Cocktail hour is a time-honored tradition at the Lodge on Little St. Simons Island. Picnic tables sit below ghostly tendrils of Spanish moss on the front lawn. Guests shuck oysters and snack on fried green tomatoes, sipping spirits in the shadow of 100-year-old oaks. A fire crackles in the hearth of the adjacent lodge, which, apart from a nearby cluster of woodsy guest cottages, is the only man-made structure on this 10,000-acre private island off the coast of Savannah, Ga.
Philip Berolzheimer, owner of the Eagle Pencil Company, purchased Little St. Simons Island in 1908 to harvest its cedar trees for pencil making. When the trees proved overly stressed from wind and salt, he kept the island as a private retreat for family and friends. Almost a century later, the Berolzheimers, who remain sole owners of the property, welcome outside guests to their exclusive retreat.
Aside from their addition of the small compound of guest lodgings, some of which date to 1917, the proprietors have preserved Little St. Simons Island in its pristine state. Accessible only by boat, the biologically diverse nature preserve of golden marshes, tidal creeks, and miles of secluded beaches is an ideal spot for biking, fishing, horseback riding, kayaking, or shell gathering. The lodge’s on-staff guides lead nature walks to observe the island’s 280 species of birds, as well as alligators and dolphins just offshore.
Days on Little St. Simons begin with the guests (of whom there are never more than 30 at a time) gathering around long oak tables in the lodge’s dining room for a breakfast of such delectables as peach pecan pancakes, grits with tasso gravy, and pumpkin muffins. Dinner may consist of duck breast with red currant sauce, finished with poached pear and almond tart. First, however, guests gather at dusk for the nightly ritual under the old oak trees.
Lodge on Little St. Simons Island
85 miles off the coast of Savannah, Ga.
15 rustic but elegant guest rooms and suites in five cottages.
Everything from kayaking to bird-watching on seven miles of secluded beach.
Hearty meals, cocktails, and wine with dinner are included in the room rate.
From May through mid-October, watch loggerhead sea turtles lay eggs on the beach. Hatchlings arrive in early July.
From $600; full-island rental starts at $7,700.
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