It’s been a summer spent in the salty, sandy, well-heeled wake of a multi-million-dollar renovation in Daytona Beach Shores, Fla. – Daytona Beach’s upscale cousin to the south.
The property: The Shores Resort & Spa, Central Florida’s only AAA Four-Diamond oceanfront resort.
Sound posh? It is. But hardly the raised-pinky-finger kind, though the property was arguably born that way.
The Shores sits five miles south of Daytona Beach on a quiet, largely residential stretch of beach — Photo courtesy of The Shores Resort & Spa
Built in partnership between the Hilton family and their wealthy counterparts the Roots – heirs to a fortune created by Root Glass Works, a company that in 1916 won a contest to design a unique bottle for Coca-Cola, with which you might be familiar – it operated as a Hilton until the multiple impacts of the 2005 hurricane season not only closed its doors, but also likely blew them off, as well.
Oceanfront balconies offer gorgeous gull's-eye views of the sparkling Atlantic — Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson
Its phoenix rose shortly thereafter as a boutique hotel, “though not one intended for families,” notes Susan Keaveney, The Shores' marketing manager.
"But come summer time, schools are out, and the families found us. And it’s been great!" she adds.
So much so that much of the recent refresher was conceived in part with families in mind.
Among its spoils are new seating areas at the beachfront firepits. Adorably packaged “S’mores at The Shores” kits turn these havens into seaside campfire circles.
Adirondack chairs encircle the traditional pits, while cushier seating lines the more streamlined fire tables.
New pool chairs, umbrellas and cabanas offer up comfortable havens for relaxation. For kids with ample energy, the ocean terrace – where weddings often take place – becomes a playground of sorts.
“We’ve added cornhole, Ping-Pong, life-sized checkers and chess and have a wonderful recreation director who organizes play around the pool,” says Keaveney. “And it’s fun because she’s great at coordinating things that both adults and kids enjoy.”
Updated suites offer guests private outdoor space and easy pool and beach access — Photo courtesy of The Shores Resort & Spa
Fourteen updated oceanfront Cabana Suites offer guests the luxury of a private experience inside and out.
“Outdoors, there are flat-screen TVs, ceiling fans and comfortable furnishings,” Keaveney notes. “Plus, they’re located on the pool deck level, so you can run right out to the beach.”
The Shores’ on-site indoor/outdoor eatery – Azure Restaurant and Lounge – has also been updated with a new look. And even locals laud what comes out of its kitchen.
While Azure's open for all three meals, dinner especially brings with it some truly exceptional dining. Azure is the area’s only oceanfront restaurant of its caliber in Daytona Beach Shores.
"Steak" out with Azure's house-aged ribeye with pink peppercorn and horseradish cream — Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson
Such a tony distinction is not without its deals, however. During a daily happy hour, guests can take advantage of “5 for $6 until 7.” (Five appetizers, craft cocktails and select wines offered at $6 apiece until 7 p.m.)
Brown liquor aficionados will love Whiskey Wednesdays, when small-batch whiskeys and bourbons are paired with a chef-selected appetizer for $8.
Enjoy all of the above al fresco, in the lounge or – as many guests do – in the lobby. The renovation has created something both coastal and elegant but, perhaps surprisingly, cozy and comfortable.
Come early evening, the space – with its ample and eclectic seating and semi-private nooks – becomes what Keaveney calls, quite appropriately, “the kitchen of the party.”
Guests of all ages congregate. Kids play games. Adults enjoy cocktails. Both might partake of Azure’s exceptional gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.
The day’s events are discussed and relived; the evening’s planned.
With just 212 rooms, all with balconies, The Shores may be a boutique hotel, but it feels more like a beach house.
“It’s kind of unexpected, the experience guests have here,” says Keaveney. “People who stay with us get an emotional attachment to this place because it’s so comfortable. They return again and again.”