When we received the invitation to visit the Port Royal Ocean Resort in Port Aransas, Texas, I am fully willing to admit that I said to Jacq, “Wait, Texas has a coast?” (I’ll let you Texans shake off the moment of indignation. I will also blame my public school upbringing, plus the arrogance of having been raised in New England, by an ocean.)
Thank goodness we decided to come down and check it out! (For those who ask such things: we received free lodging, and Cheryl in the gift shop gave us both a nice hat, but otherwise, this isn’t a paid piece. I’m just writing about a very nice stay.)
The Port Royal is a resort, with hundreds of condo units, as well as temporary rental units for vacationers that run somewhat like a hotel, complete with a housekeeping staff and many amenities. People who come to Port Royal come for two reasons: the ocean and the pools. This specific resort has the largest pool in all of Texas, it turns out, in case you weren’t interested in all 600 miles of Gulf coastline.
Oh, and if you have even a teensy bit of “hey wait, wasn’t there an oil spill?,” you’d never know it from my visit. No crews in Hazmat suits cleaning the beaches, and no tar on my feet. It was pristine and perfect. Though Texas didn’t bear the brunt of that particular disaster, I didn’t see a single leftover remnant from the storms, except for lots of ads on local television from BP saying that they’re not done, that they’re spending plenty of money, and that they care. (Say what you want, but it felt legitimate to me. I’ll let others argue that one, as I don’t have a horse in that race locally.) The beaches were open for business!
Staying at the Port Royal
They have 1,2, and 3 bedroom units (we stayed in a 2-bedroom that was really spacious and could’ve accommodated another couple without us feeling crowded in the least), with views of the four huge lagoon pools and the two water slides, or some with views facing the Gulf. We lucked out in that we were put up in Board President Jerry Ellis’s daughter’s unit, a gorgeous two-bedroom, with a wonderful view of the pools and every modern amenity you’d want from a place to stay. On the first night, Jacq and I went to town and got groceries, so we ate many of our meals on the balcony overlooking the pools.
It’s weird to comment or compliment a “gift store,” but the Port Royal store was more like a fully functional convenience store on premise. I had water in my ears, and went in doubting that they’d have alcohol drops for it, but of course they did. I went in another time looking for a little cooler so I could bring some things down poolside, and they had that, too. In the several trips I made to that store, they had pretty much everything I wanted, which kept me on premise, and made my stay better.
An Amazing Sunday Brunch
We had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Chef Mercy Dulavitz, who has made magic happen, both in the day-to-day menu, as well as in her special events, including the delicious Sunday Brunch at the 361 Restaurant on premises. The food was astounding, well-presented, and felt nothing like a dreary brunch buffet and every bit like we’d been invited to a ceremony, which, obviously, Chef Mercy treats each meal like a ceremony, so that stands to reason.
Things To Do in “Port A”
Port Aransas and nearby Padre Island are a very beachy community, indeed. If we were in Florida, a steady stream of Jimmy Buffett music would be expected. Because this was Texas, we had quite a mix of interesting music and personalities to go with it. like Gabriela Castro’s friends, Beach Stone Rise. (You can hear a bit of it here:)
Can’t see the video? Click HERE
Jacq and I also took Kite Boarding lessons from Mike Wagner at Port A H20. I’d wanted to kite board ever since I learned during my interview with Sir Richard Branson that he kite boarded as his primary form of exercise. Thankfully, a hookup from Lucretia and the sales team at Port Royal got us face to face with Mike and a three hour lesson in flying kites.
There’s tons more to do. There’s fishing aplenty. There’s boating. You can go out and kayak and surf and do all kinds of things, but that wasn’t really Jacq’s and my goal. We wanted to hang out by the pool and enjoy fruity drinks, for the most part. Luckily, for that, we got to hang out with Jerry Ellis, his son, Danny, and another half dozen clever young men from here and there. This became a repeated mix of enjoying beverages and also learning about the near future plans for further developing Port Royal (which I’m not sure I have permission to talk about, so I won’t, but it’s pretty cool). Side note: I also learned about a sport called Baggo, which is called cornhole in other parts. (Just look. You’ll see.)
We dined in Port Aransas once at the Pelican Club, where I had Jerry Ellis’s favorite Firecracker Shrimp for an appetizer and fresh (pulled from that water) tuna as well. Jacq had some really good sushi, too. The view was amazing.
Port A, as it’s Called, Is About Fun
What the Port Royal does rather well is mix adult fun with family fun. There was a poolside bar and a poolside grill and a nice little bistro and all kinds of fun for adults, but everything also had the “it’s okay for kids, too” vibe. The swimming pools were all monitored heavily by lifeguards, and the bars were rather stringent in their ID requirements (a good thing). You saw families enjoying the pool and couples enjoying the pool and neither felt out of place. That’s because fun was the root of both plans.
When I tweeted that I was in the area, lots of Texans (mostly from Austin) tweeted back that they go to Port Aransas quite often, or that they grew up coming there, and that there were all kinds of memories wrapped around the area. It was most definitely heavily favored by Texans, but there were folks from Missouri and Illinois on premise, as well as two wide-eyed Boston-area folks.
If you’re thinking of an interesting getaway, or even a change of scenery, the Port Royal team will be there to serve. (They have Three Steves, a Luci, a Kendra, a Lucretia, and dozens of other wonderful people – some I already named- who made our stay amazing). It was a great trip, and we’ll go back, I’m sure.
Have you been? What do you think?