St. Simons, a barrier island off the coast of Georgia, is accessible by car. It's known for its beaches, excellent golf courses, fresh seafood, laid-back locals, historic lighthouse and seaside village. Delta/ASA provides daily, nonstop service from Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) to the Brunswick Golden Isles Airport (BQK), which is less than 30 minutes away. The Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) is 90 minutes from St. Simons and Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) is roughly an hour south. Private charter flights can land at the McKinnon St. Simons Airport. Accommodations range from condos and multi-bedroom resort suites to bed-and-breakfast inns and chichi boutique hotels. The largest meeting space is in Epworth by the Sea (capacity: 1,000), a Methodist conference center on the Frederica River.
Georgia's coastline is only 100 miles long, but it's home to a third of the country's salt marshes. The ecosystem in the marsh produces very sweet white shrimp known as "Wild Georgia Shrimp," and caviar rumored to be the best in the world. On a boat tour, guests can see whales and dolphins; on land, they'll see loggerhead turtles and an array of wildlife and birds. The island has been named one of America's 10 Best Winter Beach Retreats by Budget Travel.
Play off the island’s historic allure by chartering a Lighthouse Trolley for a guided tour or to shuttle attendees from point to point. The open-air trolley looks historic, but provides a smooth ride and might be piloted by naturalist, sometime-politician and local characte, Cap Fendig, whose family has lived on St. Simons since the 1800s. Fendig’s company also offers fishing and dolphin tours and beach walks.
Take attendees on a sunset shrimping cruise aboard the Lady Jane. Captain Credle and son Cliff take small groups out to see how wild Georgia shrimp are harvested. Along the way, guests will learn about other forms of indigenous marine wildlife and enjoy a shrimp boil.
The 197-room King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort opened in 1935, survived two fires, was rebuilt and reopened in 1941, just in time to be commandeered by the U.S. Navy for use as a WWII radar operator training station. The Delegal Room began its life as an open-air “casino” (gathering place) that was the center of the island’s social life. Lined with stained-glass windows depicting scenes from the island’s history, the now-enclosed space offers a stunning view of the ocean and accommodates up to 200 for banquets and 250 for receptions. The Solarium (capacity: 60 banquet-style) was the original hotel’s lobby lounge. It features distinctive crown moldings, woodwork, antique furnishings and a wraparound view of the water. Other historic meeting spaces with ocean views include the 20-person Butler boardroom and the 1,050-sq. ft. Retreat Room. The resort also has a divisible ballroom, oceanfront event lawn, 48 two- and three-bedroom villas and eight private homes that can host events. The A.W. Jones Heritage Center and adjacent St. Simons Island Lighthouse Museum are available for receptions, meetings and corporate events. Venues include an oceanfront event lawn, a historic gazebo, a 1,400-sq. ft. multipurpose room and a boardroom.
The 175-room Sea Palms Resort, a short drive from the beach, offers one- to four-bedroom suites and meeting space with views of lagoons, the salt marsh and lush golf courses. Meeting space includes a 6,500-sq. ft. climate-controlled pavilion (capacity: 600 banquet) and a conference center with 11 meeting rooms (capacity: 400 theater; 320 banquet). Other amenities: a private beach club, three swimming pools and resort activities.
Sea Palms has two golf courses on the property: an 18-hole, par-71 Tall Pines/Great Oaks course and a par-34, nine-hole executive Sea Palms West course. The 18-hole, par-72 King and Prince Golf Course is so integrated with the wild marsh landscape that tee boxes give way to hazards of wild grass, holes are linked by elevated cart bridges, and gators lurk in the historic forests and ponds between fairways.
The Village Inn & Pub is a 1930s-era beach cottage that’s been expanded to include guest rooms and an authentic English pub. The cozy pub is known for its wild orchid martinis and stone fireplace surrounded by leather lounge chairs and a sun porch. Live entertainment is a staple at SaltWater Cowboy, a steak-and-seafood restaurant within walking distance of the King and Prince. If it’s Brunswick stew or barbecue your group wants, Southern Soul Barbeque offers full-service catering and can bring its hardwood-fired smoker to prepare meals on-site.
St. Simons has some fascinating historic sites in addition to its famous lighthouse, which is still used and maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. The Maritime Center at the Historic Coast Guard Station has rooms filled with interactive maritime exhibits and a short film that gives guests a crash course on the island’s history. The Christ Church congregation dates to the 1700s. The island church was built in the 1800s and is known for its stained-glass windows and its cemetery, the final resting place of many of the island’s earliest settlers. In 1742, Spanish and British forces met in battle to decide the fate of St. Simons Island. The English soldiers of Fort Frederica were victorious. Today, the remains of their military stronghold are Fort Frederica National Monument’s main attraction.
Little St. Simons Island beckons. This private barrier island, accessible only by boat, accepts no more than 32 guests overnight. The historic Barn, a landmark within the island’s main Lodge compound, is ideal for out-of-the-way executive retreats or small corporate groups. Meeting services include planning assistance, private boat transportation, flexible meeting space, A/V support and menus. Your attendees can bird-watch, go boating or fishing, take garden walks or naturalist-led tours to learn about the ecology of the island and its plant and animal inhabitants, or lounge on the beach. Meeting doesn’t get much greener than this. Little St. Simons delivers 10,000 unbothered, unhurried acres of wildlife, deserted beaches, maritime forests and vast salt marshes.