Though I enjoy the freshness of newly built hotels, I also enjoy staying at historic hotels that have been around so long they have a story to tell. May is Preservation Month for the more than 125 Historic Hotels of America. Some of the hotels where I’ve had the pleasure of staying include: the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, Illinois; The Greenbriar in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia; the Tutwiler Hotel in Birmingham, Alabama; and most recently, The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort on St. Simons Island, Georgia. The historic hotel is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, but it’s a great place for you to celebrate your 40th year! (left: The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort, St. Simons Island, GA)
The King and Prince originally opened in 1935, as a private dance club where celebrities, dignitaries, discerning families and business travelers could enjoy dancing by the sea to live band music. And it was THE place to be during the resort era of the 1950’s and 60’s. But if the walls could talk, they’d tell you that the hotel withstood the test of time through two fires in its first two years, and a closing for about five years during World War II. That’s when the U.S. Navy occupied the hotel to defend the southeast coast from German warships. Today a recent multi-million-dollar renovation makes the 75-year-old look as elegant and regal as ever, with ornate painted ceilings and stain glass windows.
I recently enjoyed a charming stay at the resort where my room had a bed so soft and comfortable that I was tempted each morning to sleep in — but the sunrise always called me out to my ocean-front balcony. I was pleased to see that though the hotel is vintage, the amenities are not. My room had a large, flat-screen TV and free wifi. For larger parties, there are also two- and three-bedroom villas and private guest houses. The resort also boasts five indoor and outdoor pools. Just off the lobby is the Delegal room where I enjoyed a wonderful “Southern Charm Sunday Brunch” – a sumptuous buffet that not only included breakfast foods and made-to-order omelets, but also: fried catfish, Georgia buttermilk fried chicken, barbeque ribs, mac and cheese, and their delicious South Carolina shrimp and grits.
As a part of the hotel’s celebration, the Executive Chef, Robyn Gomez, did a cooking demo to show how he prepares the shrimp and grits. The shrimp were huge and fresh, having been caught right off the St. Simon’s coast. I enjoyed the meal with champagne in the Solarium (the hotel’s former front lobby) with a 180-degree view of the ocean. (left: King and Prince Executive Chef, Robyn Gomez)
After stuffing myself at the hotel, I was able to get in a little exercise walking the beach and touring the property, which included the gorgeous King and Prince Golf Resort. The 18-hole course, which is dotted by live oaks and marshlands, underwent extensive renovation last year. I spent some time on the driving range, only to realize my golf clubs have been collecting dust far too long. The mini golf clinic they offered still couldn’t get the rust out of my swing. I nursed my wounded ego at the Clubhouse lunch buffet, where I devoured homemade chocolate chip cookies that are to die for.
Other hotel activities and amenities include horseback riding on the beach, tennis courts, exercise facilities and relaxing spa services at the tranquil Royal Treatment Cottage. And if you happen to visit on a Friday, don’t miss the King and Prince Seafood Buffet – the only one on the island. They’ve been doing it almost since the resort first opened. This is one place where you’ll eat like a queen! So it’s a good thing they’re within walking distance of the nearby village for shopping and other island activities – otherwise I’d have brought back an extra 10 pounds!
I’ll tell you more about St. Simons Island shopping and activities in a future post. After a full day of food and fun, watching the sun set from the beachfront swings is the perfect time to give thanks for such wonderful abundance. The King and Prince treated me so well, I felt like a member of the “royal family” – and I’m looking forward to a royal family reunion!
To book your own royal getaway — to celebrate your 40th or just to celebrate summer — visit www.kingandprince.com. June 12 – 13 is the Annual Georgia Sea Island Festival, which honors St. Simon Island’s black history and the Geechee/Gullah culture. I always recommend learning a little history and culture of a destination. And remember: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain
Kalin Thomas is Women at Forty’s Travel & Leisure Editor. She is also Senior Writer/Photographer for SoulOfAmerica. Before starting her own multimedia company, Kalin spent 17 years at CNN where she won several awards for her work as producer/correspondent for CNN’s weekly travel program, CNN TravelNow. She is currently writing a book about her travels. For more information on Kalin, visit www.seetheworldproductions.com.