Laura & Cole planned an amazing November wedding that encompassed all aspects of St. Simons Island. From a beautiful ceremony under the Island’s oak trees at Epworth By the Sea, trolley transportation by St. Simons Trolley Tours, oceanfront cocktails on the lawn at The King and Prince Resort, to a reception full of laughter and dancing in our iconic Delegal Room. Each detail was masterfully planned including the pops of color with the blue bridesmaid dresses and the bright yellow sunflowers, the lace bolero Laura wore for her photos and ceremony, and the classic light strands selected for their seaside sunset cocktail hour- see for yourself in the photos below, courtesy of Stephanie Dee Photography.
Claudine Williams visited us last April. Here’s what she has to say about her getaway on TripWolf.com
I drove through a dozen small towns to get from Atlanta to the coast of Georgia. At first, I thought the towns were quaint pit-stops along miles and miles of road. Sometimes I’d see horses grazing on land along the two-lane highway. I kept thinking that there had to be a faster route to St. Simons Island. Couldn’t I take I-95 there? I barely saw any cars on the road as I trudged along at 45 miles per hour. I was tempted to go faster, but I knew that Georgia cops were nothing to play with.
I was to stay in the King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort. I had been grinding, putting in 16+ hour days writing, dealing with deadlines. At night, I usually fell asleep with my laptop on my bed, so I was more than ready to see what St. Simons Island and the King and Prince had to offer.
The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort
A Family-Friendly Island
St. Simons is a laid-back island with a family-friendly vibe. There are no high-rises on the island, just plenty of shopping centers, restaurants, homes, a couple of golf courses, parks, and the beach. Unlike most beach communities, the majority of the people there are year-round residents. When the weather’s warm, residents head to the ocean for little rest and recreation. They meet under the trees in Neptune Park, the public park. The park has a playground, miniature golf, and a pool. It is one the top hang-out spots in St. Simons. The cute shopping and entertainment district is the other hot-spot.
Shopping district on St. Simons Island
Lucky for me, island’s popular King and Prince resort is also near the ocean. I knew that I was getting closer to the resort when I saw a golf cart driving down road. My room was not ready when I arrived at the hotel, but the first desk personnel offered to call my cell phone when it was all set.
View from an oceanview room at the King and Prince Resort and Spa
A few minutes later, I moved into an oceanfront room with a king-sized bed. I opened the sliding glass doors and looked out at the pool and beyond at the ocean. The view was glorious, and so was the ocean breeze.
Touring St. Simons by Trolley
My car safely parked in the resort’s free lot, I took a trolley tour of the island, a cool way to see what the island is all about. With the windows wide open and a breeze blowing, we drove under massive canopy trees that reminded me of the Old South, ladies with parasols and gloved hands. Actually, people who love history would probably enjoy the trolley tour. The tour takes visitors to points of interest like the maritime center, the old lighthouse, and Bloody Marsh Battle site, the site of a 1700s battle between the British and Spaniards.
We explored the island’s history at the Maritime Center
Seafood lovers would love the plentiful seafood at the island’s many restaurants. Shrimping and fishing are popular pastimes. I rode on the Lady Jane, a shrimping boat, and I felt just like Bubba from Forest Gump. I happen to love shrimp, so I was happy to learn that the shrimping industry is alive and well in Georgia.
We went shrimping off of the Georgia coast
Before lunch at Haylards Restaurant, Chef Dave Snyder showed off a recent catch.
One Visit and You’re Hooked
When I think of the plentiful seafood and the peaceful living on St. Simons Island, I want to hop in my car and take another trip to the island. The next time I visit, I’ll make sure that I take the Interstate to get there faster.
Dena & Chuck Bingham write about their visit to St. Simons Island in Senior Connection Magazine. Along with the King and Prince accommodations and St. Simons Island attractions, they describe the southern island culture and way of life.
St. Simons Island—A Restful Retreat
BY CHUCK AND DENA BINGHAM
OK. You’ve taken the grandkids to see Mickey and Minnie often enough to know the routine: Stand in line for 45 minutes for a five-minute ride; someone else’s crying grandkid just spilled a sticky concoction on your new izod shirt and the line for a $9 sandwich is twenty people deep. By late afternoon a whole theme park full of cranky three-year-olds are pitching a fit because they’re tired. You take two more Tylenol and head for the exit with your own grandkids in tow. Ah, but wait. You are parked on the other side of a lake that now looks endless and there are three thousand people in front of you waiting for the same ferry boat.
This time do something for you… About an hour north of the Jacksonville airport is a quiet, laid-back hideaway just waiting for you. Take the Saint Simons Island exit off of I-95 and head for the Atlantic Ocean (about ten miles). Once you cross the causeway to St. Simons Island you can feel the stress melting away. You won’t find Ferris wheels, or tea cup rides, or 6-foottall rodents with big ears. What you will find is an upscale residential island that doesn’t mind sharing its seclusion with savvy, well-heeled vacationers.
The grand old oak trees drip with Spanish moss as you make your way to the stately King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort. Upon arrival the attentive staff quickly reacquaints you with Southern hospitality. Built in 1935, the resort was originally a dance club for well-to-do Northerners. It has consistently been upgraded to meet today’s discerning traveler’s tastes. Accommodations range from Oceanside Villas to private cottages to king-bedded rooms. Outstanding cuisine is a hallmark of the resort and is not to be missed.
Venturing into other parts of town reveals an additional bounty of local dining pleasures. Kick back at George Stewart’s Saltwater Cowboy for great pub fare. Or, if you’re in the mood for finer dining, try Halyards where Chef Dave Snyder prepares an exquisite tuna tartare. Lunch at Palmer’s Village Café is a must as Chef John Belechak prepares the best Southern dishes with locally grown produce. For a truly unique experience, take the “Lady Jane” shrimping trawler into the shallows of the Atlantic marshes for a first-hand look at how modern shrimping is accomplished. The tour comes complete with a marine biologist who explains in detail the ecosystem of the region and its importance to the local economy.
To enjoy the laidback pace of the island, why not rent bicycles at Ocean Motion right outside the entrance to King and Prince Resort. A leisurely 10-minute ride gets you to the heart of town. For the truly adventurous, the island boasts 18 miles of paved bicycle paths. If you’d rather let someone else navigate, try the Lighthouse Trolley which takes you (free) from the north end, where you’ll find the championship King and Prince Golf Course, to the south end, where you’ll find—you guessed it—the Lighthouse. Go in the lighthouse museum to hear about the great historical importance of this region.
There is so much, or so little, to do here…the choice is yours. If there is one drawback to this hidden treasure, it’s this: you may not want to leave…
Patti Davis blogs about her travels to St. Simons Island in 4 parts on Anatomy of a Dinner Party. She has numerous pictures and wonderful descriptons. Here is part 1.
St. Simons Island – Mayberry By The Sea
Written by Patti on April 11th, 2011
Good Morning Darlings!
I would say that mine is a charmed life. That very fact was confirmed when I was invited to visit St. Simons Island for four days last week. In fact, it was so fantastic that I have deemed this to be St. Simons week on Anatomy of a Dinner Party!
Arriving after the five hour drive from Atlanta, I entered the lobby of The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort to the heady aroma of chlorine. Now that might sound funny to some, but to me that is the smell of childhood, of a spa, of…..an indoor pool right in the lobby! (Resort note: The indoor pool was removed during the 2013-14 renovations) Just one of four pools the resort boasts.
I dropped my luggage in the room (oceanfront!) and donned my Wellies (it was a blustery day) for a trip on the island trolley with my 17 journalist companions for the next four days. Destination – The Coast Guard Maritime Museum.
I loved hearing the history of this marvelous building and loved touring it even more. There are films to watch, quizzes to take and relics to pore over. Mr. Curt Smith was a wonderful host and guide and just knows everything about this treasure.
St. Simons gifts were starting to unfold. Next up was a trip back to the resort to freshen up and then time for a very special coastal dinner in the Solarium with Chef Paula and Chris Baker, Director of Food and Beverage.
My room was so beautiful. Appointed in all navy blues and buttery yellow, it immediately soothed me. The king size bed was whispering to me, but it was time for dinner. And you all know, dinner is going to win every time!
In The Solarium, we were greeted again by our lovely host for the trip, Leigh Cort, Bud St. Pierre, Director of Sales and Marketing and Michael Johnson, General Manager. You might think that one in charge of such a stately resort would put on airs, but no. Bud, Michael, Angela, Chris and everyone else associated with the property were the warmest most genuine folks I have ever met. It was my delight to visit with each of them personally during my trip. I promise if you treat yourself to a visit to The King and Prince they will treat you with the same hospitality I so enjoyed.
On to the food! Chef Paula whipped up shrimp and grits in a demonstration as we sipped wine and asked questions. It was also a great time for my fellow writers and I to get to know one another. What started out as 17 strangers, turned into 17 friends before we would leave on Saturday.
Paula answered all our questions, and we had many! The dining room was filled with the most incredible scent as our gracious servers brought around a chopped caprese salad on bread and more wine was poured.
Between the entree and the dessert, everyone got up to introduce themselves to the group and reveal their favorite travel destination. It was so much fun learning about my brand new friends.
I was at an advantage, having my friend and fellow Atlantan, Ava Roxanne, from My Skin Concierge on the trip with us. She answered a quiz about the resort and won a stay in the Tabby Cottage! We would later retire to her cottage with some bubbly and giggle the night away. But first, dessert.
And what a dessert it was! Oh my goodness. Promise me you will visit The King and Prince and order this. Peach cobbled topped with Praline Ice Cream. It will make you the happiest person on earth. Seriously. Have I ever lied to you? Of course not. Take a look.
What’s better than dessert? Sharing with a new friend!
Join me tomorrow for day 2! I’m hoping you will fall in love with St. Simons as much as I did.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?