This is our third year in a row visiting Sea Island. Stayed in a Garden Cottage next to Beach Club with eight family members in a 4BR unit. Other Family members stayed in the Ocean Villas. Garden Cottage unit was beautiful and even had a view of the ocean as it was on the top floor in the south building. Location was great as it was a short walk from the beach club but far enough away to be peaceful. The Garden Cottages have their own private pool which was a great place to escape to in the afternoon. Having the full kitchen was also useful as we often had breakfast at home along with a few dinners. Ocean Villa was nice. Very traditional. Note that the ground floor units have ocean views but they are partially obstructed by the dunes. Very peaceful at that end of the island. We rented a golf cart which was the highlight of the week for the kids.
I will divide this review into a few sections and share some tips I haven't seen in other reviews.
One major aspect that differentiates Cloister from other top resorts is the consistently high level of service you receive from just about everyone. Three years in a row and it just gets better. Some examples....the manager of River Bar saw that I had been waiting for a few minutes before the bar tender returned and personally came over to help. The catering manager accommodated a last minute event I planned for the family. I spent time observing the interactions of the staff at various restaurants and locations and there is a lot of subtle communication that goes on which is focused on meeting the needs of guests. Really impressive. Not always perfect but always polite even with the minor issues that inevitably arise.
I've really tried to find a restaurant or meal that was not consistently good and failed again. Ate at almost every restaurant. Georgian Room was exceptional. I recently ate at Eleven Madison Park in NYC and have to say that the Georgian Room was just as good. We had the wine pairing with the meal and each wine was perfectly matched with the course, and they even wrote down the list of wines we had.
Tavola was good. Has a more modern, trendy feel relative to mother venues. Their brick oven pizzas are especially good, which is what I typically order even though they have excellent entrees.
Southern Tides at the Beach Club has a very good breakfast buffet along with lunch and dinner. View overlooks the ocean. You can also get an a la carte breakfast at the Georgian Room which is casual in the mornings. That breakfast was even better than Southern Tides.
My favorite restaurant is actually the River Bar. Has an intimate traditional charm with nice mix of small dishes and entrees. Also has a very good whiskey, scotch, and bourbon selection. You can sit on the verandah and overlook the river.
The casual take out place at the Beach Club is great for kids as they serve the equivalent of very good fast food. They also have a salad bar. There is a food truck tucked away on the corner by the beach that does good upscale tacos on some days. Nachos could use a bit less cheese. Ice cream and snack bar was loved by the kids.
The big surprise this trip was the catered meal we had in our cottage the last night. We had fried chicken, quartered chicken, biscuits, marmalades, green beans, mashed potatoes, two different gravies, peach pies, Mac n cheese and more. It was delivered in beautiful serving dishes ready to eat. Would put his right up with the Georgian Room. We even took leftover chicken, biscuits, and marmalade through security (lucky to get our 4oz through TSA) and had a picnic before our flight the next day.
Too many to describe. Spent most of the time between the Beach Club pools and the beach. Even discovered a pretty impressive water slide we must have missed last time. We skipped most of the organized activities this year but enjoyed them in prior years. Did stop by the movie theatre which was great on a rainy day.
My wife and I worked out almost every day. The spa, tennis facilities, and health club make Cloister particularly unique as they are large and very well maintained facilities. Spa sessions were great and the locker rooms are filled with amenities. Exercise room has a large selection of equipment and there are lots of classes. One tip is to go early in the morning as it is less busy.
One thing to remember is that there are three types of people at the Cloister. There are people who live on Sea Island or have long-term rentals there, there are people visiting for a business meeting, and there are people on vacation. This makes Cloister a bit different as it is clear that there are residents who have known each other for a long time and essentially use Cloister like a country club (golf, beach club access, spa, etc.). As members of the third group (vacationers), I never felt like we were treated differently from any other group but I think it's important for first time visitors to know.
There are few places my family has visited where we use the term "magical" and Cloister makes the list (which includes Hualalei, another exceptional place). My entire family had a great visit and are already planning are next trip.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Resort that offers golf lessons plus a variety of other activities such as kayaking, horseback riding, sailing and swimming. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Cloister At Sea Island Hotel Sea Island
- Cloister Resort Sea Island
- Cloister Sea Island
- The Cloister At Sea Island Georgia