A bit lofty you say for a hotel to call itself “a landmark experience?” Even without a list to know what that might actually mean, I’d say my stay at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel on the Georgia coast was landmark worthy.
Let’s look at the pieces.
Guests play croquet on the lawn each afternoon, in sight of the turret on the pale yellow Victorian building. Not routine on my hotel stays.
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The exterior, guest rooms, parlors and dining room matched my imagined view of aristocracy with expansive, fine molding, soft chocolate brown leather chairs, intricate tile and grillwork on fireplaces, grand views and those lawns whether croquet time or not.
White wicker chairs with soft pastel cushions, rocking chairs with tall backs and wide armrests fill porches and verandahs.
Built in 1886 as a winter retreat for wealthy northern families, the hotel today anchors a National Historic Landmark District and that means guests are part of 244 acres and 33 historic structures designated significant by the National Parks Service, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Register of Historic Places.
You don’t have to travel very far and wide to discover historic landmark buildings, but an entire district is quite another matter.
Historic Hotels of America embraces this property as a member; I’ve always thought staying in every HHA lodging would be a fine bucket list.
What Works for Families
Room configurations vary widely, as always in historic properties and many adjoin or have multiple beds. Talk to registration staff to find the best fit.
The Rockefellers, Carnegies and Pierponts praised the Club for its splendid isolation but today Wi-Fi is free and a breeze to sign on; that works for families with teens and for parents or grandparents staying connected to work.
You can read in this room thanks to ceiling lights. So many hotel rooms are too dim.
Paths throughout the landmark historic district invite bike riding; bring your own or rent from the hotel just underneath the spacious stairway at the front door.
Look down because the bicycle patio is made of wooden blocks in brick shapes—originals from 1886.
Proper does not feel stuffy here.
What Doesn’t Work for Families
Stuff does not fit.. All the devices and outfits with which we seem to travel won’t fit. Closets didn’t figure in 1886 construction and the narrow armoire in my room already had nine hangars, two plush robes, an ironing board and bag of extra bedding. My clothes remained folded in the luggage.
Plugs. We’re a greedy lot, device-dependent travelers even as we choose the experience of historic hotels.
I understand why there weren’t plugs to recharge my tablet, phone, camera and laptop or to plug up my husband’s portable oxygen concentrator and CPAP machine.
Those plugs were already in use for the flat-screen tv, floor and table lamps, radio and alarm clock. One was behind the massive bed and couldn’t be reached.
Yes, the bathroom outlet helped but we had to move the coffee pot there in the morning to plug in. Travel with extension cords and a power strip…but respect the wiring of a gracious old lady like this lovely hotel.
One of Georgia’s fabled barrier islands is home for the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. A seven-mile causeway connects the island to the mainland, just off Interstate 95.
Airports in Jacksonville, Florida, and Savannah, Georgia, are the closest connections, 70 miles and 90 miles respectively. Atlanta’s Hartsfield International is 315 miles.
Expect room rates in the $200s but explore the ranges when discussing room configurations in the main clubhouse and the Crane and Cherokee cottages.
Families might not choose the Grand Dining Room adjacent to the lobby bar each night but can feel comfortable doing so. My family found the wait staff gracious and accommodating.
Other options include the pool bar and grill, dining room in the adjacent Crane Cottage and a bakery and pastry shop. Should you want to leave the Hotel, Jekyll Island offers dining options too.
Adults without kids might linger strictly at the hotel, daydreaming, gazing, strolling, ambling from one porch to another or across the road to the inland waterway, maybe around the landmark historic district. Calm is abundant here.
Families with energy or with kids will have to pick and choose because Jekyll Island activities are as abundant as the calm.
Georgia’s Seat Turtle Center might top the list, but so does the ocean. Details need to be another story.