Jekyll Island: The Millionaires’ Playground
In 1886, a group of millionaires that included the Morgans, Astors, Cranes, and Rockefellers formed the Jekyll Island Club and built the lavish Clubhouse that is now The Jekyll Island Hotel. The sixty room Clubhouse was designed and built by Charles Alexander on Jekyll Island, GA. The first condominiums that were built in America was built on the island in 1896 and were called San Souci.
The club expanded and in 1901 they built an annex to the hotel to meet their needs. Some of the members built their own private houses during the time period of 1888 to 1928. These houses gave them more room to entertain their guests. Many of the houses have now been restored and guests can stay there. Some have cafés that have been opened for the use of Jekyll Island guests.
Jekyll Island became home to the first golf course in 1898. Later the resort grew to include a swimming pool, marina, croquet lawns, and tennis courts. It was truly a millionaire’s play ground.
The Club became smaller during the Depression and the government asked the remaining members not to use the island until World War II ended. That was the end of the Jekyll Island Club. The members never used it again and the state of Georgia bought the island in 1947. The state did their best to keep it open as a hotel until 1972. The Jekyll Island Club’s 240 acres was named a National Historic Landmark in 1978. Twenty million dollars was spent to restore the grand Victorian hotel. It reopened in 1985.
The Jekyll Island Club Hotel now includes the Clubhouse, San Souci, and the Annex. There are 157 guest rooms with different historical settings. There are balconies and fireplaces in many of the rooms. The rooms in the Clubhouse have either a king size or a double bed. The rooms in the cottages have Jacuzzis and some have two double beds. The rooms that have the two double beds are deluxe rooms that are bigger and include a sitting area or a desk. All the rooms include cable TV, an in-room safe, newspaper delivery, iron and ironing board, alarm clock, hair dryer, and a coffee pot.
There are recreational activities to suit everyone. The activities include horseback riding, tennis, golf, and water sports. There is a heated pool for swimming and private beach cabanas. The Club Hotel also offers carriage rides around the village and tours of the island.
Hotel guests can choose from an American plan that offers three full meals everyday or the modified American plant that includes breakfast and dinner daily. Entire cottages can be rented for special events such as weddings or family reunions.
Visiting Jekyll Island is like taking a walk back in time. The grandeur of the millionaires’ village has been brought back to Jekyll Island. The Victorian décor adds a touch of romance from the past. If those walls could talk, they would have some stories to tell.