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“13000 people read my last review, 4 year old and parents - 7 nights!” 4 of 5 stars
Review of The Cloister at Sea Island

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The Cloister at Sea Island
100 Cloister Drive, Sea Island, GA 31561   |  
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Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Sea Island
Certificate of Excellence
Chicago, IL
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
28 hotel reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
221 helpful votes 221 helpful votes
“13000 people read my last review, 4 year old and parents - 7 nights!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 20, 2014

Hello my TA friends and family (ok to call you that?),

This was a monumental decision to stay in the country the week of my wife's bday and our annual trip so we wanted to make sure we picked a place that truly celebrated July 4th. Well, Cloister definitely did that. As I typically do I will break down categories and a quick overview of our family. We travel super luxury; 4 seasons Paris, Sandy Lane, St. Regis Miami, etc....

Room: We had an ocean villa (1st floor) and choose it because when we stay somewhere a week we want a living room, kitchen and typically more than one bathroom (when the kid goes to bed). We really like the room and everything was comfortable it had 2 balconies. It felt like a really nice cottage, but nothing was over the top (which is typical of this resort). Please request above floor 1 as you can barely see the ocean through trees and your back about 200 yards from the water. The Ocean Villas are sort of far away and if you don't need the space definitely stay in the beach villas or main hotel. As you need a golf cart ride every time you go do anything on the resort. Yes one pool by Ocean Villas and absolutely no one uses it (no restaurants or bars or anything there). I'd give the room a 4 out of 5. Again nothing wrong with it but nothing extra special. Paid around 1K a night. *** give big bottles of molton brown please!

Kids Club: They charge 120 a day for the full day (that included gratuity) and its "OK". They take them swimming and provide lunch also. Most of the resorts we have been to this is complimentary and yes you pay for lunch. For a one week trip that adds up a ton. She never did any really cool projects or anything. For July 4th they decorate bikes (however this is additional charge). Everything that is a real project or craft seems to be outside of the regular fee (tie dye shirts - 25?)... The instructors were really nice and the place clean, but again sort of that missing top of the line items that give places 5 stars. Review: 4 stars!

Restaurants: The breakfast at the beach club restaurant was barely average. One day we got omelets and they said they will bring them out to us (this is a buffet, but with chef station). No joke they came out runny, almost scrambled or looked like someone through them off the wall and put them on the plate). We never complain on vacation and I asked the manager to come over and she literally said "what is that?" .... don't serve that if it got messed up! They had the basics but again nothing memorable. We ate in town one day and it was fantastic! I did like the ice cream bar for the kids, and snack shop that you can pick up and sit outside quickly to eat when the kids are hungry. **** Here is one that I still can't get out of my head. They had the worst beach and pool menu known to mankind. Yes I went there, terrible. Not a single dip, hardly any classics (quesadillas, bento boxes, guacamole, chips, etc.) Nothing they had lettuce wraps with fake canned crab and one mandarin orange from a can. Disgusting, wake up! Review: 3 stars (we did eat at the Italian restaurant and the fancy one at cloister - so so again)

Service: By the second or 3rd day at least 10 people on the staff including the golf cart guys knew us by name and were incredible with my daughter. She actually remembered those conversations and really made our trip. They are extremely kid friendly, I never thought to sit at a high chair at a bar but here not one person would look at you oddly. They actual welcome it. David the manager was outstanding fielding my 800 email requests for my wife's bday. They even made her a cake that looked like LIPS!!!! Review: 5 stars

Pool/Beach - The beach has no real high end products (put out some real cabanas!) They have a decent couple pools but crowded and no real shade for kids which is disappointing. The pool service is terrible and the beach water is brown(not dirty just not what I expected). The adult pool is super boring (put a bar there and get the party started!) Review: 3 stars

Monte - Question everyone is asking... Would you return? I'll put it this way, I hope my friend gets married there but otherwise probably not. I really liked everything, but I did not truly love any part of it. The July 4th parade was incredible and the only thing they did not charge for all week. Even the gym was 20 dollars a day if you stayed at Ocean Villas (I'm paying 1K a night, seriously?)

You will not have a bad time there, but again the overall experience left me wondering where is Monte going next (not when am I coming back).

Room Tip: stay at main cloister or beach club.
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  • Stayed July 2014, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (156)
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  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
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English first
Arcata, California
Top Contributor
107 reviews 107 reviews
27 hotel reviews
Reviews in 44 cities Reviews in 44 cities
73 helpful votes 73 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 20, 2014

The Cloister at Sea Island is very different from your typical resort hotel. At first I couldn't put my finger on it but then it dawned on me. It is a club as much as a resort. More on that later.

First of all the property is amazing. On one side you have the ocean, on the other,
the river and both are spectacularly beautiful. We spent the majority of our time at the beach club just across from the Cloister. It is a bit of a walk if you have small children or don't like to walk but if you wait a moment or two you can get a shuttle. It features a selection of pools, a water slide (a long line), activity rooms for kids and teens, multiple bars, a candy store/ice cream parlor and a "surf shop" in addition to the long sandy beach in front of the property. The river side features a dock where the kids can fish and watch the dolphins chase fish too. Our room was on the river side and the view of the sun setting over the marsh, river and distant mountains was breathtaking. Within a short drive is everything else you need to keep busy including dining, shopping, landmarks, and museums.

The facilities are equally impressive. From a distance we joked that the hotel looked a bit like a condominium complex but once you are there you are immersed in luxury. With few exceptions, the design, finishes and décor are very well done. There is no wall to wall carpeting on the entire property. Artwork is classical and the furniture resembles fine antiques. The hotel features many meeting rooms, each unique and beautifully furnished. Nothing about this place says hotel, only clubhouse.

I have probably never stayed in a hotel room that felt more like a fine home. Even though we did not stay in a suite, the room was large with a beautiful bathroom suite and a patio almost as large as the room. The furnishings resembled those that would be found in the high end suites at other hotels. The sleep quality was also the best I have ever experienced in a hotel. The beds are amazing and the rooms are so dark and quiet we often overslept. They are so dark in fact that the flashes from the fire detectors seemed like lightning in the middle of the night.

As I mentioned earlier there is something beyond the facility that makes the Cloister different however. That is they work very hard to immerse you in a sense of history, culture and tradition. It should be noted here that that the original Cloister was torn down and replaced with the current hotel in 2006 (to a tune of $1.6 billion I heard.) In spite of this the feeling you are part of something larger persists. Many of the staff go back generations as do the patrons and they celebrate their past and their traditions. No tradition more so than BINGO which should not be missed. People also make an effort to dress up in the evening which is nice. We still felt ok passing through the lobby in our beach wear on our way to the beach club but the setting makes you want to dress up to its level. This was also the site of the 2006 G-8 Summit and you can sit where people like George Bush, Tony Blair and Vladimir Putin sat.

So why only 4 stars you are asking. To a certain extent they set themselves up to such a high expectation they can't possibly live up. For example, when you arrive you stop at the gate where they verify your reservation before granting you entry. At they point they radio ahead to the bell staff to expect your arrival. As the bell staff greets you they radio the front desk so they are ready as well. At this point you feel like a captain of industry. Sadly, the next morning when you are ignored by the wait staff at breakfast your dream is shattered. Then at the pool when you cant get service you feel even more like a mortal and finally when you take a sip of your $20 (with tax and gratuity) margarita and it is the worst you ever had the bubble pops completely. To be fair the staff tries hard to live up to high expectations, there are just too few of them. The drinks however, are unforgiveable for a place of this caliber and this price (and it wasn't a fluke, we ordered drinks in many places and they were all bad - really bad and expensive.)

As for the food, we only ate group meals and some burgers for lunch. It was mostly Ok hotel buffet food though the final night dinner was excellent. We did speak with people who ate in the Georgian Room and said it was amazing.

The Cloister at Sea Island is a very good choice for your family or (even better) couples vacation. I have heard the summer is actually the off-season and the fall (hunting,) spring and winter are the busy times.

  • Stayed July 2014, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Top Contributor
61 reviews 61 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 19, 2014

The Cloisters exceeded all our expectations! Went there for our 30th Anniversary and had a great week! Their restaurant is also 5 Star! Recommend for a special occasion! If you want something a little more intimate stay in The Cloisters Lodge!

Stayed July 2014, traveled as a couple
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Atlanta, Georgia
Top Contributor
91 reviews 91 reviews
89 hotel reviews
Reviews in 69 cities Reviews in 69 cities
172 helpful votes 172 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 19, 2014

Other than not having nachos at the pool/beach, I could find nothing to complain about at the Cloister. We found the old-world, Spanish theme of the resort very appealing. Without exception, the staff was accommodating, polite, and went out of their way to be helpful.

We staying in the "main" building. Although the doors to the room open up to a outdoor passage way and not a hallway - a la cheaper motels - it actually works at the Cloister. This was a beach trip so initially, we thought we wanted to stay in a beachfront room. However, as we were told by others in our group, the beach area rooms are noisier than the ones in the main building. (Probably because most families with small children congregate there.) Plus, the beach facilities are less than a five minute walk so we were very happy with our quiet room overlooking the marsh.

The room was sumptuous with a very large bathroom. The exposed wood beam vaulted ceiling was exquisite and all of the appointments in the room were top-drawer. No complaints about the bed.

We drove this time from Atlanta. A grueling 6 hour drive. Normally, we fly private aircraft into SSI which is just "down the street" from the Cloister, or very close. Aircraft problems and iffy weather resulted in us driving. Flying into SSI, Brunswick, Savannah, or even Jacksonville is recommended. A rental car is recommended no matter where you fly into as many of the surrounding sites worth seeing are most conveniently visited by car.

We had a few rainy days but the indoor pool at the spa building was exceptional! Worth spending time there even if it doesn't rain. The fitness center, located in the same building, has a broad range of workout equipment, much more than most resorts. There are several pools, one of which is adults-only. The beach has chairs/umbrellas available as well as many water sports opportunities. Given how the property sits, the water was warmer than anticipated for this time of the year.

The food from the beach to the main building was very good. Although no nachos at the beach, everything else was good. As you walk through out the facilities, from the rooms to the lobby to the bars and restaurants, make sure to look up. The attention to detail at this facility is, as I said before, exquisite.

One member of our party was late in making reservations and ended up staying at the Lodge. That's worth visiting/staying in too. We were told that a rose petal bath was prepared upon request at this property. The Lodge is different from the Cloister but exquisite as well. The food was wonderful.

Although we didn't play golf, this is a main feature of the properties, especially the Lodge. If I was a golfer, I would stay at the Lodge.

After 25 years in Georgia, I'm not sure why we had never stayed here before. But will will again. It's pricey but less so than others on the Southeast coast such as the Sanctuary on Kiawah.

Room Tip: Beachfront rooms during high season are noisier due to families with children. If you are looking fo...
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  • Stayed April 2014, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SSteilen, General Manager at The Cloister at Sea Island, responded to this review, July 30, 2014
Thank you for being a recent guest at The Cloister and taking the time to share your comments. I am pleased you had such an enjoyable stay. I look forward to welcoming you back soon!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Naples, Italy
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 15, 2014

We spent almost two weeks at the Cloister over the 4th with our family. We stay in the Cloister because it is a little quieter but still a 3 minute walk to the Beach and Beach Club. When our children were younger we used to stay at the Beach Club, but it is busy and a bit noisy if you do not have children.
I have read several reviews that have stated that the pool/beach attendants were not that attentive to their needs. I did also experience that as well on just a couple of days. I really think that stems from the attendants being teenagers and there did not seem to be "an adult" presnet to make sure things were getting done.
But, having said that, I also would get my own towels and chair covers and head to the chairs that they had already laid out that morning. This is not a big deal, but I do understand the frustration.
The property is amazing and we always cannot wait to get back when we depart. I really do not belive that there is a place like in the US. A true Southern resort with true Southern hospitality. The rooms at the Cloister are amazing, the beach is great, the rivers and marsh views are amazing. We took the wine cruise which is awesome.
Also, go to the Lodge and get a drink and wait for the bagpiper to come by before dinner.
Overall another great family vacation at Sea Island, it seems to get better every year.

Room Tip: If you are staying at the Cloister, stay in the main part of the hotel and get a room/suite with a R...
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  • Stayed July 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Top Contributor
56 reviews 56 reviews
31 hotel reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 6, 2014 via mobile

Enjoyed a quick 5 night vacation with the family. Everything that was requested prior to check in was done. Shark fishing with Max was a great bonding time with my daughter. Everything about the resort is first class and the staff is incredible. We look forward to a return trip. It was great family time.

Stayed June 2014, traveled with family
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
58 reviews 58 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
34 helpful votes 34 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 6, 2014

There is so much which is good about this hotel, but there are too many niggling annoyances to make it great. We had an ocean front room in the Beach Club, the room was terrific, large and clean, BUT there were no coffee facilities and the TV didn't work. A quick call to reception sorted it out. The pool attendants were very average, not friendly or motivated to help, the family cafe/snack bar sold truly horrible food, and there was no early morning coffee, which we have learned to expect on our visits to the states. Across the road in the Cloister, there were complementary afternoon teas, morning coffee and I believe lemonade. We just didn't really feel cared for at the Beach club, and certainly not to the standard we expect from a hotel like The Cloister. The activities are wonderful and varied, but astoundingly expensive. The horseback riding on the beach was wonderful, the staff at Frederica stables were just lovely, but charging $120 per person is punishing, and I ride in London (England)!! Compare this to riding at the Inn on the Biltmore estate at $55 and you'll see what I mean. Finally, we had a pretty good meal at Tavola, but a truly marvellous experience in the River Bar, I mentioned to our server that I was longing to try some peach pie, and was sad it wasn't on the menu. Before I knew it, she was back to say the chef had called round the resort and had tracked down a peach pie! It was delicious, we met the chef to thank him, and told him we were astounded by such thoughtfulness. The Cloister deserves an "Average" but some of the staff and certainly the peach pie merit an "Excellent".

  • Stayed April 2014, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SSteilen, General Manager at The Cloister at Sea Island, responded to this review, July 30, 2014
Thank you for being recent guests at Sea Island. I appreciate you taking the time to let us know of your positive experiences, and apologize that we did not fully meet your expectations. I would welcome the opportunity to assist you with a future stay.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Cloister at Sea Island

Address: 100 Cloister Drive, Sea Island, GA 31561
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Georgia > Georgia Coast > Golden Isles of Georgia > Sea Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Sea Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Number of rooms: 175
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Resort that offers golf lessons plus a variety of other activities such as kayaking, horseback riding, sailing and swimming. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Cloister At Sea Island Hotel Sea Island
Cloister Resort Sea Island
Cloister Sea Island
The Cloister At Sea Island Georgia

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