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Relaxing Like Royalty
At The King and Prince


Article  by Leigh Cort

 

 My swing on the oceanfront lawn

 

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 they have!

 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. 

Hotel Bookings up to 50% Off

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.

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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 Shuttle

 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 our guests”.  

Fresh Lump Crab Cake at Sandcastle Cafe

 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 for pottery:

  • 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 Clams

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 terminal sea

Somehow my soul seems suddenly free….”

The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort
201 Arnold Road
St. Simons Island, Georgia 31522
www.kingandprince.com
912-638-3631

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. www.kingandprince.com or www.hamptonclub.com  

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. www.goldenislesaviation.com  

Suggested Restaurants 

            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! www.salsneighborhoodpizzeria.com  

            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 favorites.  www.palmersvillagecafe.com  

            Georgia Sea Grill ~ A cozy, attractive and personal dinner experience in the Village that locals have been enjoying for years. www.georgiaseagrill.com  

            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.      www.tramicirestaurant.com            

            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! www.bennysredbarn.com

 



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