THE SONIC BOOMER
This weekend, Mark and I are at the Jekyll Island Club, former winter playground of the former power players of this country and their families. Financiers, railroad barons and manufacturers of that fabulous invention indoor plumbing all sought to escape icy New York winters by taking the train to Georgia and turning their attention to billiards, hunting and golf.
Morgan, Vanderbilt, Crane and more all packed up their families and servants and came south to their multi-room “cottages,” which are now featured on a tram tour amongst smaller dwellings that have been converted into adorable little shops.
Mark and I found this place by accident. I was on a business trip, which brought me to the large meeting room of a chain hotel located on the island when, on the final day, we decided to explore a bit. We discovered a pier, a few seafood restaurants, a small water park, a miniature golf course and then, rising from the woods like Oz from a field of poppies, we spotted it — the Jekyll Island Club.
Now a posh hotel, the club retains most of its original architecture and landscaping together with a staff well-versed in the club’s history. We stayed a night, came back again, and eventually got married there. I was smitten from the moment I looked out my bedroom window onto a lawn where quiet, white-clad people were engaged in a morning game of croquet. Honestly, croquet! At first I assumed it was mere staging (having spent way too many weekends at Walt Disney World) but, no, they were actually playing the game, laughing discreetly and patting each other on the back.
This weekend, we are here for New Year’s Eve. We’ve come here before to kick off a New Year in grand fashion, so we know what to expect.
First, we will sample hors d’eouvres from tables that line the perimeter of the drawing room. (At least I think it’s a drawing room. It has a massive fireplace with a boar’s head above it, floors of heart pine, staircases of cypress. On New Year’s, it will also sport two bars. I call it the drawing room because I am inescapably drawn to it.)
We will only eat the tiniest sampling of each offering because, when the doors to the main dining room open, we have seven full courses of real cuisine ahead of us. If you watch the Food Network, you know the pride and pleasure an experienced chef takes in dinking with your food. The Jekyll Island Hotel & Club is renowned for the highest level of dinking.
A band will play — not a DJ, don’t even whisper the word — and they will play songs from a bygone era while black and white balloons sway gently overhead (no metallics, no holograms, no strobe lights — I mean, please, we are talking high class here).
When coffee is served, a delectable little dessert will be served alongside it. It will be a cake of some kind layered in whipped cream and fruit and dripped with fudge and, on top, there will be a hand-crafted chocolate filigree something-or-other sticking straight up. I will be breathless at the sight of it.
Of course, I won’t have room for it, but it will be gently and lovingly placed into a pristine white box where, at breakfast, I will sit demurely by my window and nibble at it whilst listening to the centuries-old sound of wooden mallets hitting wooden croquet balls.
Then I will try to take all of this magic with me right into the New Year.
Even though I know, in my heart, it is only going to last to the on-ramp of I-95.