Jekyll Island is a barrier island off the Georgia coast located halfway between Savannah and Jacksonville. It offers visitors a unique and beguiling blend of rich history, recreational opportunity and modern day tranquility. Now in its third incarnation, Jekyll’s special charms are themselves a slow-cooked Southern concoction of plantation life, high society and restoration. A place to work and a place to play, the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) brought its Advisory Board here to plan a growth strategy for the future. The destination could not have been better.
In its first incarnation, Jekyll Island took its name from an English benefactor to whom George III was indebted. King cotton was to be the driver and a plantation was established on the north end of the island. But the island was not suited to cotton’s economics and ownership passed to a French émigré seeking refuge from excesses of the French revolution.
A bit of financial intrigue lead to the island’s second incarnation: Home of the very chic and exclusive Jekyll Island Club. The Club’s members included Mellon, Carnegie, Firestone, Pulitzer and many other magnates of the early twentieth century. Here deals that created fortunes were made; here the financial structure of our country took shape in the secret plan to create the Federal Reserve.
The Club’s buildings and grounds were designed by New York’s finest architects and builders. No expense was spared. The party lasted until 1929 when Jekyll Island’s second incarnation, and the rest of the country came crashing down.
Today, Jekyll Island is enjoying its third incarnation: Restoration of the historic Jekyll Island Club and preservation of the island’s native beauty and inheritance. A Georgia state park, the island boasts unmolested shoreline, dunes and wetlands and a gentle tranquility long lost at other barrier islands captured by developers. To be sure, there are some private residences, small hotels and a variety of restaurants from those featuring local fare to those offering the finest cuisine, but here there are vast areas to be alone with the island, its beaches, marshes, Spanish moss swaying in the afternoon breeze. Sunrise and sunset can be magical, private times or times spent with friends away from the clatter of our usual existence.
NATJA brought its Board here to plan its future in a destination that is both beautiful and inspiring. The Jekyll Island Club provided a spectacular setting for our work while allowing us to escape for an early morning walk or a tete-a-tete at sunset. We found it a special place both to refresh the soul and set our course for the future.