The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

August 22, 2013

St. Simons Island: A jewel in Georgia's Golden Isles

by Christine Tibbetts
CNHI News Service

— The perfect shade of yellow changed my notion of royalty at the beach and golf resort on Georgia's barrier island of St. Simons.

Purple's no longer as regal in my mind as the yellow distinguishing The King and Prince historic hotel building, villas and guest cottages on the Atlantic Ocean.

Calm, not lemony. Tasteful, not boastful. Yellow with eternal energies. At 77 years old, this member of Historic Hotels of America honors history while embracing the latest amenities.

The King and Prince is a serene getaway on St. Simons, one of 13 barrier islands along the Georgia coast. The five-mile causeway provides just enough broad views of the marshes to jettison worries while approaching a holiday. Live oak trees provide canopies over the island road leading everywhere; this is an easy place to learn your way.

I recommend asking Cap Fendig to orient you with his Lighthouse Trolley tour. There have been six generations of Fendigs on St. Simons, and he says every last one of them was thrilled about their home — including the ones in elementary school here today.

Then book part of a day on the Lady Jane shrimp boat. You’ll have to drive the causeway into Brunswick for this chance to get into the salt marshes, where shallow tidal waters nourish untold numbers of nutrient-rich fish and plants. “Eco tour” is how the family-owned Lady Jane describes the experience; they pulled up a young loggerhead sea turtle the day I toured, moving into high gear in an instant to measure, weigh, photograph, notify the Department of Natural Resources and ease the precious reptile back into the waters.

St. Simons has a village bustling with eateries and shops, small, individually owned boutique style places. Nice pier, too, for fishing and crabbing. Bump into locals here, or at least people who seem to spend months at a time in island cottages.

The lighthouse is easy to access from the Village; it dates to 1872—rebuilt after Confederate forces destroyed the 1801 original to prevent Federal access. There are plenty of bike lanes and walking paths -- indeed 20 miles of paved paths throughout the island, some under those live oak canopies.

You might pedal to the Maritime Museum in an old Coast Guard Station. It’s a handsome place and the exhibits vary from maritime to military history to ecology. They’re welcoming even for children.

So is The King and Prince, with four pools overlooking the ocean, and two more with the villas on either side of the historic main building.

The 1-foot-deep pool surely was designed for families like mine with toddlers, but I saw adults enjoying a simple soak too. Moms preferring their resort appearance to underwater immersion seemed comfortable with kindergarteners in the three-foot pool, hairdos and makeup proper.

At The King and Prince, expect easy-access Wi-Fi, flat-screen televisions, ocean-facing balconies and patios. Then find surprises, like phenomenal playlist for music that plays throughout the landscaped swimming pool gardens at the edge of the beach.

Amid these softly-playing 60s, 70s, 80s tunes, romantic or family conversation is possible, but they’re just the right pitch to have you dancing a bit en-route to the next pool or patio bar.

Christine Tibbetts covers travel for the CNHI News Service. Follow her at www.TibbettsTravel.com