Sea Palms of St. Simons
Kierkegaard once noted that if he were to wish for anything, it would be for a virtue of vision enabling clarity of the “passionate sense of potential” – “for the eye which, every young and ardent, sees the possible.” Possibility, he said, never disappoints. And no matter whether one is looking for an exceptional golf experience or simply a great place to get away, there is such a retreat on St. Simons Island where the possibilities never disappoint, and in the case, the potential for the future has been, indeed, bolstered by certain Ardent vision.
Located along the Atlantic Ocean in the southeastern extreme of Georgia, St. Simons Island is the largest of a family of islands that includes Sea Island, Jekyll Island and Little St. Simon Island; all collectively known as The Golden Isles. St. Simons Island has also long been known for providing a golden recreational opportunity for golfers, particularly when it comes to that served by Sea Palms Resort & Conference Center. Located mere minutes away from sugary white sand beaches, the three 9-hole courses of Sea Palms Resort are secluded among a lavish preserve of Live Oaks and picturesque marshes which effectively impart a rare grace of space and unrivaled beauty. The play is made further exceptional by the ability to combine elements from all three courses for a customizable 18-hole encounter that offers varying degrees of challenge for professionals or enthusiasts alike.
The courses here were created in 1967 by the late George W. Cobb, a designer/architect esteemed as of the most prolific of professionals to influence the golf industry. Born and raised in Georgia, Cobb’s mastery of design added distinction to hundreds of courses throughout the country, of which the most famous may be the 1,060 yard “Little Course” at Augusta National Golf Club. Cobb actually served as design consultant at Augusta National for a number of years where he befriended legends such as Bobby Jones and former Club Chairman Clifford Roberts. In 1958, Cobb was tapped to design the Par-3 course which, since 1960, has made for an annual contest unto itself for participants in The Masters Tournament. Despite the passing of more than fifty years, no player has yet emerged to win the Par-3 and main tournament during the same week (only Raymond Floyd and Chip Beck have come incredibly close). Cobb’s course designs are not described as frustratingly difficult, but have been said to entice for a certain aesthetic allure born from the natural settings in which his courses were sited, and Sea Palms Resort continues to exist as a gorgeous expression of that legacy with the Great Oaks Course, the Tall Pines Course and the Sea Palms West Course.
Beyond the golf, the resort also imparts quality in tennis, fitness and convention facilities. In terms of deluxe accommodations, options among the more than 100 rooms include one-room or-three-bedroom suites complemented by a wet bar, kitchen, dining room, living room and beautiful views from a private deck. Epicurean excellence abounds in servings from The Putters Club Dining Room, a venue for both casual and fine dining from succulent seafood to savory southern favorites. The amenities, the hospitality and the pristine beauty of this secluded sanctuary have long made Sea Palms Resort a popular destination for wedding ceremonies, executive forums and any number of visitors enticed by its greens or other graces, and it may be difficult to image that it could be made any greater, but think again.
From Great to Greater
As General Manager Doug Winters explains, Sea Palms is undergoing a transformation that will help ensure its future is as spectacular as its past, if not more. To put that in perspective, Winters explains that following a decade of ownership by a local real estate developer known as Larry Singleton, Sea Palms has been purchased The Ardent Companies. An Atlanta-based private investment and asset management group, The Ardent Companies has guided the investment of more than $1 billion of capital into a variety of real estate assets; gems of potential in the form of residential subdivisions, raw land, condominium developments, retail centers, office & industrial properties as well as resorts. “This has resulted in an incredible reinvestment within our property … a new opportunity to grow, to elevate services and basically provide a more superior experience for our resort guests,” says Winters.
The Ardent Companies has contracted Valor Hospitality to manage the resort. Valor is a respected leader of the hospitality management industry, affiliated with such properties as the Five-Star Cape Grace Hotel of Cape Town, South Africa, the historic Hotel Ivy of Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Four Points Sheraton of Biloxi, and the Crowne Plazas of Greenville, South Carolina, as well as Charlotte, North Carolina – to name only a few.
Millions are now being spent to enhance operations at Sea Palms. Winters says those enhancements will be found throughout the facility. While upgrades to kitchen & dining operations have been completed, additional work is underway involving room décor, expansion of meeting space and the incorporation of state-of-the-art property management technology. Chief Golf Professional Rick Irwin says upgrades are also being incorporated to the golf venue. It has been some 12 years since the courses here were modified, but Irwin affirms the present renovations “take advantage of what have, but make it better.” In addition to complete renovation of the bunkers, fairways and cart paths are being upgraded, as is the landscaping to create what Irwin says is great aesthetic allure. He notes that extensive tree work is also taking place, which may particularly resonate with golfers who have endured challenge from the tight-lines imposed from the low branches that line fairway; the branches may be great for hanging Spanish moss, but they’ve caused many a golfer to get hung-up, as if the water hazards weren’t enough to deal with. Irwin says the changes to the course, like the changes underway in the resort, will combine to offer guest a more exceptional experience at Sea Palms.
Though the resort caters to visitors from around the world, it is also host to a club of more than 380 members, but Winters anticipates growth in both of these segments in the not-so-distant future. “The investment by The Ardent Companies and the management of Valor Hospitality is helping position us for a greater future,” says Winters. “We’ve completed a number of upgrades and the the work to the golf course is continuing, but the reaction we’ve seen from guests has been great … there’s a lot of positive work taking place here now, and we couldn’t be more excited about the future.”
For more information, please visit their website at Sea Palms Resorts
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