There’s a new kid on tranquil Hutchinson Island, Fla., and he’s all grown up. The first resort to open on the historic barrier island near Stuart, Fla., in 20 years, Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa shows off the island’s charm and the history and heritage of Florida’s Treasure Coast.
It’s a great place from where couples and families can explore such places as the historic House of Refuge, which has seen everything from 18th century pirates to 20th century German U Boats; the Elliott Museum, which houses an outstanding collection of vintage cars; and visit Stuart’s riverfront district that features antique shops and some terrific restaurants (try the meatloaf at the Gafford).
“We put a lot of time and effort into making sure this property reflects Martin County,’’ said Ed Griffith, general manager of the 178-room oceanfront resort that opened this past October.
That time and effort shows in every detail of Hutchinson Shores – from the palm trees at the entrance to the sailfish chandeliers in the lobby and 6,000 square-foot ballroom to the pantries on each floor (instead of ice and vending machines) to the positioning of each building.
“We made sure we didn’t disturb any natural elements,’’ Griffith said as he sat underneath a living green wall in the resort’s lobby.
The living green wall is just one piece of original art within Hutchinson Shores. The paintings on the walls in the public spaces and guestrooms each are signed and numbered – in other words, not your usual hotel art. The infinity pool, just off the Reflections pool bar, features colorful laser lighting; and the ballroom’s ceiling lighting can change colors at the touch of color wheel on the wall. A sailfish logo (Stuart is renowned for its sailfishing) is outside of each guest room and there are pictures of turtles everywhere – tributes to the area’s fiercely protected loggerhead turtle population.
The resort’s Drift Kitchen & Bar is loaded with bleach-wood colors and while its outstanding menu includes seafood and steak, it’s real appeal is the pizza-oven that makes some of the best wood-fired, Neapolitan pizza along Florida’s East Coast.
The pizza oven notwithstanding, “We wanted to make this property as indicative of the area as possible,’’ Griffith said. “More than that, we have embraced the local community. We want the locals to come to see us and let us know what they think.’’
In that regard, many of those locals (and frequent island visitors) have some context. While Hutchinson Shores is a new-build resort, it sits on property that was previously occupied by another hotel that closed shortly after Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in 2004.
“People who live here, and who have worked here (for the previous hotel) have come back and say, ‘It’s not like it was,’’’ Griffith said with a smile. “I ask them: ‘Did you think it would be?’ I’m still waiting for someone to say, ‘Yes.’’’
It not likely Griffith will find such a person. Hutchinson Shores is a member of Ocean Properties, Inc.’s prestigious Opal Collection, which includes Jupiter (Fla.) Beach Resort & Spa, Sandpearl Resort in Clearwater Beach, Fla., and Zota Beach Resort on Longboat Key, Fla.
“As this property began to take shape, I knew it was going to be something amazing,’’ Griffith said.
And on that, he’ll get a resounding, “Yes.’’