Table Talk / Unbound Travels

Vacation like royalty at the King and Prince resort

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Capture a blazing sunrise from your balcony, a dusky purple sunset, a playful dolphin peeking out of the ocean for an instant. Where can a traveler find a place of solitude for a few days that might become an unforgettable getaway? Perhaps it’s time to stop dreaming about life and live the dream! At The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort, you’re surrounded by natural habitats that allow for relaxation and introspection to discover yourself without reserve. 

St. Simons Island is an idyllic destination when you yearn for the sound of waves, seagulls and quiet. Luckily, I knew where to find it (so did the Timucuan and Guale Indians in approximately 2000 B.C.). The island enjoyed one of the richest sagas of European occupation and unfolding dramas of English, Spanish and African history. Wars, forts, the timber era and plantations overlap generations — while the rich delta soil of the island was ideal for agriculture, primarily cotton.

Prominently situated on the pulsating shores of the Atlantic Ocean, the King and Prince Hotel (circa 1935) has been luring guests to St. Simons Island for nearly a century. It’s almost synonymous with the magic and mystery of the island itself. The island’s hidden pathways, hundreds of years of moss-draped live oak trees, secretive cemeteries, ruins of antebellum mansions and familiar Southern family names offer a glimpse into the soul of the island from the beginning of the hotel. Combining history, contemporary amenities and ambience, the King and Prince has prospered over the decades and continues to embrace its heritage.

King and Prince oceanfront lawn for weddings and parties

A vacation at The King and Prince begins as you drive across the causeway over the Intracoastal Waterway, colorful marshlands waving in the breeze and transporting you to another time in life … although the island isn’t just a page in a history book; it’s a sanctuary for international visitors that could be royalty or everyday folks. There’s an island sentiment that everyone is a friend with a twinkle in their eye. They, too, feel like they discovered paradise — and they have.

Oceanfront Room at The King and Prince

Nestled in a residential neighborhood, the hotel’s architecture is distinctively Mediterranean — yellow stucco with terra cotta tile roof.  Green awnings, oceanfront swings for two and manicured gardens slowed me down to a gentler pace. The first activity was to slide my balcony door open and inhale the ocean breeze and expansive beach fragrance. Everything played in slow motion. Bicycling on the island is a marvelous way to explore, especially with more than 40 miles of contiguous paths that are safely hidden from the road through forests and along waterways. Only a block from the hotel is Ocean Motion, where you can choose the bike style and size including a helmet, lock and basket. Immediately I felt confident that I could meander and explore the “Village” — a Mecca of shops, restaurants, historic lighthouse, fishing pier, galleries and a retro slice-of-life reminiscent of an island of yesteryear.

From the ice cream and sweet shops to boutique island clothing, furnishings and keepsake shops, you feel the bright cheeriness of people everywhere — making me yearn for a cone of some cleverly concocted ice cream flavor before getting back on my beach buggy. During low tide, there is hard-packed sand everywhere on the East Beach side of the Island. During my unhurried bike ride back to the hotel, I circled around the magnificent St. Simons Island Lighthouse (original was built in 1810) a 75-foot tall early federal octagonal lighthouse topped by a 10-foot oil-burning lamp. By 1872, the U.S. government constructed a new lighthouse to replace the original building — a 104-foot brick structure, where visitors climb the cast-iron spiral stairway with 129 steps. It’s something not to miss during any visit. If you’re a ghost hunter, you might enjoy the accounts of hauntings by the ghost of lightkeeper Frederick Osborne!

Since history is everywhere on the island and nobody tells the story better than native son Cap Fendig, whose family’s presence goes back to the mid 1800s, hop aboard one of his scheduled Lighthouse Trolleys tours and enjoy his passionate colorful stories. Visit a superb collection of landmarks, making stops at Christ Church, Fort Frederica, Bloody Marsh and surprising “must see” treasures. Cap and his drivers impart local vignettes about where to dine, shop, drink in history and have fun. For a glimpse of the coastal waters surrounding St. Simons Island, he also conveys true island magic while leading boating and fishing excursion; he’s been opening the door for guests for more than 40 years as you cruise through marshlands, creeks, rivers and small winding waterways to view bird habitats, dolphin sightings, alligator haunts and fish jumping everywhere!

King and Prince oceanfront pools

Isn’t it time to return to The King and Prince and relax like royalty? As the day faded into late afternoon, I foundd myself yearning to relax at the hotel, a paradise swathed in sea foam. The décor of my oceanfront room is traditionally contemporary, all welcomed amenities from WiFi to a mini fridge, clean crisp linens, oversized bath and a large private balcony. The sparkling pools couldn’t be a more enticing. Find a quiet corner chaise lounge and take in one of the most expansive views of the St. Simons Sound. Off in the distance shrimp boats are the only specks to dot the horizon, and occasional beachcombers remind me of the uncrowded tranquility that I had hoped my getaway would offer.

I can’t imagine dining anywhere on the island except at ECHO, The King and Prince’s oceanfront restaurant that offers mouth-watering menus each meal of the day, distinctive Southern-inspired dishes prepared with love by their culinary team. From the front desk staff to ECHO servers and bartenders, you can enjoy the feeling of relaxed Southern hospitality whether dining inside with a window view of the Atlantic Ocean or sitting outside on the breezy al fresco verandah. Although St. Simons Island is well-known for the 50+ fabulous restaurants with a short stroll or short drive, ECHO fulfills your dining imagination without leaving the beach! 

Waking early at The King and Prince to catch the blazing sunrise adds a special brushstroke to any vacation. The sound and smell of fresh sea air could lure you to an early morning walk along the beach, a happy time when islanders and visitors are invited to take their dogs out for a romp in the surf. Hotel gardeners tending flowers, guests sipping coffee on lawn swings and easy morning exercise rituals can be spotted.

It’s a beautiful time to read a book and enjoy breakfast. Executive Chef James Flack believes in purveying the highest quality of local and regional ingredients that make every dish delicious. ECHO is equal to many award-winning fine-dining restaurants and dietary requests are always acknowledged and satisfied. The chef continues to “wow” and surprise guests with the hotel’s signature specialties year after year. Breakfast for me? Along with coffee and the famous King and Prince muffins, I have three favorites: seafood omelete with fresh blue crab, wild Georgia shrimp, gouda cheese and house potatoes;  praline French toast (grilled brioche topped with local pecan syrup, whipped cream and bacon); and warm peach Parfait with warmed peaches, yogurt and house-made granola. Yum!

 King and Prince Muffins

For golfers, there is another dimension of The King and Prince. It’s the magnificent Hampton Club for a day of golf. It continues to receive national awards like the recent 2019 Golf Advisor, ranking in the Top 50 U.S. Courses as the BEST …” an extremely beautiful course, particularly on the back-nine marsh holes. …” For 30 years, it has stood the test of time with its layout amongst ancient forests, vast salt marshes and dramatic island holes that once belonged to an 18th-century antebellum plantation…where cotton, rice and indigo dominated. Located at the crossroads of the Hampton and Frederica rivers, four of the holes are gently carved from the marsh islands that bring their golfers a rarely forgotten experience!  Guests can arrange hotel transportation to the course located at the northern tip of St. Simons Island daily.

A candlelit dinner is the perfect ending to any getaway, a flight from reality that will always be a precious memory.  It’s an unpretentious bill of fare — somehow making familiar + unexpected = delicious partners.  Each day brings a creative reinvention of the obvious. This season watch for herb-crusted salmon Carbonara on house-made spaghetti; boursin and fig-stuffed chicken with garlic roasted fingerling potatoes and sage brown butter … and ECHO’s most popular shrimp and grits with andouille etouffee! For lighter appetites, the mussels and fries — sautéed in Blue Moon broth topped with shoestring potatoes and garlic aioli or fresh grouper tacos perched atop a flour tortilla with Southern slaw, red pepper chow chow and tartar sauce. The wine list is extensive and the signature cocktails are definitely worthy of adventure: Prince’s Paloma (tequila, sparkling grapefruit soda, jalapeno and cilantro simple syrup, fresh lime juice) — or — High Tide (Rumhaven coconut rum, New Amsterdam vodka, Southern Comfort, Amaretto and fresh fruit juices). Anybody in the mood for a Moonshine Cocktail?

 As sunset slips into darkness over the ocean, I know I have found a place of enchantment that will call me back to being part of St. Simons Island’s history, where beauty surrounds and the haunting allure of The King and Prince will embrace travelers for years to come.

Georgia poet Sidney Lanier said it best over 100 years ago: “Oh, what is abroad in the marsh and the terminal sea/Somehow my soul seems suddenly free…”

For more information, go to www.KingandPrince.com.

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