With an appetite for lunch, I visited Tim and Melissa Wellford’s Sandcastle Café in the Village. It’s known not only for their sumptuous breakfast buffet with 20+ made- from-scratch items ($9.95) but for great crab cakes. I ordered a nearly six-ounce beauty sautéed to perfection ($7.95).
Celebrating the café’s 25th anniversary on April 15 this year, the Wellfords confess that they have loved every minute of being the #1 island breakfast/lunch destination, steps from the Atlantic and Village Pier. It’s not your usual tourist eatery. Veggies are made to order, Tim is behind the grill preparing fresh seafood, burgers, open-faced sandwiche — and the prices are right.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen fresh creamed spinach on the menu for $2.50 or potatoes au gratin for $1.95! Tim states: “Melissa and I have enjoyed living on this great island, raising our family and meeting thousands of people at the Sandcastle. I love feeding our guests.”
As lunch faded into late afternoon, once again I found myself enjoying the King and Prince Hotel’s magnificent location, paradise swathed in sea foam. The décor of my oceanfront room was contemporary with clean crisp lines, hues of blue, deluxe linens, over-size bath and private balcony. Traveling alone heightened my appreciation of spontaneity, which allowed me to jump out of the confines of my secure bubble of day-to-day activities.
So instead of a nap, the Royal Treatment Cottage became my refuge for the ensuing two hours. I couldn’t wait to enjoy everything about the massage without having to worry that a travel companion was getting bored! The tiny white cottage was such a refreshing change from typical hotel spas that aren’t as private as they claim.
Entering the front porch, I felt invited into the calming atmosphere that was immediately soothing. The quaint beach cottage couldn’t have been more peaceful, from the relaxation room where I was served a cup of tea, offered a warm herbal neck wrap and put in a Zen mood by listening to the sights and sounds of the surf.
I chose a 90-minute Swedish massage ($142) from the treatment menu. Enhancing my massage with aromatherapy, I could inhale my personal choice of lavender oil throughout. Jomi couldn’t have been more intuitive and professional. She and the other therapists offer traditional and customized treatments by appointment daily.
Relaxing like royalty was easy in the King’s Tavern for dinner, a cozy oceanfront dining room and bar with dark wood walls and only steps from the hotel’s luxurious pools and moonlit surf. Executive Chef d’Cuisine Jason Brumfiel’s style embraces Southern culinary traditions that often include peaches, Vidalia onions, pecans, shrimp and grits, fresh crab and the finest locally-sourced produce, dairy, seafood and meats. Pan-seared red snapper atop sun dried tomato risotto and asparagus ended my first day with an elegant brushstroke.
By morning, something whispered gently in my ear to catch the sunrise. I could smell the fresh sea air blending with last night’s perfume during my early walk along the beach, with only two runners in sight. Gardeners were tending flowers, guests were sipping coffee on lawn swings and a lone shrimp boat was on the horizon.
A book and breakfast awaited my return, along with the most delicious vegetarian omelette, warm biscuit, fresh melon, cheese grits and sweet crunchy bacon. (Daily breakfast buffet is $14/half price for children).
While on the island, I read about David Loehle, a local artist whose woven grass baskets seemed like something I might have had on my bucket list while enjoying days of art activities. I found my way to the Glynn Art Association in the village and inquired about their classes from Executive Director Marcia Marinello.
Running away from frantic business days in real life, wouldn’t it be wonderful to explore something creative on my vacation? Feeling that I had no talent, what would be the medium? Pottery? Calligraphy? Watercolor? Founded in 1953, Glynn Art Association’s mission: “To promote and encourage creative expression within our community with an emphasis on the visual arts appealed to my curiosity.”
They feature five mornings a week when people can drop in to a three-hour class for only $30 and $27 for pottery:
Monday Drawing & Painting Tuesday Pastels Wednesday Oil & Acrylic Thursday Pottery & Watercolor Friday Beyond the Basics – Taking your art to the next step
The afternoon sun was high and the hotel’s sparkling pools were awaiting my visit. With three unique poolside settings, the new complex was created for readers and sun bathers, swimmers and spectators. It tempted all of my senses with ambient music that was pleasantly relaxing. The landscaping embraced aromatic flowers. I could see broad vistas of ocean and hotel. The contemporary deck, pool and outdoor seating included new finishes and fabrics. And last: the Ocean Terrace Grille serves a refreshing casual menu along with healthy fruit beverages for any afternoon pick-me-up.
Most impressive is the architectural design and the way guests of all ages can enjoy their days in the sun. Toddlers have their own wading pool and castle-building space. Children play happily in a lagoon-style pool with underwater benches, and adults can really unwind in the relaxation pool with chaises, umbrellas and attentive staff.
A reflection on my solo vacation? As I pondered the cloud formations over the ocean, I felt uninhibited and happy that I wasn’t adjusting myself to someone’s whim, curiosity or questions. My days weren’t molded by a partner’s responses to the world or their vision of a getaway. I loved being free to magnify the vividness of my adventures and soak in everything around me.
Traveling alone may not be for everyone but I did discover that having this beautiful island retreat made it clearer why more and more travelers are choosing to venture out on their own. It makes having an occasional dinner companion even more appealing!
The island is bursting with no fewer than 50 restaurants, excellent dining that spans from flip-flop casual cafes to sundress chic bistros and al fresco patios. Vowing that I would not leave the hotel for dinner and pamper myself with a sunset beach stroll, I returned for a candlelit table in the corner of Kings Tavern.
I was excited to indulge my culinary fantasies again with Chef Brumfiel’s innovative new menu. His deep knowledge of global cuisine garnered from extensive European assignments allows him to create food with an elegant yet delicate hand. His love of the coast and experience with local fishermen allow him to bring outstanding food and quality dining events.
As I sipped my glass of wine, I knew that I had found a place of enchantment that would call me back to enjoy being part of the island’s history,where beauty surrounds,and the haunting allure of The King and Prince will embrace travelers for years to come. Perhaps Georgia poet Sidney Lanier said it best over a hundred years ago:
“Oh, what is abroad in the marsh and the terminal sea
Somehow my soul seems suddenly free….”
The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort
201 Arnold Road
St. Simons Island, Georgia 31522
ON THE ISLAND:
King and Prince Golf Course ~ A golf masterpiece on the north tip of St. Simons Island. Home of the Hampton Club, this 18-hole course offers sweeping vistas of the marshes with challenging bridges, bunkers, sprawling live oaks, lagoons and towering pines. www.kingandprince.com or www.hamptonclub.com
McKinnon Airport ~ Five miles from The King and Prince provides fueling for private aircraft, maintenance, avionics, pilot services and up-to-date weather information. It’s operated by Golden Isles Aviation, an Exxon Avitat dealer. With two active runways (4/22 at 5,800 feet long AND 16/34 at 3,313 feet long). There are several non-precision approaches that provide inclement-weather access, as well as a visual guidance system to assist pilots on landing. www.goldenislesaviation.com
Sal’s Neighborhood Pizzeria ~ Where locals and visitors enjoy lunch and dinner daily. Sal ‘Rocky’ Cenicola serves only the very best family-inspired dishes in an intimate casual island setting. Forget reservations. It’s worth the wait! www.salsneighborhoodpizzeria.com
Halyard’s ~ A mid-island fine dining restaurant where Chef Dave Snyder prepares exquisite cuisine nightly to discerning diners. Guests can’t wait for the seasonal dishes to be announced so they can reserve their favorite white-clothed table. www.halyardsrestaurant.com
Palmer’s Village Café ~ A top island favorite in the Village for breakfast and lunch with a Southern twist to traditional favorites. www.palmersvillagecafe.com
Georgia Sea Grill ~ A cozy, attractive and personal dinner experience in the Village that locals have been enjoying for years. www.georgiaseagrill.com
Tramici ~ Italian dishes are served inside, around the bar or open-air in the courtyard. Mid-island neighborhood with tasty specialties perfect for friends and family. www.tramicirestaurant.com
Benny’s Red Barn ~ A visit to the Island isn’t complete without having dinner in the oldest restaurant since 1955. Steaks grilled on old-fashioned open oak fire, chicken, seafood and classic island service. Winters by the massive fireplace are a must! www.bennysredbarn.com