The Fountain Runneth Over

St. Augustine unites a rich history with a bright future

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With champagne flute in hand on a private balcony atop the Lightner Museum overlooking the sun setting on the beautiful city of St. Augustine, I found myself wanting to flee. I’m not afraid of heights nor was the company bad. Rather, I had been overtaken by a desire to walk the streets, hundreds of years old, that were below me.

The first time I visited St. Augustine, I was an 8-year-old on a family vacation. My most vivid memory of the trip was sipping pungent water at the Fountain of Youth. In recent years, friends talked about how the oldest city in the United States had evolved into a destination offering eclectic dining, hip bars, localized boutiques and nightlife. On that basis, I was willing to give the city another try, minus the sulfur water. 

Sean Pavone /

The St. Augustine skyline illuminates Flagler College and the Bridge of Lions, which stand as beacons of history.


Stay In Style 

For me, the ideal place to stay would offer both history and modernity. The Casa Monica Resort filled that bill. The resort, with its Old World Spanish design, occupies a prime location adjacent to the Lightner Museum and Flagler College.

The building, completed in 1888, has taken two turns as a hotel and also served as the County Courthouse. In 1997, hotelier Richard C. Kessler, known for his love of historic buildings and Bohemian excesses, transformed the hotel into a luxury resort that nods to the past while offering a glimpse into the future. 

“Casa Monica is an inspiring location that provides intuitive service,” said manager Kimberly Wilson. “A warm welcome and a fond farewell with a charming experience mixed in the middle is what you can expect.”

The 138-room resort boasts an extensive art collection, Moroccan influences, gilded gold furnishings, glittering chandeliers and plush red velvet headboards that may make you slow to get out of bed. If your desire to relax extends beyond cloudlike pillows, the on-site Poseidon Spa soothes mind, body and spirit. 

Tranquil blue hues, a lush robe and a mimosa greet you. Choose from soothing services such as total relaxation massages, hot stone massages, luxurious facials, and detox and renew treatments. Or pamper and primp with a manicure, pedicure, waxing, hairstyling and makeup services.

It would be easy not to leave this opulent resort were it not for the historical lore, palate-pleasing meals and inviting libations waiting on the brick-lined streets of this city.

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