Culture / Travel

Your Guide to Sea Island, Georgia’s Hidden Away Old School Resort Land Where Presidents and World Leaders Have Vacationed For Generations

All the Perks You Could Want and Old School Elegance Rarely Seen Anymore

BY // 12.24.23

Shortly after booking a trip to Sea Island, the picturesque escape on the coast of Southern Georgia, I learned my grandparents spent their honeymoon in 1953 at The Cloister, the iconic hotel on the island. 

My grandparents were not the only important guests woven into the property’s 95-year history. More than 40,000 couples have honeymooned at Sea Island, including President and First Lady George H.W. and Barbara Bush. There is even a registry in The Cloister’s lobby with many of the names and photos from the loving couples.

Upon my arrival, armed with only a few of these fragments of information about Sea Island, I quickly grasped why the resort’s signature elegance has attracted discerning visitors for romantic retreats, family vacations and gatherings of all kinds since its opening in 1928. Not only is Sea Island still a beloved destination for couples today, but the property’s two five-star hotels, stately private homes, premiere golf programming, relaxing spa, convenient access to nature and fine restaurants lure multigenerational vacationers to soak up the serene setting and classic luxury hospitality. 

President Calvin Coolidge visited The Cloister in its first year, and since then, hundreds of world leaders, dignitaries and notable names have graced the property. The rows of stately oak trees planted by many of its esteemed guests are a living testament to its acclaim and honored traditions.

Sea Island Beach
Sea Island’s proximity to nature is special, with access to miles of white sand beach, salt marsh land and tree lined forests to explore. (Photo courtesy of Sea Island)

President George W. Bush even picked Sea Island to host the G8 Summit in 2004, bringing the resort’s impeccable service and serene nature to the global stage. 

What has remained throughout Sea Island’s history is old world charm and classic hospitality. It’s a place where old school manners are celebrated and luxurious perks are cherished.

Men are encouraged to wear jackets at dinner, and signs are posted throughout the property to remind gentlemen to take their hats off before entering the clubhouses. This nod to elegant behavior set the tone for a vacation that channels the past while bringing all the modern luxurious perks you could ever want.

Visiting Sea Island

With direct flights from Houston and Dallas into nearby the Jacksonville and Savannah airports and a private airstrip a few minutes away from the resort, it’s relatively easy to get immersed in the Sea Island scene. This island is only available to homeowners, members of Sea Island and hotel guests, which ensures a cloistered, away from the world, luxury experience. 

The Cloister, the original historic hotel of Sea Island, still welcomes visitors for its five star service and amenities. The Lodge at Sea Island is the second five star hotel on the island, bringing dark wood-lined walls and cozy crackling fireplaces that evoke old world charm.

The Cloister at Sea Island
Sea Island is a storied destination for multigenerational vacationers to soak up the serene setting and classic luxury hospitality.  (Photo courtesy of Sea Island)

The Lodge is well suited for romantic getaways or adults looking for a quiet vacation to enjoy the golf, tennis and other outdoor activities that abound on Sea Island. With all the same five star perks as the Cloister, and an added butler service, The Lodge offers an intimatem bespoke stay, The Cloister is also ideal for families and large groups who want to be amid Sea Island’s countless amenities, including a beach club, pool, spa, fitness center and nature and ocean excursions. 

Exploring Georgia’s Treasure

Sea Island’s extensive outdoor land make this a special place and there is a clear devotion to preserving this nature land. The long list of unique outdoor activities, include a sea turtle program, a flock of trained peregrine falcons and a fleet of boats for cruising, fishing and exploring the miles of salt marsh and open ocean in the hotels’ backyard. 

The golf facilities surrounding the property’s three golf courses are next level. A 17,000-square-foot Golf Performance Center is an immersive experience. The RSM Classic Tournament takes place at Sea Island each year as part of the PGA Tour, setting the resort apart as a must for any golf enthusiast.

Of course, there’s more. 

The extensive Spa at Sea Island is a true relaxation retreats. There are vitamin C and aromatherapy infused showers, mineral soaking tubs, cold plunge pools and a curated array of treatments and body services to fit any need. 

Sea Island embraces many traditions of its past, including a sunset bagpiper each evening. (Photo courtesy of Sea Island)
Sea Island embraces many traditions of its past, including a sunset bagpiper each evening. (Photo courtesy of Sea Island)

The food at Sea Island is classic fine restaurant dining at its best. Each of Sea Island’s restaurants pay homage to the land’s storied history while embracing a flair of the modern. The newly renovated and award-winning Georgian Rooms brings a truly elegant dining experience with details like expertly curated wines and fine offerings like caviar, foie gras and aged whiskey for extra indulgence. The Oak Room serves a classic Southern menu overlooking the golf course at The Lodge. Colt and Allison is a quintessential steakhouse experience with a modern ambiance and all the trappings any old guard tycoon would appreciate. 

After quiet billionaire Philip Anschutz bought the property in 2017, adding to his portfolio of historic hotels (along with sister property The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs), Sea Island went into a 100 year trust. This move was a way for Anshutz to ensure Sea Island could guarantee its stewardship of the preservation of island’s nature, history and classic luxury feel.

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