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Monday, November 5, 2012

SEA ISLAND "A Place To Go To Soothe Your Soul"

Sea Island "A Place To Go To Soothe Your Soul"
Recently I had the opportunity to visit Sea Island with friends to "soothe my soul" from the rigors of business and life. It is no wonder that Sea Island, with its attentive staff and outstanding Southern hospitality, has secured 4 coveted Forbes Travel Guide 5 star awards for two of its hotels, The Cloister and Lodge at Sea Island; its Georgian Room Restaurant and Cloister Spa.

The Island is surrounded by 5 miles of Atlantic Ocean Beach and overlooks wide salt marshes.  Coastal breezes and many live oak trees keep the temperatures moderate. The stately trees were also planted by 7 US Presidents from Calvin Coolidge to Bill Clinton.  Also, a Summit meeting room was recreated for President Bush's famous G8 Summit.

From the West Coast it is an easy trip to this beautiful refuge. I flew from San Francisco to Jacksonville and it is about a 1.5 hour drive to the island halfway between Jacksonville and Savannah. From the minute you check into the Lodge you feel the passion and kindness of the proud and lucky members of the Sea Island Staff.
We arrived on the last day of the McGladrey Classic spearheaded by Davis Love and his wife who live on the island.  Jim Furyk, VJ Singh and local residents Zach Johnson and Charles Howell were also in the strong field. More than a dozen PGA pros call Sea Island home.
This was the third year of the tournament and the Seaside course was in perfect condition with well manicured fairways and greens that were rolling fast. It was a fight to the finish as hometown favorite Davis Love fought to the end but could not hold off "Two Glove Tommy Gainey" who shot a sizzling course record of 60 barely missing a putt on the last hole for a 59. His brilliant 10 under par score won him his first PGA Tour victory and first prize of nearly 800 thousand dollars.

There are 4 great golf courses at Sea Island including the private course Ocean Forest. Seaside is site of the McGladery Classic and ranges from 5,048 to 7,005 yards; 120 to 141 slope.  We had a chance to play it after the tournament and the links style course was very challenging with the greens rolling tournament style and very pure. No wonder 2012 Mc Gladery Champion Two Glove Tommy was quoted “I love these greens."
The Plantation is a par 72 and ranges from 5194 to 7058 yards and slope form 122 to 136.  The Rees Jones designed course offer challenges for the novice to the skilled golfer. 

The Retreat is also a par 72 and ranges from 5,082 to 7106 and 117 to 135 slope. Davis Love and his brother Mark renovated the course in 2000 and is a fair challenge for all golfing levels.
Ocean Forest is the private course at Sea Island. We had the pleasure of playing it and the greens were even faster than Seaside running around 14. The Rees Jones designed course is a par 72 and ranges from 5101 yards to 7321 yards and slope ratings 126 to 148. 


It is truly a challenging golf course cut thru massive types of various trees with magnificent views of the ocean and alligators comfortably basking by the lakes on the course.   Bald eagles have also chosen to nest on this pristine piece of property. We were lucky to see these majestic birds do a fly over for us as we were playing the challenging 216 yard par 3 17th ocean hole. 

Sea Island also has a golf learning center that is high tech and run by a renowned team of professionals. The center goes way beyond diving and putting skills. Randy Myers, Director of Fitness was quoted, “Players cannot expect to overcome golf's many challenges without peak physical fitness and mental focus."  

I had the pleasure of getting a putting analysis with Mike Shannon who also works with 16 tour players including 2012 Fed Ex champion Brandt Snedeker. The computer analysis is very interesting and helpful in recognizing how to improve the most important part of the game.
After the putting lesson, I experienced a long game lesson with Victor deSola. We also had the opportunity to golf with Victor at Ocean Forest so he knew our game. The video analysis was very helpful and the entire lesson is sent by text to your phone immediately following for the golfer to study the suggestions. After the long game analysis, Victor also gave us a short game lesson. 
Besides golf, Sea Island offers "something for everyone" with tennis, fishing, boating, horseback riding on the beach, squash, bocce ball, hiking, a 65,000 square foot fitness center, indoor pools, sea turtle expeditions, kayaking and a shooting school. 

The resort has a feeling of genuine happiness as you see many of the guests riding bikes around smiling like they were 12 years old again. 

In November 2012 Sea Island will add a new offering of a 5,800 acre Broadfield Sporting Club. Sea Island's sporting club can be accessed 3 ways as a Broadfield member, a Sea Island member or as a guest of Sea Island. Guests at the resort will have access to pheasant and quail hunting, 5-stand clay shooting, freshwater fishing, falconery, and use of the rifle and pistol range.  

The resort also features the Bag Piper playing at sunset like Pebble Beach and St. Andrews and some great restaurants. 
We had the pleasure of going to 3 of the restaurants. Colt and Alison at the Lodge features high back leather chairs overlooking the Plantation course's 18th hole and a wood burning fireplace.  There is also an extensive wine list and Chef John Helfrich offers a variety of wet and dry aged beef and fresh seafood. The table side Caesar salad preparation is also a touch of class.  

Southern Tide at the Sea Island Beach Club is an Oceanside restaurant honoring the traditions of Sea Island such as slow smoked oak brined pork ribs and Georgia grilled quail. Chef Jason McGarry also prepared some perfected seasoned oysters, southern fried chicken and baked beans that tasted sensational to the palate.  

The Cloister Tavola (Table) Restaurant which recently opened in March was my favorite. Having recently been in Rome, Chef Paola Bugli Italian roots are quite evident with an assortment of food that is prepared like a Michelangelo work of art. 

Some of my favorites were the fresh thin crusted pizzas, eggplant cannelloni, risotto, house cured prosciutto, olive ciabatta baked in an open kitchen, and homemade cannoli's.   The rustic atmosphere and attentive knowledgeable service insures a relaxing dinner complimented by a wide selection of Italian vino and food that can be described as heavenly. 

From sunrise to sunset, Sea Island is a place to “soothe your soul" and has "something for everyone to fill your day."  I look forward to returning to this slice of heaven on earth.
For more information and to make reservations go to:

Click here: Luxury 5 Star Resort | Sea Island | Five Star Hotel in Georgia

From the web site, “With the opening of The Cloister in 1928, Bill Jones and automobile magnate Howard Coffin created “a friendly little hotel” on the southern coast of Georgia. In the many years that have passed since Sea Island’s first guest, much in our world has changed. But some things – such as the values of treasuring family, friends, and nature – have remained timeless.
As the resort has evolved through the years, the simple traditions that define Sea Island have been preserved. The same children who once played on the shore years ago now bring their children and grandchildren to play on the same beach. Couples celebrate their golden anniversaries where they first honeymooned. Families reminisce of past vacations, while creating new memories and family traditions.
For more than 80 years, the foundation of genuine warmth and hospitality has remained constant. Between the marshland and the sea exists an island where the world is almost perfect. That place is Sea Island."