trip report: sea island
February in New York is pretty much a garbage month. If you can escape the wet slush and the early sunsets for warmer climes, you do. I've got a bucket list of long weekend trips a mile long, and near the top of that list (for years!) has been Sea Island in Georgia. Luckily for us, they were running a promotion in February where your third night was 90 percent off (!) for their 90th anniversary. It was fate, I say.
It's an easy trip from New York: you fly direct into Jacksonville or Savannah -- the former is a little bit closer, but it is ... Jacksonville -- and then drive about an hour to the resort. While Sea Island operates four properties, only one, The Cloister, is actually on the island. Two others are a few miles away on St. Simons Island, which is also very charming. But if you're coming with kids, want beach or spa access, or simply like a bigger hotel, The Cloister is where you want to stay. As you can see from the above photo, it's a gorgeous building outside...
...and in. This is the lobby of the main building of The Cloister, filled with really comfortable couches and live piano music in the evening. The rooms here are HUGE, some of the biggest I think I've ever stayed in. And yes, the bathroom is big enough for a pack and play, which has pretty much become my number one request when I'm booking a hotel room. [Also note, if you're coming in warm weather, you can stay at The Cloister Beach Club which is the closest building to the beach and pools.]
As you may have gathered from reading this blog, I'm a hotel snob. And being a hotel snob is tricky when you start traveling with children. A lot of the boutique properties don't allow kids under 12 and many of the large resorts that cater to families have crappy food and amenities that are only geared to families. Sea Island manages to be not only incredibly kid-friendly (Avvie is still talking about the manatee stuffed animal they gave her at check in), but also keeps annoying folks like me very well-fed and pampered. The resort actually has the only Forbes Five-Star restaurant in all of Georgia, plus a bevy of other spots including fantastic Italian and LEGIT Southern seafood. I am also not generally a spa person, but good lord, I have never been in a more beautiful space than their gargantuan facility.
There is, of course, more to do than just eating and sitting under indoor waterfalls (although I'd be fine doing just that). Mike played a round of 18 holes at the Seaside course (one of three that the resorts owns), which he says was challenging, but relaxed. Also, the clubhouse is really pretty (my words, not his). Avvie and I enjoyed the pools, one of which was specifically for young children and had a very gentle incline into the water. And she got to wear her new bathing suit in February!
We also managed to survive a family boat ride on the salt marshes. Don't get me wrong, it was beautiful, but Avvie was not so inclined to wear a life jacket, so it was a little touch and go at first. But once she felt the wind in her hair and saw her first blue crabs up close, she perked up considerably. We also saw tons of species of wild birds, which is another of her favorite things.
Please also note the SWEET Lilly Pulitzer shorts I bought her at the on-site children's boutique. The store was also filled with Beaufort Bonnet Company duds (which are very hard to find in NYC) and an entire wall of bows. It's possible I went every day.
Speaking of shopping, St. Simons is also home to the Tibi outlet, which is definitely worth popping into if you're in the area. But the major reason to leave the resort is to eat 200 pounds of barbecue at Southern Soul. We must have had half a dozen people tell us to stop here while we were in town, so we obviously got there for lunch as soon as it opened.
I mean. A picture is worth a thousand words.
Thanks for everything, Sea Island! We hope to see you again.
(Two out of three smiles ain't bad)