And Baby Makes Three: VisitEngland Rounds Up ‘Babymoons’ to Accommodate England’s Royal Baby Boom

Prince William and Catherine, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, introduce their new baby to the world, July 23, 2013 © 2013 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

All the world is congratulating the Duke and duchess of Cambridge on the birth of His Royal Highness the Prince of Cambridge.

It also appears that the royal baby has sparked the UK’s biggest baby boom in 40 years: new figures suggest that more than 700,000 babies will be born in England this year – the highest number since 1971, according to the Royal College of Midwives.

In celebration, VisitEngland rounds up some of the best vacations and experiences on offer for new families, as two become three. For more inspiration on family vacations and activities in England, visit www.visitengland.com/royalbaby.

Baby in Tow

His Royal Highness the Prince of Cambridge will likely spend a great deal of his or her childhood at London’s Kensington Palace where the Duke and Duchess will reside. To mark the arrival of the royal baby, the nearby Hilton London Kensington has created a ‘Tot-ter Around Kensington’ package.  Guests can enjoy a two-night shopping break, ideal for mother-daughter bonding and moms-to-be. The package includes a two-night stay at the stylish Hilton London Kensington, with each guest receiving a VIP card for Westfield London Shopping Centre, situated directly opposite the hotel. The VIP card entitles shoppers to offers and discounts of up to 20% from over 80 stores and restaurants. Stylish moms-to-be can stock up on baby treats from stores including Bébé Bisou, Mamas & Papas and Atelier de Courcelles. Price dependent on availability. www.hilton.com/kensington

Meanwhile, one of the luxury suites at the Grosvenor House Hotel on London’s Park Lane has been transformed into a five-star nursery for jet-setting babies. The hotel has teamed up with bespoke nursery designers Dragons of Walton Street and transformed a Premium Park View Suite into a quintessentially English nursery, designed and tailored with a royal baby in mind. Dragons of Walton Street has a historic association with the Royal family, with William and Harry and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie all growing up in a Dragons nursery. Inspired by the suite’s idyllic views of Hyde Park and the hotel’s history, this latest creation is fitted with bespoke, hand crafted and painted furniture.  The pièce de résistance is a beautiful dolls house toy closet hand painted to represent Grosvenor House’s signature architecture. Select from three packages starting from £2,230 / $3,428 per night. www.marriott.co.uk

Outside England’s capital, Cornwall’s Bedruthan Steps Hotel has a ‘Welcome to the World’ package, offering new moms and dads a helping hand through their first year of parenting. The package encourages new parents to deepen their bond with their new arrival through baby massage, swimming and yoga classes. The package includes workshops with psychologist Dr Sarah Mundy on some approaches to the challenges that new parents face. The hotel aims to take the pressures off and take care of every need – no need to worry about cooking, washing, cleaning or tidying up here. If some time out is needed, the expert childcare team is on hand to allow parents to experience some ‘me’ time to stroll the spectacular coast path, relax by the pool, have a Mama Mio massage treatment or spend quality time with their partner. Available October 11 – 13, 2013. Two night packages from £255 / $392 per person based on two adults sharing. Baby goes free (of course!). www.bedruthan.com

Born to Rule

Fans of the growing Royal Family can take a look back at royal babies past at ‘The Royal Child’, a new photography exhibition at the Athenaeum. The hotel, which sits within sight of Buckingham Palace, offers an exclusive Royal photography and afternoon tea experience, available at weekends from June 22 to August 31 2013. Guests will have the opportunity to view over 50 images while Curator of the exhibition, Ian Pelham-Turner provides fascinating insights into how Royal children have been brought up since Victorian times, and how the new Royal baby may be treated. This exclusive event will take place over afternoon tea served in the athenaeum’s Hyde Park room. The afternoon tea has been created by the same team who were awarded ‘Top London Afternoon Tea 2012′.  Tickets to the exhibition and afternoon tea cost £60 / $92 per person. The hotel is also offering a ‘Best of British Break’, including the mentioned tea, from £299 / $459 per person. www.athenaeumhotel.com

In addition, the Museum of London celebrates the momentous occasion with a new display.  ‘A Royal Arrival’ delves deep into the Museum of London’s collection to showcase baby clothes and memorabilia worn by former royal babies, from Charles I to George III and Edward VII to link the latest royal arrival to over 400 years of UK history. Objects on show include a delicately embroidered skullcap worn by an infant Charles I. Other pieces include a tiny linen vest embroidered with a crown and a small lace mitten belonging to George III. A nursing robe thought to have been used by Queen Victoria, shoes worn by her many children and a dress blazoned with the three feather insignia belonging to her eldest son, Prince Albert Edward (later Edward VII) will also go on show. Free admission. www.museumoflondon.org.uk

Explore beyond the photographs by visiting some of the places baby British royals spent their childhoods. The Sandringham Estate holds many memories for the Royal Family. It is a favorite retreat of The Queen, and the late Princess Diana was born in a cottage located in the estate’s extensive grounds. Prince Charles had many childhood adventures at Sandringham House, the much-loved royal retreat, which is a beautiful place to visit. It’s only around a two-hour train journey from London. www.sandringhamestate.co.uk

Windsor has a vibrant royal history, especially where young royals are concerned! Y Bwthyn Bach, also known as The Little House, is a miniature cottage in the grounds of Windsor’s Royal Lodge. The Little House was presented to Queen Elizabeth (then Princess) on her sixth birthday and the Queen’s children and grandchildren have played in the house over the decades, though it isn’t open to the public. However, located to the south of Windsor town center, Windsor Great Park is a well-loved and popular recreational retreat for many families, and has views of Windsor Castle. Windsor is also home to LEGOLAND, where visitors can see a miniature version of Buckingham Palace. www.windsor.gov.uk

The InterContinental London Park Hotel at 145 Piccadilly was once Her Majesty the Queen’s childhood residence. Guests should check out the newly-designed Royal Suite, which celebrates the Queen’s signature taste with modern British design. Located between Mayfair and Knightsbridge, and in view of many of London’s stunning landmarks, the InterContinental is the epitome of elegance. Afternoon tea in the Wellington Lounge is a must; you’re sure to feel like royalty, sipping Champagne and overlooking the iconic Wellington Arch. www.ichotelsgroup.com/intercontinental/hotels/gb/en/london/lonhb/hoteldetail

Babies Go Too: Tot-ter Around England Out of Season

Anyone with babies or toddlers is in a privileged position when it comes to summer vacations. Pre-school families enjoy affordability, flexibility, and having the countryside and coastline all to themselves by travelling outside of the school breaks. Classic Cottages has a vast choice of appealing properties for young families across Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset. And by clicking on the baby-friendly button, you narrow the results to only show properties that have cots, highchairs, stair-gates, baby baths, bath mats, changing mats and socket covers. Try Coombe Barn (sleeps six + cot), situated on a working farm that’s tucked into the Tamar Valley, which has an indoor heated swimming pool with views of Dartmoor, an outdoor children’s play area and a soft play area for toddlers. Just up the road, The Springer Spaniel Inn is a treat with its Rick Stein-trained chef and ‘Little Jack Russell’ children’s menu. From £141 / $216 per person, per week. www.classic.co.uk

As The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge may well discover, the first trip away as parents of a young baby can be a daunting experience.  An endless packing list and the worry of whether you’ll actually be able to relax with your baby when you finally arrive can make you wonder if it’s worth travelling at all.  For families of any age, a stay at New Park Manor in the New Forest is a welcome relief.  It even comes with Royal credentials.  Originally the favorite Hunting Lodge of King Charles II, this 17th century manor house is in the heart of the Forest, just outside Brockenhurst. Having recently undergone a multi-million pound refurbishment, it is set to become the most family-friendly luxury hotel in the Forest.  Alternatively, enjoy one of Luxury Family Hotels’ seven other properties around the country.  From The Ickworth, a grand country estate in Suffolk, to the elegant Fowey Hall in the pretty Cornish fishing town of Fowey; and from the atmospheric Moonfleet Manor overlooking Chesil Beach in Dorset to Polurrian Bay on the Lizard Pensinsula, there is plenty to be inspired by. Stay two nights from £249 / $382 per room B&B, including a three course dinner on one night, or three nights from £349 / $536 per room, with a three course dinner on two of those nights. www.luxuryfamilyhotels.co.uk

Just for Mom – Pre-and Post-Baby Pampering

Kate is reportedly the first ever royal to have had a baby shower, and now mothers to be can emulate the royal party style. Until July 31, moms to be can receive the royal treatment with a ‘Royal Baby Shower Afternoon’ at St James’s Hotel and Club. On arrival, you’ll receive a luxury baby gift worth £85. You will then receive a -pregnancy treatment at Spa Illuminata, one of the finest spas in central London, before afternoon tea from award-winning executive chef, William Drabble. The package is £89 / $136 per person, with a minimum of eight people. For reservations, e-mail events@stjameshotelandclub.com.

If it’s escapism you need, book in a night away from the kids and check into The Bingham for or a ‘Moms-Only Sleepover’. Every Sunday until December 31, 2013, the hotel is offering packages for sleep deprived moms in its Queen Single Bedrooms – perfect for some well-deserved rest and relaxation. Read a book or potter around the hotel’s boutique shop, have a hot bath with Abhana bath oils and scented candles, and treat yourself with room service or dinner in the river view bar. After a night of blissful uninterrupted sleep, enjoy a peaceful breakfast before returning home a new woman. From £150 / $230. www.thebingham.co.uk

Just for Dad – Wet the Babies Head in Royal Fashion

Following the arrival of His Royal Highness the Prince of Cambridge, the Royal Household is sure to be in celebration mode. Visitors to England can join in the fun and celebrate by wetting the baby’s head with the help of the Royal Warrant Holders…

It wouldn’t be much of a party without the pop of a cork and an overflow of Champagne. And to emulate Buckingham Palace, visitors need look no further than Waitrose. The first supermarket chain to be awarded a Royal Warrant by the Queen, the branch in Windsor is a regular supplier to the Royal Household, and with shops all around England, extravagance need not be a journey too far.

For an authentic English wine tasting experience, head to Chiltern Valley Wines in Oxfordshire and try before you buy. Holding a Royal Warrant since 2007, the vineyard is located in an area of outstanding natural beauty that’s the perfect spot for wine tours and tastings, £15 / $23 per person.

Complete the party with Fortnum & Mason cucumber sandwiches with Essex’s Wilkson & Son condiments on beautiful Wedgwood China from England’s capital of porcelain, Stoke-on-Trent. Have-a-go activities at the Wedgwood Centre start at just £5 / $7.50.

For more inspiration on family vacations and activities in England, visit www.visitengland.com/royalbaby

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Mibblio, First Interactive Musical Storybook App for Kids, is Ideal for Family Travel

Mibblio founders (and cousins) David Leiberman and Sammy Rubin get feedback from Sammy’s niece and nephew on their innovative interactive musical storybook mobile app © 2013 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The first-ever  interactive musical storybook mobile app – Mibblio- which puts such popular songs as “Wheels on the Bus,” “On Top of Spaghetti,” into their hands,  where the child can actually play a variety of musical instruments and becomes engaged in the story, the artwork, and song, may provide the solution to the age old question, typically whined in boredom and frustration, “Are we there yet?” “Are we there yet?” “Are we there yet?” and help settle children to sleep in hotel rooms.

Inside Mibblio is a world of beautiful mibblets—illustrated story-songs that invite children to read, sing and jam while understanding the layers of developing music.

Targeted to children ages 3-8, each beautifully designed mibblet is a lively, interactive experience that allows kids to read a charmingly illustrated story, listen to a catchy song, and jam along on a variety of instruments.

It’s like a “Child’s Introduction to the Orchestra” or “Peter & the Wolf” and introduces and engages children in music at a time when their musical aptitude is emerging.

Besides occupying the child in a car or airplane or on a ship, Mibblio is a great way to settle a child into a hotel bed for the night with something that is comforting and fun.

With an intuitive design that is built for kids but enjoyed by all, the imaginative app is the first interactive musical-storybook of its kind and endlessly entertaining.

Parents and children are invited to select a “mibblet”—an illustrated story-song—from the Mibblio library while playing along and creating music to accompany the story. Mibblets are written, illustrated, sung and performed by accomplished artists such as Grammy-nominated mandolinist Andy Statman and Grammy-winning drummer Marty Beller.

Mibblio offers a mix of classic songs such as On Top of Spaghetti” and “The Wheels on the Bus” alongside new, instant classics like “Monkey Jamboree!” Mibblio also offers more narrative stories like The Mashed Potato Monster Gang that appeal to slightly older kids. By showing children the components of each song, instrument by instrument, Mibblio helps children understand the layers of developing music. Parents can watch and listen as children discover new instrument combinations and learn the basics of creating a song, while simultaneously improving reading skills.

“Mibblio is a fun and engaging way for children to explore music in a personalized and meaningful way,” said Sammy Rubin, Co-Founder & Creative Director of Mibblio. “Mibblets frame the musical elements and give what might ordinarily be abstract concepts a fun and familiar context. It’s exactly what I would have wanted when I was young.”

Presently available for i-Pads, Mibblio is available for free in the Apple App Store and comes with one mibblet. Additional mibblets which are constantly being added to the Mibblio library are available for purchase within the app for $1.99.

Mibblio was founded in 2012 by two Long Islanders – Great Neck native David Leiberman and Sammy Rubin [full disclosure: David is Travel Features Syndicate Editor Karen Rubin's son and Sammy is nephew]. As a composer and music producer, Sammy wanted to create a new type of musical story experience for kids that combined illustrated stories with the music-making elements that he used on a daily basis. David left the world of business consulting to design and teach innovative curricula to high school students and joined Sammy on his venture to create a fun, musically enriching and educational new technology. David’s background in education as well as his passion for music made for the perfect partnership and thus Mibblio was born.

Mibblio has already received high recognition and rave reviews: Mibblio was a finalist for an Appy Award at this year’s South by Southwest and a finalist in the Cynopsis Kids Imagination Awards.

You can keep tabs when new mibblets get added and new innovations arrive, by following Mibblio on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information visit www.mibblio.com.

 

CruiseCompete Issues Guide to Best Cruiseline Children’s Programs

Frolicking on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas. CruiseCompete has produced a guide to the best children’s programs afloat © 2013 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

If your family is planning a summer cruise, one of the most important considerations in choosing a cruiseline and an itinerary is the children’s program that is available. Children’s programs on cruiselines range from nonexistent to truly stellar, so it’s worth doing careful research before booking a family cruise.

To that end, the cruise experts at CruiseCompete have compiled a list of the best cruise line children’s programs and detailed their highlights. For a comprehensive listing of the lines and their full children’s program information, including the minimum ages accepted by each line please click here.

(Note: Cruise line children’s program information is direct from the lines and is subject to change, so confirm details when you book your cruise. The age parameters may vary by line so be sure to check each one individually.)

The cruise lines do not offer a children’s program, per se, for older teens (organized children’s programs generally stop at age 17) and college-aged children; however, they do offer many activities and amenities for this age group. Please click here for tips and tricks on traveling with young adult children.

Here are highlights of what each line offers (an asterisk * indicates that a complete children’s program is available for toddlers to teenagers):

Carnival Cruises’ Children’s Programs: Camp Carnival designs its children’s activities for three age groups: 2-5 years, 6-8 years and 9-11 years. Our counselors, each with education or childcare experience, make sure everyone has fun. At mealtime, kids get their own menus, with faves like mac & cheese, chicken nuggets and more. Camp Carnival Night Owls (fees apply) enable kids to stay up late having fun while their parents also enjoy themselves well into the night. (*)

Celebrity Cruises’ Children’s Programs: The Fun Factory, available 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, has the latest gaming technology and kids can participate in various sports, crafts, music, karaoke, treasure hunts, theme parties and movies. (*)

Crystal Cruises’ Children’s Program: Space dedicated to children is rare on luxury lines, yet Crystal has designed its ships to accommodate multiple generations. They offer spacious staterooms in a range of categories as well as suites, third berths and connecting staterooms, child-friendly cuisine, activity programs on select sailings for ages 3-17, a Fantasia playroom and a video arcade for teens.

Cunard’s Children’s Programs: Cunard offers something for all ages and the program is broken down into 3 categories; the Play Zone (ages 1-7) the Kids Zone (ages 8-12) and the Teen Zone (ages 13-17). The line also features a Night Nursery, which is available to children aged 12-23 months and is open from 6:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m. (*)

Disney Cruise Line’s Children’s Programs: Disney is all about family cruising and its programs are probably the best offered; accordingly, their prices tend to be higher than other lines. They offer excellent daycare centers for ages 3 months to 3 years. The Oceaneer Club offers four distinct play areas for older children. Special needs children are welcome. Edge is a “tweens” club and Vibe is for teenagers 14-17. (*)

Holland America Line’s Children’s programs: Tweens aged 8-12 can take part in Club HAL’s video game tournaments, scavenger hunts and karaoke disco parties. They also have the option of taking part in Holland’s National Park Service Jr. Ranger Program on Alaska cruises. (*)

MSC Cruises’ Children’s Programs: MSC offers two clubs for younger children (Mini Club 3 to 6 years; Junior’s Club 7 to 11 years) and focuses on offering age-appropriate activities such as arts and crafts, swimming, sports tournaments, parties, talent contests and onboard adventures. Teens ages 13 to 17 can meet up at the teen club and participate in planned activities and parties. The line also has dedicated areas for teens like the Graffiti teen disco, where events include MTV competitions, the teens hit list and a variety of other themed evenings.

Princess Cruises’ Children’s Programs: Passengers ages 13-17 can enjoy all of the coolest amenities in Princess’s teen lounges. The teen lounges feature all of the latest tech, like PS2/PS3 and Wii games, movies and music. Teens can also participate in activities such as Casino Night, hip hop dance lessons, sports tournaments, teen makeovers and more. (*)

Royal Caribbean International’s Children’s Programs: The minimum age to sail is 6-months’ old, with a 12-month age requirement for some cruises. Royal Caribbean has a dedicated nursery for children aged 6-36 months that holds interactive playgroup sessions. Daytime and evening drop-off is available for $8 an hour. (*)

You can book a cruise on one of these family-friendly lines at www.CruiseCompete.com.

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King & Prince Resort on St. Simons in Georgia’s Golden Isles Has Storied Past and Playful Present

The King and Prince on St. Simons Island among Georgia’s fabled Golden Isles has been welcoming guests since 1935 and still offers a traditional, old-fashioned Southern hospitality © 2013 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

by Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate

The King & Prince on St. Simons Island among Georgia’s fabled Golden Isles is a resort with all the delights one can imagine to draw generations of families, honeymooners, empty-nesters and golf enthusiasts. A member of Historic Hotels of America, what makes the King & Prince so special is its connection to St Simons Island and the history of the Georgia coast – in fact, the America’s colonial past and the Civil War.

Indeed, each of the 235 members of Historic Hotels of America is unique, with its own special history, personality and character. Each has a special connection to place as well as events and people. These are so much more than mere buildings, structures and rooms. They embody the spirit and lore. These properties keep – and tell – the stories of the people and place – and as a result, you feel a connection to the generations who have stayed here before – and you come away from this step back into time realizing that people then are not so different from people today. That is very humbling. And while they are all distinct and different – some are grand and luxurious and some are modest inns – I have always come away with a very special experience (800-678-8946, historichotels.org).

The King & Prince resort’s storied past dates back to 1935, beginning with Frank Horn and Morgan Wynn founding their own private club after being thrown out of the Sea Island Club for being practical jokers and troublemakers. They built their club as a gambling, drinking, dancing destination. Mysteriously, their club burned down within a matter of months of opening. They rebuilt and opened again and that building, too, was burned down. But the third time was the charm.

View slideshow: King & Prince Resort on St. Simons in Georgia’s Golden Isles

Every owner of a historic property adds to the story, and also takes on the responsibility (most say it is a love) of caretaker, steward, guiding and nurturing the hotel for future generations. The Sturdivant family of Mississippi bought the King & Prince in the 1970s and turned the King and Prince into the jewel of their company, MMI Hospitality.

Over the last 10 years, they have invested $15 million in renovations to the golf, lobby, pool and rooms: the Historic Building was renovated and restored in 2003; the Oceanfront Building rooms where we stay were renovated from 2007-9; the golf course was done in 2009,the pool complex redone in 2012, and even during our visit, they were putting finishing touches on the renovation to the ballrooms, front desk and executive offices.

The renovation has preserved what is so special about the King & Prince. For example, the ballroom, which overlooks the water and is so popular for destination weddings and special events, has these utterly exquisite stained glass windows, each that meticulously tell a story.

All the windows but the north wall were installed in 1938 and designed by High Point Glass and Decorative Company from High Point, NC. Three additional arches were discovered on the north wall during renovations in 1983. Three new stained glass windows were designed by the son of the original artist.

The historic building of the King and Prince Resort has Cabana rooms with oceanfront parlors and patios © 2013 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Historic Building also has specialty accommodations including oceanfront suites, Tower rooms, and Cabana rooms (my favorite) with oceanfront parlors and patios (I vow when I return this is where I will stay).

The resort is its own village, with several different buildings offering a combined total of 194 rooms.

There is also the Oleander Building with spacious rooms each with its own balcony and ocean view; and Beach Villas with two and three-bedroom accommodations and full kitchens, living areas and patios or balconies; and Resort Residences which are quaint one-bedroom beach cottages and private homes with up to five bedrooms.

Our room in the Oceanfront Building has a refreshing nautical color palette of blue and white, and when we open the balcony door, the sea breezes flush through. We overlook the newly redone pool complex (stunning) and the lush landscaping, palm trees, the beach and the Atlantic Ocean beyond.

Within minutes of gazing out to the water, I see a pod of dolphins swimming by.

Exploring the King & Prince

The King & Prince resort offers today’s vacation goers what resorts have always offered previous generations: rest and respite, a place to be together, updated to be sure to for modern tastes. But then again, the resort was modern in its day.

In this age when time seems to be sped up so much, these historic hotels have a timelessness that makes you feel as if time stops when you walk through. You take a breath as you cross the threshold, like a “zen” aura.

This is what I hoped for – and found – as I explored the King and Prince, but what I had not ever known was how historically significant St. Simons Island was.

And while there is plenty to do at the resort – especially playing its championship golf course – it is also the base from which to explore, preferably by bicycle, this interesting island.

I am off to explore.

The pool complex at the King and Prince was redone in 2012, part of $15 million in renovations to the historic resort over the past 10 years © 2013 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

A focal point for the resort is the oceanfront pool complex, which was completely redone for the resort’s 77th birthday. It is absolutely exquisite, with three different pools, lush landscaping, dramatic lighting at night, and a new Ocean Terrace Grille lets you dine amid the magnificent ambiance.

There is a family-friendly wading pool with water features, shaded areas and castle-building space; a lagoon-style pool with underwater benches and deck-jets; a formal relaxation pool with chaises, umbrellas; and an oceanfront deck where you can lounge.

There is also an indoor pool.

I’m loving the name they have given to the historic beach cottage where they offer spa treatments, The Royal Treatment Cottage. The quaint cottage is designed for relaxation, with a fireside relaxation lounge, changing cabanas, and quiet treatment rooms. The focus at The Royal Treatment Cottage is on massage therapies and treatments, both traditional and customizedSwedish, aromatherapy, reflexology, sport-specific, side-by-side for couples, and custom therapies. Massage appointments at The Royal Treatment Cottage are available daily (based on availability) and require advanced reservations.  (Click for a complete listing of services,  912.638.3631, ext 5690.

There are also tennis courts and a tennis pro on property.

I head for the beach, the best place to completely decompress as you walk.

By now it is sunset, the colors changing the landscape so dramatically moment by moment.

I walk back along a small promenade that goes in front of the beachfront cottages, where there are delightful swing chairs.

We head to dinner at The King’s Tavern Restaurant as couples arrive, every woman in a red dress, for a special ball in the ballroom.

The King’s Tavern Restaurant

The King’s Tavern Restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, offers a perfect atmosphere:  very colonial, with a fireplace and wood paneling. Here you delight in Southern coastal cuisine while enjoying the breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean through a gorgeous oval picture window.

The dinner selections this evening include baby spinach and artichoke salmon; Atlantic salmon; Angus beef rib eye, 12 oz ;  New Zealand rack lamb loin); Surf & turf, Crab legs. They offer a special where you can get all you can eat crabs legs, served on an enormous plate; there is also a prime rib special that is superb.

We thoroughly enjoyed the tomato/mozzarella appetizer and the crab-shrimp bisque was sensational, a perfect texture and flavor.

For dessert, we enjoyed the Granny smith caramel apple pie, key lime pie. Other popular selections: the Southern bourbon peace pie; triple chocolate cheese cake.

We start our day with the Southern Breakfast Buffet that includes King and Prince Muffins, Omelettes Made-to-Order, Belgian Waffles, Cheese Grits, Sizzling Bacon, Sausage Patties, Biscuits & Gravy, Fresh Fruit, Pastries, and much more. There is also an a la carte menu. Offering a delicious selection of fresh local delights, dine ocean side while choosing from chef inspired soups, salads, and sandwiches, or try the signature Shellfish Spaghetti.

The King and Prince was in the midst of transitioning to a new Executive chef, Jason Brumfiel, who had been at the Cloister Hotel on Sea Island. He brings a farm-fresh-to-the-table orientation and a focus on healthy dining experiences.

At The King and Prince, Jason is creating dishes with an elegant yet delicate hand. He uses his knowledge of global cuisine and ingredients to add an exciting twist to Southern culinary traditions  that have been the Resort’s signature for nearly eighty years.

The pool menu is being enhanced with more healthy options as well as grab-and-go salads, wraps, Gazpacho, Mediterranean selections, but there will still be burgers and fries (you have to).

King & Prince Golf Course

The back nine holes of the King and Prince golf course is famous for the marsh and natural setting – there’s even an eagle’s nest © 2013 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In the morning, we get to experience one of the unique attractions of the King & Prince – its championship golf course.

The King & Prince Golf Course is on the north side of St Simons, about a 30-minute drive along the 16-mile long historic Frederica Road from the resort on the southeast corner of the island.

It is one of the most beautiful courses I have ever played on.

Unlike tennis, where the environment and atmosphere play hardly any part, golf courses are unique settings, and the King & Prince is an outstanding golf destination. It is no surprise that Golf Digest Magazine featured the King & Prince among its “36 Best Buddies Trip Destinations” – and I have to believe that is because the course isn’t just great for golf, it is a destination you want to experience.

The King and Prince is designed to wind among the ancient oaks (you can spot an eagle’s nest at the 13th hole), vast salt marshes, and dramatic island holes (see for yourself: you can actually take a 3_D, hole-by-hole flyover of all 18 holes online, www.kingandpricecome/golf.php).

Originally designed by architect Joe Lee, the 18-hole, par 72 course is renowned for a group of four spectacular signature holes on the back nine, carved from the marsh “islands” and accessed by 800-feet of elevated cart bridges.

The championship course underwent a $3.6 million renovation in 2009, improving play and the golf experience.

“Our long awaited golf course renovation now features Mini-Verde greens, 60-inches of Tif sport collars, Celebration tees, roughs and fairways – and our traps are wrapped in Emerald Zoysia,” said Rick Mattox, Golf Club Manager “We’re the only course in our region with these types of grass and our golfers are amazed at the fantastic course transformation.”

Each green has four different grasses – so it looks lush, and enhances the playing experience.

What I find particularly striking is that instead of “men’s” and “women’s” tees, they have five different tees, so you don’t have to be self-conscious about your play, and you can enjoy playing more. Beginners (and occasional golfers like me), can avoid the frustration of attempting to hit over water and marsh (and spend more time enjoying the serenity of the view!).

Golf is social, but it is a game you play against yourself. Here, you really do get the peace, the zen aspects of golf.

I was surprised to learn that it also is one of the most affordable golfing experiences for a course of its quality – astonishing: King & Prince guests play for $79 (and there are golf packages that include balls, carts, multi-day); walk-ups are invited ($115) (Tip: everyone wants to play in the morning so it is easiest to get time in the afternoon).

The Hampton Grill is a  lovely restaurant in the clubhouse – more like a parlor than a restaurant. Its famous for its chicken salad (they’ve been making it the same way for 24 years) and seasoned fries. The prices are actually very reasonable – Caesar salad $6.75, Asian chicken salad, $8.75, burger $7.75, sandwiches $5.75-9.75.

A Resort with a Storied Past

I get back to the King & Prince in time to hop on the Lighthouse Trolleys Tour, which appropriately starts for me with a history of the King & Prince.

The historic King & Prince Resort, on the beach of St Simons island, has been welcoming guests since 1935 © 2013 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.

The King and Prince originally opened in 1935 as a private club – that everyone seems to agree upon. But there are several versions of the origin of its name. One version is that its owners, Frank Horn and Morgan Wynn, two “cut-ups,” practical jokers, and basically troublemakers, opened their own private club after being thrown out of the Sea Island Club. The name was derogatorily applied to suggest their self-importance and the fact that one was tall and the other stocky; another version is that the name “befitted its regal atmosphere.” (I have my own notion that the name came because of there was a landowning family, King, who owned one of the largest plantations, Retreat Plantation.)

They built their club for gambling, dancing and drinking – and had pavilions. But just three months after opening, a fire, attributed to arson, destroyed the Club. Two months later, the rebuilt King and Prince Club reopened with the Mediterranean architecture. That, too, was burned down and they rebuilt again.

At the onset of World War II, radar was in fledgling years. It was developed first in England but the technology was brought here to St. Simons for further research and development of enhanced radar. A top-secret project, St. Simons was selected as a radar research facility because of the island’s isolation from the mainland. The government took over the King & Prince was taken over by the government as a naval training facility and a radar station.

The Lighthouse Trolleys tour is fascinating (more to come); 912-638-3333, www.lighthousetrolleys.com), and shows off many places I come back and visit in more depth – plenty to fill out a week’s holiday: the St. Simons Island Lighthouse (which you can climb; this one dates from 1872) and Maritime museum and AW Jones Heritage Center (saintsimonslighthouse.org), and Neptune Park Pier village (the waterfront park is marvelous and there is a new Fun Zone playground), which is a block-long “downtown” of shops and restaurants (the island has more than 20 galleries and antique shops); the St Simons Island Island Playhouse theater and Library, historic sites including Bloody Marsh, Christ Church (dating from 1884, has a Tiffany stained glass window, and cemetery that is absolutely fascinating, (christchurchfrederica.org), and most fascinating of all, Ft. Frederica National Monument, where you can see ongoing archeology of the colonial-era community (nps.gov/fofr).

My favorite way to get around is also a major activity here: biking.

There is a bike-rental shop, Ocean-Motion, a short walk from the King & Prince, and miles and miles of paved paths around the island; Ocean-Motion also organizes kayak nature tours (1300 Ocean BlvdSt. Simons, 912-638-5225, 800-669-5215).

And we are off to explore the island (see next).

St. Simons Island is one of Georgia’s Golden Isles, a popular resort playground lying midway between Savannah, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida, offering a mix of natural beauty, rich history and quaint charm, and year-round pleasant weather.

The King and Prince offers guests a complete resort experience, including beachfront activities to horseback riding, tennis, biking and fishing. A variety of tours are available that provide samplings of the area’s history and culture, whether by foot, bike, trolley or boat.

High season is from Memorial Day Weekend through mid-August, with a bump around spring break, mid-March through mid-April. Low season is from the week after Thanksgiving through mid-February. Check the website for a host of packages and specials.

The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort, 201 Arnold Road, St. Simons Island, GA 31522 
912-638-3631,  www.KingandPrince.com.

See also:

Eagle Island, one of Private Islands of Georgia, offers rare experience and slideshow

Discovering Sapelo Island, Georgia and Gullah-Geechees of Hog Hammock and slideshow

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