There I was back in the United States, sitting on a boat, eyes closed, breathing in the smell of salt and sand and sea. I had missed the ocean so much. Thirty minutes later we docked on the national seashore of Cumberland Island, Georgia, an island with only dirt roads mostly used for walking or bike riding and almost zero cars. We walked from the seashore into an enchanted Southern forest with her blanket of Spanish moss swaying overhead from the gnarled arms of centuries old live oak trees. And then like a beautiful, perfect white shell you walk upon on the beach, Greyfield Inn appears in front of you in all her splendor echoing a bygone era.
It’s hard to write about how being here feels. Words can’t seem to touch this kind of magic. I still find it quite remarkable that this sort of place can even still exist unspoiled by modernization or development. As an original home built in the 1900’s by Thomas and Lucy Carnegie for their daughter Margaret Ricketson as a wedding gift, the home is still adorned by paintings and photographs of the family and priceless heirlooms such at Tiffany lamps and Chippendale furniture. Though it was transformed into an Inn in 1962, it is still overseen by the family as they blur the line between romantic luxury grand hotel and charming, intimate family home.
I have been once before in the early spring, but I found it to be a cozy hideaway in the winter chill. They keep the fireplace in the parlor roaring all day and the bar stocked where you can make yourself a drink to heart’s desire. In the evening after cocktails and mingling with guests over an oyster roast the dinner bell rings, men in their sport coats and women in their dresses ascend down the stairs for truly spectacular three course meal that rivals any Michelin star restaurant, comprised of many ingredients grown next to the house in one of the Inn’s organic gardens.
But it’s not all about the mansion. It’s also about the island.
The 200-acres of unspoiled marshland, open empty seashore, former plantation ruins populated by wild horses, and artifacts from centuries of American history including the First African Baptist Church founded in 1893 in a community settled by former slaves and later would become the chapel John F. Kennedy Jr. was married in. The island is home to one of my favorite stretches of beach in the world because you feel as if you have it all to yourself, you see nature as it is when it’s just allowed to be. I started each day here watching the sun rise over the horizon and sparkling off the ocean.
Greyfield Inn has found a perfect harmony with it’s place on the island giving their guests bikes to explore, organized daily tours of historic sites, bird watching hikes, kayaks, fishing and much more. It’s the kind of place you can come and do nothing but relax on the porch swing reading a book or sign up for days of activities. What I love most about it all, is once you step foot on the island it’s as if you live in a magical bubble where you don’t have to drive anywhere or make any decisions whatsoever. Your picnic lunch is packed for you everyday in a basket to grab when you wish, your dinner is arranged and in true southern hospitality style, the home feels like yours for a brief moment in time.