As Americans we are taught the first immigrants came to our country to get away from the Kings and Princes. But on the Golden Isles of the state of Georgia, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, looking back to the mother country, the King and Prince reigns supreme on St. Simon’s Island.
Originally opened in 1935 as a dance club, the club became a hotel in the summer of 1941 with the addition of 110 rooms. Today the hotel has just under 200 rooms, and has expanded to include rental of villas and homes on the property. For a small hotel, the diversity in styles of accommodations provides something for everyone.
The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort made the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. The hotel is also a member of the Historic Hotels of America. With strict local restrictions preventing anyone from building anything taller than the trees, this oceanfront gem is a unique and charming property that delights its visitors. As government codes and regulations get tougher, favoring the preservation of the coast line over ocean seeking vacationers, the older properties grandfathered in before the regulations are often the ones with the best beach access and up close ocean views.
During the high season summer months many of the local beach home rentals require a one week stay, usually a Saturday to Saturday. The King and Prince will often have two or three might minimum stays during special events, but generally it is a great place to book for one or two nights when schedules don’t allow for a seven night stay. For those driving the eastern coastline exploring historic properties, the rich stories of St. Simon’s Island’s people, culture and history make it a must see.
Although the hotel has a rich history, a recent renovation has upgraded and updated the property. Rooms are beautifully appointed in fresh, modern coastal décor. Toiletries are from Olive Branch Botanicals and formulated without sulfates, parabens, DEA. TEA, and synthetic dyes. The hotel has a recycling program which includes a disposable bag in each room to separate plastic, paper and aluminum, leaving towels if guests hang them up and wish to reuse them, and recycling soap through the clean the world program. Yes, it is possible to appreciate the history of a place while still enjoying modern amenities and environmental practices.
If strolls along the beach or lounging by the newly renovated oceanfront pool aren’t enough to provide a relaxing vacation, the hotel owns the King and Prince Golf Course, an 18 hole Par 72 course originally designed by Joe Lee. In 2009 the course was redesigned by Billy Fuller, and peacefully co-exists with the local eco-system, sharing space with the marshland grasses, southern live oak trees, bald eagles, alligators and many more local inhabitants.
Because length of play is an issue for today’s golfer, keeping many from enjoying the sport, the golf club has invested in two new golf boards, allowing golfers to move around the course faster, usually completing 9 holes in 1 ½ hours or a full 18 holes in about three hours. Golf packages are a highlight of the offerings from the King and Prince. Parties traveling with some golfers and some non-golfers can be sure everyone will be happy here.
The hotel is well known amongst vacationers in the southeastern United States, but it is a well kept secret to the rest of the world. Revolutionary War and Civil War history is everywhere on St. Simon’s Island, but particular to the King and Prince is the story of the winter of 1942 when German U-boats were sighted off the Georgia coast. The hotel was shut down for the remainder of the war, and used by the US Navy as a radar station. The hotel’s restaurant, Echo, pays tribute to this time with a display of photos.
Today, Echo also pays tribute to the local seafood industry as well as other local farmers. While the volume of food served at Echo means they can not exclusively serve local food, Chef James Flack has a flair for highlighting Georgia Wild Shrimp, Speckled Sea Trout, Red Fish and Flounder. His take on a club sandwich with a southern coastal flair means he uses prosciutto ham, fried green tomatoes, pickled red onion and pimento cheese. Yum!
Some of my favorite things about staying at this hotel are that parking and wifi are free, or included in the quoted room rate. There is no additional resort fee, an annoying tactic some resorts use to maintain a low published room rate while increasing the overall revenue from the guest. If you are planning your family summer vacation, making reservations up to a year in advance is wise, as the summer season stays full.
If the history, culture, eco-system and food scene are what you want to see, and your schedule is flexible, consider visiting in the “winter”, when temperatures are in the mid-sixties, perfect for golf and sight seeing. The hotel has recently launched a Facebook page. “Like” the Facebook page at The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort, and you will receive news about activities and deeply discounted rates for weeks when the hotel is forecasting a low occupancy. The flexible guest will find extraordinary packages and rates.
As a place for destination weddings or small conferences, the hotel is happy to commit the entire hotel to a group. Gatherings of 200-300 people fit perfectly in this space, with a variety of locations for breakout meetings and meals. Speakers must be dynamic, as the splendid ocean views from several of the meeting rooms can provide both inspiration and distraction.
The hotel will plan meetings requiring the entire hotel up to five years in advance. If you are looking to entice participants to a meeting, the amenities at the King and Prince for tagalong children and spouses mean being able to balance family time and professional time all in one place. Large family reunions will find rooms at many price points, allowing family branches with different desires to still gather in one place.
The return rate at this property is high, which is one of the best indicators of guest satisfaction. Georgia, your secret is out. Your northern neighbors have discovered The King and Prince!