St. Simon Island’s King and Prince Oceanfront Beach & Golf Resort

written by Cathy H. Burroughs

As the weather becomes balmy, head to the Georgia coast and visit one of its eight secluded barrier islands, four of which are accessible by car. If you haven’t been to St. Simon’s Island, part of the Golden Isles, midway between Savannah and Jacksonville, Fla., and about four to five hours away by car, you must get there!

This charming seaside island town is easily walkable and brims with history, culture, wonderful restaurants and beautiful places to explore. One of the loveliest places to stay on the island, and its only oceanfront resort is the delightful and historic King and the Prince Beach & Gold Resort, recipient of Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence for five consecutive years and newly restored.

Once a dance club and center of the island’s night life, the Mediterranean-style hotel is now a sublime oceanfront destination with views galore. Its private beach, award-winning golf course, partially heated pool as well as smaller private pools and hot tubs, tennis courts and exquisite guest rooms are all on its 4-acre grounds and gardens with the golf course a short drive away. Listed on both the National Registry of Historic Places and Historic Hotel’s of America, the resort’s latest news is its palatial $7.7-million dollar make-over, which takes the property to an entirely new level. Sweeping updates of the common areas honor the hotel’s naval history while introducing a decidedly current, sleek and sophisticated ambiance. Its atrium and contemporary new restaurant and bar add significant gravitas. Pergolas and colorful new umbrellas redefine the oceanfront pool and sun deck complex, which include children’s pool and wading area.

Lobby and staircase

Many of the hotel’s varied rooms and guest houses have already been redone, and with great panache: a rounded room with hardwood floors in the castle-like turret; richly appointed and tapestried cabana rooms and two and three-bedroom roomy private villas with stackable washer and dryers and many amenities.

Expect a weekend of exceptional meals and cooking demos including health-conscious options and a phenomenal cook-out spread and golf cart caravan at the resort’s exceptional golf course and club house. A favorite meal while there was the “Southern Classics Rise Again” Frogmore Stew, fried green tomatoes, pecan crusted chicken, cornbread and capped off with peach bread pudding.

It’s fun to discover the hotel’s hidden gardens and twists and turns. By all means don’t miss the one-of-a-kind jeweled chandelier and solarium.

ECHO bar scene

Exploring St. Simon’s

The island is chock full of history, so be sure to rent a bike, head to Barry’s Beach Service for beach gear or even hop on and off the trolley for one of the in-depth historic or nighttime ghost tours. Spend another afternoon on the open estuary with naturalist and crew, witnessing the shrimping techniques and sampling some of Georgia’s brand of freshly caught sweet shrimp on the Lady Jane. Soak up the island’s sagas and the moving tale of slave Neptune Small’s heroic life and the poignant love stories of the Reverend Anson Phelps Dodge, Jr. and noted novelist Eugenia Price. The Dodge family and Price together with her long-time companion are all buried at the exquisite Christ Church Frederica.

There are boundless culinary and cultural options on the island and no great surprise that Alton Brown Food Network personality resides here as do many well known golfers, athletes, politicians, writers, designers and artists including water colorist Lynn St. Clair. Home to the Glynn Arts Association, St. Simon’s invites guests to learn the art of sand casting at this contemporary art and craft center. Another evening was spent indulging in the succulent award-winning barbeque of Southern Soul. Be careful — their mouth watering ribs are habit forming. For breakfast outside of the hotel, go a bit crazy with the sinful spread of the ultimate Southern breakfast – both buffet and a la carte right at the pier at the Sandcastle Café.