On a wedge of pure pleasure just off the southeastern Georgia coast lies a resort that’s really a complex of lodgings, stretching across the private entity of Sea Island and into St. Simon’s Island. It’s called Sea Island Resort, anchored by the marvelous Roaring Twenties-era hotel that started it all, the one with the gorgeous twin iconic towers: the Cloister.
The Cloister Beach Club is nearby, as are the Ocean Residences, the Lodge, the Inn at Sea Island and the Cottages. And then there’s Broadfield, the resort’s sporting club, providing adventures on 5,800 acres dedicated to hunting, shooting, fishing and falconry.
We can thank the fellow who gave us Hudson automobiles, Howard Coffin, for opening the graceful 1.5-mile Sidney Lanier suspension bridge the same year the Cloister was built, 1928. Motorists suddenly had easy access to Sea Island and the three other Golden Isles barrier islands: St. Simon’s, Jekyll and Little St. Simon’s. At the mainland end of the bridge, the historic port city of Brunswick is great fun.
Yes, Sea Island is private, purchased most recently by Philip Anschutz in 2016. The family also owns the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, whose architecture, Mediterranean Revival, mirrors that of the Cloister. The Broadmoor as we know it today has been adorning Cheyenne Mountain since 1918. Not a bad run so far for two resorts: 196 years.
Three championship golf courses call the islands home. Totally lose yourself in the sport at the Lodge, an easy pitching wedge from both the Seaside and Plantation courses, home of the PGA tour’s RSM Classic. Also on site, a challenging 18-hole putting course, the au courant 17,000-square-foot Golf Performance Center and a large oceanfront pool. Live oaks line your way.
The Lodge is one of four Sea Island properties to qualify for the Forbes Five-Star award. The others are the Cloister and its restaurant, the Georgian Room, along with the Spa at Sea Island. In fact, the resort is the only one in the world to have received Forbes’ Five-Star awards for 13 consecutive years.
The Cloister is in the heart of Sea Island: exposed-beam ceilings, wood furnishings, Turkish rugs, a full-service spa and access to five miles of private beach. Down at the Sea Island Beach Club, three sprawling pools (with poolside service) will soothe your cares away, surrounded by lush flowers and palm trees. The beach is pretty great, too.
This is the spa of your dreams. Remember, it’s Forbes Five-Star rated, so there are things like a eucalyptus-infused steam room, mineral pool baths, couples suites with private balconies and a water atrium with hydrotherapy pool and waterfall. A well-equipped fitness facility and hair/nail salon are on premises.
You’ll find it difficult to diet on Sea Island, not with more than a dozen eateries calling your name. The menus range from fine dining, Mexican and traditional steakhouse to French, casual and a bowling alley with fare to match.
Of note: Tavola, the island’s treasured rustic Italian restaurant, is excellent. However, the Georgian Room in the Cloister is currently closed for renovations and will be through the end of 2021. Its reopen date was uncertain as of this writing.
The temptations are aplenty on Sea Island, with about a dozen high-end shops supplying men’s and women’s apparel, kids wear and gifts. In the Cloister, there’s a Peter Millar Collection shop and in the spa, there are stores called Spatique and Beautique that carry products from Lululemon, Babor and Eberjey.
Georgia’s Atlantic coast is an important nesting ground for threatened and endangered sea turtles. Sea Island Resort is doing its part by offering Sea Turtle Dawn Patrols, educational programs on the creatures’ nesting and hatching habits and sponsored habitat walks, bike rides and what they call “coastal encounters.”