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 acsp@auduboninternational.org or 518-767-9051 or visit their website at www.auduboninternational.org.

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. http://www.hijklresort.com  


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.


Team Sea Watch

Team Sea Watch Cooks Again!

Tom Kent and Pat Cochran have been cooking together since they were in college over 40 years ago.  Many dishes have been prepared while on vacations and getaways over the years and some were created on sailboats off the coast of British Columbia, Maine, and in the Virgin Islands.  Team Sea Watch entered Jekyll Shrimp and Grits in 2013 for the first time finishing second. Tom and Pat share a love for Jekyll Island and the Georgia coast.  Tom lives in Atlanta and has been visiting Jekyll for over 30 years including many Rotary District Conference meetings.  Pat lives in Valdosta.  He vacationed at Jekyll as a child with his family and now owns a second home on Jekyll named “Sea Watch” which was purchased after he was married here several years ago.  They have introduced many friends to the treasures of the Georgia Coast over the years including many Low Country Boil dinners with Wild Georgia Shrimp.  Look for this fun duo at our Wild Georgia Shrimp and Grits festival September 19 – 21st. www.jekyllisland.com/shrimp-and-grits


Sea Turtle Release this Friday at 10:30 a.m.


 Public Invited to Attend! Join Us!

WHO:                   Jekyll Island Authority – Georgia Sea Turtle Center

WHAT:                Sea Turtle Release

WHEN:                Friday, July 25, 2014, 10:30 am

WHERE:             Beach at Great Dunes Park, Jekyll Island, GA



Jekyll Island Deer Management

The mission of the Jekyll Island Conservation Plan (JICP) is to “Preserve, maintain, manage, and restore Jekyll Island’s natural communities and species diversity while providing nature-based educational and recreational opportunities to the general public.” Specifically regarding white-tailed deer, the JICP recognizes that deer can “adversely affect long-term conservation goals by preferentially foraging on propagules and saplings of desirable native plant species”. The Jekyll Island Authority Board of Directors met on July 21, 2014 . Recommendations were made to the board about deer management on Jekyll Island.

Click here to see the recommendations.

Jekyll Island Deer Management Issue Paper_7 20 14_V2


Vote for your favorite poster!

There’s a new ingredient added to this year’s Shrimp & Grits: The Wild Georgia Shrimp Festival. For the first time, the poster for this year’s festival will be awarded to that special artist who submits the best artwork determined by the online voting public. Artists from around the region submitted their vision for official Wild Georgia Shrimp Festival poster and Jekyll Island and we are down to the final 5 . Vote now! http://woobox.com/97pmz4


Governor Deal makes one new appointment and one reappointment to JIA Board of Directors

Governor Nathan Deal announced the appointment of William H. Gross to the Jekyll Island State Park Authority. Gross is the owner and president of W.H. Gross Construction. He has worked in light commercial and residential construction for the past 26 years. He is especially interested in historical preservation construction. Gross currently serves on the Southeast Georgia Health System Foundation and is chairman of the Camden County Chamber of Commerce. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of North Florida. He is a lifelong member of First Baptist Church of Kingsland. He and his wife, Renee, have twins. They reside in Kingsland.

“With the appointment of Bill Gross, the Jekyll Island Authority board grows even stronger,” stated Chairman Richard Royal. “I look forward to working with Bill and appreciate the Governor’s support through his appointment of such high-quality individuals to this board that I am proud to chair.”

Governor Deal also announced the reappointment of Robert W. Krueger to the Jekyll Island State Park Authority. Krueger currently serves on the board as Vice Chairman and has been a board member since 2006.  He is President and CEO of ComSouth Corp and serves as treasurer on the executive committee of the Georgia Telecommunications Association. Krueger earned a bachelor’s degree from Mississippi State University and a master’s degree from the University of Georgia. He is a former officer in the U.S. Navy and is an Eagle Scout. He and his wife Carol, have three children and three grandchildren. They reside in Hawkinsville.




Just By Hand Celebrates 10-year Anniversary this Saturday 1pm- 3pm

The idea struck like lightening – unique, hand-made gift items are always best sellers… why not have a gift shop dedicated to only pieces made by hand by artisans? That was ten years ago when Cheryl and Van Hart opened Just By Hand on Pier Road in the Jekyll Island historic district shops. Since then, Just By Hand has become one of the more popular stores becoming a regular stop for repeat guests.

“We love our customers, and they come back year-after-year to discover what new items we are carrying,” stated Owner Cheryl Hart. “Guests are like family and they always find something new in the store.”

For Cheryl, it is all about the artists. Her passion for retail is matched by her passion for discovering unique works, made by hand by genuine artists who put their heart and soul into their art. Each piece has a story, and Cheryl is sure to relate and represent each piece and each artist to the customer.

Hospitality is also a key part of the business.

“We try to make every guest feel welcome and special,” Cheryl continued. “And we often price below the suggested retail.”

Gift items range from $.35 to $1,400 and include soaps, paintings, jewelry, sculpture and more. Special attention and care is standard, and special orders are no problem.

Find Just By Hand on Pier Road in the Jekyll Island historic district or online at shopjustbyhand.com.

Just By Hand 10-year Anniversary Celebration “Colors of Americana”

Saturday, July 5th, 1pm-3pm

Just By Hand on Pier Road in the Jekyll Island Historic District Shoppes

Join owners Cheryl and Van Hart as they celebrate ten great years of operating a successful gift shop of hand-crafted items. Special for the holiday weekend, “Colors of Americana” art show will feature pieces in red, white and blue. Mixed-media artist Deborah Reed will be on hand to meet, greet, sign and personalize purchased items. Refreshments and free gift with purchase.


From Our Blog


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 [...]


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 [...]

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