The King and Prince
Article by Leigh Cort
My swing on the oceanfront
How do you capture a cosmic blazing sunrise,
a dusky purple sunset, a playful dolphin peeking out of the ocean
for a brief moment? Where can a solo traveler find a place of
solitude for a few days that might change or enhance a memorable
getaway? Perhaps it was time to stop dreaming about life and
start living the dream. One of the advantages of traveling alone is
allowing for more discovery of yourself without reserve.
A recent ‘escape’ to the historic
King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort on St. Simons Island
was an idyllic destination. I yearned for the sound of waves,
seagulls and quiet. Luckily I knew where to find it. (So did the
Timucuan and Guale Indians approximately 2000 B.C.)
St. Simons Island, Georgia enjoyed one of the richest
sagas of European occupation and unfolding dramas of English,
Spanish and African history. Wars, forts, the timber era and
plantations overlap generations ~ while the rich delta soil of the
Island was ideal for agriculture, primarily cotton.
Today’s hidden pathways, hundreds
of years of moss-draped live oak trees, mysterious cemeteries, tabby
ruins of antebellum mansions and familiar Southern family names
offer a glimpse into the soul of St. Simons. The seaside Resort
(circa 1935) has prospered and continues to embrace its heritage. As
I drove across the causeway over the Intracoastal Waterway, colorful
marshlands waved in the breeze, taking my hand and escorting me to
the front door of The King and Prince.
Driving on Kings Way, I felt as if I had been
transported to another time in life, although the island isn’t just
a page in a history book. It’s a sanctuary for international
visitors and residents that could be royalty or everyday folks.
There’s an island sentiment that everyone is a friend with a twinkle
in their eye. They, too, feel like they discovered paradise ~ and
Aerial view of The King
and Prince Beach & Golf Resort
Nestled in a residential neighborhood, the
Hotel’s architecture is distinctively Mediterranean ~ yellow stucco
with terra cotta tile roof. Green awnings, oceanfront swings and
manicured gardens slowed me down to a relaxing pace. The first
activity was to slide my balcony door open and inhale the ocean and
beach. Not being beholden to a companion on a schedule, everything
seemed more beautiful, almost played in slow motion. I felt
indulgent with the anticipation of doing exactly what I wanted to do
– nothing ~ but snap photos of the expansive beach and sky.
The getaway had begun.
Bicycling on the island is a marvelous way to
explore. With more than 25 miles of contiguous paths that are safe (many
hidden from the road through forests and along waterways), I
walked one block from the hotel to Ocean Motion and chose the
bike style and size for me. Included was a helmet, lock and basket
which made me feel confidently prepared wherever I meandered.
(Rentals $12/half day - $49/week). They are specialists in
family biking with infant seats and tandem bikes – even setting up
kayaks and beach umbrellas & chairs that make it easy to vacation.
I biked southward to the Village ~ a Mecca of
shops, caf�s, lighthouse, fishing pier, galleries, community
theater, visitor center and a retro slice of life reminiscent of the
island of yesteryear. I could have spent an entire day drinking in
the authentic charm and camaraderie amongst the people.
I parked the bike in front of St. Simons
Sweets; the shop’s bright cheeriness brought an immediate smile
to my face as they satisfied my craving for chocolate peppermint
fudge. I felt like Willy Wonka with an enticing profusion of
homemade confections and vowed to return again for a cone of one of
their cleverly concocted ice cream flavors.
Getting back on my beach ‘buggy’ (there is
hard-packed sand everywhere on the East Beach side of the island), I
yearned for the solitary exercise of biking another few miles past
the golden marshes toward the Hotel and onward.
Low tide sandbars along the East Beach
History is everywhere on the island and
nobody tells the story better than native son ‘Cap’ Fendig,
whose family’s presence goes back to the mid 1800’s, making it one
of the oldest and largest local families. My spontaneous soul
directed me to hop aboard one of his scheduled Lighthouse Trolleys
and enjoy Cap’s passionate colorful stories as we visited a superb
collection of landmarks. We made stops at Christ Church, Fort
Frederica, Epworth-by-the-Sea, Bloody Marsh, the Lighthouse and
island ‘must see’ treasures. Whether you’re a first time island
visitor or a ‘hooked on the island’ regular, Cap and the drivers
impart ‘inside local knowledge’ of where to eat, shop and have fun.
It wasn’t until I boarded Cap’s boat ~
“Puddle Shuttle” ~ for a glimpse of the coastal waters surrounding
St. Simons that I felt the true island magic. Leading fishing and
boating excursions for more than forty years, Cap opened the door to
his ‘discovery tours’ which go way beyond looking for beautiful
dolphins. A US Coast Guard captain, the generations of experience he
has lived become part of his guests’ adventure. We cruised through
marshlands, creeks, rivers and small winding waterways to view bird
habitats, innumerable dolphin sightings, alligator haunts and fish
jumping everywhere! Most amazing to me was learning that Georgia
possesses 1/3 of the marshlands of the entire East Coast of the US.
“Cap” Fending Aboard the Puddle
With an appetite for lunch, I
visited Tim & Melissa Wellford’s Sandcastle Caf� in the
Village. It’s known not only for their sumptuous breakfast buffet
with 20+ made from scratch items ($9.95) but for GREAT CRAB CAKES. I
ordered a nearly 6 oz. beauty saut�ed to perfection ($7.95).
Celebrating the caf�’s 25th anniversary on April 15 this
year, the Wellford’s confess that they have loved every minute of
being the #1 island breakfast/lunch destination ~ steps from the
Atlantic and Village Pier. It’s not your usual tourist eatery.
Veggies are made to order, Tim’s behind the grill preparing fresh
seafood, burgers, open-faced sandwiches ~ and the prices are RIGHT.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen fresh creamed spinach on the
menu for $2.50 or potatoes au gratin for $1.95! Tim states “Melissa
and I have enjoyed living on this great island, raising our family
and meeting thousands of people at the Sandcastle. I love feeding
Fresh Lump Crab Cake at Sandcastle
As lunch faded into late
afternoon, once again I found myself enjoying the King and Prince
Hotel’s magnificent location, paradise swathed in sea foam. The
d�cor of my oceanfront room was traditionally contemporary with
clean crisp lines, hues of blue, deluxe linens, oversized bath and
private balcony. Traveling alone heightened my appreciation of
spontaneity which allowed me to jump out of the confines of my
secure bubble of day-to-day activities.
My Oceanfront Room
So instead of a nap, the Royal
Treatment Cottage became my refuge for the ensuing two hours.. I
couldn’t wait to soak in everything about the massage without having
to worry that a travel companion was getting bored! The tiny white
cottage was such a refreshing change from typical hotel ‘spas’ that
aren’t as private as they boast. Entering the front porch, I felt
invited into the calming atmosphere that was immediately soothing.
The quaint beach cottage couldn’t have been more peaceful ~ from the
relaxation room where I was served a cup of tea, offered a warm
herbal neck wrap and put in a ‘Zen’ mood by listening to the sights
and sounds of the surf.
I chose a 90-minute Swedish massage ($142)
from the treatments that are on the menu. Enhancing my massage with
aromatherapy, I could inhale my personal choice of lavender oil
throughout. Jomi couldn’t have been more intuitive and professional.
She and the other therapists offer traditional and customized
treatments by appointment daily.
The Royal Treatment Cottage
Relaxing like royalty was easy in the King’s
Tavern for dinner, a cozy oceanfront dining room and bar with dark
woody walls and only steps from the Hotel’s luxurious pools and
moonlit surf. Executive Chef d’CuisineJason Brumfiel’s style
embraces Southern culinary traditions that often include peaches,
Vidalia onions, pecans, shrimp & grits, fresh crab and the finest
locally sourced produce, dairy, seafood and meats. Pan-seared red
snapper atop sundried tomato risotto and asparagus ended my first
day with an elegant brushstroke.
By morning, something whispered
gently in my ear to catch the sunrise. I could smell the fresh sea
air blending with last night’s perfume, giving way to my early walk
along the beach with only two runners in sight. Gardeners were
tending flowers, guests were sipping coffee on lawn swings and a
lone shrimp boat was off on the horizon. A book and breakfast
awaited my return along with the most delicious vegetarian omelette,
warm biscuit, fresh melon, cheese grits and sweet crunchy bacon. (Daily
breakfast buffet $14/half price for children).
Sunrise from my balcony
While on the island, I read about David
Loehle, a local artist whose woven grass baskets seemed like
something I might have had on my bucket list while enjoying endless
days of art activities. I found my way to the Glynn Art
Association in the village and inquired about their classes from
Executive Director Marcia Marinello. Running away from
frantic business days in real life, wouldn’t it be wonderful to
explore something creative on my vacation? Feeling that I had no
talent, what would be the medium? Pottery? Calligraphy?
Watercolor? Founded in 1953, Glynn Art Association’s mission:
To promote and encourage creative expression within our community
with an emphasis on the visual arts appealed to my curiosity.
David Loehle with hand-picked marsh
grass and his Barrier Island Baskets
They feature (5) mornings a week
where people can ‘Drop In’ to a 3-hour class for only $30 and $27
- Monday Drawing & Painting
- Tuesday Pastels
- Wednesday Oil & Acrylic
- Thursday Pottery & Watercolor
- Friday Beyond the Basics –
Taking your art to the next step
The afternoon sun was high and
the Hotel’s sparkling pools were awaiting my visit. With three
unique poolside settings, their new complex was created for readers
and sun bathers, swimmers and water spectators. It tempted all
of my senses with ambient music that was pleasantly relaxing. The
landscaping embraced aromatic flowers. I could see broad vistas of
ocean and hotel. The feeling of contemporary deck, pool and outdoor
seating included new finishes and fabrics. And last – the
Ocean Terrace Grille serves a refreshing casual menu along with
healthy fruit beverages for any afternoon pick-me-up.
Most impressive is the
architectural design and how guests of all ages can enjoy their days
in the sun. Toddlers have their own wading pool and castle-building
space. Children play happily in a lagoon-style pool with underwater
benches and adults can really unwind in the relaxation pool with
chaises, umbrellas and attentive staff.
King and Prince Oceanfront Pools
A reflection on my solo vacation? As I
pondered the cloud formations over the ocean, I felt uninhibited and
happy that I wasn’t adjusting myself to someone’s whim, curiosity or
questions. My days weren’t molded by a partner’s responses to the
world or their vision of a getaway. I loved being free to
magnify the vividness of my adventures and soak in everything around
me. Traveling alone may not be for everyone but I did discover that
having this beautiful island retreat made it clearer why more and
more travelers are choosing to venture out on their own. It makes
having an occasional dinner companion even more appealing!
The island is bursting with no fewer than 50
restaurants – excellent dining that spans from flip-flop casual
cafes to sundress chic bistros and al fresco patios. Vowing that I
would not leave the hotel for dinner and pamper myself with a sunset
beach stroll, I returned for a candlelit table in the corner
of Kings Tavern. I was excited to indulge my culinary fantasies
again with Chef Brumfiel’s innovative new menu. His deep knowledge
of global cuisine garnered from extensive European assignments
allows him to create food with an elegant yet delicate hand. His
love of the coast and getting out onto the water with local
fishermen to bring outstanding food and quality dining events are
most important to him.
Georgia Peanut Chicken Satay
Shellfish Spaghetti with Mussels and
As I sipped my glass of wine, I knew that I
had found a place of enchantment that would call me back to enjoy
being part of the island’s history…where beauty surrounds…and the
haunting allure of The King and Prince will embrace travelers for
years to come. Perhaps Georgia poet Sidney Lanier said it best over
a hundred years ago:
“Oh, what is abroad in the marsh and the
Somehow my soul seems suddenly free….”
The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort
201 Arnold Road
St. Simons Island, Georgia 31522
ON THE ISLAND:
King and Prince Golf Course ~ A
golf masterpiece on the north tip of St. Simons Island. Home of the
Hampton Club, this 18-hole course offers sweeping vistas of the
marshes with challenging bridges, bunkers, sprawling live oaks,
lagoons and towering pines.
McKinnon Airport ~ Five miles
from The King and Prince provides fueling for private aircraft,
maintenance, avionics, pilot services and up-to-date weather
information. It’s operated by Golden Isles Aviation, an Exxon Avitat
dealer. With two active runways (4/22 at 5,800 feet long AND 16/34
at 3,313 feet long). There are several non-precision approaches that
provide inclement-weather access, as well as a visual guidance
system to assist pilots on landing.
Sal’s Neighborhood Pizzeria – Where locals and
visitors enjoy lunch and dinner daily. Sal ‘Rocky’ Cenicola serves
only the very best family-inspired dishes in an intimate casual
island setting. Forget reservations. It’s worth the wait!
Halyard’s ~ A mid-island fine dining restaurant where
Chef Dave Snyder prepares exquisite cuisine nightly to discerning
diners. Guests can’t wait for the seasonal dishes to be announced so
they can reserve their favorite white-clothed table. www.halyardsrestaurant.com
Palmer’s Village Caf� ~ A top island favorite in the
Village for breakfast and lunch with a Southern twist to traditional
Georgia Sea Grill ~ A cozy, attractive and personal
dinner experience in the Village that locals have been enjoying for
Tramici ~ Italian dishes are served inside, around the
bar or open-air in the courtyard. Mid-island neighborhood with tasty
specialties perfect for friends and family.
Benny’s Red Barn ~ A visit to the Island isn’t
complete without having dinner in the oldest restaurant since 1955.
Steaks grilled on old-fashioned open oak fire, chicken, seafood and
classic island service. Winters by the massive fireplace are a must!