A Journey Back in Time to the Jekyll Island Club
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the Jekyll Island Club on Jekyll Island, Georgia for a much needed girls weekend. I knew of the beauty of Jekyll Island but had never visited. Obsessed with the history and culture of the late 1800's and early 1900's I knew the Jekyll Island Club was a playground for society's elite at the turn of the century and in my mind the only place I wanted to stay when I visited. It did not disappoint. Join me as I share my weekend transported back in time, loving every second!
History of the Jekyll Island Club
The Jekyll Island Club was founded in 1886 by some of the richest and most powerful men in our history. Names which include Astors, Rockefellers, Goulds and Morgans, to name a few, created a winter hunting retreat. The Jekyll Island Club began with a 60-room clubhouse, then adding a six-unit apartment building, named San Souci, in 1896, becoming America’s first condominiums.
In 1901, an annex was constructed to handle membership growth. Between 1888 and 1928, members began to build "cottages" on the island, offering them private accommodations during their visits. The first golf course was laid in 1898 and a marina, swimming pool, tennis courts, bocci, and croquet lawns (shown in the picture above) followed shortly after.
The club was abandoned during the depression and eventually sold to the state of Georgia in 1947. The state attempted to run it as a hotel until the 1970's and then after a $20 million dollar restoration reopened the hotel in 1986. It is now a National Historic Landmark and a member of the Historic Hotels of America.
THE JEKYLL ISLAND CLUB
There is no shortage of activities to do at the club. It operates just as it did in the early 1900's as an independent entity with all amenities at your finger tips. With many upgrades in the past few years you will find everything from Four Diamond dining, bicycles, history and more.
The day we arrived we headed immediately to our hotel room, but first was greeted with a picturesque lobby decorated with soothing shades of blue, white bead-board and a coastal theme. Check in was easy and I was given a large antique brass key to the room.
I booked a double queen room located in the annex of the club. We were on the first floor and delighted to see we had one of the sunrooms facing the front lawn of the hotel with a view of the river.
With so many wonderful accomodations at the club, it was hard to choose. I loved our location due to the proximity to the Grand Dining room, cafe, bar and club amenities. We never had to walk very far and the clubhouse rooms are centrally located. Other accommodations include San Souci, Cherokee and Crane Cottage, each one with a variety of amenities, feel and benefits. To learn more visit Jekyll Club accommodations.
Dinning at the Club
The club offers a variety of dining options from casual to AAA Four Diamond and no shortage of amazing libations at each location.
After checking into our room we headed to The Wharf for a quick bite to eat. Located on the pier on the property, the Wharf features river side open air dinning, Southern favorites including peel and eat shrimp, fish 'n chips, hushpuppies, crabcakes, and fried chicken.
Other dining options include Grand Dining Room, a AAA Four Diamond restaurant serving full breakfast, lunch, dinner and tea service. The room is a Victorian style beauty and can be seen as the backdrop for the ballroom scene in the Legend of Bagger Vance, filmed at the Club.
The Pool House is located riverfront and offers outside dining in a casual poolside atmosphere. You also have the Club Cafe which offers to-go options and light fare as well as the Lobby Bar located outside of the Grand Dining Room. This one was a personal favorite and probably where spent the most down time The decor is amazing and the staff was willing to get us and serve us anything from any of the on property restaurants. There wasn't anything they were not willing to do or get for us, talk about making you feel rich and famous!
Things to Do
There is no shortage of activities to do on the island. The island is connected by miles and miles of paved biking trails allowing easy access to all points on the island. The trails take you through residential areas, ocean side and marsh landscapes. This is my recommended way to get around. The Club also offers complimentary transportation anywhere on the island.
My TOP 5 things to do on the island:
- Historic District, including Jekyll Island Club and Shops
- Georgia Sea Turtle Center
- Horton House
- Passport to the Century Tram Tour
You may notice that I left off the famous Driftwood Beach and a popular activity like shopping. Ever since Irma hit in 2017 Driftwood Beach is not the same. I am not sure of the plans to rehabilitate the area but it was badly damaged by the storm. Concrete had been placed to protect the area, but it is now scattered making it much less accessible.
As for shopping I have to say I was underwhelmed. The shopping area in the historic district is good for what it is. Small shops and boutiques nestled in the old servant homes at The Jekyll Island Club are sufficient if you need a small souvenir or gift. However, the shops at Beach Village leave something to be desired. There is a nice market and the Westin is well done. However, I found little to nothing worth purchasing. The Beach Village is fairly new, being built in 2010. So lets hope it improves.
I know that I am not alone in my love of Jekyll Island. No matter how long you spend on the island you will fall in love with the history and natural beauty. The Jekyll Island Club is a must see, even if you decide not to stay on the property. It is simply magical in its ability to transport you to another time and place in our history. Things move at a slower pace and history takes over. How could you not love that?