Beachfront Luxury Hotel with Old World Charm
Towering marble columns file in two rows down the length of the grand lobby, poised like stoic royal guards. A string of whimsical chandeliers—adorned with seashell-shaped pendants—embellishes the central colonnade and illuminates the intimate seating areas and upholstered Victorian sofas stationed on either side. The opulence and old-world charm in the Plaza Resort & Spa's reception area sets the tone for the whole property, which has gracefully looked out over the waterfront for more than 100 years.
After the regal welcome, guests ascend to their oceanfront rooms, whose floors come covered in plush carpeting. In the king-size quarters, a large paneled headboard forged with solid wood molding anchors a pillow-top mattress swathed in white-striped linens. A trail of framed palm-tree and pineapple prints along the wall leads to the private balcony, suspended above the crashing surf and rush-hour manatee traffic at Daytona Beach. The chocolate-and-caramel color scheme carries over to the double oceanfront room; thick striped curtains hang in bold hues and open to reveal a waterfront private patio.
The pampered feeling extends at the Ocean Waters Spa, a European-style retreat that rouses the senses with an array of services. Inside the cream-colored quarters, specialists whisk away stresses with lavish treatments such as an anti-aging caviar facial, which oxygenates pores and reduces fine lines, and sun-damaged skin benefits from the water-lily after-sun soothing wrap. Afterward, invigorated patrons can flock to cobalt blue deck chairs at the large rectangular pool, or savor a hearty southern-inspired complimentary breakfast at Magnolia's Restaurant.
Daytona Beach: Nature and Culture Collide in Historical Boardwalk City
Seven miles from the Plaza Resort & Spa, the intoxicating scent of engine fuel and burnt rubber lures crowds to the Daytona International Speedway, the storied 480-acre complex that has hosted major NASCAR and racing events since 1950. During 30-minute guided tram tours, passengers stroll the infield, scour the track's high banks, and traverse the pit road while Mustang and Monte Carlo experts narrate the history of motorsports. For a more intimate experience of the mobile lifestyle, visitors can accompany a professional driver for three laps in a standard stock car or hitchhike on a nearby tandem bicycle.
Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, one of the tallest masonry lighthouses in the country, stands guard about 10 miles south of the hotel on Ponce Inlet. Built in the 1880s, the 175-foot granite structure and its surrounding Victorian brick buildings harbor exhibits lined with old lighthouse lenses and various historical artifacts. Though guided tours of the lighthouse and museum aren't available, visitors can climb the 203 steps to the top of the tower for panoramic views of the beach and surrounding waterways.