Category Archives: Romantic get-a-ways

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.)

Fashionable Romance at the Biltmore

Wedding Gowns in Film

Costumes worn by actors Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant in "Sense and Sensibility"

Costumes worn by actors Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant in “Sense and Sensibility”

In celebration of Biltmore’s long history as a location for weddings and romantic getaways, the estate is hosting a new costume exhibition highlighting love stories from iconic films. Fashionable Romance: Wedding Gowns in Film will showcase wedding dresses and attire from major motion pictures spanning centuries of design. Continue reading

A Romantic Getaway in Myrtle Beach, SC

Grab your honey and head for Myrtle Beach for some great off-season fun!

Some people  think of Myrtle Beach primarily as a summer beach or golf destination, but there’s plenty to do off-season along the Grand Strand.

Accommodations:  Get some great winter rates at  Marriott’s Resort & Spa at Grand Dunes. Enjoy an oceanfront/view room or a 2-bedroom villa. Walk on an uncrowded beach, have a drink in the bar with an ocean view, or indulge at their Hibiscus Spa with a winter special of two mini spa services (facial, manicure, pedicure or massage)  for just $85.

Upscale dining: 

Brentwood Restaurant & Wine Bistro

Brentwood Restaurant & Wine Bistro

(1)The Brentwood Restaurant & Wine Bistro (Little River, SC)  Featuring “Low  Country French Cuisine,” this unique restaurant is located  in a quaint Victorian home built in 1910. With several fireplaces and private dining rooms this is the place for a great romantic dinner!  The staff will gladly share stories about how the house is haunted!

Select from the Chef’s 7-course Tasting Menu, a 4-course “Prix Fixe,” or the La Carte dinner menu. I selected the Cote De Beuf (Cadillac of Steaks) while my husband had a daily special of Beef Wellington.  The Brentwood also boasts a huge wine selection. In fact, several rooms are totally wallpapered with wine corks!  Chef Eric Masson, who holds three culinary degrees, won first place in the 201 1 Coastal Uncorked Iron Chef competition.

(2) Croissants Bistro & Bakery 

Scallops and ahí tuna with wasabi mashed potatoes

Scallops and ahí tuna with wasabi mashed potatoes

One of Myrtle Beach’s favorite spots for breakfast, lunch, brunch or dinner Croissants Restaurant & Bistro on Grissom Parkway won’t disappoint. My husband and I had dinner there recently, experiencing  Chef Bradley Daniels’ special creations. Continue reading