Running, beach and wellness. Three of the things that make me happiest in the world came together during a weekend at the new Westin Jekyll Island in Jekyll Island, Georgia.

The newly opened Westin Jekyll Island sits just steps away from the wide beach where low tides reveal a sandy paradise perfect for running, splashing in the waves, building sand castles or reading your favorite book. I was thrilled to be invited to participate in the Jekyll Island Turtle Crawl Triathlon, 5k and Nest Fest and experience the hotel. As a newcomer to both Jekyll Island (and the Georgia coast) and Westin Hotels – I imagined that I would enjoy the mix of natural beauty and wellness offerings that Westin is known for. But more than enjoy myself, I discovered a destination that I can imagine going back to year after year for a family beach vacation or couples getaway (ahem, or even a solo writing retreat?).

plan your beach trip to Westin Jekyll island | LiveDoGrow

Where is Jekyll Island?

Once an outdoor playground for families like the Rockefellers, Goodyears and Pulitzers, Jekyll Island is a barrier island – part of the Golden Isles – offering 10 miles of beach and 20 miles of bike paths. Just an hour away from Jacksonville, Florida – the island offers the perfect east coast beach destination for those that to get away to the beach without the fanfare of a commercialized boardwalk and line of strip malls.

Jekyll Island was once known as a haven and outdoor playground for millionaires and families like the Rockefellers, Goodyears and Pulitzers who made their way to the Jekyll Island Club each year. Now, this Georgia state park caters to those like me who appreciate quiet and undisturbed spaces as well as families and groups seeking activities and entertainment.

5 reasons to plan a beach vacation at the Westin Jekyll Island

The newly opened Westin Jekyll Island takes a cue from its natural surroundings to create a perfect resort for beach goers and ocean lovers. Although I have not been a frequent Westin Hotels guest, the brand’s focus on wellness was something that I was excited to experience and see for myself. I was not disappointed.

Westin Jekyll Island | LiveDoGrow


1. Location

Beach Access from Westin Jekyll Island | LiveDoGrow

Five reasons to stay at Westin Jekyll Island | LiveDoGrow

The flat and compact sand are ideal for running on the beach.

I am one of those people who loves the sound of the ocean – so it makes sense that I would love the location of the Westin Jekyll Island – where it takes less than two minutes to make your way from the lobby to the piers that traverse the sand dunes to the beach. I am not usually a fan of running on the beach, but the flat and compacted sand felt like the ultimate cushion under my feet.

For those that like to bike ride (or walk), there is easy access to the island’s trail system from the Westin Jekyll Island – including the path that runs along the ocean as well as the trails that criss-cross the marshy interior.

Jekyll Island bike path


2. In-room wellness

room at Westin Jekyll Island | LiveDoGrow

Westin Heavenly® Bed. So comfy.

ocean views from Westin Jekyll Island | LiveDoGrow

You cannot beat this balcony view of the pool, beach and ocean.

Inside the Westin Jekyll Island, the 187 guest rooms and 13 suites – most with balconies offering beach and ocean views – offer a serene repose from the sun. I was happy to listen to the sounds of waves at night from my balcony (or ahem, in bed with my balcony door open). And once I was in bed? I now understand the hype around the Westin Heavenly® Bed and Heavenly Bath products which lulled me to sleep each night.


3. runWestin Concierge

run with the runWestin Concierge at Jekyll Ssland

My morning “recovery” run with Chris Heuisler – the runWestin Concierge – along one of the many paths on the island.

Westin Wellness Escapes | LiveDoGrow

My stay at the Westin Jekyll Island was part of a wellness escape planned around the Jekyll Island Turtle Crawl Triathlon, 5k and Nest Fest which meant that several wellness and recovery activities like a recover run, sunrise yoga and specialized recovery menus were available to guests as part of the weekend. Regardless of when you visit though, guests can meet with the local runWestin Concierge for suggestions on where to run or for guided group jogs.

I admit to having a “wow” moment when I came back to my room after the 5k to find a congratulations note and post-race tea from Chris Heuisler – “the” runWestin Concierge who not only competed in his first triathlon, but cheered on athletes and guests throughout the entire weekend.


4. Move Well

fitness center Westin Jekyll Island

Treadmills with a view.

Gear Lending Westin Jekyll Island


Sunrise Jekyll Island

Find a spot on the beach with a mat from the fitness center for the ultimate sunrise yoga.

The Westin Move Well program encourages guests to create active wellness moments wherever they are. At the Westin Jekyll Island, the outside comes in for guests that need to hit the gym with the open and airy fitness center overlooking the bike path and beach. On a rainy day, I would happily have run four hours on the treadmill in the fitness center – watching birds fly over the sand dunes. For those hoping to take advantage of the beautiful sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean with sunrise yoga, mats can be taken from the gym to the beach to find the perfect warrior pose. Forget your running shoes (or maybe you did not have room to pack them in your carry-on)? No problem. The gear lending program with New Balance® takes care of everything with shoes, socks and clothing to make sure that you can be active no matter what.


5. SuperFoodsRx

quinoa paella Westin Jekyll Island

Quinoa paella with artichokes, bell pepper, kidney beans, zucchini with Saffron, cumin and cayenne. Yum.

One of the hardest parts about traveling is finding ways to maintain your healthy eating patterns no matter where you are. While it is not impossible, making healthy choices can take effort on most trips – but thanks to the SuperFoodsRx menu – my biggest decisions where which of the healthy and delicious plates I would choose. And? As an added bonus, the SuperChefs™ menu was created with  a group of doctors, dentists, dieticians and chefs to help children enjoy eating nutritious foods.

If the delicious and healthy options were not enough, the location of the restaurants at Westin Jekyll Island make you remember what your parents said about eating slowly. I definitely took my time over breakfast thanks to never ending ocean views at the Reserve Restaurant. (Guests can also enjoy poolside service at Salty’s Oceanside Poolside Bar & Cafe or get rooftop views and a before dinner beverage from Harry’s @ The Reserve.


five reasons to stay at Westin Jekyll Island


While some of these amenities and features are part of the Westin culture – the staff, inviting lobby space and way that the Westin Jekyll Island blends so seamlessly within its environment make it stand out as one of those places that you can see yourself returning to year after year.


* I was a guest of Westin Jekyll Island during my stay. All opinions are my own. I have already started thinking about going back next May to compete in the international distance triathlon and enjoy another Westin Jekyll Island stay! Who wants to compete in the triathlon with me?




Written by Elena Sonnino

Elena Sonnino

Chaser of Dreams. Life coach, wellness and travel writer, yogini, former teacher, adventure seeker, hiker, foodie …and oh right, cancer survivor. Elena writes about finding everyday wellness in far-flung lands and in her own backyard in the Washington D.C. suburbs.


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