Sunday, July 3, 2016

Afternoon tea at Jekyll Island Club Hotel: Modern day luxury with Gilded Age roots

Jekyll Island Club Hotel 

Afternoon tea at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel takes guests back to a genteel time in the 19th-century where well-to-do guests sat on wicker chairs on expansive porches and played croquet on the lawn dressed in white. The hotel embraces its origins as a resort to the Gilded Age high society with its beautiful furnishings, outstanding service and maintaining afternoon tea daily between 4:00 and 5:00. However,  it balances tradition with a warm and friendly accessibility to current day vacationers.

Afternoon tea is served daily from 4:00 to 5:00

We visited the Jekyll Island resort in April and found it to be one of the most beautiful places we have stayed.

Our overnight accommodations were in San Souci ("without care"), a separate building from the main hotel.  It was built as an apartment complex in 1896 by J.P. Morgan for himself and other Club members. It is cited as the first condominium in the country and still has its original wood floors, leaded art glass and staircase.  A vacation home to so many northern elite, including the Rockefellers, Astors and Vanderbilts, it's luxury steeped in Gilded Age history - and tea time is no exception.

Afternoon tea in the Grand Dining Room of the resort is in keeping with its -  quite literally - rich history, but with modern day sensibilities.

Inside the Riverview Lodge with Lynn Lee (left) and Amy Wisenbaker (right)

We met up with Lynn Lee, Assistant Food and Beverage Director, and Amy Wisenbaker, Social Media and Web Communications Manager, for afternoon tea and were given the backstory of modern day tea time at the Club Hotel. Currently, the resort offers afternoon tea, but in buffet style. It accommodates guests' expectations of having an afternoon tea served daily and yet, offers options not usually provided in a traditional tea time. This type of service, says Lynn Lee, "lets everyone pick what they want for a tea. If you want all chocolate, you can have all chocolate."

Who can argue with that?

Afternoon tea buffet

A great selection of tasty finger sandwiches.

However, there is so much to choose from, one is hard-pressed to single out any category. There is a wide assortment of finger sandwiches - tasty and exquisitely presented in a variety of shapes and sizes. The scones are delicious and served with lemon curd, strawberry preserves, orange marmalade and creme fraiche.

To accompany scones: strawberry preserves, creme fraiche and lemon curd
Dessert selections include several mini-pastries that are scrumptious works of art. Among those we sampled were a key lime tart, a chocolate macaroon and a chocolate mousse confection in a chocolate shell. Oh, yes, we easily could feast on just chocolate!

Plate of chocolate treats - and more!

All of this is served with bottomless pots of Rishi tea, brewed up to perfection. The loose tea choices include Georgia Peach Rooibos, Earl Grey Supreme Black, Tangerine Ginger, Jade Cloud Pure Green and Peach Blossom White. (There are other selections offered in tea bags as well).

Our tea hostess brewed and served delicious Rishi teas.
Once our tea selections were made, our wonderful and attentive tea hostess, Szilvia Bozsik, brought the pots to our table and continued to check on us for refills.

Afternoon tea in the main dining room

Usually afternoon tea is served in the Riverview Lounge, a semi-circular annex off the main dining room. It's a gorgeous space filled with windows shaded with yellow awnings and a view of the well-manicured grounds, and, of course, the river. The day of our visit, the room was set up for a private party, so we dined with other tea guests in the main dining room. It's a large, yet intimate venue, framed by glossy white columns and anchored on one end by a Victorian-era glass chandelier and a handsome fireplace on the other.

The Riverview Lounge is usually where afternoon tea is held

We had tea in the main dining room - so elegant with an array of white columns

After tea, we retired to our room at Sans Souci with its amazing views of the main hotel as well as the river.

Our stay at San Souci was, indeed, without a care.

More relaxation spent on our own semi-private porch.

A visit to Jekyll Island Club Hotel is indeed a stay without care. Going back to a time of elegance, but with modern day amenities, you will surely feel like a member of the aristocracy at this resort, whether spending an afternoon on the porch, playing a game of croquet or enjoying an afternoon tea.

Back at the main hotel, one can lounge on wicker chairs and sofas.

A sporting game of croquet: Jekyll Island embraces vintage elegance and pastimes.

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