Trips with Girlfriends Will Keep You Young (& Healthier)
I just got back from an annual trip with some of my great NC girlfriends. This year we went to The Cloister at Sea Island, Georgia. We were so lucky with the weather – we ventured farther north than usual and had braced ourselves for some chilly temps, but were pleasantly surprised with warm, breezy days. Even the rain gave us a break and held off until our last evening. This is the low-country and you are in and around marshes making it even more humid than my home in Miami, and I was glad to be visiting in the winter months.
The Cloister is a beautiful resort and I was surprised to learn it had been completely re-built and reopened in 2006 after being torn down in 2003. Expansion has continued with more facilities and rooms added as recently as 2016, with the resort now offering 267+ rooms. Never intended to be anything more than a temporary facility when the Addison Mizner 46-room resort opened in 1928, the now greatly expanded hotel was re-designed to create the same cozy feel and friendly spirit of the original. The style is Southern-elegant yet comfortable, with furnishings like you would find in the homes of your Southern friends (at least the ones with good taste-lol). Presidents from Calvin Coolidge to Eisenhower have visited the resort and now it was time for our gang of ten.
Even the gals who had visited many times enjoyed the historic tour we took with resident historian Wheeler Bryon (that really is his name). We all enjoyed Wheeler’s terrific sense of humor as well as the interesting info he shared as we toured Georgia’s Golden Isles, including Sea Island and a stop at the Fort Frederica National Monument. The Fort was a British stronghold dating from 1736, built to battle the Spanish for control in the New World.
After a wonderful wild (local) shrimp lunch in quaint St. Simons at Iguana’s, most of our group hit the cute shops and I headed over to check out the picturesque 1872 St. Simons Lighthouse and Keepers Cottage. BTW – later I heard there was supposed to be free ice cream at Iguanas – how did we miss that?
Once I got overlooking for cats, I learned about “Tabby” construction, consisting of crushed and heated oyster shells. The material was used in early slave cabins and the Fort and is still used in many area houses.
I loved the way the area’s beautiful homes were numbered in the order they were built and was surprised to find out neither The Cloister or the homes are on the historic register. Owners can build in a variety of styles but somehow it all comes together. The idyllic scene is not marred by mailboxes since everyone gets mail at the Post Office. Maybe it’s the majestic live oaks dripping with Spanish Moss, or the winding narrow streets through the residential areas, or just the friendliness of everyone you meet – but it instantly felt very comfortable here.
Later, I made a point of seeing the famous Avenue of the Oaks near the Sea Island Lodge and golf courses. I can see why it’s a favorite spot for brides to pose for pictures. At the Lodge, the Colt & Alison restaurant served up a wonderful farewell dinner for the group and I enjoyed having a Caesar salad made the proper way – at the table. During pre-dinner cocktails, we enjoyed a brief sight and sounds of the bagpiper playing while walking on the greens. He must’ve had the same weather app we did since he made it under cover just in time before the skies opened up.
As a group, we did plenty of eating, drinking, card-playing, a little golf, a little spa, and a whole lot of talking. It was poetic the Monday edition of the WSJ had a feature about the importance of friendship. Quoting from an interview with Lydia Denworth author of the book “Friendship” the article focused on the scientific benefits of having friends and she describes it as a “key to survival.” She explained a study at Harvard concluded the “best predictor of your health and happiness at 80 was not your wealth or professional success. It was your relationships at 50.”
I’ll drink to that!