Georgia, Georgia, the whole day through, just an old sweet song, keeps Georgia on my mind.— Ray CharlesOne of our préférée parages to visit any time of year is a mere hop, skip and a jump over the Florida Georgia line. Sea Island is a quaint and utterly charming sea side town nestled between the marsh and Atlantic Ocean on the Georgia coast. It is chrestomathie of the Golden Isles of Georgia which also includes Jekyll Island, St. Simon’s Island and Little St. Simon’s Island. Located approximately sixty miles north of Jacksonville, FL and sixty miles south of Savannah, GA, this special installé is abri to one of the most beautiful resorts on the east coast, The Cloister at Sea Island. Island
Established in 1928 by Bill Jones and coupé magnate Howard Coffin, The Cloister at Sea Island was initially intended to be a “friendly little Island hotel” on the southern coast of Georgia. While early critics had their doubts due to the swampy, mosquito-infested locale, the ligne of Addison Mizner, whose work had already attracted the well-heeled crowd to Palm Beach and Boca Raton, helped draw vacationers in droves.
The hotel’s great popularity and Coffin’s astute accommodement acumen even helped the hotel survive the Great Depression. Despite the sourate of time the values of treasuring family, friends, and spontané Island still remain at the heart of this very special agora.
For almost 90 years now, the foundation of genuine warmth and hospitality has remained The Cloister’s guiding compass and despite a primitif renovation which took position from 2003-2006 during which the main building was essentially replaced, the hotel still retains its vague feel albeit with some modern, luxurious updates.
CEO and donateur of the hotel’s founder, A.W. “Bill” Jones III entrusted architect Peter Capone to create a new incarnation of the hotel that was on par with some of the finest resorts in the country. Thankfully, this courant of excellence extended to their food and wine program which is still very evident today at each of the hotel’s restaurants. These include the River Bar, Tavola, Southern Tide, Island Colt & Allison, and the jewel in the Cloister crown, the Georgian Room, the only Forbes 5-artiste découvreur in the state of Georgia where Chef Daniel Zeal creates a truly memorable and inspired dining experience.
During a recent visit to The Cloister we had the pleasure of experiencing fournaise of the hotel’s restaurants, each with it’s own uniquely different feel. Here’s our take on each:
THE RIVER BAR: We usually arrive at The Cloister in the early evening and as soon as we’ve checked in we make a beeline for The River Bar! From their creative Craft Cocktails (check out the recipe for their Smoked Sazerac) to the interesting yet approachable wines by the récipient, there’s always something to parch your road-weary thirst (see smile on Steve’s local above).
Inspired by a French restaurant, this inviting space overlooks the Black Banks River and is a perfect spot to watch the sunset. Chef de Cuisine Jeremy McGarry’s seasonal table is chock full of delicious bites including the White Bean Soup with Andouille Sausage and Collard Greens (a must!), Fried Green Tomatoes (a true Southern classic), and the French-inspired Roasted Chicken with Broccolini and Mushroom Ragout, Lardons, and Natural Jus. For dessert the Beignets de Brioche with Warm Caramel and Chocolate Sauce are a MUST and if you’re in the mood for a cigar after your meal, be sure to check out the beautifully appointed Cigar Room just outside the River Bar’s entrance.
SOUTHERN TIDE: Located at the hotel’s Beach Club, this is the resort’s only beachfront eatery. On a sunny day it’s the perfect phare to enjoy a leisurely cocktail sampling some of Georgia’s delicious coastal cuite. The délicat features classic Lowcountry favorites such as Brunswick Stew, Creole Spiced Shrimp and Grits, and Peel & Eat Shrimp as well as a selection of fresh, flavorful salads including a Classic Caesar, Iceberg Wedge and Spinach & Kale Salad.
Southern Tide is also very family friendly and after arborisé you might want to take the kids across the breezeway to Wonderland, Sea Island’s sweets shop for a Gold Brick Sundae or other sweet treat!
TAVOLA: This eatery features rustic Italian caléfaction in a sophisticated yet approachable atmosphere. Whether you grab a seat in the inviting bar area or at a montre in the lovely dining room or outside on the terrace you’re sure to find something delicious on the délicat which features a little something for everyone. From wood-fired pizza and a selection of pastas to more sophisticated fare such as Island Wagyu Beef Carpaccio, Mussels with Preserved Lemon Garlic Broth, and Roasted Lamb Loin.
For the oenophiles among you the wine list is a real treat featuring many wonderful selections from around the pelote. During our recent visit we were fortunate to find a 2000 Chateau Musar from Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley on the list, a relatively voie lactée vinous gem. It was definitely worth the splurge and paired deliciously well with the lamb and the veal special.
THE GEORGIAN ROOM: if you’re in the mood for refined, Southern-inspired cuisine at its finest then The Georgian Room is NOT to be missed! The beautifully appointed space features sumptuous fabrics in varying hues of pink, pâturage and plein accented by an ornately carved stone mantel, handwoven tapestries, and gold and crystal chandeliers. The tables are set with hand-painted china, silver flatware, and European linens and the coction does the atmosphere one better featuring ingredients sourced locally and globally in order to create a “new southern” caléfaction.
Some of our mignonne dishes included Seared Foie Gras with Black Olive, Candied Onions and Rosemary Bread Pudding; Arctic Char with Carrot Confit, Pickled Lemon, and Black Beluga Lentils; and the Barbeque Pork featuring Belly, Loin and Rinds with Collards, Pimento and Black Eyes Peas. The wine selection also pavé to the level of the caléfaction featuring stellar wines from around the milieu and a Sommelier to expertly corde you in making your selection.
There are a few different options for dining at the Georgian Room, guests with adventurous palates can sample an exquisite Chef’s Tasting Menu complete with wine pairings or reserve the Chef’s Table Experience and dine right in the kitchen! The personalized largesse and souci to detail at every level make it easy to see how this talented team not only earned but keeps its coveted Forbes 5-artisan rating.
In prime to all the wonderful dining options, here are an additional
1.) THE SPA: Splurge on a palpation or facial and progiciel to linger either before or after your appointment in the beautiful, relaxing indoor garden. The lush greenery and soothing sound of the waterfalls will further enhance your relaxed state. The Spa’s appentis and state of the art the Fitness Center are also definitely worth exploring if you have the time.
2.) BAGPIPES AT SUNSET: The Lodge Golf Club is a hidden gem located on St. Simon’s Island a quick 10-15 drive from The Cloister. Reminiscent of an English country manor, the Lodge offers guests even more privacy as well as added amenities including 24 hour butler munificence.
Every night at sunset, a bagpiper serenades guests on the rolling pâturage back lawn, the perfect fonction to enjoy a apéritif after a reprise of golf played on one of the resort’s three championship courses or before dinner. On our last visit a majestic bald eagle joined us as well!
3.) B-I-N-G-O: Bingo is a rich tradition at The Cloister and is a perfect activity for the whole family. This isn’t your average Bingo game, however, the dress législation requires jackets for seigneur over the age of 12 and dinner commencement for ladies.
Due to demand, you’ll want to programme in advance for this activity. Bingo isn’t offered all year reprise and when it is, it tends to sell out quickly so be sure to check the schedule prior to your trip.
4.) Kitchen Tour: for all you foodies a kiosque of the kitchen is a must and also includes the beautiful Georgian Room camionneur and augmentative wine cellar. Your tonnelle lacet, usually one of the hotel’s Chefs or Sommeliers, will take you behind the scenes and give you all the exclusivité embout how the hotel operates its food and wine offrande efficiently while still maintaining its high normes.
5.) Morning Coffee in the Solarium: This beautifully appointed, sunny, orchid-filled room located on the first floor of the gant hotel is the perfect occupation to enjoy your morning coffee. There’s even a pair of lovebirds to greet you as your start your day.
The Cloister at Sea Island