On an Island in Georgia
Just getting to the historic island with its grand hotel, felt kind of like a Disney Adventure! After crossing the Sidney Lanier Bridge we were greeted by the Jekyll Island sign... on its own little island. We then, turned onto the Jekyll Island Causeway and passed between 2 old towers. Then we paid our $6.00 fee to cross the bridge over Jekyll River to get to the island, which is actually a State Park... 65% undeveloped.
As we approached the original club building with its 1901 annex, I was distracted by splotches of white covering the green lawn. As we got closer, I could see that the images were croquet players, dressed in white.
The game was just ending, so I got no photos. I had to chuckle at the thought of dressing in white to play the game, since my croquet memories include cut-offs and bare feet. The serious looking players toted some mighty big mallets which looked nothing like the ones I remember!
I'm not a big fan of clubs, especially exclusive ones. I didn't last long as a Girl Scout and I had no urge to join a sorority.
But the hotel is not really a club anymore and no one was telling me what I could or could not do. So I enjoyed a little sitting and wondering about those 53 original members/investors who opened the club nearly 130 years ago.
Round Porches and Rooms...
The once exclusive club could have been housed in a more rigid or intimidating structure. But the asymmetric design of this building with all the curves and curious rooflines, made this hotel look playfully inviting.
A Calm Place
Changes Over Time
The porches were a little empty during our visit in January, but that was partially due to the temps. The hotel has seen even quieter days in its history. The Club lost half its members during the depression and they were forced to close during WWII. The state of Georgia ended up buying the island in 1947, but it was never successful in operating the resort. The hotel closed down in 1971 and eventually reopened as a luxury resort in 1985.
The hall ended at the entrance to the dining room, near the staircase and some cozy sitting areas. The woodwork and fireplaces were inviting. The boar's head above the fire... was amusing.
A few steps beyond the fireplace was this sunny, round room which was set up for a Victorian Tea. There were tea cups at the ready and rose or two on each table.
No Tea for Us
The staff was prepping a long table with finger sandwiches, scones and other teatime treats. Don and I passed on tea, but enjoyed sneaking a peek after 4:00, when we saw quite a few ladies in festive hats, sipping their tea.
At the turn of the century, I'm sure the ladies who arrived by yacht from the northeast, also enjoyed fancy teatimes. But I was surprised to learn that women in 1888 were encouraged to participate in many athletic activities, including hunting.
There was an elevator, but our room was up just one flight of stairs. I do love old stairs. In fact, I liked the stairs so much I kept going up.
The Top Hallway
The hallway on the top floor was a lot more curious than our second floor hall. I was intrigued by the absence of doors. I heard voices of men laughing down at the end of the hall, so of course, I walked further.
Curiouser and Curiouser
This funny little sitting area was outside the door where I heard the men laughing. Two chairs with long legs sat on an uneven floor, beside two odd windows, underneath a low ceiling. (The window view was quite lovely) Then I heard a noise coming from the elevator. I was almost knocked over by the bellman's cart. He didn't see me as I squeezed by.
Our hall and floor wasn't mysterious and full of laughter, but Don and I were quite pleased when we found our room. We, as always, had booked the most economical room, but were graciously given an upgrade, without asking.
Comfy and Spacious
The king bed and flatscreen TV were reminders of today, but the woodwork and fireplace were nice peeks into the past.
When we opened our shutters, we had a nice view of the pool and the river beyond.
Then and Now
It was too chilly for a swim in the old pool. But we had a nice view of the sun lowering over the pool in the evening. Too bad the old diving board and platform are now gone.
In the evening we joined a few others at the cozy bar at the bottom of the stairs. The Club didn't have a bar originally. During the filming of Bagger Vance, a bar was temporarily created for some scenes. It became so popular, they built a permanent one.
We chatted with a number of interesting guests that evening. The most intriguing person at the bar, was the gentleman on the right. 94-year-old Harry Anderson is a well-known yachtsman from Mystic, Connecticut. He started coming to Jekyll island as a child with his grandfather, who was one of the original members when the club first opened.
Grand Dining Room
All was even more swanky at night. We weren't traveling with swanky dress clothes though, so luckily they were flexible. Men's jackets were preferred, not required.
Flavors, Fire and Music
What a treat to enjoy our lovely feast and head up to bed. No coats and no car... just one flight of stairs and we were home.
It's not a perfect one, but it's worth sharing. The link below talks about the island's history with segregation and integration. There is more good in the history than I realized.
I love it when an overnight stay encourages me to learn more.
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!