Bill Vanderford published this article on Lakeside News after his spring St Simons Island vacation that including historic tours, boating, dining at local restaurants and a stay at The King and Prince.
By Bill Vanderford
St. Simons Island is a golden Georgia treasure
Standing on the wall of Fort Frederica scanning the river and the marshes beyond was serious business around 1740. The British soldiers on guard
knew that the Spanish-held Fort St. Simons was only five miles away and were painfully aware that war had been declared with Spain. Eventually these English soldiers realized that they would have to fight for their lives on St. Simons Island.
Even though the British were far outnumbered, good intelligence, a timely ambush, and some skillful maneuvering of ships and men by James
Edward Oglethorpe made the Spanish believe that the British force was much larger. Therefore, after the historical, but small ambush, known as “The Battle of Bloody Marsh,” the Spanish retreated back to Florida and were never a threat to General Oglethorpe and his fledgling Georgia colony again.
Today, visitors to St. Simons Island can walk the open grounds of Fort Frederica and gaze across the picturesque “Marshes of Glynn” that were made famous by poet, Sidney Lanier (yes, the namesake of Lake Lanier), and never have to worry about being fired upon. This immaculate spot is simply one of many that attracts folks to St. Simons.
For nearly eight decades, families from all over the South have come to this gorgeous barrier island to enjoy the elegant atmosphere, mouthwatering
food, and antebellum style hospitality at the King and Prince Hotel, which was built because of an insult. It seems that one evening in the early 1930s at the nearby Cloister Hotel on neighboring Sea Island, Frank Horn and Morgan Wynn were tossed out for being drunk and disorderly. Horn was a tall, heavy man, and Wynn was a short, skinny fellow, and when seen together, they were affectionately known as “The King and Prince.” So, because of the insult, the two founded the King and Prince as a seaside dance club to compete with the Cloister Hotel. The main hotel building with its classic Mediterranean architecture was completed and opened to the public just in time for World War II in 1941. During that period, the new hotel was converted into a training facility for coast watchers looking for German submarines.
Following the war, the King and Prince opened to families again in 1947 and has continued to serve as a prime vacation destination in the Golden Isles of Georgia. Renovations and expansions were completed in 1972 and 1983,
and the hotel was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996 as the King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort. It still offers a unique resort experience with real Southern flair, fantastic and varied cuisine, and spectacular ocean views from almost every room. For information or reservations, call toll-free at (800)-342-0212.
Many golf lovers come to St. Simons to play the recently restored King and Prince Golf Course, which is the home of the Hampton Club. This 18-hole championship course is both challenging and beautifully interwoven with ancient oak trees, island holes, views of birds and wildlife in the surrounding marshes, and picturesque lagoons.
Fishing, birding, and wildlife viewing are always great outdoor endeavors
when visiting St. Simons Island. This huge coastal ecosystem of salt marshes, tidal rivers and creeks is probably the best rearing ground for fish, sharks, and shellfish on the Atlantic seaboard of the USA. This little known fishery is best explored and experienced with an expert local guide like Larry Kennedy III out of Hampton Marina. Larry and his family have been fishing the waters productively as long as I can remember, and have entertained thousands of visitors to St. Simons. For more information or reservations, call 912-222-1687.
Fine dining and local seafood is another highlight of any trip to the Georgia barrier islands, and St. Simons has some of the best! Certainly the chefs at the King and Prince would be in the running in any food and drink contest, but my favorite would have to be Halyards and the culinary artistry of Chef Dave. Being a fisherman himself, Dave loves to have his friends bring by their “Catch of the Day” and allow him to create a succulent meal with his special touch. Both Bill and Cindy Acree told me of magical meals that they have enjoyed with Chef Dave during the Atlanta Braves off season when Bill wasn’t so busy as a Braves executive. For more information, contact Dave at www.halyardsrestaurant.com.
Another interesting, but quite casual eatery, is within easy walking distance
from the King and Prince Hotel. The Saltwater Cowboy is a swinging place with a young, female chef straight out of the Bayou country of Southern Mississippi. She has put together some unique offerings of steak and seafood with a different Cajun rendering. For information or reservations, call 912-634-2102.
Certainly more experiences are available on St. Simons Island including visits to the historic Christ Church, Fort Frederica, Epworth by the
Sea, and the St. Simons Lighthouse. For me, however, the beaches, marshes, old oak trees, and the slow movement of time and tide take me back to simpler time in my youth when my family would visit this magical island during the summer break from school. Sure there are new businesses and different people, but the natural beauty where sea, sky, and shifting sands meet has a soothing effect that transcends all time.