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.
Days 3 and 4: Spa, Fishing, Yacht Cruising—and Falconry
We move from The Lodge to the 275-room spot known as The Cloister, also a Forbes 5-star accommodation. The lush 50 acres feel like a hideaway; there’s abundant history here (witness the Spanish Lounge and pictures of presidents and socialites who’ve visited since 1928; the place was completely rebuilt in 2006). What’s striking about this portion of the resort is its Spanish colonial motif, which, when combined with an exceptional level of service, provide a thoroughly modern stay.
A word about breakfast. My father, a former Marine, used to intone about the vital importance of this first meal of the day. He’d love the breakfast options here, where the kitchen staff at restaurants like Oak Room (at The Lodge) and Tavola (at The Cloister) treat breakfast as they do other meals: like customized, high art. Anthony and I both enjoy made-to-order frittatas (heavy on the spinach and other veggies), while Frank and David indulge in their own combos of steel-cut oatmeal and mounds of fresh, local fruit. Other standouts include avocado and egg tartine, with sourdough toast, roasted tomatoes, smoked ricotta and crispy ham; and traditional French toast, with caramelized apple, toasted pecans and bourbon maple syrup.
Nourished for the hours ahead, we head to the Spa, which also receives Forbes 5-Star recognition, and for good reason: the place is a knockout with exceptional wellness and healing options. Flow—specifically, the flow of water and its connections to our lives and life on this slice of the Georgia coastline—is the enduring theme from the minute guests approach the Spa. A pre- or post-treatment atrium, which feels like a luxe grotto, features a pool of water streaming through and around its expanse. It’s stunning. Treatments here include massage, facials (for men, there’s the so-called Handsome, Not Rugged; other options include bio-energy lifts and hydrafacials) and cryotherapy. The Fitness Center, adjacent to the Spa, boasts personal trainers and classes in yoga, Pilates, Zumba and even family fit workouts.
We are now sufficiently chill, so it’s time to hit the water for some of the best angling on the planet. While the resort can arrange for deep-water fishing miles out in the Atlantic, there are riches close to shore on the shallow intracoastal waterway. The boat’s skipper knows every spot that will yield a catch, and sure enough, Anthony reels in a 40-pound red fish, which he wrestles for nearly 15 minutes as the skipper offers a volley of tips and encouragement from the wheel.
“This was something special,” says Anthony over dinner later that day. “I’ve never caught a fish before. Never. And what happens? I catch my first, and it’s 40 pounds—a beast! I’m telling you, there’s something magical about this place.”
I pass along this story to Mike Kennedy, Sea Island’s director of recreation and resort logistics, and he nods knowingly. “Sea Island is all about experiencing many things for the first time,” he says. “Our underdeveloped coasts offer the best fishing, of course, including speckled trout, flounder and even tarpon during their migration. And we also have activities for every diversion, from skeet-shooting to kayaking. We can take you 45 minutes to Cumberland Island to see wild horses and enjoy the solitude, and we can set up a Low Country seafood feast on a beach that you paddle to on a kayak—or we can teach you how to sail.”
Kennedy is also proud of the resort’s new 72-foot, three-level yacht, which was custom-designed to cruise the shallow marshes adjacent to the resort. It cost more than $2 million to build, and Kennedy says the reception to the new craft from guests has been overwhelming. “It’s great for getting people out into the water to see the wildlife and, of course, sip a cocktail at sunset.” I can attest to this: The deck provides a spectacular vantage point for watching the sun do a slow fade on the horizon, painting the sky with vibrant pinks and purples.
Our last morning is all about taking flight. We hitch a ride on a golf cart to Rainbow Island and meet with Paige Hansen, a self-described “bird nerd,” who is a trained falconer. She educates us about birds of prey and the ancient sport of hunting with these incredible creatures. We first meet Mikey, a Harris hawk. Hansen asks if anyone wants to wear a thick glove for the big hawk swoop upon. We’re game, and Frank goes first. Hansen tucks a slab of mouse parts between two fingers of the glove, and Mikey, who is perched on the branch of a tree 30 feet away, flies in to land on Frank’s hand, quickly dispatching with the mouse parts in seconds. We also meet Scout, a 3-year-old Eurasian eagle owl, which Hansen has raised since it was 4 weeks old. We learn how it’s able to fly silently for prey (tiny, comb-like bristles on its wing), its diet in the wild (other birds, reptiles and rodents) and how it has bonded for life with Hansen.
Which is an apt metaphor to end our stay. I met three strangers who were thrown together with me for several days of discovery. We likely bonded for life. And for those who visit here, a relationship with this place and its geography also develops; it anchors itself into our souls.
On the ride of the airport, our travel buddy David, who was an executive in the hospitality industry for 15 years, says it best, “There’s always a moment of truth at a resort with customer service, and they exceeded it here every step of the way. What a find. It’s something I’ll never forget.”
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.