Perfect Place to Stay in the Manatee Capital of the World
Plantation on Crystal River, an Ascend Hotel Collection member, is a beautiful 50 year-old full service resort offering comfortable accommodations and activities for the sports enthusiast, or a superb place to wind down with a good book and your favorite beverage. About 80 miles north of Tampa International Airport, Plantation on Crystal River is one of my favorite places in Florida to visit situated on a 232 acre eco-friendly peninsula surrounded by the natural springs of Kings Bay, one of the largest aquifers in the state. Every winter over 400 West Indian manatees migrate to the constantly warm 72 degree springs. It is truly one of the natural wonders of Florida and quite a site to behold these gentle giants in the crystal clear waters just chowing down on the sea grasses at the bottom of the bay. No matter how many times I visit, it is always amazing.
The first class accommodations at Plantation on Crystal River truly embody the meaning of “Southern Hospitality” with 196 warmly-appointed garden or waterview guest rooms, patio rooms, junior suites and golf villas. The laid-back aura of the Resort just seems to relieve all the stress bottled up when you arrive here. I brought my family here when my daughter graduated high school 30 years ago and have been coming back ever since. There is no hustle and bustle, just doing whatever you want at your own pace.
Activities abound at the Plantation: Tennis, pickle-ball, volleyball, snorkeling, diving, fishing, boating, swimming and golf are all right here a few steps from your door. Located right on property, the Plantation Adventure Center offers a full service marina and dive shop with an incredible variety of water based activities and nature based experiences off and on shore. For those guests needing a little pampering, Spa Bleu, the state-of-the-art Aveda salon and day spa, offers a wide range of treatments and services available in the luxury of its facility at Plantation.
With 12,000 square feet of meeting space, the Plantation on Crystal River is the ideal location for business meetings, weekend rejuvenation gatherings, family reunions and of course weddings. The gazebo at the point of the peninsula is regularly the spot where couples exchange vows along the pristine waters with plenty of room for the reception.
You have some options when dining at Plantation on Crystal River. For a leisure libation or some finger foods and sandwiches just take a short walk to the Tikky Bar that sits next to the lagoon-style pool and the canal where boaters can park their boats, and the boats from the Adventure Center find their way to Kings Bay. Unless there is a cold snap, you will always find a conglomeration of characters sitting around kibitzing and telling tales of the one which got away. Inside the golf clubhouse you can enjoy a cold one with light fare while recapping your round or crying in your beer at the 19th Hole Sports Bar & Grill, where friendly service is #1. The golf course does come back between nines, so you can refuel on the turn and grab and go.
For the ultimate dining experience West 82* Bar & Grill is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My wife and I chose dinner and were pleasantly surprised in the culinary selections that are primarily fresh from the sea and sourced from local farms in Citrus County. Our evening began with excellently prepared cocktails from the Bar, which by the way, has a fabulous Martini special night on Thursdays. A very nice touch was the fresh baked cornbread in an iron skillet delivered hot to the table. The chef’s homemade signature West 82
She-Crab Soup came with a crouton of cornbread which was a great garnish. Had we known how good it was, we definitely would have ordered a bowl. The wife had the Captain’s Choice Grouper served with a crab boursin cheese crust atop a potato croquette and sautéed spinach with a beurre blanc sauce, which she loved. I had the crab cakes served with a savory remoulade alongside some fresh green beans. My mouth is watering just writing about it. We recommend West 82 whether you are at the Plantation or staying in Citrus County looking for some fine dining. You won’t disappointed. There is al fresco seating or in the lovely dining room.
Golf at Plantation on Crystal River is a wonderful golfing experience. The 18 hole Mark Mahannah design has stood the test of time over 50 years. The traditional “Florida Style” golf course is strewn with lagoons, ponds, and mature stands of pines, oaks and cypress throughout. Add a fair amount of bunkering in the fairways and around the greens, and there you have your challenges. The Bermuda greens are fast and true. I can remember playing Plantation with ‘Slammin’ Sam Snead on a special golf outing where my son and I got a lesson in draws and fades I had never seen before. It was truly a one-in-lifetime experience for me which I will cherish for all my life. The golf course is a fun par 72 layout stretching to 6531 yards with four sets of tees for anyone to enjoy their day on the links. The very active membership enjoys golf privileges and guests get first choices of tee times. The Pro Shop is well stocked with golf apparel and goodies to purchase.
Plantation on Crystal River is part of the growing Kingwood International Resorts company which owns and manages Achasta Golf Community in Dahlonega, Ga., Kingwood Resort in Clayton, Ga. and Reunion Resort in Central Florida. Providing resort expertise and a new influx of money, the Plantation on Crystal River will continue to provide an excellent experience to all its guests. For more information please visit PlantationonCrystalRiver.com or call 800-632-6262 for reservations.