

necessarily in styles of furniture. The linear floral ornamentation lives on in architecture. Specifically, the architecture of Antonio Gaudi. Last week we discussed the brilliance of this architect who built structures

Gaudi's forms on the Casa Batilo rooftop

in Barcelona that attract millions of visitors each year. His work was a major source in the use of the linear floral forms in all aspects of design. Have a look at last week’s blog on Gaudi.

The forms were promoted by Victor Horta in his van Eetvelde House (1895) in Belgium. There was a whole group of architects and designers who were responsible for developing Art Nouveau as a new style that had nothing to do with the past. It was a style that advocated art for art’s sake.

Victor Horta van Eetvelde House staircase

The design premise was based on the asymmetrical flowing lines of plant forms. Floral forms in iron are the essence of interior ornamentation. Typical use are rail designs, floor patterns, window divisions and column ornamentation in architecture and furniture. In all the forms, look for the pervasive S form. The style was used pervasively in the late 19th century to early 20th century. The style was decorative, it did not lend anything to structure. So it can be easily dispensed with. Besides, designs with moving forms can be tiring. They have vibrations and make quiet noise like bright colors. We seem to go back to the simplistic styles.

In Barcelona, the style is everywhere in keeping with Gaudi’s strong influence. The double bench above was in our Marriott Hotel.

Gaudi salamander Parc Guell's rooftop

Although the bench was not the original, still it was an excellent reproduction. It was thrilling to actually sit in one of Gaudi’s creations. And walk on his rooftops to see his humorous creations. Check out this salamander. Look for the S forms. Take another look at plants, flowers, mermaids. Where else does nature provide the S forms?

Gaudi Interior Casa Vicens

This interior has moorish influence. See if you can find the S forms? Can you visualize the colors?

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