Posts Tagged ‘Sandcastle Café & Grill’

“The Southern Spirit of St. Simons Island, Georgia”

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Linda Kissam visited The King and Prince Resort a few weeks ago.  She wrote a raving review of The Resort and St. Simons Island.  Her review was posted in her blog and on Tripatini.

 

King and Prince Beach

Beach at The King and Prince

There’s a lot to be said for Southern hospitality. There’s much more to be said experiencing it for yourself. I was very fortunate to do just that in a five-day trip to St. Simons Island, Georgia. For a traveling wine aficionado and foodie like me, this has got to be one of my top three trips this year. It’s quite clear that Southern hospitality focuses heavily on food and the role it plays in daily life and social interaction. Add some great wines, amazing beaches and fun activities… and Voila! I found Southern nirvana.

For a Southern California girl it’s a bit unnerving to be addressed as “Ma’am “all the time. I am more used to hearing “Babe, ”Dude,” and “Hey”. But there’s a whole lot of emphasis in the South on the etiquette of being addressed as “Ma’am” and “Sir” to demonstrate respect. After about 20 minutes I actually rolled quite easily into the greeting. How nice to find that manners still exist and flourish in today’s casual world.

Crowne Plaza Hotel

My St. Simon’s experience began with a 5-hour plane ride to Jacksonville Airport. Arriving a bit late, I decided to rest up and regroup at the newly refurbished and award winning Crowne Plaza Hotel. This is one of the few hotels that still offer a free shuttle to/from the airport. I was treated to an amazing executive level room overlooking a beautiful courtyard. I loved, loved loved the beautiful business center located just feet from my room. It offered a computer and printer to conduct business at and luxe furnishings (including a huge flat screen TV) to stretch out and relax in. I was delighted to also find a great coffee maker featuring lattes, cappuccinos, teas, and hot chocolate; and a refrigerator stocked with ice cream, fruit and other delights. These people understand the business traveler.

Crowne Plaza Executive Chef White

While touring the hotel’s impressive restaurant, conference/event areas, lobby bar, Internet Café, and fitness center, I noticed a solid mix of business and family guests. I headed back to my room where I was met by Executive Chef Arthur White carrying a yummy welcome fruit platter. He was kind enough to sit with me awhile while we talked about his background, his philosophy and the foods he loves to prepare. This 31-year veteran started his career at the property as a dishwasher. His hard work ethic and culinary mastery eventually earned him the top chef spot. He describes his cooking style and offerings as a mixture of Southern, Caribbean, Italian, Cajun and American cuisine. He shared with me that his favorite ingredient is cream as he loves creating cream soups, sauces and Seafood Newburg. Eating at the restaurant is a treat. I highly recommend this hotel for its upscale amenities, friendly business traveler atmosphere, and its family-friendly facilities. How they can blend all that into one fabulous hotel experience I am not sure, but they do, and you should take advantage of it whether flying in for a cruise, a sports game, or a trip to the dazzling St Simon’s Island.

The King and Prince Beach

St Simons Island Beaches

The next morning I was picked up by Max Transport for the one-hour ride to St. Simons and my lodging The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort. I began to first understand the extraordinary St. Simons Island aura as I crossed the five-mile causeway experiencing stunning river views, immense salt marshes, and my first glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean. Once on the Island, tunnels of Live Oaks, picturesque ocean-side streets and homes, and all the natural beauty, beaches, intriguing shopping opportunities and an array of restaurant choices all called out to me to stop, relax and renew.

King and Prince Lobby

The King and Prince Lobby

The historic King and Prince Resort has been welcoming guests since 1935. I could go on and on about the historic resort. The room choices are endless and appropriate for every need and budget. Think beach front rooms, villas, suites, and guest homes. Add in 10, 000 sq. ft. of ocean front meeting, conference and function space, wedding facilities and several excellent dining options and you have the ultimate experience. My beach front room was just steps from the beach, was beautifully appointed and featured a lovely patio to chill out on. Wine in one hand, computer in the other… I was soon relaxing on comfortable wicker furniture listening to the soothing sounds of crashing Atlantic waves.

St Simons Lighthouse Trolley

Lighthouse Trolley

Having met up with several friends, I was soon hopping on the St. Simons Lighthouse Trolley to begin my exploration of St. Simons’ history and the Southern fun and hospitality experience. First stop was the Coast Guard Maritime Museum. This was to be my introduction to the intriguing history of the Georgia Coast. A 20-minute video and a 30 minute tour of the museum explained the ecological nuances of the Georgia’s barrier islands of which St. Simons is the second largest of Georgia’s 18 barrier islands, encompassing 31 square miles. Open seven days a week with an admission price of $6.00, be sure to stop by.

Colonial Coast Birding Trail

Gould’s Inlet

With the day waning, the trolley made a final sunset stop at Gould’s Inlet. Gould’s Inlet is the opening between St. Simons East Beach and the south tip of Sea Island providing inspiring views of coastal birds. Picturesque wooden observation platforms are part of the experience for wildlife viewing. Migrants and resident species of birds can be seen every day. High or incoming tides are best for birding at this site, but something will be there all the time, as was the case with my time there.

The King's Tavern

Chef Robyn Gomez at The King and Prince

Dinner that night was at the hotel in the lovely Solarium. We were treated to appetizers and White Sangria, with a main course of Wild Georgia Shrimp & Grits, seafood salad, and Peach Cobbler…all via a culinary demo featuring Chef Robyn Gomez. Have to confess, up until that night I had never had grits or White Shrimp. Both were exquisite and made an immediate convert out of me. The food, the service, and the culinary talents of Chef Gomez defines gracious Southern hospitality and is definitely what culinary memories are made of. And oh yes, you have to love that the perfect wine – a 2007 MontGras Reserva Sauvignon Blanc from Casablanca Valley, Chile was chosen to pair with the dinner.

Next morning my friends and I popped into the King & Prince King’s Tavern for their world-famous Breakfast Buffet and to listen to a short talk on 75 years of St. Simons History with Curt Smith, the Lighthouse Events Coordinator and Historian. Let me just say that “Wow” defines the buffet and the Mimosa’s. I loved the eclectic mix of Southern focused dishes and all- American favorites.

Golf On St Simons

King and Prince Golf Course

Back on the trolley, the group headed out for an afternoon of golf and lunch at the King and Prince Golf Course. Paired up in two’s in golf carts we toured the award-winning course well-known for its challenging layout amongst ancient forests, vast salt marshes and dramatic island holes. Had to love the two alligators sunning themselves on the 15th hole (see on the left)! After the tour we were treated to a golf lesson including a swing lesson and a putting lesson. I sucked big time at learning how to swing a club, but was dynamite in the putting class. Lunch came next in the comfortable clubhouse overlooking the huge lake that adds to the challenge of the course’s 9th hole. If it’s golf you like, this is the place for you. Also a great place for a wedding.

Back at the hotel I opted for a walk on the beach at low tide. The soothing coastal air and wet sand beneath my toes reinforced that this untouched island haven is a luxury of time well spent. Dinner was a short stroll away at the Saltwater Cowboy. Owner George Stewart‘s vision for this casual eatery centers around steak, seafood, low country boil, burgers and a nice selection of cocktails, beer and wine. I had a lovely Cabernet with my generous tasty 16-oz Rib Eye. Open seven days a week for dinner, enjoy the frequent live music and really cool bar.

Sandcastle Cafe

St Simons Island Village

Up early the next morning, our group was back on The Lighthouse trolley to the Sandcastle Café. Tim and Melissa Welford have a gold mine in this village, “hole in the wall.” The place was crowded, and for good reason. The food is good, plentiful, affordable and easily lives up to its “family legend” status of 20 years. Order off the menu or enjoy the breakfast buffet. Afterwards stroll the shops and sights that make up this scenic waterfront village. I certainly scored in several of the boutique shops, but in a few hours I was back on the trolley heading out for lunch at Southern Soul BBQ.

Southern Soul BBQ

This is what I had been waiting for …Southern BBQ, and I was not disappointed. Another crazy-busy spot this Southern smoke joint slow hardwood smokes their ribs, chicken, sausages and beef. Featured on Food Network’s, “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” this is a local landmark and deservedly so. Eat inside or outdoors, expect a short wait, and delicious melt-in-your mouth BBQ. Geese I really really loved the variety of squirt bottles of spicy, mild, smoky, and Carolina- style sauces available at each seating area. Get yourself some spicy ribs, sweet tea or cool beer, and be ready for the experience of a lifetime.

Lady Jane

Filled to the gills, we were off to an authentic shrimp boat experience aboard the “Lady Jane.” For me, this particular experience was my “Wow” moment of the trip because it brought together all the St Simons Island puzzle pieces together. it was the culmination of the beauty, the brawn and the ecological magic that makes this place so special. The Lady Jane is a United States Coast Guard certified 49 passenger steel shrimping vessel painstakingly refurbished for an enjoyable seafaring cruise. Lady Jane is the only shrimp vessel on the entire east coast that has been certified by the USCG to carry 49 passengers. Our crew and guides, Paul Christian (Marine Biologist), Phillip Flournoy (Marine Biologist)and a very mature and focused teenager Clifford Credle (aspiring Marine Biologist) dredged the inland coastal waterway for shrimp. We were invited to help sort through the catch of shrimp, Bonnethead , Blacktip, Sand shark, Horseshoe Crab,Puffer Fish, Amberjack, Crocker, Spot, Whiting, Bluecrab, and Skate while learning about the waterway ecology and each portion of the catch from Cilfford. As a extra bonus we were offered fresh shrimp to eat, boiled and prepared by First Mate John Tyre. Weather is never a concern, as the Lady Jane performs quite nicely in the protected waters of St. Simon Sound, has an air conditioned cabin, restroom, and large open decks with ample room to walk around and enjoy the views. About $40 per person, this is a deal …and a memory for a lifetime.

The “Southern” experience is something I highly endorse. If you’ve never been a part of this engaging phenomena, I suggest you start the discovery process at the King and Prince resort on St. Simons Island.

If you already know what I am talking about, then you know how right I am … so what’s keeping you from booking a room at The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort, and falling in love all over again?

“The Highwayman: Birdies and Eagles in The Marshes of Glynn”

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

John Plaisant visited The King and Prince in April and wrote his take on St. Simons Island and the King and Prince Golf Course.  His article can be found in the Daily Times.

The Highwayman: Birdies and eagles in The Marshes of Glynn

Published: Monday, June 21, 2010

Affable live oak, leaning low,

Thus — with your favor — soft, with a reverent hand,

(Not lightly touching your person, Lord of the land!)

Bending your beauty aside, with a step I stand

On the firm-packed sand,

Free

By a world of marsh that borders a world of sea.

— The Marshes of Glynn,

Sidney Lanier, 1842-1881

Second of two parts.

Sidney Lanier was a poet, musician and scholar, widely recognized as poet laureate of Georgia. And the Marshes of Glynn refer to coastal Glynn County, Georgia, which includes the port city of Brunswick and those barrier islands known as the “Golden Isles” — St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Little St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island.

The winding rivers, unspoiled beaches and vast marshlands of these islands were what Lanier loved and immortalized in “The Marshes of Glynn”, written three years before his death from tuberculosis, which he contracted while a POW during the Civil War. Today, in Brunswick the Sidney Lanier Bridge, a 21st-century suspension bridge spanning the South Brunswick River and the longest bridge in Georgia, is a gleaming sentinel standing watch over his beloved low country.

Although Georgia’s coastline is only a hundred miles long, its half-million acres of salt marshes (also known as tidal marshes) constitute nearly one-third of all the salt marshes on America’s Eastern Seaboard. Salt marshes are coastal wetlands, rich in marine life and plants which grow in protected areas behind barrier islands and in other low-energy areas. They often look like grasslands, as the marsh grasses change with the season with shades of green, gold and brown.

“In the fall, the marshes look like great waving fields of wheat,” noted local historian Mary Burdell.

Some of these enchanting Marshes of Glynn can be found at the northern tip of St. Simons Island, right in the middle of the King and Prince Golf Course, Home of The Hampton Club. In Georgia, where the ghost of Bobby Jones still walks the fairways, golf is more than just a game.

On the back nine, four “signature” holes are situated on “hammocks” — small islands located in the marshes. These beautiful golf holes —12 through 15 — are connected by more than 800 feet of picturesque, elevated wooden cart bridges. The finishing holes then wander through a lush forest of live oak trees. It’s one of those courses that golfers young and old dream about playing.

And it’s all practically brand new with cutting-edge technology.

Originally opened in 1989 and designed by the late Joe Lee, the course got a complete makeover in 2009 from architect Billy Fuller. It’s a restoration of the course’s original design but with the latest surface technology and strategic specifications to challenge both the scratch player and the weekend duffer.

The King and Prince utilizes different grasses for different purposes. All 18 greens have mini-verde, ultra dwarf Bermuda grass, with 60-inch green collars planted with Tifsport Bermuda. All 18 fairways have a new hybrid called Celebration Bermuda grass. All the traps are wrapped in Emerald Zoysia.

There’s also a 6,500-square foot mini-verde putting green, a 3,000-square foot mini-verde chipping green, and five target greens that have been added to the driving range.

“We’re the only course in our region with these types of grass, and our golfers are amazed at the fantastic course transformation,” declared Rick Mattox, the golf club’s general manager.

What most impressed me, however, is the course’s fairness. It is not a particularly long course — 6,462 yards from the back tees — and although challenging, the course is set up to reward the good shot. If you can “manage” your game, keep the ball in play, you can register a good score requisite to the level of your ability. Golf should be fun, and this course bears that in mind.

There are five playing distances for the par 72 course — Old Ironside, Live Oak, Dogwood, Magnolia and Azalea — but the 19th hole is always a relaxing seat on the clubhouse veranda in the shade of trees dripping with Spanish moss. Even a bad round looks pretty good from that vantage point.

If you want to see for yourself, go to www.kingandprince.com on the Web and check out the course’s virtual flyover. Using the latest technology, there’s a computer-generated 3-D animation of each individual hole. You’ve probably seen similar computer generations on television. Most recently, this technology was used on telecasts of the Masters Championship in April.

And the golf course is open to all. Members of The Hampton Club and guests of the King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort are, of course, always welcome, but the course is also open to the public, which means that any island visitor or local resident can get a tee time, too.

Sinuous southward and sinuous northward the shimmering band

Of the sand-beach fastens the fringe of the marsh to the folds of the land.

There are 13 barrier islands lining Georgia’s 100-mile coastline, with Tybee Island at the north and Cumberland the farthest south. But St. Simons Island is the only one that was never privately owned. With its beautiful beaches, rustic rental cottages, lovely bed and breakfasts and wonderful hotels like the King and Prince, St. Simons has always been a favorite vacation destination for Georgians. Even for non-golfers. In fact, vacationers have been coming here since the 1880s, and when the Torras Causeway, connecting the island to the mainland, opened in 1924, tourism became the major player in the island’s economy.

The island stretches about 15 miles from north to south and actually has a year-round population of more than 15,000. In fact, there are two elementary schools on the island, although middle school and high school kids must be bused to the mainland.

The island has a little something for everyone, including a number of significant historical sites, fine dining and great shopping. There’s the friendly little village at the south end in the shadow of the island’s historic lighthouse, which is now the home of the Coastal Georgia Historical Society which operates a museum in the original lighthouse keeper’s residence. And over on East Beach, there’s the Maritime Center at the historic Coast Guard Station.

There’s also horseback riding, swimming, hiking, birding, kayaking, fishing, and cycling among the myriad selection of outdoor activities.

But this part of Georgia is golf country as much as any place in America. Augusta National, home of the Masters, is just 200 miles away. The home of the PGA, fabled TPC Sawgrass with its iconic island green, is only an hour to the south in Ponte Vedra, Fla., and golf mecca Hilton Head, S.C., is not much more than 90 minutes to the north. Just a bit farther north is the Myrtle Beach, S.C., area, perhaps the most popular golfing destination east of the Mississippi.

And the King and Prince isn’t the only golf course on St. Simons. There’s also the Retreat Golf Course, the Sea Island Golf Club, which opened in 1928, and the Sea Palms Golf Club. At the entrance to Sea Island Golf Club, you’ll find the fabulous “Avenue of the Live Oaks,” a breathtaking stretch of beautiful old live oak trees in perfect tandem, planted by Anna Page King, who grew up on what was once the Retreat Plantation. She married a Philadelphia lawyer named Thomas Butler King, who went on to become an important 19th century Georgia politician.

At the north end of the island, near the King and Prince Golf Course, is Fort Frederica National Monument, built by James Oglethorpe, a British general and founder of the colony of Georgia. He chose the site on St. Simons Island to defend the colony’s southern border against encroachment by the Spanish in Florida.

The first and only battle ever fought at Fort Frederica was in 1742, when British forces pushed back the Spanish once and for all, confirming Georgia’s place among the British colonies. And we all know how much those Brits love to play golf.

The Highwayman appears twice monthly in the Sunday Times. Comments and questions are welcome. E-mail The Highwayman at hwm4travel@comcast.net.

Way Stations

While visiting St. Simons Island, plan to have breakfast or lunch at the Sandcastle Cafe in the village, just up the street from the fishing pier. The Sandcastle has become a local legend of sorts, a feel-good story about Tim and Melissa Wellford. Down on his luck, Tim bought the little “hole-in-the-wall” establishment 21 years ago with a few hundred dollars, a promise and a dream. Tim and Melissa turned the cafe into the most popular breakfast spot on the island.

Today, locals arrive early for coffee and stay half the morning. Visitors come in for Tim’s fabulous breakfast buffet. Tim and Melissa enjoy schmoozing with the customers, treating strangers like old friends and family. It’s a fun and tasty experience.

For a casual dinner and some authentic Southern cooking, you might want to try Gnat’s Landing in Redfern Village, a shopping area just off Frederica Road near the island’s midpoint. There’s plenty of live music and good food presented by another of the island’s local entrepreneurial celebrities, “Boz” Bostock.

Upstairs at Gnat’s is Bubba Garcia’s Mexican Cantina — home of the $8,000 margarita. No, it doesn’t cost $8,000 … but it tastes like a million.

Gale Horton Gay writes about visiting The King and Prince in Champion Newspaper

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Gale Gay recently visited The King and Prince and St. Simons Island.  Her article about her wonderful stay was published in championnewspaper.com.  Read the following article to hear about The King and Prince’s 75 years of history as well as see raving reviews of local establishments, including Gnat’s Landing, Serenity House Tea Society, Sandcastle Cafe & Grill, and the Lighthouse Museum.

Royal treatment extended to all at The King and Prince Resort

It’s a funny thing about our first impressions—sometimes we can be so wrong.

Pulling into the sprawling and palatial The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort on St. Simon’s Island with its stately soft yellow building and distinctive red tile roofs, I jumped to the conclusion that this historic property would be stuffy and, perhaps, pretentious.

It didn’t take long for me to realize just how wrong I was. The King and Prince is historic all right with 75 years of tradition on Georgia’s Golden Isles. However, it is a relaxed resort, with diverse facilities—including a wide assortment of guest accommodations—and staff who are genial and welcoming. The royal treatment is generously extended to all, which makes this resort an ideal place to stay—whether for a weekend getaway or a longer family vacation.

Interestingly, the King and Prince sits at the end of an ordinary street in a modest neighborhood, which only adds to its charm. It’s like coming upon a hidden jewel. And with its back hugging the Georgia coastline, the Atlanta Ocean is just a stones throw away from the resort’s pool, restaurant, special event spaces and guest rooms.

However, this is no cookie-cutter resort. Its Mediterranean architecture is distinctive, visually enhanced when the sun hits the roof’s red tiles. Guests can choose among 198 rooms in suites, beach villas, cottages and private guest houses. Rooms are sumptuously appointed and bathed in shades of soft yellow and other neutral tones and paired with bold blues or gentle greens.

The property has had a long and colorful history. Opened in 1935 as a seaside dance club, the King and Prince Club grew into the King and Prince Hotel six years later when the main hotel was added. Local historians point out that dance clubs were big back then and when another opened nearby, a rivalry grew. It was destroyed by fire in 1935 and amazingly rebuilt in a mere 60 days—only to be ruined by fire again in the late 1930s.

During World War II, the hotel served as a naval coast-watching and training facility, and there are many intriguing stories about that chapter of its existence. It wasn’t until 1947 that the property returned to usage as a resort. In 2005, it was named to the National Register of Historic Places.

Guests today have the choice of having meals in the Delegal Dining Room (Sunday brunch is spectacular and a bargain at $21.95 per person) with its one-of-a-kind stained glass windows depicting local scenes and history or in the King’s Tavern or at the laid-back Beach Bar and Grill (all have views of the Atlantic Ocean).

And chefs at King and Prince know how to make an event special. In celebration of the resorts 75th anniversary I was fortunate to sample a seven-course dinner with dishes that reflected each decade of the resort’s history and included a Poached Salmon Louis for the 1940s, Escargot in Puff Pastry for the 1960s and Creole Black Grouper for the 1980s. Each dish was something to marvel at before devouring it.

Those with golf on their minds will likely be in a state of anticipation about playing at the recently restored King and Prince Golf Club. Located about 12 miles from the resort, the 18-hole, par 72 golf course presents unique challenges as golfers work their way past forests and through salt marshes, lakes and lagoons. Although I’m not a golfer, a golf cart tour (including more than 800 feet of elevated cart bridges) almost made me want to hit the links.

Back at the resort, there are also four outdoor pools, one indoor pool, tennis courts, a fitness center and massage and reflexology services at The Royal Treatment Cottage. A walk on the beach may require a walk through the neighborhood to reach a nearby park that has easy beach access. The tide is often so high directly behind the resort that the beach there is underwater.

For more information on the King and Prince resort, visit www.kingandprince.com.

Don’t miss things to do/places to eat on St. Simons Island

Shrimping aboard the Lady Jane is a relaxing and fascinating way to spend part of a day. Captain Larry Credle and his crew not only take visitors out for a sea adventure, they also provide a lively and insightful lesson on shrimping and the sea life in St. Simon’s Sound. Credle and company take pride that their excursions take place on a U.S. Coast Guard certified 49-passenger steel vessel that has been retired from active shrimping. Watch as the crew lowers the gear and after a while raises the net with its bounty of shrimp as well as crabs, stingrays, flounder, jellyfish and an assortment of other creatures that the crew is happy to identify. A highlight of the trip is when a pot of shrimp caught the day before are cooked with spices and served hot. The two-hour cruises run $39.95 for adults and $25 for children younger than 6. www.credlesadventures.com. (912) 265-5711.

Gnat’s Landing. Any place that puts equal emphasis on its entertainment and its food and describes itself as “flip-flop” friendly is my kind of place. Located in Redfern Village on the island, Gnat’s Landing offers bar drinks, seafood, sandwiches, salads and specialties such as a Fried Green Tomato Club, Fried Dill Pickles and Vidalia Onion Pie. I suggest that those in search of a lively time get a table on the large side porch where the musicians and singers perform (and there’s plenty of room for dancing). Located at 310 Redfern Village. www.gnatslanding.com. (912) 638-PEST.

Serenity House Tea Society and Shoppe is a lovely tea emporium in the village that carries more than 70 teas from India, Africa, China and South America. The owner and staff are exceeding knowledgeable about the black, green, white and flavored teas and extremely willing to share their knowledge. The shop also sells tea accoutrements such as mugs, teapots, strainers and personal tea bags. Loose teas range from $8 for two ounces to $54 for a half pound. The shop is located at 504 Beachview Drive. www.SerenityHouseTea.com. (912) 638-0381.

Lighthouse Museum and Maritime Center provide a look back to when the lighthouse was part of guarding the coast. Exhibits about the routines and responsibilities of the guardsman who were stationed on the island in the early 1940s are displayed. In the Maritime Center there are seven galleries that are home to exhibits about the beaches, marches and forests as well as the areas’s Coast Guard and military history. The lighthouse grounds also include an 1890 oil house and a Victorian style gazebo. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Located at 4201 First St. www.saintsimonslighthouse.org. (912) 638-4666.

Sandcastle Café & Grill is a great spot for a casual breakfast or lunch. Their $8.35 daily breakfast buffet comes with biscuits, muffins, three kinds of sausage, bacon, corned beef hash, hashbrowns, fruit, tea, coffee and orange juice and made-to-order eggs. Also unlimited pancakes, French toast and waffles. Located at 117 Mallery St. (912) 638-8883.