Address: 111 N. Birch Road
Web Address: http://www.pillarshotel.com
THE HOTEL: The Pillars is a wonderful secret...even their neighbors above hadn't heard of them, and hopefully it will stay that way for awhile. This small intimate little gem of only 18 rooms and 5 suites is a romantic hideaway for adults sitting right on the Intercoastal amidst lush gardens. The feeling here is much different than the Atlantic above. The pace is slower, there is no urgency to do anything but lounge around. The building has the look of an old plantation house with a veranda and shutters and surrounded by tall palms. Inconspicuous from the road except for a white awning, your entry into the lobby is as if you were entering a luxurious private home. To the left is a small front desk and to the right a beautiful library/sitting room with hardwood floors, furniture draped in colorful tropical patterns, striking artwork, shelves of books and a wonderful old harp. French doors open onto a pool area which is surrounded by colorful tropical foliage and flowers.
THE ROOMS: The majority of the rooms surround the pool area with a kind of side view out to the water. My Queen deluxe was tastefully furnished with colorful fabrics, cane style furniture, a patterned carpet and bright artwork. The down featherbed, duvet and plump pillows made for a wonderful sleep. The bathroom, while small, had a wonderful shower, upscale toiletries and fluffy towels. Queen rooms are the smallest, so ask for a King.
THE RESTAURANT: The Secret Garden restaurant is only open to guests of the hotel and serves dinner on wicker tables and cushioned chairs on the dock overlooking the water. It is a magical setting and even when the weather doesn't cooperate and they move everything into the library, it is still intimate and cozy. Breakfast and lunch can be served in your room, around the pool or on the dock.
THE SERVICE: The staff was pleasant, yet almost invisible. Privacy is respected here. Service at dinner was excellent and seamless. Iced tea was set out at the pool for the guests to enjoy. A New York Times was hung on my door early in the morning. The only glitch was at breakfast when they had only one server. Seems everyone ordered at once, so there was some delay in getting out the food. Would also like to see coffee set out in the lobby for early risers.
THE RATES: $205-$455 low season, $285-$579 high season.
WHAT OTHERS SAY: "Centrally located on the Intracoastal Waterway, this “elegant”, “romantic” little inn, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, is a “quiet oasis” designed with a mix of British Colonial and Island Plantation themes; some of the “small but cozy” rooms have French doors that allow you to “read the newspaper in bed while looking” at the “spectacular” water views, and the “excellent service” includes dockside spa treatments; the on-site restaurant has limited seating, but a water taxi that “stops right at the hotel” creates “easy access to everything.” ZAGAT.
WHILE YOU ARE THERE: See this information under the Atlantic Hotel above.
DRIVING DISTANCE FROM: Miami: 33 minutes, Orlando: 3 hours, 20 minutes, Jacksonville: 5 hours