THE DRIVE from Atlanta to the Georgia coast may not be particularly scenic, but when arriving in the Golden Isles, the flat stretches of highway merge beautifully into sand-strewn roads and stretches of picturesque marshland.
Passing through Tybee and St. Simons Island, I’m in route to Sea Island, where palm tree fronds sway with the sea-blown breezes.
This is the home of the AAA five-diamond Cloister on Sea Island and its sister The Lodge at Sea Island. For more than a decade, Forbes has awarded Sea Island with five stars every year—the only resort in the world to have such honors bestowed upon it. And from the moment you step foot into the Cloisters, you’ll quickly see why.
THE MAIN BUILDING
My stay on Sea Island, which has been a resort island for 90 years, is in an oversized room found in the Cloister’s Main Building. They do offer beachfront accommodations at The Cloister Beach Club and the Cloister Ocean Residence, but I decided to go old school—although a room at the historic resort looks anything but old. Four-poster beds, 12-foot exposed-beam ceilings and a homey and comfortable collection of furniture make you feel right at home. No two rooms are alike, although all feature handmade Oriental rugs, rainhead showers and giant soaker tubs, and down bedding with custom-made linens.
During the resort’s quarantine closure, they refurbished many of the guest rooms in the Main Building, as well as all of the rooms in the Beach Club, replacing furniture and bedding to freshen them up for the reopening, which was complete by June 11. Of course, with a resort meant to be your destination, fine dining is just par for the course on Sea Island. In the Main Building, you’ll find French-inspired cuisine in the Georgian Room, where jackets are required and cocktail dresses are highly recommended. At the casual yet refined River Bar & Lounge, you can enjoy the river views with a bit of European flair. Tavola Ristorante is also found in the Main Building, offering wood-fired pizzas and homemade pastas.
FUN IN THE SUN
While the accommodations and dining are completely posh, the recreation provided by the resort is meant to get you outdoors, enjoying all the spoils of the beach, marshes and woodlands of the island.
On the sea, stand-up paddle boards, sailing, fishing, kayaks and swimming are just what one would expect of an island resort. There are also dolphin tours, sunset sails and private boat rides available for guests to explore the rivers, sea and marshes.
On land, Sea Island has so much to do that your vacation will be jampacked trying to experience all of the sports and amenities available. Tennis and golf, of course, are a must, but Sea Island also provides a hunting club, horseback riding along the beach, falconry, bowling, biking and history programs to fill any ounce of free time you may have away from the ocean.
As with any posh resort, there is also a luxurious spa and fitness center, where training is available for Pilates, yoga and more. For those visiting for relaxation, the serene spa environment provides an indoor waterfront nature lounge before retiring to a treatment lounge for massages, body therapies, facials and more.
And even the children can get an escape during a family vacay with children’s and teen clubs. While the kids make new friends in activities geared specifically for them, you can sneak away for a little romance, or maybe just take a ride around the island on a bicycle built for two.
Sea Island’s Beach Club is more than an additional collection of accommodations, many of which provide ocean views. This is a groomed stretch of sand with lounge chairs shaded by umbrellas—you won’t be fighting to find one, as the resort’s beach team will help ensure you are comfortable here, or at the family or adult pool located within steps of the sand.
Plus, the Beach Club offers poolside dining and more restaurant options for guests of the entire resort.
STAY SAFE AND SOUND
For those a little wary of traveling in the age of Covid19, Sea Island offers cottage rentals where you may be self-contained yet enjoy all of the amenities of the Cloister. Have your own private pool or stretch of beach, and even select cottages for a family group. Every cottage features kitchens to enjoy meals in your retreat, away from diners in the resort restaurants.
The resort slowly reopened following quarantine, with its Sea Strike & Pub, Southern Tide and Wonderland food offerings reopening July 1. Anyone booking a stay at Sea Island through Sept. 7 may cancel or change bookings if made 7 days before anticipated arrival. (Cottage rentals need 14-day notice.) Full refunds will be provided.
Sea Island is not only providing a gorgeous setting for getting away, it’s providing ways to enjoy the summer without crowds and safely social distance in glamorous accommodations.
Sea Island The Cloister
100 Cloister Drive
Sea Island, GA