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The venue at Little St. Simons Island (LSSI) and the associated Lodge is a difficult one to describe. There is an award winning Lodge, and, a great place to visit that offer special experiences for visitors in the heart of a nature preserve. Anyone considering a visit though should certainly read all the Trip Advisor reviews on the Lodge at Little St. Simons Island. But if you don’t, then read at least two or three of the 5 star reviews, then make sure to read all the one star reviews. An overall rating is not really an adequate guide as to whether you will love or even like this experience. The experience of staying for at least three nights on this island is likely to be unforgettable, so you will want to be sure that a visit meets or exceeds your expectations.
It is important to understand what the resort is, and, maybe more importantly to know what it is not. The experience you have will be greatly affected by your understanding of the role you will play during the visit. The price to visit or stay on LSSI is not cheap, and, it is definitely not a luxury vacation from the lifestyles of the rich and famous. To call it a ‘resort’ is probably not accurate -- at least in the way the term is currently used and understood by most people.
To prepare for a visit, sign up for the email newsletter, The Skimmer, for a few months, and, be sure to read their web site completely, www.littlestsimonsisland.com . Little St Simon Island (click here) If you want to visit at a lower price, you should ask to be put on their email distribution list so you will receive special offers with reduced rates for three night stays. Day trips to the island are a way to visit if you want to get a ‘sample’ before you decide on a longer visit.
The Lodge on LSSI is all inclusive. All activities, equipment,
meals, food and drinks are included in the price per night which varies based on the lodging selected and the time of year. Soda, tea, coffees, domestic beers, liquor
and wine are readily available at no additional charge. A
resort service charge to cover gratuities will likely be added to your
bill. Resort staff is friendly and work
hard to please the guests.
Your role at LSSI is that of a self-sufficient and resourceful person who has a great love for nature. If staying overnight, you will live in a ‘cabin’ in the woods and in some cases share living space like a sitting room with fireplace. The few buildings on site date from the last century, but do have running water, air conditioning and indoor plumbing. There is a small shared fridge and, in some buildings, a small microwave. A Keurig and an ice machine may be available in each building. Internet access may be limited and/or slow. There are no TV’s and no telephones. You do not call the front desk for services. Most daily wants or needs are self-service. There is a daily maid service. Firewood is kept stocked as are the fridges, and, other amenities. You will not need money while on the island.
This is a place with lots of character. The facilities are not lavish and some might regard them as dated. Generally the décor includes lots of wood trim. In some cases the floors are not level because the buildings are not new and have settled. All bedrooms are good sized with private bath and may have showers only. Beds and other furnishings like couches are overstuffed and comfortable but not new. Details on the options for living quarters are well described on the website. Windows and sliding doors will open and they have screens. Screened in porches with nice seating are available at some buildings. Since it has a history as a hunting lodge, the main building has animal heads on the walls and antlers around the fireplace mantle. A number of notable visitors from the past are in photos on the walls. There is a good sized pool on site with a screened in rec room, but no hot tubs.
However resort amenities are not the reason to visit LSSI. On LSSI you are surrounded by 10,000 acres of woods, marshes and wetlands. This secluded, privately owned island is a natural paradise where visitors can get closer to nature and see wonders they cannot see elsewhere. It can only be reached by boat. Fortunately the boat trip for visitors including luggage is included in the stay.
Of course in summer there are lots (billions) of bugs including clouds of hungry mosquitoes, and, the outdoor environment is really hot and humid in Georgia. The tools to protect yourself are there but if you want something different, then go in winter. Transportation by boat is included in the costs however since access to the resort is only by boat, you are remotely located with no stores, movies or clubs. Occasionally a naturalist will do a nature talk or presentation on turtles, birds, or, other topics. Board games and a few books are available. Conversation and storytelling are good skills for any visitor.
Travel on the island is on the back of a pickup truck, on bicycle, or by foot. Roads are not paved and are bumpy. The beach is 2 miles from the buildings and to get there may require boots. Plan ahead with the staff or be prepared to go it alone. Staff is always around at least for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Other times they are found at the trucks or the work buildings. Radio contact by the staff at the main hall will likely bring someone in for special requests.
The highly trained naturalists on staff provide advice and support for everyone to the level needed by the visitor. If there is 100% occupancy, which is about thirty people in the Lodge plus some daytime guests, then you will not receive as much personal attention. If you want fewer people and more attention, consult with the reservationists as to the best times to go. The field staff will go the extra mile to meet every need and accommodate any outdoor skill level. They will take one or two people out on island adventures, or, a full group. They love their work.
All activities are outdoor oriented and are planned around the interests of the visitors. The naturalists will offer some suggested field trips and guided tours. Those who wish to do so can plan their own activities and go it alone after providing information on their plans to the staff. Some restrictions may apply in the event of flooding, wildlife impacts, or, other overriding issues. The atmosphere is laid back. It is expected that if you want anything that you will ask for it. Every reasonable effort is made to meet a guest’s wishes whether that involves observing wildlife, a fishing trip, hiking, bird watching, beachcombing, boating, or, just reading a book by the fire.
Information and maps of the natural areas are readily available including nesting areas, animals, plants and the range of habitats. High points are bald eagles, deer, alligators, spoon bills, and, Ibis. Literally hundreds of different species of birds are observable depending on the time of year. Walks in the forests and on the beaches are wonderful. A boat ride by kayak or skiff, provided under the careful training of a staff member, is a delight.
All the tools are provided to support your adventure(s). You will not need to take anything unless you have specific preferences as to equipment for fishing, or, bird watching for example. Bring your own hiking shoes. But binoculars, scopes, fishing equipment, skiffs, kayaks, bicycles, wading boots, some outer wear, ponchos, mosquito netting, sunscreen, bug repellent, and so on, are all offered. Ask beforehand if you think of something specific, but most likely they will have what you need.
Food is served on a schedule so that you can spend full time focusing on your observation of nature. Bag lunches can be arranged if you are planning to be out all day. Beverages and snacks like home-made granola bars, cookies and fresh fruit are available all the time. There is a self-service bar open all the time for visitors who wish to prepare mixed drinks, sip wine and/or domestic beer. Bud and Bud Light as well as sodas are always found on the front porch of the main lodge in coolers full of ice. Everything is well attended.
Three full meals are served each day in family style in the lodge dining room where everyone sits together with the other visitors to share the days’ adventures. A menu is published for each day that provides the guests with the list of foods being prepared. Variations may be accommodated with advance notice. If you wish to partake, then you will need to go according to the schedule. A dinner bell is used to call the hungry guests. There are no private tables. Food is well presented. Some dishes were wonderful, and, the overall rating is very good. Many of the vegetables are raised on site in an organic garden. Special requests and dietary needs are honored if advance notice is provided. In the evening at 6 pm there is a group reception for visitors with a naturalist. The social hour includes drinks and specialties prepared by the chef.
In many ways the Lodge provides a very different kind of experience for its visitors. Many of the guests are repeat visitors. The strong positives include the opportunity to see nature up close, especially the rich variety of shore and other birds. The island is beautiful and has a range of things to see including several different kinds of habitat and a wide selection of animals and plants. It is designed for people to observe nature, without having to lug along all the equipment one would normally need. Nothing is spared to allow you take advantage of all the attributes of the island. This is a carefully managed natural preserve offering people a chance to visit. Although it is certainly not ‘untouched’ by man, much can be learned and the island has much to teach.
One can easily spend a week without seeing it all. But most will likely find that a three night stay is about right. Whether the opportunity to view nature offsets any lack of what some might regard as necessary ‘creature’ comforts, is a value judgment. For many, the lack of distractions is what makes the experience truly rewarding. The cost could perhaps be more affordable so that more people might have access to this unique resource and living laboratory, but maybe it is simply a necessary contribution towards preserving the habitats and helping to keep the island relatively undeveloped. The cost is not necessarily cheap but the experience is rich.
Main Lodge -
Searching for a Bald Eagle -
Naturalist Led Activities Included -
Sunset on LSSI -