What you should know
St. Simons, a barrier island off the coast of Georgia, is accessible by car. It’s known for its beaches, golf courses, fresh seafood, laid-back locals, historic lighthouse and seaside village. Delta/ASA provides daily, nonstop service from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta 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 away 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. St. Simons’ ecosystem produces very sweet white shrimp known as “Wild Georgia Shrimp,” and caviar rumored to be among 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.
- 1,330+ guest rooms island-wide
- 36,000 square feet of space in Epworth by the Sea
- 6 golf courses
- Best values in late fall, early winter (except holidays)
- Maximum group size: 350 (most properties)
Where to meet or stay
The 197-room King and Prince Beach & 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 island social life. Lined with stained-glass windows depicting scenes from the island’s history, the now-enclosed space offers an ocean view and holds up to 200 for banquets and 250 for receptions. The Solarium (capacity: 60 banquet) was the original hotel’s lobby lounge. 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 175-room Sea Palms Resort, a short drive from the beach, has one- to four-bedroom suites and meeting space with views of lagoons, the salt marsh and 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. For receptions, meetings and corporate events try the A.W. Jones Heritage Center and adjacent St. Simons Island Lighthouse Museum with its oceanfront event lawn, gazebo, a 1,400-sq. ft. multipurpose room and a boardroom.
Where to meet naturally
Little St. Simons Island, a 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, AV support and menus. Your attendees can bird-watch, go boating or fishing, take garden walks or naturalist-led tours. 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.
Where to play
Sea Palms has two golf courses: 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 Maritime Center at the Historic Coast Guard Station is filled with interactive maritime exhibits and a short film that gives guests a crash course on island history. The Christ Church congregation dates to the 1700s. The church building, erected in the 1800s, is known for its stained-glass windows and cemetery. In 1742, Spain ad Britain battled the island, with English soldiers of Fort Frederica winning. Learn more at the Fort Frederica National Monument.
Where to eat
The Village Inn & Pub is a 1930s beach cottage that’s been expanded to include guest rooms and an English pub known for wild orchid martinis and a stone fireplace surrounded by leather lounge chairs and a sun porch. 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.
How to travel
Charter 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 character Cap Fendig, whose family has lived on St. Simons since the 1800s. Fendig’s company also offers fishing and dolphin tours and beach walks.