by Jennifer Barnette, Travel Contributor
Stepping onto the shore of Sea Island is like stepping into an enchanted kingdom by the sea. Steeped in tradition and decorated with impeccable taste, this iconic Southern resort is a collection of prestigious vacation accommodations, world class sporting areas, sophisticated shops and ambrosial restaurants. Sea Island provides an unbeatable setting for just about any getaway you have in mind. I’ve found myself happily at home at the Sea Island Lodge for each of the past two Januarys, and despite being there for work, I felt the effects of much needed respite.
Sea Island, which neighbors Saint Simons Island on the coast of Southern Georgia, includes three resort locations The Cloisters, The Lodge, and The Beach Club, each as grand and memorable as the next. The Lodge, where I slept, ate and conducted meetings, offers gorgeous views and experiences worth returning for year after year.
When I arrived, I was greeted by the Lodge’s perfectly charming staff, not to mention a personal butler who would attend to my needs for the duration of the stay. Once inside, the lobby provided a second welcome with its grand English estate feel, and no doubt I was tempted to spend time on its plush sofas and arms chairs by the fire. (Vitrines of hot chocolate and apple cider sit on the sideboard if you decide to do just that.)
It’s hard to believe the Lodge was built in 2001. The workmanship in the architecture and finishings has the quality of another era, but the amenities are modern and generous. The bathroom is stocked with Molton Brown products and complete with in room speakers to make bath time a real treat. And when you sit down to review your emails at the handsome desk, you’ll discover a lovely perk – personalized stationary at the ready.
Before dinner, head out to the porch for sunset cocktails and a chance to experience the bagpiper playing out on the green in the distance. The oceanfront view from a dinner at the casual Oak Room or the Colt & Alison are perfect. I can’t wait to try (and surely fail) to reproduce their well-loved Cornbread Crusted Meatloaf with Black Eyes Pea Risotto, Green Beans and Barbeque Broth.
If you venture off property into town, consider a visit to The Vine Garden and Market for an unparalleled botanical experience. Or drive over to Smallcakes for a cupcake bite – a must try is the Caramel Crunch with sea salt and pretzels.
While on the island, schedule a shuttle and head over to the historic Cloisters for a personal tour and next meal. The Cloisters is a mashup of old and new architecture that flows graciously from one room to the next. In 2004 because of its seclusion and remoteness, the Cloisters gave home to the G8, and the massive round table which served as the centerpiece to world discussions is not to be missed. Call ahead to request a family style dinner at Tavola, and be amazed as the courses keep coming: Affettati, Funghi and Fiche Pizzas, Risotto with kobe beef cheek, and Brodetto are the bests of the bests.
The Spa at Sea Island is a Forbes 5 Star Spa and Fitness Center with 65,000 square feet of serenity and elegance. The Spa at Sea island is one of the nation’s most prestigious. For all spa treatments click here.
Maybe next visit I’ll make time for a golf lesson at the Sea Island Golf Performance Center from world class lady’s instructor Gale Peterson. Sea Island is truly a taste of heaven for any golfer, which is why so many professional golfers call the island home and why golfers from around the world make the trek to play Sea Island and take part in their Golf Instruction School.
For water enthusiasts there is also the option of inshore, near-shore or offshore fishing.
No matter where your interests lie it is easy to find yourself in love with the natural beauty and opulent architecture of Sea Island. If you haven’t visited this enchanted kingdom by the sea, it is time you made plans. You may just find that Sea Island enchants your soul so much so that it becomes an annual tradition.