Go See Sea Island
Sea Island and St. Simons Island were once fishing grounds for three native tribes. Early American historians write that these Native Americans were dignified and stately. It's likely that the first Europeans to explore the area were French and Spanish explorers in the mid-1500's. In 1736, James Edward Oglethorpe settled the first colony, now Frederica, on St. Simon's Island to protect newly established Savannah from the Spanish in the south. It was to be inhabited by relocated poor people from London. It was abandoned at one point, and became a rich plantation area prior to the Civil War, specializing in cotton.
After the war, it again diminished in importance and interest until the 1920's with the growth of second homes and resorts on the islands. Automobiles were becoming more and more prevalent, and the coastal roads were improved to allow for the new-fangled carriages. Howard Coffin, a wealthy industrialist, saw potential for the area and bought extensive parcels of property on St. Simons Island. He built the Sea Island Golf Club, and in 1928, The Cloister was opened on nearby Sea Island.
Since then, the great weather and lovely surroundings have made the area a popular second home and resort area for folks from all over the country. The Cloister is large and lovely. It's a popular place to hold weddings, family reunions and other family get-togethers, as well as corporate seminars and meetings. In 2004, Sea Island hosted the G-8 summit, and there's a special meeting room commemorating the event.
There are several options for rooms: Guests can stay in The Cloister or the Ocean Front Villas, a bit of a walk from the main building, but the view makes it worthwhile. We stayed in the villas the first time we visited, but we love being further away and don't mind walking distances to dinner. The last time we stayed in The Cloister, more convenient and just as lovely.
There is more to do than just golf. The Sea Island resort is located on the ocean, and the lengthy beach is great for a nice stroll. There's a pool for those who like to look at the ocean, but not necessarily swim in it. Kids can play on the bright blue climbing structure and swings on the playground located between the beach house and the beach before heading inside to enjoy ice cream treats at the 1950's inspired ice cream parlor.
For the fitness addicts, there is a fabulous spa and fitness area just a few steps from The Cloister. Equipped with state of the art fitness machines and free weights, it's a great place to exercise before heading next door for a massage, facial, or any one of the spectacular spa services. In fact, for a super relaxing vacation, just hit the spa!
Golfers will also be delighted with the courses on the island. The resort hosts the Plantation Course, the Seaside Course, home to the PGA TOUR's McGladrey Classic, and the Retreat Course. The resort is not Rated No. 1 in the U.S. among the "World's 50 Best Golf Hotels" by Golf Digest Index for nothing. It certainly lives up to its reputation.
The restaurant options are varied: from the upscale Georgian room to the Flip Flop Bistro, a casual dining truck. Colt & Allison is located at the Plantation golf course, and is known for its steaks. We especially enjoyed the River Bar, a patio at The Cloister that provided great food and fabulous service in a more relaxed environment with a view of the water. We were disappointed that we didn't have a chance to go back on our recent visit. On this trip, we ate at organized functions, but don't think the meals were not up to par. Everything was wonderfully cooked and presented.
Go visit Sea Island. It's a special place for the entire family. For more information, go to www.seaisland.com.