Last week for the 4th of July we stayed at the legendary Sea Turtle Inn on Atlantic Beach, in Jacksonville, Florida. The price was average for the area: about 160 a night, and the hotel was recommended by many friends, so we gave it a shot.
Our room was a beach-view double-bed. All of the direct ocean view rooms were closed due to renovations, which I’ll touch on in a moment. I was very impressed with the view though. I think I would have rather had a beach-view than the ocean view. With our southern view, we could see down Jacksonville beach for quite a ways, along with a lot of ocean. We could also see the city and the nightlife.
The room smelled like it may have been a smoking room at some point, but it wasn’t noticeable after a few minutes. The room contained everything you’d expect, an iron, ironing board, a refrigerator, TV, and an air conditioner that we had on the max setting all week.
The bathroom was nice, but the toilet didn’t have a very strong flush. When I’m on vacation I usually want to eat at the buffet with the confidence that comes with knowing that the toilet back at the room can handle the holy hell I put into it. This wasn’t the case with this toilet. It took several flushes for some of the larger loads last week.
As advertised, the hotel provided free wireless internet. The network wasn’t secure at all.. just a LinkSys router with no WEP, but it was easy to connect to, and I had a good signal the whole time.
There are two elevators, and that seemed to not be enough for the eight floors. There were always more people waiting for the elevators than could actually fit in them.
The staff was extremely friendly and helpful. This was probably the highlight of the experience. The hotel manager was seen all over the place, and was very outgoing and friendly. The bartenders at the outside bars were perfect bartenders. They knew how to make just about anything, and would always recognize you the next day.
The hotel is the ONLY hotel on the beach in the area. To find other hotels on the beach, you’ll need to head south several miles to Jacksonville Beach. The outside of the Sea Turtle Inn looked kind of crappy right now ONLY because they were renovating the ocean-front side. There was scaffolding against the building, which didn’t look all that great while sitting by the pool. The outside bar was a bit tiny, but it was never full. We could always find a place to sit, and get a drink while in view of the ocean.
The Restaurant: Plantains
We visited Plantains only once, to look at the menu. It looked delicious, and had ocean-front outdoor seats, but the prices were a little too high for me. The dinners were all between 20 and 30 dollars. Typical upscale dining prices, I suppose, but we vacationing on the cheap.
There is PLENTY to do within walking distance of the Sea Turtle Inn. There were many bars within a half mile. The best probably being the Ragtime Tavern. The prices were a little high, but everything was great. The bartenders were very attentive, and the food was delicious. Our group of four racked up a $300 tab in no time!
If you’re not finding anything that fits your taste in Atlantic Beach, just head south a few miles (30 minute walk, or a 5 dollar taxi ride) to Jacksonville Beach. There are several EXCELLENT Irish pubs there that serve my all-time favorite cider: Magners. This is the first time I’ve seen this cider outside of Ireland (where it is called Bulmers). Worth the trip! We also visited a huge sports bar called Sneakers that was pretty cool. Many beers on tap, and the biggest projection screen I’ve ever seen.
All in all, the Sea Turtle was a great place to stay. If you are looking for something with a bit more history and class than the “Quality Inn”, try the Sea Turtle.
UPDATE (July 13, 2006):
I got my bank statement a few days ago and noticed that the Sea Turtle charged my check card. This wouldn’t normally be a problem, but upon checking out, my roommate presented his card to pay with, so I’m a little confused.
Additionally, they overcharged by about 400 dollars! We made contact with the Sea Turtle on July 11 and nothing has been resolved yet (I haven’t seen a refund). I will update again with what happens. Hopefully I won’t have to dispute the entire charge.
This really puts a black eye on the otherwise enjoyable vacation.
UPDATE 2 (a few days later)
All the billing issues were resvolved a few days later, thanks to the helpful manager.
I have read some bad reviews about the recent stays of others . . . bits of ceiling falling down on the beds and furniture, badly stained carpeting full of sand, holes in linens, smelly hallways, etc. We have reservations with our 4 yr old boys toward the end of August. What was your take on the cleanliness of the rooms? Does it look like what is on the website or not?!
It should be fine. Just keep in mind that it is an older hotel, and it is under renovation right now. The inside of the rooms were fine by my standards. There was a smell of smoke in the hallways, but we got used to it pretty quick. If you want a fresh smelling room, just crack open the window and turn the AC on high. Thats what we did.
I can’t think of anything else wrong with our room though. Clean bathroom, sheets, etc.
Also, they did resolve the billing issue I mentioned above several days after I called in.
While doing a recent google search on “turtles” in the area I stumbled upon this article. Funny……my husband and I stayed there that very weekend and had the worst experience ever! It was our 7 yr. wedding anniversary and I was 9 months pregnant. We also have a 4 yr. old and wanted a relaxing weekend away before our new baby was born. We had reserved a non-smoking ocean front room a month prior to our arrival date and once we arrived we were told those rooms were full and had to settle for a “intercoastal view”. Then, we were shuffled from one room to another because of a mix-up in their booking and had to haul our bags from room to room until three hours from our scheduled arrival time we were finally settled in a room. The room smelled like smoke and the hallways stunk like mold. On the morning of the 4th, I walked out the back of the hotel past the pool of which we nicknamed the “redneck riveria” to meet my husband on the beach. On my way, the janitor was spraying down the tile stairs with a water hose. As I walked passed him I slipped and fell down three stairs. Being 9 months pregnant, I was frightend and in pain. He was apologetic but did not even help me up. Eventually, the “manager on duty”, the chef, came out with an ice pack and asked me IF I wanted to fill out an accident form. He said he thought the stairs were dangerous and was immediately going straight to Lowes to get non-slip pads to put on the stairs. We never saw anything put on the stairs the rest of our stay. No one ever called up to our room to see if I was okay or offered any kind of assistance. I could go on and on with the dilemas of that horrible weekend. Fortunately, I was not badly injured and our stay there was much shorter than planned. We eventually ended up packing up and heading home where we felt much more comfortable and safe! Since our stay, I e-mailed the owner, manager and a company that handles their customer satisfaction surveys, have yet to receive a response from anyone. We won’t return. Ragitme was our only saving grace!
My family and I had a reservation for two nights in September, but only stayed one night. The exterior renovation was extensive, but that I could handle. The interior renovation was just plain ugly. They closed the bar at 9:00 PM on a Saturday night…I just wanted a glass of wine to take to my room. The staff suggested I take my 13 year old daughter to one of the nearby bars that “stays open pretty late”…Then, at 7:30 AM Sunday the construction noise started…constant hammering, pneumatic drills, saws…and it never stopped. We checked out as soon as we could. I don’t think they should have people staying there when the construction is so intrusive. This hotel looks NOTHING like its website!!
I was so disappointed to see that others have had a bad experience at this hotel. I traveled to Jacksonville in 1999 for a work function. We stayed at the Sea Turtle Inn and had the most AMAZING stay. My room was wonderful with an ocean view. My only complaint is that the air conditioner had an annoying rattle that the staff fixed ASAP. We had our daily training in an oceanfront conference room. It was a view to die for and made it hard to concentrate! The staff brough fresh fruit and pastries each morning for us. Mid morning snacks were fresh baked cookies, fresh fruit and more. Lunch was a huge selection of fresh salads, shrimp, etc. At dinner we had the most amazing steaks or my most favorite meal EVER called Mayport Shrimp. It had this dipping sauce that was to die for. This was an everyday thing for two weeks. I LOVED my stay there and would move in for good if I could. The service, food and accomadations were A+++++++++++++. I am sorry others had problems!
The renovations that have occurred over the last three years to (once known as The Sea Turtle Inn now One Ocean) was not a shock to any one staying there. I once worked at the front office of the Sea Turtle Inn during their first renovation ($8,000,000!!!) back in the late 90’s. It was mandatory to tell the potential guest calling to make reservations that renovations were going on! As for the pregnant lady and her mishap with the bouncing around from room to room…. (first and for most, congrats on the baby!!!! : ) But when I worked there, there was bell boy on staff from 7 am until 11 pm. If you carried your luggage all around the hotel, it was by choice. Being a life long Atlantic Beach resident, One Ocean (formally known to me and by many others as The Sea Turtle Inn) is a crowning point both geographically and impressionably to Jacksonville and everyone who stays there (especially now that the MAJOR reno that set Remmington back 10’s of MILLIONS of dollars is done!!!) BRAVO! To them and their staff!
I stayed there about twelve years ago and forgot about it until I came across these reviews. I loved it there. The staff was great. The “Sea Turtle Inn” will always be special to me. I wonder if the Ocean Grill is still south of the hotel.