Copy of Driftwood-Villas Logo

Team Driftwood Back In Cooking Competion Action!

Team Driftwood consists of Driftwood Bistro’s founder, Dan Dickerson, Elaine “OG” Dickerson, Augusta Roosa and Steve Roosa. Although never having competed in this particular competition, Dickerson was involved in the Shrimp and Grits Festival in the beginning years as a vendor with Latitude 31. And this team has had hundreds of request over the past 5 years to compete by locals and visitors alike – so with this fan base Team Driftwood feels compelled to compete in one of the South’s Top Ten premier Festivals. Born in Los Angeles, California, raised in Midwest City, Oklahoma, Dan Dickerson arrived via a Southeast Asia tour to Savannah, Georgia in 1977.  He often tells people that he has been in Georgia long enough to be called a “Cracker” without the wrapper. His restaurant experience spans a career of over 50 years and includes notable names in the restaurant industry such as:  Spanky’s, Latitude 31 and The “Rah” Bar, Rio Bravo Cantina, and Darryl’s 1775 culminating into Dickerson establishing his own brand – The Driftwood Bistro. His experience with the Jekyll Island market enabled him to develop a concept that was created specifically for residents of Jekyll Island which further enhances the dining experience of all guests coming to his restaurant.  His mission was to create a dining experience that utilized the most valued commodity that the Golden Isle’s has to offer – Wild Georgia Shrimp while encompassing flavors that most people in the South grew up with; as well as a wide variety of vegetables and dishes indigenous to this area. Dan Dickerson and The Driftwood Bistro love Jekyll Island because of its people.  Jekyll Island enjoys the prosperity of hundreds of thousands of people who absolutely love the serenity and historical nature of the Island year after year.  It is the people that make this Island stand out as a great vacation spot with a pleasant and unpretentious atmosphere.  Cheer on Team Driftwood as they participate in the Wild Georgia Shrimp and Grits Festival’s Professional Cooking Competition on Sunday, September 21st. For more information about the Shrimp and Grits: Wild Georgia Shrimp and Grits Festival presented by Southern Living please visit:

Chef Ward

Meet Chef Whit From Tramici!

It all began for Chef Whit when he was 14 years old.  He was supposed to fill in for his brother in a restaurant kitchen for only one week and he never left!  It was the fast paced environment and the fact that every day brought a different dish that drew him in and he decided to make it a career. Born in Germany and raised in both Georgia and Texas he is no stranger to Southern cooking. A graduate of College of Coastal Georgia, he has worked as the head chef at King and Prince Beach Resort’s Echo, and as the head chef at the former Pearl Restaurant in Brunswick. His passion for food began while cooking with his family growing up and when he’s not creating specials in the kitchen he enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters as well as collecting comic books. Cheer on Chef Whit as he participates in the Wild Georgia Shrimp and Grits Festival’s Professional Cooking Competition on Sunday, September 21st. For more information about the Shrimp and Grits: Wild Georgia Shrimp and Grits Festival presented by Southern Living please visit:

latitudes chefterry

Chef Terry of Latitude 31 is gearing up the Professional Cooking Competition!

Terry Harris, has been a certified chef for the past 20 years. Passion and precision are both valued by Chef Harris. “Plate presentation is very important because most customers eat with their eyes… What looks good to the eyes normally tastes good as well,” Chef Harris remarked. Chef Harris was a chef at surrounding local restaurants such Mudcat Charlie’s for seven years, as well as the Jekyll Island Club for ten years. Terry is a beloved employee of Latitude 31˚. His signature recipes include the Pan Seared Yellow Fin Tuna glazed with a Teriyaki Honey Orange sauce, the Lemon Peppered Salmon accompanied with a Lemon Dill Cream, and Pecan Crusted Pink Snapper finished with a Hazelnut Cream Sauce. We asked Terry, “What do you like about working at Latitude 31˚?” His response was, “We have a great atmosphere, and the location is ideal. My co-workers are hard-working individuals and, together, we make sure food preparation and quality is top notch. I feel as though we have a great menu and even better food.” Cheer on Chef Terry as he participates in the Wild Georgia Shrimp and Grits Festival’s Professional Cooking Competition on Sunday, September 21st. For more information about the Shrimp and Grits: Wild Georgia Shrimp and Grits Festival presented by Southern Living please visit:


Phase Two Construction Begins On New Retail Shops in Jekyll Island Beach Village

The Jekyll Island Authority is celebrating another milestone in the revitalization of the island’s hospitality infrastructure. Construction on the second phase of retail space in the new Jekyll Island Beach Village is under way and is expected to be complete in early 2015. Phase II, encompassing 9,600 square feet, will cost $1,562,000 to develop. Included in the tenant mix for the second phase is Wee Pub, Life is Good Genuine Neighborhood Shoppe, Brittney’s Closet, and Maxwell’s General Store. Phase I is well under way with new retailers that will include Fuse Fresh Frozen Yogurt, Club Café, Kennedy Outfitters (fishing gear and accessories), Tonya’s Treasures (gift shop) and the Jekyll Island Seafood Co. restaurant. Existing retailers that are excited to have a new home are Parker Kaufman, Jekyll Island Beverage Center, Judy Kay’s Salon, Whittle’s Gift Shop, Jekyll Island Market & Deli, and Jekyll Realty. Only a few available retail spaces remain and proposals are being accepted for consideration. For beach village retail inquiries please contact: Jim Broadwell, Project Manager (912) 635-4418 or  Dabbs-Williams General Contractors, out of Statesboro, Ga., was the low bidder and was awarded the construction contract. Funding for the project was secured through loans from the OneGeorgia Authority to the Jekyll Island Authority. “Once open, the Jekyll Island Beach Village will be the center of activity for area guests and residents,” stated Richard Royal, Chairman, Jekyll Island Authority. “This beachside location is truly unique and will draw customers to the shops from across the coastal region.” With the new Westin Jekyll Island hotel already under construction and the park space and convention center completed and operational, the retail shops are another piece of the integrated Beach Village project. For more information and to register for updates about Jekyll Island’s progress and other activities and amenities, please visit


Sea Turtle Summer 2014~!

The 2014 sea turtle season on Jekyll Island has been far from a bust. While this season has seen fewer turtle nests than recent years, our activity on the beach has been steady. While the state of Georgia has experienced reduced numbers of nesting turtles, there is no cause for concern. Female sea turtles do not nest every single year, taking several years off between nesting season to rebuild the physical resources needed to lay over 500 eggs in a single reproductive season. These pulses in nesting activity result in a natural fluctuation in overall nesting numbers among years. The Jekyll Island Sea Turtle Project is operated by the Jekyll Island Authority’s Research Department at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. Our researchers represent a diversity of backgrounds and affiliations. Most of our patrol team is supported through the AmeriCorps program but we also have researchers that are interning from College of Coastal Georgia, Juniata College, and Ball State. During May-July, we work at night, tagging sea turtles as part of our population study and collecting information on sea turtle health and size. We also gather data that can be used for habitat management such as how hatch success is influenced by nest temperatures, rises in the water table, and the vegetation around the nest.

In addition to learning about our sea turtles and beach habitats, we also educate the general public about the importance of using red lights on the beach or walking by moonlight during full moons. Sea turtles are disoriented by white light and Jekyll Island has its own lighting ordinance to restrict the use of white lights on our beaches. Not only can you see more stars when you moderate your use of light on the beach, you also greatly increase your chance of seeing a sea turtle mother or baby. Please support sea turtle conservation on Jekyll Island by using red lights and closing the drapes in your hotel room. Also, baby sea turtles are small and can get trapped in our holes and sand castles on the beach. Please exercise the kid in you and knock that castle down when you are done!

As nesting season comes to a halt in August, nests begin to hatch after incubating for 60 days. With this new season come new opportunities at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. We are offering two morning programs that are available for reservation on the GSTC website.

Sunrise Walks: Early morning risers will explore one of Jekyll’s beautiful beaches and discover barrier island ecology. Your trained guides will explain the importance of this habitat, identify a variety of beach-dwelling flora and fauna, and explain how this environment supports sea turtle nesting. Depending on the hatching season, some walk guests may witness a nest excavation on a hatched loggerhead sea turtle nest! Group size is limited to 25 people per walk. Sunrise Walks are conducted on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.

Egg-sperience Dawn Patrol: Participants in the GSTC’s Egg-sperience Dawn Patrol program get the unique opportunity to assist sea turtle biologists with nest monitoring efforts on Jekyll Island. Guests meet our Dawn Patrol team at Great Dunes Park at sunrise where they will accompany patrollers in one of the GSTC’s all-terrain vehicles. On the beach participants provide assistance and gain hands-on experience while covering and locating nests, checking for signs of depredation, and conducting nest excavations. The opportunity to work alongside a seasoned sea turtle biologist and your efforts to protect the sea turtle population of Jekyll Island make this a worthwhile experience you will never forget! Group size is limited to 4 people. Dawn Patrols occur every day of the week.



Award-Winning Cookbook Author Warren Caterson Cooking Demo!

My, how quickly things change. Just a few short years ago, restaurants were booming and cooking at home was something one watched on TV, but rarely attempted in real life. Then something shifted. In a big way. Perhaps it was the economy. Or a desire to eat healthier. For whatever reason, people wanted to rediscover the joy of cooking. Recognizing that need, Chef Warren Caterson wrote the award-winning cookbooks Table for Two – The Cookbook for Couples and Table for Two – Back for Seconds (Winfield & Scott Press) each featuring over 235 recipes using fresh and readily available ingredients. Now he has taken his passion on the road with an entertaining and energetic presentation that will inspire your inner chef while tickling your taste buds. Join Chef Warren on our cooking stage as he shares dozens of kitchen tips, cooking hints and humorous anecdotes about the joys and challenges of cooking for two. He will then show you how to create a wonderful shrimp and grits dish in thirty minutes or less with his famous shrimp gravy. In addition, Chef Warren will answer such questions as: Is it possible to chop onions without tears? What is the best upgrade for my kitchen? How do I preserve all that leftover fresh parsley when I’ve only used a teaspoon or two? And, should I cook with wine, and if so, what kind should I use?

Join Warren at Shrimp and Grits: The Wild Georgia Shrimp and Grits Festival presented by Southern Living Sept 19 – 21, 2014.

 Warren Caterson is a full-time writer and chef who studied at the Southeast Institute of Culinary Arts. He resides with his family in St. Augustine, Florida and invites you to drop by if you’re in the area – there’s always something cooking and there’s always enough.




Revitalization Update from Executive Director, Jones Hooks

Dear Jekyll Island Friends and Residents,

I hope you are a having a nice summer.  We have been extremely busy here on Jekyll Island with several revitalization projects underway plus a great increase in visitation to the island.  I appreciate the nice comments from many of you who have enjoyed the island improvements.  We are pleased with the progress to date.

The new Jekyll Island Westin is now 79% complete and is targeting an opening date by the end of this year.  Hotel room reservations are now open online, for those interested in being some of the first Westin guests.  Construction of the new Beach Village retail continues at a good pace.  We will begin the second phase of retail construction in August with an anticipated completion next spring.  There is limited retail space remaining for those interested in operating a business on Jekyll Island.  When complete, the Jekyll Island Beach Village will be the hub of activity for residents, convention delegates and guests.  We also expect area residents from Brunswick and St. Simons to enjoy the wonderful setting and unique shops and restaurants.

Demolition is complete and reconstruction is well underway at the new Holiday Inn Resort project.  As with any redevelopment project, plans adjust as unexpected situations are encountered.  The decision has been made to demolish the old restaurant building and build a new structure.  The new restaurant will be called The Beach House and will take full advantage of the ocean views.  The hotel is also expected to be complete this year.

More good news!  Fins on the Beach will soon reopen with a new name, new owner and new dining concept.  St. Simons Island residents Michelle and Georgia Stewart, owners of Sliders restaurant on Amelia Island, will open a “Baja Mexican” restaurant concept under a new business lease with the Jekyll Island Authority.  The new restaurant is expected to open in early 2015.

The Jekyll Island Authority Board approved a development concept to redevelop the former Jekyll Oceanfront Resort site.  This property has been closed and mostly vacant for 3 ½ years! Finally, we have a viable proposal to tear down the old structures and build a smaller development consisting of around 98 cottages and 75 garden apartments.  This project will provide housing for which there is a strong demand yet a limited supply.  The cottages will be available for individual purchase and can be placed in a homeowner’s rental program for vacation rentals.  The garden apartments will provide a needed residential housing option on the island.  This project reduces the density of the former resort, and also places new development in an existing footprint.

The Jekyll Island Authority Board also received an update from Trammell Crow with regard to the redevelopment of the former Buccaneer and Georgia Coast Inn sites.  Trammell Crow has secured the Courtyard by Marriott and SpingHill Suites “flags” through Marriott International.  Securing the two franchises for the first two of three hotels planned for the site required a non-refundable $150,000 deposit and demonstrates that this project is moving forward.  On Monday, the Jekyll Island Authority Board approved a lease amendment and assignments for the project which were required to proceed with hotel financing.

Civil engineering work has commenced for the new Jekyll Island Youth and Learning Center.  This is the project on the south end which will replace the Jekyll Island 4-H Center with a new facility.  The new facility will accommodate all of 4-H’s programs plus add space for other youth-oriented programs.  The project will provide all the modern amenities of a quality, safe youth retreat.  In fact, the Office of Planning and Budget has confirmed its support to complete the entire project scope.  The total budget for this project is now just over $16 million.

The continuation of revitalization has created great momentum for Jekyll Island.  The new convention center finished its second year of operation and regularly receives rave reviews.  It also significantly exceeded its net operating budget by $467,000, and added $101,000 to the Jekyll Island Authority’s bottom line.

Revitalization and strong visitation are encouraging other properties to also undertake improvement projects. The Beachview Club hotel will begin lobby and guestroom updates beginning this fall.  Villas by the Sea has plans to renovate their conference center beginning in December 2014.  The Jekyll Island Authority Board approved a list of short term capital improvement projects including the addition of a group pavilion at the Jekyll Island Campground.  Our winter guests at the campground will be pleased with this news as this project has been an unfunded priority for some time.

By the length of this update, you can see we have been very busy.  If you have not been to the island to see the improvements for yourself, I hope you will make plans to do so.  The revitalization of Jekyll Island is well underway and delivering on its promise of new and improved facilities while protecting the island’s character and natural beauty.

Come see us!


Jones Hooks, Executive Director
Jekyll Island Authority



Indian Mound Golf Course Joins Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program

Indian Mound Golf Course at Jekyll Island Golf Club has received certification in Environmental Planning from the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses (ACSP), an international program administered by Audubon International designed to help landowners preserve and enhance the environmental quality of their property. The plan was developed by Yank Moore, Conservation Technician, who is also recognized for his effort to plan for environmental stewardship.

The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses provides an advisory service to help existing golf courses develop effective conservation and wildlife enhancement programs.  This worldwide effort is coordinated by Audubon International and is sponsored in part by the United States Golf Association.

“The open space of a golf course is utilized not only by golfers, but is habitat for a variety of wildlife species,” explained Doug Bechtel, Associate Director of Environmental Programs at Audubon International.  “We welcome Indian Mound Golf Course’s commitment to the environment and to managing the golf course with wildlife in mind.”

By joining and participating in the ACSP, Indian Mound Golf Course will be involved in projects that enhance habitat for wildlife and preserve natural resources for the benefit of the local community.  These projects may include: placing nesting boxes for cavity-nesting birds such as bluebirds and swallows, utilizing integrated pest management techniques, conserving water, and maintaining food and cover for wildlife.

“The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program benefits both people and wildlife,” said Bechtel.  “It’s a great way for the managers of developed properties and environmental organizations to work together to become better stewards of land and natural resources.”

After the environmental plan is approved, properties in the program may apply for certification in Wildlife and Habitat Management, Chemical Use Reduction and Safety, Water Conservation, Water Quality Management, and Outreach and Education by demonstrating that they have met minimum requirements for each category.

Audubon International is an environmental organization dedicated to educating, assisting, and inspiring millions of people from all walks of life to protect and sustain the land, water, wildlife, and natural resources around them.  In addition to businesses, Audubon International also provides programs for golf courses, schools, communities, and new developments.  For more information, contact Audubon International at or 518-767-9051 or visit their website at

Beach House Rendering


Currently in the middle of a $20 million rebuild and rebranding, the Holiday Inn Resort at Jekyll Island launches phase two of construction with the announcement of three new food and beverage concepts. The new signature restaurant Beach House, The Rusty Anchor Bar and Grille, and a Starbucks will be opening in the new resort.  The resort is scheduled for completion November 2014, with all food and beverage outlets coming online by February 2015.

“This is our chance to build a brand new experience from the ground up,” says Jason Smith, General Manager of Holiday Inn Resort at Jekyll Island. “Existing structures are being completely demolished to make way for new restaurants, new accommodations and a completely new level of guest service.”

Construction has begun on a brand new oceanfront restaurant that will take its direction and design inspiration from the pristine shore and stunning ocean view setting.  Under the direction of long time Jekyll restaurateur Luke Kelly, Beach House, the resort’s signature restaurant will bring a breath of salt air and seafood to the Jekyll Island dining scene.  Design accents including nautical rope, oyster shells, driftwood, and a seaside vibe will complement the fresh, locally-sourced seafood and southern coastal classics on the menu. The Tap Room at Beach House will feature 24 draft beers, including an array of craft brews that can be enjoyed alone or paired with food selections. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, Beach House will also be available to host private parties and dining events.

The Rusty Anchor Bar and Grille is another much-anticipated addition to the hotel. Its pool-side location will cater to beach goers who don’t want to miss soaking up the sun to grab a bite to eat or a fruity drink. What perfect day in paradise is complete without an umbrella drink in hand?

Enhancing the hotel’s new three story lobby, Holiday Inn Resort at Jekyll Island has lined up Starbucks on the top floor.  This unique Starbucks location features a balcony overlooking the ocean and offers specialty coffees and gourmet goodies.  Additionally, this location will serve adult beverages in the evenings.

Speaking on behalf of the hotels management company, Greg Winey, President and Principal of NorthPointe Hospitality Management, LLC stated, “It is an honor to be chosen as the operator of such a unique and beautiful property and setting.  Our goal is to ultimately be the best of the best of Holiday Inn Resorts worldwide.  We look forward to being good stewards and to operating this property in keeping with the practices that will continue to keep Jekyll Island such a pristine and treasured destination.”

NorthPointe Hospitailty Management, LLC is working in concert with property owner Georgia Coast Holdings, LLC, who is overseeing the $20 million ground-up rebuild of The Holiday Inn Resort at Jekyll Island.  Upon completion, the new Holiday Inn Resort at Jekyll Island will feature 157 guest rooms including 21 suites, an outdoor pool, Kids Club and Activity Center, KidSuite® Rooms, a Fitness Center with a view, Business Center and of course access to more than a quarter- mile of unobstructed beachfront lawn space on beautiful and historic Jekyll Island.  


Meet our Shrimp and Grits Poster Contest Winner! Alexandra Nicole Newton




Growing up on St. Simons Island has greatly influenced my artistic style. I have been painting since elementary school and I studied under Dorothy McClain (a St. Simons Island artist and instructor) for over a decade.

I enjoy working with a wide range of techniques and mediums including watercolors, oils, acrylics, and even driftwood and seashells.  Regardless–nature has always been the focal point of my art. I grew up surrounded by the best kind of inspiration: white sand beaches, winding tidal creeks, and vibrant marshes. This environment also led me to develop a deep appreciation for wildlife and all our coastal flora and fauna.

I graduated from University of Georgia with degrees in Wildlife Biology and Fisheries Science but I never stopped pursuing my love of art. I hope that through my art, I can instill an appreciation for nature and wildlife in others. My wish is to give others a passion for preserving nature and to promote the conservation of coastal ecosystems and marine life.


From Our Blog


Team Driftwood Back In Cooking Competion Action!

Team Driftwood consists of Driftwood Bistro’s founder, Dan Dickerson, Elaine “OG” Dickerson, Augusta Roosa and Steve Roosa. Although never having competed in this particular competition, Dickerson was involved in the Shrimp and Grits Festival in the beginning years as a vendor with Latitude 31. And this team has had hundreds of request over the past [...]


Meet Chef Whit From Tramici!

It all began for Chef Whit when he was 14 years old.  He was supposed to fill in for his brother in a restaurant kitchen for only one week and he never left!  It was the fast paced environment and the fact that every day brought a different dish that drew him in and he [...]

From Our Blog

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