On the southern coast of Georgia lie a series of barrier islands that have long attracted snowbirds from the Northeast. One of the oldest and most famous of these is Jekyll Island, which became the winter retreat for the aristocrats of New York society.
In 1886 the Jekyll Island Club was founded as a private retreat for America’s wealthiest families, including the Morgans, Rockefellers, Pulitzers, and Vanderbilts. The club is a National Historic Monument and has been open as a resort hotel since the 1980s. Jekyll Island is quiet and offers an abundance of activities including tennis, horseback riding, boating, fishing, miles of beaches, and bike paths as well as 63 holes of golf.
The Jekyll Island Club Hotel offers a wide choice in lodging. The Clubhouse, the Annex, or Sans Souci offer standard rooms and suites. Historic District Crane Cottage and Cherokee Cottage offer upgraded rooms and suites set amongst lush gardens.
The circular driveway surrounding the croquet lawns is a throwback to the luxury of the club’s origin. The Grand Dining Room. recreated as it was 100 years ago. offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as Sunday brunch. Near the lobby the café offers a more casual dining option especially for families and is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
The club offers the best kids programs that we have ever experienced. The friendly staff takes the children on nature tours and go to a nearby waterpark daily. See Jekyllclub.com.
Three courses, Pine Lakes, Indian Mound, and Oleander, start at the Jekyll Island Golf Clubhouse, which is about two miles from the hotel.
The oldest is Great Dunes, a nine-hole course that dates back to 1898. Although it was remodeled by Walter Travis in the 1920s, several of the holes are originals. I was impressed with the layout, which is not all that easy. Courses of that era usually feature small, undulating greens where you pay a price for short-siding the hole. Such was the case at Great Dunes.
Pine Lakes is the most popular of the Jekyll Island courses and features a set of “family tees” that allow junior golfers of varying ability to enjoy the course. The U.S. Kids Championship is held here each February.
Pine Lakes was originally designed by Dick Wilson and Joe Lee. In 2002 it was updated by Clyde Johnson. It is a traditional design similar to many Florida Courses and winds its way through the islands trees and lakes. Wildlife is abundant, and we saw many deer, egrets, cranes, and pelicans.
The 18th hole is a great finishing par 4 of 432 yards. This slight dogleg right features water all the way down the right side of the hole. Strategically located bunkers guard the left side. Par is a very rewarding score here.
Pine Lakes plays 6,760 yards from the back tees. The U.S. Kids Tees can be played from 1,786, 3,516, or 5,020 yards. I think this is a wonderful idea that will soon be copied by many resorts.
Best Shrimp in the World
The Jekyll Island Club Hotel is located on Jekyll Creek, part of the Intracoastal waterway. The hotel also has a beach pavilion about two miles away on the Atlantic side of the island. Across from the hotel is the original pier where the wealthy pulled up in their steamers.
The Latitude 31 restaurant sits on the end of the pier and offers a taste of some of the best shellfish I have ever had. We dined on the peeled white shrimp which had been caught only hours before. They were so good that we went back every day for more. This area is known for having the best tasting shrimp in the world. Latitude 31 also offers a variety of other seafood items all very fresh. The restaurant looks out on Jekyll Creek, and the Jekyll Island Club Hotel is in plain view.
Off in the distance and quite striking is the Sydney Lanier Bridge which connects the island to the nearby town of Brunswick. This structure towers into the sky and can be seen from miles around.
There are several airports to choose from when planning a visit to coastal Southern Georgia. Brunswick Airport would be the easiest with connections through Atlanta. Also make sure to check on Jacksonville, FL, and Savannah, GA, which are both about an hour away.