The Golden Isles: An Escape for the Rich and Famous

Tucked privately and seamlessly under the canopy of oaks and in the midst of marshlands, the Golden Isles offer five-star amenities worthy of worldly travelers and talents.

By:

Photo By: Christine Hall

Photo By: Christine Hall

Photo By: GoldenIsles.com

Photo By: Chris Johnson, Johnson Pictures Inc.

Photo By: J and D Images

Photo By: Getty Images/Tony Tomsic

Photo By: David Lubin

The Cloister at Sea Island

This Forbes Five-Star relaxing escape on the privately owned Sea Island comes with all the amenities—even the ones you didn’t think of (Fish dissection for the kids! Spice-based exfoliation for Mom!). No wonder The Cloister has seen its share of Rockefellers, Fords and Bushes over the years. The original hotel opened in 1928 and it quickly became a retreat for the rich and famous. Today, the Mediterranean style main building sits on a veritable compound that includes a Beach Club, three 18-hole championship courses, a 65,000 square-foot spa, shooting school, stables and five miles of private beach. Throw in six top-rated restaurants and it’s easy to see why U.S. News rated The Cloister one of the best hotels in the U.S. in 2015. 

The Cloister: Kids’ Edition

Just as easily as The Cloister can be a quiet escape for overworked business men and women looking to recharge, it can also be a destination vacation for families of theme-park proportions. Families can embark on day adventures like kayak tours, horseback riding and eco tours. Or, kids can enroll in the tennis and golf academies, take archery lessons, etiquette classes, or sign-up for the day camp where staff lead kids in discoveries, games, crafts and other outdoor adventures. And if the young ones get too weary they can always find their way to the kids’ spa.

World-class Courses

With 180-holes of golf and accommodating year-round weather, the Golden Isles have become a golf Mecca worthy of a pilgrimage. Stunning marsh and ocean views complement the spectacularly designed and meticulously maintained courses, one of which was designed by PGA TOUR professional and Sea Island resident, Davis Love III (Sea Island’s Retreat Course). The Seaside Scottish-links style course at the Sea Island Golf Club is one of several such courses in the area; it is also the site of the RSM Classic. One of the PGA TOUR’s premier stops, the RSM Classic draws the world’s elite golfers to the Southeast and has raised millions of dollars for charities. 

The King and Prince Resort

After six years as a seaside dance club, the space was converted into a modern hotel in 1941. Several additional renovations and updates over the years have transformed The King and Prince Resort into St. Simons Island’s most luxurious resort, and its rich history even earned it a place on the National Register of Historic Places. The resort rests directly on the Atlantic coastline and includes guest rooms, beach villas, resort residencies and breathtaking ocean-front pools. The sensationally designed golf course rests on the former site of the Hampton Plantation, an 18th-century antebellum plantation that produced cotton, indigo and rice. Today, in stark contrast, it simply produces play.

Jekyll Island Club

What has been rated as one of the top 500 resorts in the world by Travel + Leisure, the Jekyll Island Club also had opulent beginnings. The club was developed post-Civil War as a hunting club to draw affluent Northerners. In 1888 the Queen-Anne style club was built, and the wealthy followed. The Rockefellers, Astors, Vanderbilts and Pulitzers were among the illustrious membership that enjoyed lawn parties and stately dinners. At the time, Munsey’s Magazine described the resort as the “richest, the most exclusive, the most inaccessible club in the world.” Today, Jekyll Island Club continues to play homage to its exclusive and historic roots; the four-star resort has earned a place among the Historic Hotels of America.

Cleveland Browns Running Back Jim Brown

This NFL Hall of Famer who was born and raised on St. Simons Island is also considered one of the sport’s greatest players of all time—if not the greatest. Jim Brown had a notable 9-year career with the Cleveland Browns from 1957-1965, and holds a number of records, including the only rusher in NFL history to average more than 100 yards per game. Brown has also enjoyed notoriety as an actor, appearing in such films as The Dirty Dozen, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka and The Running Man. He remains an advisor to the Browns, but St. Simons Islanders will always revere him as one of their own.

Jack Davis

Up until his passing in July, Jack Davis was a long-time staple in the tight-knit community of St. Simons Island, where he lived with his wife Dena. The accomplished cartoonist and illustrator is best known for his decades-long career creating satirical illustrations for MAD Magazine but he also designed a number of album covers, including ones for Johnny Cash and The Guess Who. Born in Atlanta, Davis studied at the University of Georgia and remained a life-long Dawgs fan, creating annual illustrations of “UGA” the bulldog mascot for the University. But to island residents, the beloved artist was a humble man who graciously shared his talents with his community. He’d always oblige a drawing or a signature, often without even being asked. His distinct illustrations appear on the walls of numerous St. Simons restaurants and even St. Simons Community Church, for whom he created a mural.

Alton Brown

The quirky Food Network talent and best-selling author who has played host to a number ofseries, including Good Eats, Iron Chef America, and Cutthroat Kitchen, also owns a home on St. Simons Island. Born in L.A., Brown grew up in Atlanta and attended the University of Georgia. Perhaps it’s his Southern upbringing that keeps him rooted in the South—that and the food. Brown’s endorsement of the Beachcomber BBQ & Grill on the island’s south end earned the local shack a spot on The Best Thing I Ever Ate.

Eugenia Price

The lauded author, whose books have sold more than 40 million copies and have been translated into more than 15 languages, happened across St. Simons Island in 1961 while on a book tour. Infected by the soul of the South—the landscape and its rich history—Eugenia Price moved to St. Simons in 1965 and built a home. During her time on the island, Price wrote the first of her historical novels, a trilogy of St. Simons Island, which brought much-needed attention to the important characters and events that form the island’s past. She remained an active member of the community until her death in 1996. She is buried in the Christ Church cemetery, alongside many of the people whose stories she told in her writing.

Eugenia Price

The lauded author, whose books have sold more than 40 million copies and have been translated into more than 15 languages, happened across St. Simons Island in 1961 while on a book tour. Infected by the soul of the South—the landscape and its rich history—Eugenia Price moved to St. Simons in 1965 and built a home. During her time on the island, Price wrote the first of her historical novels, a trilogy of St. Simons Island, which brought much-needed attention to the important characters and events that form the island’s past. She remained an active member of the community until her death in 1996. She is buried in the Christ Church cemetery, alongside many of the people whose stories she told in her writing.