The air smells like it has never been tainted by the chemicals of exhaust pipes or the pungent aroma of waste that often tickles on the palette of city life. The pace is slow and the mood is a constant palpitation of happy. The wind is a melodious cacophony and makes for a unique and steady soundtrack that rests easily on the ears of the 21,000 people who call St. Simons Island home. This is living and The King and Prince Resort nestled beautifully on the beachfront – the only hotel that offers this picturesque view – is a gem. It is perfect for a family get away – a five-hour car ride from Atlanta, Georgia.
Greeted by friendliness and smiles, I felt welcomed by each and every person. From the front desk personnel to the award winning mixologist at the bar, I felt like I was royalty. I am certain each guest has experienced this feeling. Everybody is important in this world and the people at King & Prince seem to live by that mantra. I knew I was in store for the type of sweet treat that has lifelong impact. I would forever be moved by this experience from start to finish.
When visiting such an historical place, finding out more of the history of this landmark is a must. St. Simons Island, one of the Golden Isles that sits on the corner of Georgia’s coast, is a town that garnered a thriving plantation industry prior to the Civil War. As an African-American woman, visiting some of the remains of the plantations and seeing two preserved slave cabins allowed for a deeper introspection into my own truth. I felt my ancestors’ spirits as I rode along for one of several guided tours by the island popular Captain Fending.
One of the very famous historical truths of the island was about a slave named Neptune Small. We were given the backstory on Neptune Small on two of our tour stops. Neptune Small, was a servant of the King family, one-time owners of St. Simons Island’s Retreat Plantation. He was responsible for caring for the King children. Small accompanied them to war and was later rewarded for his loyalty for traveling hundreds of miles to St. Simon’s alone with the deceased body of the family’s first son who went to war.
His story was celebrated and every native seems to rest on that loyalty. This, too, allowed me to see the story from a very different vantage point. It made for another introspective moment for me. Slavery was just as mental as it was physical. Had he known a life of freedom, he more than likely would have chosen to escape. It is truly a conversation for people from all walks of life to indulge. History tells us so much about ourselves and a wonderment of answering the question of who we are, no matter our backgrounds.
The first tour lent itself to a visit to Christ Church. Surrounded by beautiful moss trees and a cemetery, this church has beautiful mosaic windows and pristine architecture. Down the road a bit, sits the First African Church. This place of worship allowed for slaves to praise in their own settings. To see the place where slaves sought refuge from their day-to-day conditions, gave me peace.
From land to sea, St. Simons Island offers beautiful excursions like the Dolphin Cruise led by Captain Fending and his amazing crew. There is nothing like the feeling of the ocean air landing sweetly on your cheeks as you try to take in the massive beauty we call the ocean. I let myself simply be in the moment knowing that this was nothing but God’s grace to see the artistry of the world of sea life. We passed and waved at the men in the blue crab boats. They waved as the easy going culture of the town stretched into the deep waters. You felt the authenticity and organic feeling of the people, miles away from the shore.
We spotted the rare and regal appearance of three bald eagles. It was almost as if they were waiting to be seen, resting in the trees as the onslaught of human paparazzi took as many images as we could. And then there were the dolphins – the prettiest fish in the sea. Our friends put on a show, making their way to the surface of the water as if they were performing a routine at Sea World and had never missed a step. What beauty lies in these oceans that we were able to witness. The Dolphin Cruise should be top of the list when visiting St. Simons.
The personality of this great town is capped off by its amazing fare and spirits. I LOVE FOOD and each stop allowed each section of my varied cravings to be thoroughly satisfied. We enjoyed Chef James Flack’s dinner selections at Echo’s Coastal Trilogy at King & Prince. From the twin crab cakes to the southern peach creme brule, the ambience heightened the taste as we glanced over a breathtaking view of the ocean.
Another sweet spot is the Georgia Sea Grill, owned by Zack Gowen and Chef Tim Lensch. I opted for white wine to accompany the oyster and bacon appetizer followed by she Crab soup and the Red Fish filet over a bed of rice. The service was impeccable and the festive mood made for smiles and laughter as the musical underlay of the evening.
If you’re ready for a down home breakfast, the Sandcastle Cafe & Grill is the place to go. Tim and Melissa Wellford have been serving the good folks in this town since 1989. The pancakes and french toast reminded me of my days visiting my grandmother in Charleston. When a restaurant and recipe can garner nostalgia of a worry-less childhood, it’s an unprecedented win. The home feel and the endless coffee is certainly a favorite for me and so many others.
Lunch at Gnat’s Landing was a fun treat decked with fried pickles, slaw bowls, sweet Georgia fried shrimp and oysters. It’s the perfect spot to mingle with friends on its semi-covered patio in the back or simply grab a cold, solo beer.
The trip culminated with a lovely night for Echo’s Wine Dinner in King & Prince’s Retreat Room. The view was simply indescribable. While the entire pairing was superb, the Smoked Sea Scallops, Lemon Curd, Georgia Caviar and Pepper Brunoises with the Caramel Road Barrymore Pinot Grigio was my favorite. See Chef James Flack’s complete pairing below:
I am officially a fan of what St. Simons offers and The King & Prince Resort is a shining example of the greatness of the island. Its rich history and significance in its place in the American puzzle, allows visitors to leave knowing the people built this town with tremendous strength and character. Their resiliency has kept it and preserved it like aged marmalade awaiting its opening in the cupboard.
St. Simons Island and the King & Prince Resort: RARE & REGAL.
For more details on booking your next trip, visit http://www.kingandprince.com