First, in Florida's second-oldest city it has a history going all the way back to 1885, when the building housed the bridge tender. It was also used as a fishing and hunting shack for sportsmen pursuing fish and fowl in the lush Indian River Lagoon.
In 1990, the Spangs sold to Christa and Jim Kelsey, who intensified the restoration, using the hospitality skills they had honed at the Faro Blanco Marina Resort at Mile Marker 48 in Marathon. Eleven years later, on the day before Valentine's Day, they took over the restaurant.
And they continued to improve their extensive gift shop, a favorite of the locals as well as hotel guests.
Those guests have a choice of 18 rooms and suites, all with private baths, cable television, safes, telephones and bathrobes.
Some rooms have private patios or porches, and by the end of the year the hotel's new spa will be open, offering a 5,000-foot facility with mineral pool and hot tub, featuring waterfalls for back and neck massage along with six treatment rooms for body and skin treatments.
The levels of maintenance and of cheerful willingness to help are very high at the hotel, as I learned a few weeks ago while spending a couple nights in a spotless room overlooking the bridge.
I greatly enjoyed watching the parade of boats, which is also visible from the deck and inside Kelsey's Riverview Restaurant, with its walls of windows.
There's live entertainment nightly, and on Sundays -- 5:30-8:30 p.m. -- jazz on the deck. The noontime salads, especially the one sporting capers, blue cheese, roasted walnuts and an outstanding raspberry vinaigrette, are sensational, but then so are the black bean chili soup of the day and their own version of a Philly cheesesteak. And don't miss the crab cakes with Dijon aioli.
That salad is also available at night, along with blackened fish or steak bites, pan-seared tuna Florentine, salmon with caper-dill sauce over rice, shrimp and scallops scampi and New York strips glazed with molasses.
You can wander farther afield to find equally fine fare in the reborn and revitalized New Smyrna Beach. Stroll the few blocks down Flagler, where the recent gentrification efforts have not destroyed the sense of old-time Florida. There are still shuffleboard courts, banana trees, art galleries, souvenir-packed shops, a bit of funk and lots of fun on the usually quiet two-lane road leading to the drive-on beach, where there's a memorial to the first surfers in Florida (as recently as the 1960s). It was put there by the New Smyrna Surfari Club.
There are open-air beach bars and a few with ambitious menus, such as Chases on the Beach, 3401 S. Atlantic Ave., where they have Greek salads, half-pound Chaseburgers, ribs and sirloins.
The best ribs in town are found a few blocks away, at the New Smyrna Steakhouse, 723 E. Third Ave., and the best burgers at Gilly's Pub 44, 1189 State Road 44, where they serve "Our World Famous Gilly Burger."
The most stunning restaurants in town are PJ's Sea Shack on the South Causeway and The Garlic (556 Third Ave.), both designed, developed and owned by an absolute master in the field, Jeff Garris.
Sea Shack's completely open back wall provides a sensational panorama of the lagoon, and The Garlic, with its clumps, strands and strings of garlic everywhere, has a hidden-in-nature entryway and lounge. The kitchen is in the talented hands of chef John Bauer, who was brought in from Garris' highly regarded ski lodges in Vermont.
For those who don't think about restaurants all the time, there's the nearby Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and the Canaveral National Seashore, all 24 miles of it, an undeveloped link to the refuge, which is a mecca for birdwatchers.
There's also a vast variety of marine life, but the best introduction to that world is at the new Marine Science Center.
Robert Tolf is the author of six books on country inns, including Florida Country Inns.