The ultimate guys’ weekend escape, Sea Island, ups the ante for fun with dream golf, world-class angling, a five-diamond spa and even a little falconry for the bucket list.
Together with Sea Island we sent a select group of Committee members and one Modern Luxury editor to experience the best of the best located just a quick flight away. Join us for this three part journey.
It’s not a noise I’ve heard before, especially at 6:22 in the morning. It’s the sound of a light lashing, nearly beautiful, like a tuning fork in a headwind—and it persists, over and over, every minute. I wonder if it’s a branch of one of the live oaks tapping our cottage’s downspout with the rhythm of a steady, warm breeze. I decide to leave my bed and investigate, walking down the stairs of the cottage I’m sharing with three other gents at Sea Island (seaisland.com). The noise grows louder and deeper, and I know I’m on the wrong side of its force field. It’s coming from behind a thick, white door adjacent to the kitchen.
I turn the knob, open the door and see a man—inside my house—hitting a golf ball off a tee into twilight. It’s Anthony Flynn, one of my travel mates for the next four days. He’s in a garage-size hitting bay, complete with buckets of golf balls, clubs, AstroTurf and a leather couch for spectators. The hitting bay is actually part of the cottage, and a metal door rises with the push of a button to reveal a lush, manicured golf course and range. (I think of the scene in Field of Dreams, where a baseball ghost asks, “Is this heaven?” and Kevin Costner says, “No, it’s Iowa.” Well, Anthony could have asked me the same question, and my reply, naturally, “No, it’s Sea Island.”)
Anthony’s shoulders rotate and glide through an invisible plane as he drives the ball straight and far. “Did I wake you, man?” he asks, grinning.
I shake my head. “How long have you been out here hitting?”
“Oh, maybe an hour? I don’t know, I lost track. Look at this amazing setup! This is beyond fun. It’s addictive,” he says.
Indeed, the entire place—the only resort in the world to achieve four Forbes five-star ratings 12 years running—resides in the realm of addiction, from golf to food, and provides a perfect home base for getting away with friends. Sea Island, located on the southeast coast of Georgia, is 5 miles long and 1 mile wide. Sunrise is even different down here; it’s not a sleepy passage, it’s a show. And how could it not be? Part of Sea Island nudges up against the Atlantic (including The Cloister) and another section (The Lodge and its Plantation golf course) rides shotgun with the intracoastal waterway. The geography is part of the Golden Isles of Georgia, which include St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island, Little St. Simons Island.
When it comes to COVID and safety, the resort has gone beyond the expected. Safety is their mantra, and it shows in every room, every restaurant and among its staff members. With so much outdoor space and adventures on water and on golf courses, Sea Island, which has ungone $30 million in recent improvements, is made for social distancing. “Our team prides itself on welcoming people home,” Sea Island’s President and CEO Scott Steilen tells me one afternoon after I offer hosannas about the genuine care and attention I’ve received from every staff member. He adds. “We’re the world’s best-kept secret, and we pride ourselves on families and friends connecting again.”
Or, in the case of three Mensbook ambassadors and an Modern Luxury editor, connecting for the first time. The premise of our trip is simple: Gather four gents who don’t know each other, ease them into a resort with more toys and diversions than Santa’s workshop, and see what happens—most notably, if Sea Island can work its charms with complete strangers. My traveling companions are David McClymont, CEO of the Palm Beach Symphony (palmbeachsymphony.org); Frank Ishman, award-winning, Chicago-based photographer (frankishman.com); and Anthony Flynn, founder and president of Amazing CEO (amazingceo.com).
We all gladly accept the challenge.
Day 1: King Cottage at The Lodge
If you’re going to spend time at Sea Island with strangers, lots of elbow room doesn’t hurt. This two-year-old waterfront cottage, measuring 4,200 square feet, features four bedrooms and four and a half baths. (Other new cottages have two bedrooms and two and a half baths.) It boasts a common area to hang with your buddies, and the bedrooms are like private wings at a bed and breakfast. Leather couches and chairs, wide-plank hardwood floors and fireplaces set the tone in the common area, and the massive bedrooms, each with two queen-size beds, 55-inch TVs and marble-lined bathrooms deliver the luxe. The cottage and its porch face the Plantation golf course, which recently received a redesign at the brilliant hands of Davis and Mark Love. The course recently won the prestigious Renovation of the Year Award from Golf Inc. So, yes, the stage is set for fun.
We settle into the cottage and begin our easy banter, which would last the length of the trip. We talk golf, music, surfing, skateboarding, travel, kids, wives, books, movies, beer, cocktails—and this is a conversational warmup. We order beer, onion rings and fries as the time rolls amiably.
We walk through The Lodge and marvel at the lobby, lined with dark woods, antiques and rich tapestries and Turkish rugs reminiscent of a Scottish estate. The space is regal, but the atmosphere is eminently warm. The Lodge has 45 rooms, each up to 800 square feet—much larger than rooms at other resorts.
Before the dinner, we notice a lone figure wearing a kilt on the greens near The Lodge: a bagpiper. As is tradition here, a piper plays each day at sunset. It’s a beautiful, almost cinematic, scene. We jump on a shuttle, arranged by a concierge at The Lodge, for dinner at Southern Tide, located at the Beach Club. Dining outside, with the Atlantic a few steps across a gorgeous beach, we’re greeted by Executive Chef Greg Smith, who recently arrived from California to helm the kitchen at the restaurant. The menu’s standouts include the tidal tower, with the chef’s daily selection of oysters, chilled king crab legs, daily ceviche and poached Georgia white shrimp. We also love the Sea Island shrimp and grits; grilled grouper tacos; and golden isles tripletail, with summer succotash, squash and Gullah barbecue sauce. (There are 10 restaurants on the property, including Italian-themed Tavola and the award-winning Georgian Room.)
We go to bed happy and full.
Interested in your own getaway? Enter to win a three day golfer’s getaway to Sea Island with our Mensbook and Sea Island Sweepstakes. Terms and conditions apply.