Looking for an affordable place to stay on luxe Jekyll Island, Georgia? Check out this review of the oceanfront Holiday Inn Resort to see if it’s a fit for your family when visiting the Golden Isles.
If your family’s brand loyalty takes you to Holiday Inns as you travel, you’re in luck with a trip to Georgia’s barrier island named Jekyll, near the town of Brunswick.
If that’s not your must-go-to lodging brand, your luck is just as good because this one’s a Holiday Inn Resort, new styling with 48 so branded worldwide.
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I traveled with curiosity and was rewarded with a new oceanfront attitude on this portion of Georgia’s Golden Isles.
The Initial Appearance
Déjà vu greeted us with a feeling of familiar pulling up to the long, stretched-out, two-story building. Holiday Inn-ish for sure. Standard green on the sign.
Cars parked in front of their door, or close to stairs to the second floor. Portico indicating doors to lobby. Third floor features ocean view from the coffee and cocktails, plus sandwiches, shop.
That’s where the changes began. Sleek, modern reception area in shades of pale ocean-blue with art evoking bubbles and sea foam. Public areas reflecting location.
Floor-to-ceiling wall of windows facing east to the Atlantic Ocean. Concierge desks—two of them—inviting check-in comfortably seated, and destination information. Stand-up option too so multiple families can check in simultaneously.
The Back Yard
If going to your room before the beach is your goal, better keep the kids in the car because the wall of glass pulls everybody outside fast from the Holiday Inn Jekyll Island reception area.
That allure could be the playground with Crayola primary colors defining slides, swings and climbing towers.
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Or seek out the lawn. Really. Abundant grass at the beach, inviting coolness for bare feet and soft surfaces for a picnic.
How often does beach access include toes in green grass? As a dog friendly resort, petting a pooch happens too.
Smooth paved bike lanes wind through this back yard, separate from the lawn, separate from the sand and connected to a system of 20 miles around the Island.
Easy social distancing with abundant spaces.
Good chance of nabbing an ocean view because only 20 of the 157 rooms don’t face the sea. Might need to book early to get a suite: only 21 of them and all ocean-view.
Separate living and sleeping spaces distinguish the suites, and some have kitchenettes. King beds and queen beds too.
Two of the suites have a bunk bed setup in the living area, complete with its own sliding wall to cordon off completely. For the kids that apparently feels like a secret hideaway and for the parents, well, perhaps options for romance.
“If we could have imagined how popular those bunk beds would be as room types, we would have built more,” resort officials told me, so my advice is book early.
Seeking accessibility? Fifteen guestrooms are so configured.
Certainly expect air conditioning and free wifi in all the guestrooms, plus hair dryers and flat-screen tvs.
Anticipate two options for dining beyond that third-floor perch. Both site restaurants are family friendly.
The Anchor is poolside which means it’s also oceanview. Lunch and dinner possible here.
For all three meals, the Beach House opens in distinct time frames, not 24/7 style.
Up to four kids eat free as long as they are age 12 and under.
The Anchor works well in lovely Georgia weather but would be daunting on a cold or rainy day because it’s all al fresco. Since the vast majority of Georgia coastal days are pleasant, this means dining by the pool, in view of the lawns, ocean and playground – a short walk from your room.
My family shared excellent pizzas the first night: veggie for one, pepperoni and extra cheese the other.
On the third floor crow’s nest of this basically two-story lodging is another dining option, sort of a coffee shop with full bar. Also in this top floor section are the kids’ activities room, guest laundry and fitness center adjoining a cheerful balcony overlooking the lawns and the sea.
Lovely spot for a cocktail.
Ride your bikes to Beach Village, a boutique shopping and dining commons in development.
Wild Georgia shrimp or barbecue can be ordered at one window, serious meat, cheese, bread sandwiches at another and salad charged by the pound at a spacious chilled bar.
If you forgot to pack wine or sunscreen, get it here. Full-service this market.
TravelingMom Tip: Food is excellent at the Market and Deli to eat in or take out, prepared, ready-to-eat or groceries.
The ocean, big pool, kiddy pool, whirlpool hot tub and playground are right out the back door and almost always in view.
A full-time activities director guarantees frequent programming, including rainy day activities in the third-floor kids’ room with window views to the ocean.
Sea Turtle Tip
Sure, many beach hotels guide visitors to new understanding of marine life and specifically sea turtles but Jekyll Island has the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and a serious mission to rehabilitate hurt turtles and to protect the eggs and guide the babies back to sea.
Diamondback terrapins live their whole life in the barrier islands’ brackish water. That’s a mix of salt and fresh water.
Prompt the kids to look out the windows along the causeway to the island. They might see a terrapin, and for certain, they can find the cutouts in the cement to allow crossing Diamondbacks through.
Ask at the Resort front desks to borrow a flashlight with a red cover to mute the light when you walk around at night, and plan ahead not to gripe if the reading lights in your room are dim because that too is part of turtle protection.
Hope you get lucky and discover a turtle release back to the sea when you are there; their healing can not be scheduled so this is good fortune if you vacation on a return-to-the-sea day, not event booking.
Getting Around the Holiday Inn Resort on Jekyll Island
Pay $7 (called a parking fee) when you enter Jekyll Island via a paved causeway, not a towering bridge, with funds directed to conservation and stewardship.
The credit card kiosk is easy to use and you’ll see the benefits quickly with canopy roads, ancient water oak trees and dune grasses, plus lush lawns in the Landmark Historic District and residential neighborhoods, similar to the Holiday Inn Resort back yard.
“Stewards of a delicate balance” is how the Jekyll Island Authority describes this state park.
For bike rentals, consider the Jekyll Island Authority. The Bike Barn is in a great location with inviting street names: the intersection of Shell Road and N. Beachview Drive, near the miniature golf course.
Double trikes, surreys for two and four people, tandems, trailers and all the conventional adult and kids’ bikes are available.
Funny open-air electric cars called Red Bugs can be rented at the airport for the hour or up to five days.
Since the Island is only seven miles long and 1.5 wide, good chance you can explore it all.
The 11-acre water park named Summer Waves could lure a family away from the Holiday Inn Resort on Jekyll Island and so, perhaps, could four golf courses.
Driftwood Beach is another of the jaunts on Jekyll with an alluring name.
This is an IHG franchise hotel with a descriptive address: 701 North Beachview Drive.
Have you stayed on one of Georgia’s barrier islands? Love to hear your experiences.