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You can, of course, expect Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star luxury during your stay at The Cloister, but here are five other things we think you should know about this gorgeous Sea Island hotel before packing your bags:
1. First things first, The Cloister is a family-friendly hotel where kids young and old will enjoy a memorable stay. Between the game room, three swimming pools, beachfront activities and water sports, youngsters will have no trouble finding something to keep them busy throughout the day. If you don’t want to leave them to their own devices, kids can sign up for the year-round Camp Cloister (ages 3 to 8) or Club Sea Island (ages 9 to 12), open during the summer and spring break.
2. Get ready for a packed itinerary. This Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel offers a large variety of activities for all ages and interests, from kayaking and boating on the Cloister Belle yacht to swimming on five miles of private beach and horseback riding on the sand. If you’re into sports, reserve time slots on one of the three squash courts, eight Har-Tru tennis courts or three golf courses (Seaside is the home of the PGA Tour’s McGladrey Classic), or take some lessons at the shooting school.
3. The Sea Island hotel is a dining destination. The standout is Georgian Room, the only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star restaurant in the state. The refined, seasonal Southern cuisine — with dishes like Wagyu beef with creamed peas, carrot confit and Madeira-braised cipollini — will make you a return diner, but save room for other onsite eateries. We enjoyed Tavola, which opened at the hotel in spring 2012. The Tuscan restaurant specializes in handmade pastas and wood-fired, hand-tossed pizzas, but tries to give them a healthier interpretation. Be sure to try the gnudi, similar to gnocchi but the pasta pockets are stuffed with ricotta (chef Paola Bugli’s own family recipe) and rest on a pool of chunky tomato sauce. For more casual options, there’s the oceanside Southern Tide (the main lunchtime venue), River Bar (a nice spot for an alfresco nightcap) and Flip Flop Bistro (the hotel’s own oceanside food truck that dishes out pita cones filled with goodies).
4. It’s remote, but it has a great location. As part of the Golden Isles — mainland town Brunswick plus barrier islands St. Simons, Little St. Simons, Jekyll and Sea Island — the private island is tucked away from it all. But it’s also easy to get to Sea Island; it’s equidistant to Jacksonville, Florida, and Savannah, Georgia. So you can fly into Jacksonville International Airport or Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport and easily drive to the luxury hotel.
5. Get some Five-Star pampering. Step into The Cloister Spa, and you won’t want to leave the garden atrium relaxation area, where you’ll kick back under trees and among natural stone and a manmade creek. Georgia’s sole Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star spa, it also offers a waterfall circular whirlpool overlooking the outdoor labyrinth, secluded outdoor hot tubs, a quiet indoor lap pool and an on-staff nutritionist.
Take some time during your visit to The Cloister to learn about the property’s history; the hotel’s many black-and-white photographs tell the story. You should also discover the many amenities and events happening before and while you are here; our tennis, squash, spa, fitness, golf, dining, family and outdoor programs are not to be missed. Check out the honeymoon stay (and honor rate) traditions, and definitely be sure to take advantage of complimentary cookies and lemonade in the Solarium each afternoon.