Patricia Mack reviews her stay at The King and Prince in Gayot.
King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort, Georgia – Hotel Review
A 75-Year-Old Gem Just Off Georgia’s Coast
by Patricia Mack
Peering through the balcony doors of an oceanfront room at the King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort, it is hard to keep in mind the rich and complex history of this locale. St. Simons Island, a barrier island just off Georgia’s coast, has seen political turmoil and conflict, and yet, looking out on the Atlantic’s breaking waves, how could one think of anything other than the panoramic vistas and glorious natural beauty?
Tides come and go, herons feed and sea breezes fill the air — this has been the backdrop for generations of guests who have stayed at the King and Prince, a 75-year-old gem of a resort, designated on the National Register of Historic Places and a member of Historic Hotels of America. Originally a private dance club, King and Prince served as the social center for the small community of residents and visitors to St. Simons; it has emerged in the 21st century as a modern resort that retains the Southern charm that made it famous. Modern updates include Wi-Fi-equipped guest rooms and the addition of a spa — The Royal Treatment Cottage — where mind and body can find repose via aromatherapy and reflexology. Among the high-tech touches, guests can enjoy a 3-D animated flyover of the resort’s golf course available on the Web.
Guest accommodations range from the Oceanfront Building, where rooms have either a terrace or private balcony, to the historic Main Building, with some tower rooms, cabana rooms and suites with Ocean Views, to the Oleander Building, a separate three-floor retreat just a short walk from the main hotel. The resort also offers two- and three-bedroom beach villas on the ocean. All are beautifully furnished with comfortable beds, sofas or chairs and dressers and armoires.
The health-conscious will appreciate the exercise room, tennis courts and five seaside pools including an indoor pool and a hot tub. While for those who simply enjoy a walk or a bike ride, there are paths along the beach. When the tide is out, the beach itself, with its hard-packed sand, attracts runners, joggers, bikers and strolling couples.
The King and Prince Golf Course is just a few miles away on the northern tip of the island, offering a great golf exprience, with four spectacular island holes, in a beautiful setting — emerald fairways are nestled within ancient forests and a vast salt marsh.
There are three dining rooms at the hotel, all with oceanfront views, but the most notable is the Delegal Room with its stained glass murals and popular Friday night seafood buffet. Don’t miss the signature shrimp and grits with burgundy gravy, along with maybe a pitcher of white sangria, laden with fruit and perhaps some peach cobbler.
If you’re a history buff and can manage to pull yourself away from the dazzling sunsets and hypnotizing rhythms of the sea, there’s a storied past waiting to be uncovered. The hotel can help arrange tours or provide walking tour maps. Bicycle rental shops are located nearby. Guided trolley tours with often entertaining and always informative narrative provide an overview of this remarkable little island. There is also a museum highlighting St. Simons’ coastal heritage located at the base of the centuries-old St. Simons Island Lighthouse. For history fans, the Maritime Center at the old Coast Guard Station on East Beach is open daily with artifacts and photography from its days as an important training base as well as displays of the area’s ecological systems.
Christ Church, erected in 1884, marks the spot where John and Charles Wesley held services under the oak trees in 1736. Now, the second oldest Episcopal church in Georgia, it is also the third oldest in the country. It is perhaps the most lovely and pastoral of the many sites that make this island, and a stay at this hotel, so memorable.