Category Archives: Resorts

Luxury and History–Two Historic Seaside Hotels

Oceanfront hotels are a dime a dozen along the East Coast seaboard, but it’s a real treat to find two that have survived decades and still exist as stunning destinations. Their unique stories are woven into a tapestry of Southern charm and hospitality. I recently had the opportunity to visit the King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort located on St. Simons Island, GA, and The Casa Marina Hotel in Jacksonville, FL. Both have fascinating histories and offer unique oceanfront experiences.

The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort

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This legendary hotel, a member of the National Register of Historic Places and a member of the prestigious Historic Hotels of America, is located on one of the barrier islands that make up Georgia’s coast. It first opened in 1935 as a seaside dance club. Six years later, the main hotel building opened to the public as the King and Prince Hotel.

During World War II, the hotel served as a naval coast-watching and training facility. The center of Radar operations was housed at the King and Prince which also provided officers’ quarters and classrooms. The bar at the hotel was an after-hours gathering spot for soldiers, their wives and members of the local Civil Air Patrol.

The hotel’s current restaurant “Echo” pays tribute to the hotel’s crucial part in the island’s naval history. As radar sent its electromagnetic waves in and out, the “Echo” became a heartbeat of the War’s impact on St. Simons Island. For history buffs, I highly recommend a Lighthouse Trolley Sightseeing Tour of St. Simons Island, with stops at historic Ft. Frederica and Christ Church.

Swimming Pool, The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort. St. Simons Island, GA.Over the years, The King and Prince has undergone several renovations and expansions including the Resort’s cherished core–the historic main building. I was privileged to stay in one of the Cabana rooms in this Historic Building with a step-down sitting room off the bedroom and an oceanfront private patio where I enjoyed amazing sunrises and cool ocean breezes. The resort also offers suites, two-&-three bedroom Villas, beach cottages and private homes.

Oceanfront Cabana room in historic building.

Oceanfront Cabana room in historic building.

The King and Prince Resort is the only oceanfront resort on the island and is the perfect place for family vacations, business meetings, destination weddings, reunions, golf outings and romantic retreats. Its serene setting allows guests the option to stay as busy as they want or to enjoy a low-key get-a-way. Take a walk or bike on the beach; enjoy a game of tennis on clay courts; or play a round of golf on the “best marsh front course on the east coast.” And be sure to book a relaxing massage at the Royal Treatment Cottage.

Sunrise at King and Prince Resort

Sunrise at King and Prince Resort

The King and Prince offers amazing food options from casual beach fare poolside, to Echo’s Southern-coastal breakfasts, lunches and dinners featuring signature entrees such as Shrimp & Grits prepared with fresh Georgia shrimp. Executive Chef James S. Flack is always ready to prepare amazing cuisine for that special wedding or other event. The 5-course wine dinner I enjoyed while visiting the resort was the perfect ending to a perfect island adventure and it even included a gorgeous Georgia sunset to beacon me back again.

Check out this video of the resort:

The Casa Marina Hotel

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Located in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, the Casa Marina Hotel (circa 1925) is Jacksonville’s only historic hotel with the designation of Historic Hotels of America (HHA). In its heyday, it was a destination for the rich and famous. Known as the original “Famous Beach” during the Roaring Twenties, the hotel frequently hosted such movie stars as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Laurel & Hardy, Mary Pickford and later Katherine Hepburn.

It’s Spanish-Mediterranean design boasted a “first” at the beach–a fireproof building composed of stucco-concrete, tile and an automatic sprinkler system. During World War II, the United States government appropriated the Casa Marina for military housing. After the war, Casa Marina went through a succession of owners who converted it into an apartment building, a restaurant, a tea room and then a vintage clothing store. In 1991, the “grand lady” reopened as a hotel.

Sunrise from Casa Marina Hotel

Sunrise from Casa Marina Hotel

Today, the Casa Marina Hotel & Restaurant offers guests the opportunity to go back in time and experience its history with 23 bedrooms and parlor suites, each uniquely decorated to represent a different era in the hotel’s history. From the front desk to the hallways lined with black and white photos, the hotel still maintains the feel of a by-gone era.

Casa Marina offers a delicious Sunday brunch, complimentary breakfast during the week, and a fun, open-air penthouse bar on the third level that overlooks the ocean. Its  tapas menu, craft cocktails, and sunsets make the climb to the top worthwhile.

Checkout this video of the Casa Marina Hotel:

(I was hosted at both hotels as part of a media visit, but the comments and reviews are my own.)

More Disney Fun

Three Parks Offer New Adventures

Rivers of Light show at WDW Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s new Rivers of Light nighttime show.

Engage in intergalactic battles at the new Star Wars Launch Bay in Hollywood Studios, view the spectacular “Rivers of Light”nighttime show in Animal Kingdom, make an icy trek to Arendelle at Epcot’s “Frozen Ever After” attraction and become a globetrotter on “Soarin’ Around the World.”

This article appears in Allegiant’s in-flight magazine, Sunseeker (Dec. ’16-Feb. ’17). Click here to read entire article.  more-disney-fun

Roam: 3 Days in Myrtle Beach

A Great 3-Day Escape to Myrtle Beach

Discover the quirky charms of South Carolina’s most popular family vacation destination.

(This story appears in the March 2016 issue of West Jet Air’s in-flight magazine and was written by Sandra Chambers.)

Myrtle Beach Pier at State Park. (Photo courtesy of VisitMyrtleBeach.com)

Myrtle Beach Pier at State Park. (Photo courtesy of VisitMyrtleBeach.com)

Myrtle Beach’s 97 kilometres of picturesque coastline, aptly called the “Grand Strand,” is most famous for its bustling beach atmosphere, replete with live entertainment, amusement parks, acclaimed seafood restaurants, great shopping and world-class golf. But the area also has a quieter side thanks to the beaches, wetlands and quaint fishing villages on its southernmost end. Take an extra- long weekend to explore both the upbeat and the serene sides of this beloved coastal area.

Read the story: THREE DAYS In Myrtle Beach  OR  check out the entire March issue of the magazine. This article can be found on pages 23-25.

Seasonal Splendor at The Omni Grove Park Inn

The Omni Grove Park Inn is wrapped in luxury for the holidays.

The Omni Grove Park Inn is wrapped in luxury for the holidays.

Nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains and Great Smoky Mountains, this 100+ year- old, AAA Four-Diamond resort hotel is known for its elegance and southern charm. While every season is spectacular at the Omni Grove Park Inn, the winter holidays kick it up a notch with special events such as the National Gingerbread House Competition, delicious holiday dining, live music and festive decorations. Read entire article originally published in the November 2015 issue of Luxe Beat Magazine.

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Pinehurst Resort Named North America Golf Resort of the Year

 Pinehurst Resort has earned the distinction of Golf Resort of the Year by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO).

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“We are honored that IAGTO has recognized Pinehurst Resort as North America’s 2014 Golf Resort of the Year,” said Jack Bickart, senior vice president of sales. “Known as the ‘Cradle of American Golf,’ Pinehurst has hosted more single golf championships than any site in America, and made history once again with the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open in consecutive weeks in June. From Hagan to Hogan to Snead to Nicklaus to Woods and now, to Martin Kaymer and Michelle Wie, Pinehurst offers a legacy and history in golf no other resort in America can match.”

Pinehurst Resort features nine championship golf courses for guests to enjoy, including the famed Pinehurst No. 2. Opened in 1907, No. 2 was designed by Donald Ross, who called it “the fairest test of championship golf I have ever designed.” No. 2 is best known for its crowned, undulating greens, which are some of the most complex and widely hailed in the world. In 2010, the design firm of Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw began to restore the natural and strategic characteristics that were the essence of Ross’s original design.

About Pinehurst: Located in the North Carolina heartland, Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, established in 1895, is a 2,000-acre property featuring an award-winning spa, nine golf courses, tennis, and activities for the family. Widely known as the Cradle of American Golf, Pinehurst has hosted more single golf championships than any other site in America, including the U.S. Open, PGA Championship, Ryder Cup Matches, TOUR Championship and many others. In June, Pinehurst served as the site of both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open Championships in 2014 in back-to-back weeks.

 To reserve any of the wide variety of Pinehurst Resort packages, or for more information, visit Pinehurst.com or call (855) 235-8507.

Excerpted  from North Carolina Newslink (Dec. 3, 2014)