For many Atlanta area families, The Cloister at Sea Island has been a muti-generational destination for decades.
For those of us that didn’t grow up in Georgia, it’s a beach resort along the Georgia coast our native neighbors seem to revere. Read on to find out why this place holds a special place in the hearts of travelers near and far.
THE CLOISTER AT SEA ISLAND: LUXURY & FAMILY MEMORIES
For those not familiar with The Cloister at Sea Island, in 2006, The hotel underwent a $350 million renovation, replacing almost entirely the resort built in 1928 as a temporary structure. A century of generational family vacations builds an affinity for buildings and traditions.
During the renovation, owners were keenly aware of the bonds guests felt with the resorts structures and traditions. They meticulously re-created several details from the original buildings such as the Spanish Lounge, incorporating the original stained glass windows and recreating details such as intake grates to create a new version of the familiar favorite. The result is a beautiful new hotel with a rich history even a new guest can appreciate.
ROOMS AT THE CLOISTER SEA ISLAND
Accommodations at this Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond Resort range from guest rooms, to suites and private cottages. The rooms are larger than normal. A typical Forbes Five-Star hotel room averages between 400 and 450 square feet. The Garden Wing at the Cloister has the smallest rooms, at 560 square feet. Rooms in other parts of the resort start at 700 square feet.
In addition to ample elbow room, hotel rooms at The Cloister are exquisitely decorated with spectacular views. The large bathrooms have luxurious touches such as talcum powder in a crystal and silver shaker and bath crystals for your deep soaking tub. Adults will enjoy luxuriously outfitted rooms with Molton Brown toiletries.
My children especially liked soaking in the tub while watching the bathroom TV.
Each suite is charming in its own way and impeccably designed, many with unique architectural features such as vaulted ceilings and exposed wood beam ceilings, and handcrafted Oriental rugs.
If the hotel experience is about the bed, The Cloister is at the top of the class. Even my children, who bring their pillows with them, were tempted to trade them out. Between the heavy curtains and the lavish bed, I had to wake even the youngest at 10 am rather than him waking us at his normal 7:30 am.
When you stay at The Cloister, you’ll find yourself riverside near The Spa at Sea Island and Fitness Center, Coastal Experience Center, and Tennis Center. The Sea Island Beach Club offers five miles of private beach right across the street.
THE BEACH CLUB AT SEA ISLAND
The best part of a stay at the Cloister is the Beach Club. You enter through a hallway with gift shop, candy store and 1950’s era soda fountain, past Southern Tide restaurant, to a grand area with three pools including an adult only lap pool, two family pools – one with zero entry, splash fountain, baby pool (with palm tree cover for the little ones and sun areas for mom) and hot tub. A water slide was added a few years ago and as you can imagine is quite popular with kids of all ages.
A row of hedges separate the pools from a grassy area for sun bathing, shuffleboard, beach volleyball and an incredible sand floor kids playground with unique climbing structures. A few steps beyond is the Atlantic Ocean and beach where you can pull up a complimentary chair and umbrella or just play in the sand. Since the Cloister is the only hotel on the otherwise residential Sea Island, the beach is only as crowded as the 265 hotel rooms and suites.
Plus, access to a five-star spa and five-star restaurants. Relax, dine on divine food, and enjoy your stay.
WHAT TO DO AT THE CLOISTER AT SEA ISLAND
The Cloister at Sea Island has a dizzying array of activities ranging from golf and tennis to horseback riding, fishing, boating, water sports, and even a shooting school. Some activities are adult-oriented, and others are specially designed for kids. My boys loved the air rifles at the shooting school, and each child received a souvenir baseball cap.
The resort has three 18-hole championship golf courses, and is the home of the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic, a FedX Cup event hosted by Sea Island touring professional Davis Love III. Several other golf pros including: Matt Kucher and Zack Johnson play out of the Sea Island Golf Club as well. Total Sea Island has about a dozen golf pros that live, play or train at Sea Island.
A Spa and Fitness Center offers a variety of treatments, as well as relaxing facilities that beg you to linger.
Each morning complimentary coffee, tea and pastries are offered in The Cloister’s main building. The plain biscuits are worth getting up early. In the afternoon, tea, lemonade and cookies are available.
Each day, kids and adults can enjoy a second run film in the Movie Theatre adjacent to the Beach Club. The movie on the big screen is free, with a fee for concessions. Take a visit back in time to the Soda Fountain at Wonderland, the ice cream and candy store, where you can pick your tunes on the complimentary juke box and enjoy a divine two-scoop Gold Brick Sundae.
Work off your treat by enjoying the gorgeous manicured gardens with a walk around the resort; be sure to stop and see the live oaks planted by past U.S. presidents and heads of state from around the world.
DINING AT THE CLOISTER
You will enjoy dining at one of several exceptional restaurants around Sea Island. And there are several great options depending on the vibe you’re going for.
Tavola is an Italian restaurant with Southern charm. The food is served family-style with tables full of food meant to be savored and enjoyed with others. Traveling with the family? This spot is definitely kid-friendly.
River Bar & Lounge is a classic favorite. This spot is fun and familiar with French flair or a Southern twist. Perfect for lunch, warm and friendly for dinner, and ideal for drinks.
Celebrating a special occasion? Or treat yourself to some fine dining. Forbes Five-Star Cuisine’s, The Georgian Room, might be the right choice for you. The chef’s vision is to reinvent your favorite classic dishes using French techniques with à la carte options that change seasonally and give you the versatility to mix and match.
Or, opt for the multiple-course tasting menu, which changes nightly based on the freshest local ingredients. Collaboration between the culinary and beverage teams results in wines and cocktails that perfectly complement your meal.
THE JUNIOR STAFF PROGRAM AT THE CLOISTER
For parents that want to enjoy some time away from the kids, the Cloister is known for fantastic children’s programs run by a team of Junior Staffers. Programs range from hour long sessions to daytime camps and an evening Kids’ Night Out.
Junior Staffers are well vetted and it’s a difficult and coveted summer job. To be considered, Junior Staff candidates must be attending college at a freshman level or higher at the time of applying. After a candidate applies and passes an initial Skype interview, they are hired for the summer or deferred. If hired, the candidate must participate in one of many work experiences from November to April and are typically 5-7 days in length. Junior Staff work Memorial Day to August/Labor Day.
THE LODGE AT SEA ISLAND
If you prefer to stay in a more private and secluded location, the Lodge might be the right place for you. Surrounded by a lush natural setting and only 43 rooms, it’s equal parts intimate hideaway and Forbes Five-Star hotel.
The Lodge is welcoming, comfortable, and the hub of its own Sea Island world. With championship golf right next door.
The Lodge is like a world of its own, just a few minutes’ drive from Sea Island and The Cloister.
MORE GEORGIA BEACH RESORTS
In addition to the Cloister, the King and Prince Resort on Saint Simons Island is a beautiful historic resort on the beach. Here are a few more Georgia beaches to check out.
- The Inn at Sea Island, is actually located on Saint Simons island. This is a great choice for a golf or spa getaway if you don’t want to spend as much on the lodging, but still want the Sea Island experience.
- St Simons Island is located right next to Sea Island (as we said, the Inn is actually on St. Simons.) This is a wonderful family friendly beach with lots of hotels, restaurants and things to do. It also has a large year-round population.
- Jekyll Island Hotels. On the other side of St. Simons Island is Jekyll Island. There are several family-friendly hotel options and lots of things to do on Jekyll Island.
- Little St. Simons Island. This remote Island has only one all-inclusive hotel. Little St. Simons is a luxury resort but not luxurious, if that makes sense. This is also a favorite.
- Cumberland Island National Seashore. There are several ways to visit Cumberland Island. Visit this remote island only available by boat for a day trip, to camp overnight or stay at the Greyfield Inn, built by Lucy Carnegie for her daughter.
- Sapelo Island is also only accessible by boat. Go for a day trip, or rent a home through one of the locals. Groups can camp on the island or rent the Reynolds Mansion from the Georgia State Park Service.
- Private Islands of Georgia. Or just rent your own island, because, why not.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR GEORGIA VISIT
- YOUR GEORGIA VACATION
- JEKYLL ISLAND: Protected Coastal Beauty with Resort Fun
- LITTLE SAINT SIMONS: Little Saint Simons Island: Tips, Tricks and Tidbits
- SAINT SIMONS ISLAND: An Insider’s Guide to Stay, Eat & Play
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