St. Simons Island: A Georgia destination wedding venue with history and soul. Above please note your King and Prince wedding venue (lower right) 70 years or so ago when it served our country as a Naval Reserve Radar Training Station during World War Two. On the grounds where you take your vows, brave men worked to keep our Eastern seaboard safe. Your very room could have served as one of the BOQ (Bachelor Office Quarters).
Intrigued? Schedule an event for the history buffs in your wedding entourage to visit the historic Coast Guard Station where you’ll see a film depicting the bombing of two US merchant ships by German submarines in WWII.
Clickhere to read an archived issue of Naval Aviation News detailing the operations at the King and Prince. Click here to learn more about St. Simons and the Coast Guard Station during WWII.
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.
Kristi Casey Sanders writes about where to stay and things to do on St. Simons and Jekyll in Encore Atlanta. She mentions The King and Prince for its beach accommodations and resort golf course.
April 2011 Encore Life
Start your summer now on the ‘golden isles’ of Jekyll and St. Simons
By Kristi Casey Sanders
Spring is beautiful in Atlanta, with cherry blossoms and dogwood trees in bloom. And as spring clothes replace sweaters, it’s easy to yearn for full-on summer. That’s why so many spring breaks unfold on the beach. You can escape to a sandy wonderland where sunsets give way to moonlit surf, casual beach bars serve frosty drinks and fresh seafood, and kids can learn the fine art of avoiding sunburns while building sandcastles and riding Boogie boards.
Atlanta’s closest beaches are on the barrier islands off the Georgia coast. The four clustered around Brunswick are known as the “golden isles.” It’s a five-hour drive or a 60-minute flight via Delta Connection, which has three daily nonstop flights to Brunswick Golden Isles Airport.
There are exclusive resorts (Sea Island) and serene eco-retreats (Little St. Simons), but if you desire a family friendly spot affordable enough to become a yearly tradition, St. Simons and Jekyll islands are the best options.
St. Simons Island
There’s an anecdotal story told about the Timacuan Indians, who lived here under Spanish rule for almost 200 years. They finally rebelled, it is said, because the Catholic priests insisted the men take only one wife. Whether that’s true, you still get the feeling that these island inhabitants would rebel if someone tried to stop them from having a good time.
For more than 75 years, the center of the island’s social life has been the King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort (800-342-0212), which began as an open-air oceanfront dance pavilion. The hotel grew up around the pavilion — now the Delegal Dining Room. It’s next to the King’s Tavern, a legendary watering hole added to the property in the 1980s. Accommodations range from traditional hotel rooms and multi-bedroom condo units with full kitchens to private homes with rooftop patios. Guests can rent bikes or kayaks, ride horseback on the beach, or learn how to play tennis, shoot sporting clays or fish.
Golf is a big deal here, and the King and Prince Course (912-634-0255) is quite scenic. Wild marsh grass cuts the field of play between the tee box and fairway on one hole, golf cart paths are elevated over marshland, wild birds soar overhead and gators nap inches from the greens under oak trees. The Sea Palms Golf & Tennis Resort (800-841-6268) offers guests three courses and suite-style accommodations, three clay tennis courts, three swimming pools and an array of family friendly activities.
The Georgia coast is only 100 miles long, but it contains one-third of this country’s salt marshes, which replenish the Atlantic Ocean’s ecosystem. Learn about the barrier island’s marine life aboard the Lady Jane (912-265-5711). Piloted by Captain Credle, the vessel takes passengers into St. Simons Sound, where marine biologists sort shrimp from the other creatures caught in nets and explain what guests are seeing. The ship’s first mate serves up a shrimp boil as the boat heads back to the dock.
As you’ll learn on the Lady Jane, you’re not eating just any shrimp. The salt marsh grasses available to Wild Georgia Shrimp™ grazing here make them particularly sweet. Shrimping season begins between April and June and runs through December. And thanks to the large local sturgeon population, this region also is known for quality caviar, harvested in January and February and said to be superior to Russia’s.
St. Simons doesn’t lack for good restaurants. Saltwater Cowboy (912-634-2102) is a relaxed steak and seafood eatery with live entertainment near the King and Prince Resort. Further inland is Southern Soul Barbeque (912-638-SOUL), featuring award-winning Brunswick stew. If people-watching is high on your agenda, try breakfast or lunch in the village at the Sandcastle Café & Grill (912-638-8883), where you’ll rub elbows with police officers, politicos and other characters.
Legislation requires that at least 66 percent of Jekyll Island remain in its natural state. The island is part of Georgia’s park system, so there is a small fee for all cars ($5/day or $25/week). On the island’s east coast, where the beaches are, an ongoing revitalization project has added budget hotels and a 20-acre oceanfront park with picnic pavilions and wheelchair-friendly beach access points. New shopping and dining outlets are under construction, but old favorites like Blackbeard’s Restaurant (912-635-3522) offer hearty fare and spectacular ocean and sunset views.
The Intracoastal Waterway borders the island’s west coast. Dine waterfront in the Jekyll Island Marina at Sea Jay’s Waterfront Cafe & Pub (912-635-3200) and on the Jekyll Island Pier at sister restaurants Latitude 31 (dinner only) and the Rah Bar (912-635-3800), where live music plays three to four nights a week and oysters and shrimp are available by the pound.
The Jekyll Island Club Hotel (800-535-9547), at the heart of the island’s historic district, is a short walk from the pier. Built at the turn of the 20th century for vacationing millionaires, the club was described in a 1904 edition of Munsey’s Magazine as “the richest, most exclusive, most inaccessible club in the world.” After Georgia bought Jekyll Island in 1947, the club became a luxury hotel. Several of the surrounding millionaires’ “cottages” are now gift shops, restaurants, event facilities and atmospheric accommodations for small groups.
The resort can help you explore what life was like for the millionaires of the Gilded Age through a walking tour of the historic district. Learn how the Federal Reserve System was planned by a select group of bankers and politicians at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. See the island by bicycle or on horseback. Play croquet or sign up for a geocaching game for a treasure hunt around Jekyll. Also available: dolphin cruises, kayak tours or visits to nearby Cumberland or Sapelo island.
Four golf courses on the island’s interior use natural sand barriers, inland lakes and pine forests to create challenging links-style play. The best course for multigenerational groups is Pine Lakes, which has family friendly tee boxes and winds its way through prime bird-watching territory. From Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, a lazy river and waterslides beckon at the Summer Waves water park; the adjacent Tidelands Nature Center offers nature tours and watercraft rentals. Another prime attraction is the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, a rehabilitation, research and educational center that has special programs for kids.