Monday, May 9, 2011

Jekyll Island, Georgia: Where To Stay!

 If you're looking for a great beach getaway and want to avoid the crowds, check out Jekyll Island, Georgia. There is a $5 fee to park on the island but you only have to pay it once if you stay on the island for the length of your stay. The island also has a gas station that was only 3 cent/gallon above another gas station off the island. This  gas station was easier to get to and less crowded! During our visit we stayed at Villas by the Sea, an affordable condominium complex with a laid back feel. They have the following room types available:
•Mini Villa
•Studio Villa
•One Bedroom Villa
•Two Bedroom Villa
•Three Bedroom Villa
•The Governor's Suite
ADA compliant Handicap rooms are also available. Fall in love and consider buying your own Villa. I spotted one in the paper for around $85,000! Nestled among stately oaks, Villas by the Sea has everything you need to enjoy your vacation. Check in time is 4pm, but they allowed us to check in just after lunch because our room was ready! Driving around to our unit, I noticed license plates from all over the United States, even Alaska!!!
we stayed in the unit on the left
 We stayed in a roomy two bedroom, one and a half bath villa with a full kitchen, dining, and living room area. Downstairs, the inviting decor and open floor plan created a comfortable place for all of us to stretch out and relax. A patio off the back had two comfortable chairs and a view of lush vegetation and massive windblown oaks. A slight glimpse of the ocean here and there and the sound of crashing waves helped clear my mind and made me relax!
The kitchen was a little tight for two people at one once, but we didn't spend much time cooking inside. A refrigerator, microwave, stovetop/oven, and dishwasher were there if needed. Around the corner from our unit, I found an ice machine and laundry. Behind our unit, I found a few grills and a picnic table. We made use of the grill twice and we had a nice view of the oaks and ocean while we cooked our food.
Dish detergent and dishwashing detergent is supplied along with enough coffee to brew two pots. When housekeeping came, they left more dishwashing detergent, bath/hand soap (it smelled great!), towels for the bath and kitchen, "green" paper towels and anything else we needed.
There was a TV and DVD player downstairs. Upstairs, in the master bedroom, we also had a TV. There are plenty of cable channels to keep you occupied on a rainy day. I also hear the front desk has a DVD selection. The second bedroom had a radio. All units may not have the same amenities, so you may want to ask for specific amenities when you make your reservation. The sliding door that led to the patio was equipped with a safety lock, so I wasn't afraid that Sam, my three year old, would slip out. The front door was iffy. I thought Sam could open it, so we blocked the door with furniture before we went to sleep. Better safe than sorry. Sam can be quite adventurous!
The villa was clean and everything was in great shape. No tears or stains on the cushions, no cracked tiles. Everything looked like it had been taken care of. The bathrooms were also perfect and they even smelled clean and fresh. That's usually the first thing I check when I check into any hotel or condo! They were supplied with quality towels that were soft and fairly plush. 
The patio could have used a good cleaning but it's quite shady with all the vegetation and oaks, and I know that it would be hard to keep clean. The chairs were clean though, and they offered a comfortable place to sit! There were loads of caterpillars all over. They didn't bother me and Sam and Logan enjoyed counting and "playing" with them.  I didn't find any other creepy crawlies inside or out, and that's a good thing!
The stairs were a little steep, but I didn't worry too much about Sam. He held onto the very sturdy rail. He likes to be daring and I did catching him jumping over steps on the way down ONCE. If you have a toddler, don't forget your baby gate!
second bedroom
 In our unit, the second bedroom boasted two twin beds. The decor was light and the window let in lots of light, despite all the shade around the building. In the closet I found an iron and ironing board. The two twin beds were very comfortable. After settling the kids, I checked out the master bedroom. The mattress was terrible! I was convinced I would never be able to fall asleep on it. It made noise, like it was covered in plastic and it sank down when you sat on it. When I did finally sleep on it, I couldn't believe how good I slept. I'm not sure if I was overly tired or if the mattress wasn't as bad as I thought. For two nights, I slept like a baby. My husband also slept like a baby, but he usually does!
master bedroom
The decor in the master matched the second bedroom. It had a nice size closet and plenty of drawer space. Linens in both rooms were great! The sheets were soft and smooth! Our master bedroom featured a great balcony (it was much cleaner than the patio below!) that gave us an even better view of the Atlantic and we were close enough to be lulled to sleep by the crashing waves. Even though I missed the wide open views that I usually see when I stay oceanfront, there was something magical about the gnarled oaks with the windblown canopies. It was like an old southern plantation in Louisiana had been relocated, trees and all, to the Atlantic coast. It is unlike anything I've seen before.
master bedroom/balcony
Downstairs, a half bath comes in handy. I didn't realize it was there immediately. It is conveniently tucked away under the stairs. Around the corner, in the living room area, there is a small desk and bookshelf with a few titles if you want to put your feet up and read. Villas by the Sea has wireless Internet and some units are pet friendly!
downstairs half bath
Outside, a boardwalk leads you to the cool refreshing waters of the Atlantic. Unfortunately, high tide comes with some restrictions. Jekyll Island is trying to conserve the shoreline and there is a rock wall along the beach. If you stay at Villas by the Sea, you can't take a dip whenever you'd like unless you drive to another beach, but you can enjoy sandy beaches. The boardwalk has two exits. One exit takes you to the water, the other takes you to long stretches of beautiful sand. During low tide, there is a long stretch of beach that's perfect for walking. It never really dried out though so be prepared with a waterproof blanket or chair if you want to sunbathe here, unless of course, you don't mind the damp sand.
view from our patio
The walk to the beach was an easy one and it was nice and shady almost the entire way.  The boardwalk was weathered, but  in great condition. No loose boards and no nails sticking up meant no tears on the walk to the beach. There were tears on the way back, but only because my kids didn't want to leave the water!
view from the boardwalk
I took  Logan and Sam out soon after we arrived and Logan used his metal detector as we walked along the rock wall. It was high tide when we went out the first time so we stayed on the "island" side of the wall. Oh, just so you know, tide times are posted on the door. If you want, you can also ask the front desk for a list or time.  Logan found a buried scrap of metal and a spoon. Unfortunately, no treasure was found. We had a wonderful time anyway! A few guests spent the afternoon lounging in chairs and reading. What a wonderful life!
The waves crash into the rocks
 Villas by the Sea has a great playground area. It's shady, so you can enjoy a break from the blistering sun. The playground was maintained and there were lots of activities for the kids to do! The SS NEVERSAIL was pretty awesome. Once you climb aboard, take the slide or fireman's pole down.
the playground
 Other slides keep little ones (hopefully) from fighting over the equipment. There is so much for the kids to do! It was quiet when I stopped here for pictures. We didn't have time to stop and play, but maybe next time!
 The playground also had a toddler swing and a swing for big kids! I took a close look and the wood seemed to be in great condition and sanded smooth. The ground is also clear! It looked like a safe place to play!
 A tire swing would be my favorite place to play. We have one at home and it's a lot of fun! A few steps away, there is a grill and picnic table. Adults could grill while the kids play. It's actually the perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon!
 If the playground is full, there are other tables and grills scattered over the grounds. A short stroll will take you to a quieter spot! If you want a meal prepared for you, head over to the Driftwood Bistro. It's close to the lobby. The service is great and the food is amazing! But more on that later. Look for my Where To Eat Post coming soon!
Picnic tables and grills are all around!
 A solar heated L-shaped pool looked like a lot of fun. We were so busy we missed taking a dip. Logan was very disappointed. The water was sparkling clean and a lot of the pool was shaded. I think that's a wonderful thing, but I live in South Georgia and I don't appreciate the heat. Others may miss the sun and sunburns tans that go along with beach vacations.
A large L-shaped pool
Next to the pool there is a bar. It was closed when we went. I would have loved the opportunity to tell you all about it. It looked like a great place to sit and have a drink. All that's missing is live music! Several tables and benches provide room for guests to have a bite to eat and enjoy their vacation. It looked like a fun place to hang out! Villas by the Sea Resort is nestled among 17 acres of stately oaks and lush tropical landscaping. Here you will also find a beach pavilion, a 400 foot oceanfront boardwalk, and bike rentals. Villas by the Sea also boasts a Fitness Center!
We made our way back to the beach at low tide. There is plenty of beach to run and play. Kids have time to build sand castles and bury a family member or two. We could look across the water and see dolphins at play!
The beach during low tide
The water isn't as clear as other beaches I've been too. The water is full of silt and river run-off. The water at Villas by the Sea is much clearer than the other beaches I visited while on the island. I felt safe and waded out to hip deep water. My guys didn't hesitate to do the same. Sam played in the shallows, but his dad took him out a little deeper! There is something so refreshing about the ocean. One swim and I feel all the weight lift off my shoulders. I love the ocean!
My guys enjoying the water!
Looking back towards our room, I was mesmerized by the beauty of it all. Walking back, through the lush vegetation covered with wild grapes and palms, all sheltered by massive oaks, I stood for a while and took it all in. I was completely surrounded by beauty. On one side, I had the the sea. On the other, an island steeped in history. Somewhere in the middle of it all, I discovered a magical place that puts a spell on you. I can see myself returning some time very soon. Trust me, once you go, you'll find your way back again and again. Check out their packages and make your plans. A unique world awaits!

Our villa, a view from the beach!
Look for other Jekyll Island posts soon! This post will be updated with links as soon as the other posts are published. Check out my picture preview!
Disclosure: I was given a two night stay in exchange for this review. No monetary compensation received.
The water is clearer here than other areas we visited in Jekyll Island. A walk on the beach turned into something more!

1 comment:

  1. Great review, honest & from the heart! It was a pleasure reading and makes me appreciate how blessed we are that we are able to enjoy this beauty anytime we want! I'm glad others (like you and your family) visit here and you're right - it's a magical place and once you have Jekyll sand between your toes you'll return again and again!