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The Cloister at Sea Island
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503 - 508 of 930 reviews
Reviewed 15 August 2014

This place has an incredible amount of potential but between the bad food and all the children that are present ruin the experience. I often want to get away for the weekend locally and often think about coastal luxury hotels in and around North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina. But after thinking about some of my past experiences there, I would rather go somewhere else. I have stayed there four times now and the rooms are beautiful. I am shocked at how bad the food was the past two years in a row. Bad design of the resort allows an overwhelming amount of children around prime locations of the resort including dining, and pool access. At $800.00 plus dollars a night they should re-evaluate the needs of all visitors and not just families with children on Summer break.

When I state the food is bad...it's really bad!!......and for the 20% gratuity automatically added on....I would much rather go somewhere without these issues. I would think after all the years of financial troubles for this resort they would have all these kinks worked out by now.

Room Tip: The Ocean Villas have the best secluded views and privacy
  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled solo
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
4  Thank DylanBlue1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 August 2014

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.

Service

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.

Food

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.

Activities

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.

Summary

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.

  • Stayed: August 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
5  Thank 1400ka
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 August 2014

This trip marked our first trip to the Sea Island property. We stayed at the Beach club in a 1 bedroom suite which was expansive, to say the least. Our children slept in the large living area (pull out sofa and a rollaway). The suite also had a kitchenette, dining room table, roomy hallway with multiple closets, 2 full bathrooms (one with soaking tub) and another bedroom. We were looking for a great beach resort with "high end" amenities and great activities for the kids. I have to say, hands down, this place had the BEST activities for kids. The "junior staff" who manned the kids activities seemed like the were right out of central casting! Wholesome, All-American college students who were truly motivated to be spending their time with your kids (and even if they were faking it they did a FABULOUS job). From the horseback riding, to kids club, paddle boarding, family Bingo night, shelling, shooting gallery with air guns and archery, amazing spa and golf, and cinema right next to the pool, this place was unbelievable for families! While it comes with a steep price tag, there is no "riff raff" here. It is genuine, wholesome, beautiful families and kids. The service was wonderful and I was delighted that from the wait staff to the kid's club people were happy to help you and were never annoyed. If I could criticize anything I would say that the food was just solid/good. Our dinner at the Georgian Room was exceptional, but everything else was just pretty good. I think for these prices, the food should be in the "very good to exceptional" category. Further, I thought the food/beverage service at the pool was exceptionally slow and unresponsive--literally the worst of any poolside service that I have ever encountered. This seems like something that could be easily remedied--your pool service needs more waitstaff, plain and simple! Other than that, we had a wonderful time and can't wait to visit Sea Island again!

Room Tip: Beach club accommodations are the best choice for families. Suites were expansive.
  • Stayed: August 2014, travelled with family
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank michfromdc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 August 2014

Serene, quiet and stunningly beautiful.
The restaurant overlooking the inlet was excellent. Food, excellent service and quiet ambiance soothed my aching back after a ride from Atlanta. The ceiling fans kept it cool in the July heat. Can't wait to visit again for a longer stay

  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled on business
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank michellebrown26
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 August 2014

What a beautiful location. It's a wonderful place to go, and of course quite pricey. It certainly deserves a 5 star rating. For the money, it really should be an all inclusive resort. I was quite surprised when reviewing my bill to find a "20% Gratuity Fee" on top of the already overpriced products. This fee is regardless of whether you have it delivered or if you get it yourself. I've always disliked having the gratuity added in (that should be at my discretion), but especially when you bypass the server and get it yourself...Kind of a slap in the face.

Other than that, I was a wonderful week on Sea Island. We learned to shag, exercised, swam, went sea-shelling and played squash. The tea is great (and sweet!), the cookies were awesome and the ice cream is grand. As you walk through the resort, you seem to want to step back to an earlier, more formal time...somewhere in the 30's or so. Bingo was great, and the quaint chapel service was worth getting up early for on Sunday.

Going into the G8 room really was interesting-to know that the most powerful leaders in the world had been in that room was awesome.

If you can go to the resort, by all means do it

Room Tip: We prefer Marsh Views!
  • Stayed: August 2014, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank James B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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