Answers from Our Experts (2)
There’s plenty to love about this Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel located off the Georgian coast on Sea Island, but here are our five favorite things about The Cloister:
1. The staff. Southern hospitality is at its finest — from the moment you check in, the staff goes out of its way to welcome you and do whatever it can to ensure you enjoy an unforgettable stay. During our stay, a staff member escorted us to our room, thoroughly showing us all of its amenities. Later, when we had problems with the in-room safe, we called the front desk and a technician was there within 10 minutes and quickly fixed the problem and rescued our laptop.
2. The natural beauty. Originally planted by former president Calvin Coolidge in 1928, the live oaks that litter the island and are now more than 80 years old and simply gorgeous — as are The Cloister’s gardens, golf courses and five miles of private beach. Coolidge wasn’t the only notable politician to add to the luxury hotel’s landscape; Margaret Thatcher, Gerald Ford, Tony Blair and Dwight Eisenhower and many more have planted trees on the verdant grounds. Of course, the beautiful land attracts lots of animals. We spotted frogs hopping on the path, and the hotel offers an adopt-a-nest program for the native loggerhead sea turtles.
3. History. The Cloister hotel has a long history dating back to the 1920s — when Palm Beach trailblazing architect Addison Mizner designed it — over the years playing host to a number of presidential figures and members of European royalty. The Sea Island hotel was the venue of the G8 Summit in 2004, with George Bush and Vladimir Putin in attendance. Though it has outgrown its small-hotel roots and become a major luxury resort, The Cloister still adheres to old-time values built on exceptional service.
4. Activities. Whether you’re 5 or 55 you’ll have plenty to do during your stay at this Five-Star hotel, from swimming, fishing and boating (relax on the hotel’s own Cloister Belle yacht) to horseback riding, skeet shooting and squash, tennis and golf (the PGA Tour’s McGladrey Classic takes place on the Seaside course). For unique activities you’ll only find at The Cloister, play a game of bingo. Forget the games you’ve seen at the local VFW hall; The Cloister makes it an upscale, popular affair for families in its ballroom. Ladies and girls don dresses and men and boys wear suits for the twice-weekly event. Animated caller Billy Bingo is a fixture in the traditional game that often sells out; proceeds go to charity. Or attend one of the weekly plantation suppers. The luxury hotel offers free transport via Jeep train to the sliver of nearby land dubbed Rainbow Island, where you can sit in large wooden chairs around brick fire pits and have down-home barbecue, shrimp, corn on the cob and more.
5. Five-Star amenities. You may be on a secluded private island, but the best amenities are at your fingertips. Georgia’s only Five-Star restaurant and spa call The Cloister home. You easily can spend the day luxuriating at The Cloister Spa, relaxing in the leafy garden atrium on a forest-green chaise padded chair and matching ottoman, soaking in the pool with a gushing waterfall or reflecting in the onsite labyrinth. Georgian Room is a destination restaurant, with grand details like crystal chandeliers, rich floral fabrics and stately white pillars. The décor and the Southern take on modern American cuisine make it a great special-occasion spot.
First, The Cloister’s welcoming and caring staff makes every visit feel special. Also, the property’s rich history — black-and-white prints hung throughout the property tell the hotel’s story. Of course, the culture of southern hospitality, a prime location and beautiful natural setting are all memorable as well.