One of Us

Roger Amidon


Roger Amidon is the chief operating officer and general manager for The Plantation at Ponte Vedra Beach, an upscale community located off State Road A1A. He began working there in September after a distinguished career with Palm Beach County and various resorts and hotels.

Tell me about The Plantation at Ponte Vedra Beach.

The Plantation is a private community consisting of 577 residential homes. Once you buy a home here at The Plantation, your membership starts immediately. There is no wait list. You have to buy a home to become a member. There are no outside memberships in any of our sports: golf, tennis, pickleball, croquet.

We have a newly renovated clubhouse that we opened on Jan. 10. That was a significant investment by all 577 homeowners.

With those 577 homes, typically we say two members per, so just under 1,200 members. Sixty-five percent of them play golf — most partake in some sport activity.

A lot really enjoy the amenities that we have to offer. We have the clubhouse and our in-progress, soon-to-be renovated beach house. It’s about three-quarters of a mile from here at Mickler’s Beach. It’s really a fantastic amenity for our members. Our due date to open that up is going to be the last week of July. It’s got a junior Olympic-size swimming pool that will be newly heated. We’ve got two food and beverage outlets there. One called Surfside, which will be on the south side of the property; it will cater to a more casual dining: smash burgers, hot dogs, fried food, French fries, onion rings and even pizza. We’ll also be doing some wine sales and beer sales out of that building.

The beach house, which has been there since 1987, is being renovated. That will be the more upper scale lunch-and-dining option versus the very casual dining at Surfside.

And then there’s our beach access to the newly renourished beach.

With the renovation of our clubhouse, we added a terrace for dining and fire pits, and we upgraded everything from the carpet, the floor and the walls to the lighting, artwork, card room, tasting room … The entire wellness center, or fitness center, is newly renovated, and all state-of-the-art equipment was installed.

What are your responsibilities?

As the general manager and chief operating officer, I oversee the entire team. There are approximately 140 team members. That’s overseeing all the departments: finance, golf, marketing, communications, clubhouse, maintenance …

I report to the board of directors — there are nine board members — and I’m responsible for the entire operation. Everything from marketing it to the financials to revenues we generate from our members in the food-and-beverage areas. … And overseeing renovations, contractors, HR, whatever is moving around here, I’m responsible for.

Tell me about your background.

For the last 40 years, my background is primarily in the resorts, hotel industry. I even did a four-year stint as the executive director for tourism for Palm Beach County. That was a really interesting position. I had been running hotels and resorts prior to that.

One of the county commissioners was the chairperson for the TDC, Tourist Development Council. And our Tourist Development Council were the advisers to the elected officials on where best to invest the bed tax dollars that we were collecting.

When I was doing that, it was 2009. We were collecting about $50 million in bed taxes from our tourists. Now, they’re up over $80 million down in Palm Beach County. Those tourist tax dollars went to funding contracts for sports marketing, film and television, culture and conventions. And millions of dollars were also to pay off a certain debt for a convention center and a baseball stadium.

I learned a lot about the county, because I would go and speak to each of the 39 municipalities there. And I would encourage them to budget for tourism marketing dollars versus just relying on the bed taxes.

I was very involved with the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, which is a state association. It has about 10,000 members. We were there to educate, protect and promote tourism. But also protect the bed taxes from being raided for other uses. …

But I spent many years in hotels and resorts, primarily with the Marriott brand. I was an area manager for several of those years, overseeing three, four hotels.

I left the hotel industry for five years, and I joined the ski industry up in Maine and Vermont, working at Sunday River in Maine and then Sugarbush in Vermont. …

It was really interesting. I learned a lot there. That’s where I started to get experience in HOA management. At the ski resort in Maine, I was responsible for eight associations. That was like running eight little mini hotels, each with their own budget, their own board of directors and capital plans. So, I would do monthly board meetings with each one of those eight.

Then, you would have a master board, as well, with all eight of the presidents from those associations.

The president of Sunday River really liked what I was doing, so he promoted me to vice president of lodging to Sugarbush. And I took on 11 associations over there — in addition to the golf course, tennis facility, spa facility and transportation for 4,000 skiers a day.

I moved to Florida in 1996 and came back into the hotel business. That was down in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. I lived in Jupiter, Florida, for 27 years with my wife, and we raised our two kids there.

So, I’ve worked at resorts. I’ve worked downtown convention center hotels with 1,200 rooms, beachfront resorts, suburban properties …

But the important thing, living in an area so long, was getting engaged with the local community. That’s what I enjoy doing. Working not only with the team, but saying, “We have to get involved with the local community. Our business is in the local community.”

People want to do business with people they trust. I was able to establish that over 27 years, and that’s what I plan on doing up here in Ponte Vedra Beach.

So, then, I was approached by a couple of club managers in Palm Beach County, and they said, “Roger, you should join our business.” I said, “OK.” I got to speak to a headhunter. This position became available, and I called them on it. We arranged the interview in July, and I was invited back for a second one in early August. I was offered the position in early August and I reported here on Sept. 5.

It’s been a great move for my wife and I. We were familiar with the area already. Our son went to University of North Florida. So, we would come up and see him, maybe, twice a month. And we would stay at the Sawgrass Marriott and dine in all the restaurants around here. So, we were pretty familiar with it.

One thing my wife and I have found is it’s a different pace. It’s a nice pace. People are friendly. You don’t get honked at. We’re really enjoying the area.

We ended up purchasing a home. We’re having it built over in Nocatee. That was just my commitment to The Plantation: I’m going to plant myself here and have a home built … we plan to stay for many, many years.

How did you get started in this line of work?

When I attended college, I was going for teaching. I wanted to be a phys ed teacher back at my high school in a little town called Lafayette, New York. That was my desire, to stay in my little town, get an education, come back and then give back.

I was very involved with athletics — not only in high school but also in college — playing everything: baseball, basketball, football.

Football, basketball and baseball really taught me the skill of leading.

Playing football, I was the quarterback. You’re in charge; you’re responsible for leading the team. And we did pretty well. The same thing with the basketball and the baseball …

I enjoyed leading people and encouraging people. I made a lot of mistakes along the way, too. But you learn from that.

Then, after college, I moved to Marco Island, Florida, to be a roommate with my buddy. I didn’t know where Marco was, but when I got down there, I thought I was in Heaven. I got to clean pools. I was outside. Still not knowing what I really wanted to do.

Then, my friend was working at the Marriott resort. He said, “You should apply.” So, I went there and applied for a job.

And then, the rest is history.

I never knew that hospitality would then lead me in this direction, but it has really worked out very, very well — not only for myself, but also for my wife and our two kids. …

What do you like best about what you do?

I really enjoy leading people. Then, leading people for many years has turned into helping people achieve new levels of success for themselves. …

Being around this community is very nice. The members here are engaging. They have high expectations. If someone has a question, you’ve got to listen to them. You answer the best that you can. And if you don’t have the answer, you’ve got to get back to them. You’d better make sure you follow up, because that’s what they’re relying on.

What do you like about living here?

The proximity to the beautiful beach, the Intracoastal … And then the exciting and up-and-coming neighborhood where we are in Nocatee. My wife is really enjoying that. We’re getting to know a lot of the restaurants and the retail shops. …

The sense up here is a bit of the South, which is nice. The sincerity is genuine. That’s the way my wife and I describe it. It’s genuine. The people are genuine.

And coming from South Florida, Palm Beach County, there’s a lot of traffic down there. So it’s a nice pace here. …

How do you like to spend your free time?

I spend my free time primarily with my wife. And we enjoy traveling. So, if it’s a weekend getaway up to Savannah, we’re good.

And we really enjoy cruising. We’ll be going on our 40th cruise soon.