Ferry access only. No televisions. Little (if any) cell phone service. And thank goodness for it. The very lack of 2017 conveniences—not to mention the pristine landscape and gracious Southern hospitality—keeps guests returning to Greyfield Inn on Georgia’s remote Cumberland Island, where wild horses outnumber humans. In 1900, Thomas and Lucy Carnegie built the white-washed, red-roofed manor house, which sits on two-hundred acres, as a retreat for their daughter Margaret Ricketson. Lucy Ferguson, Ricketson’s daughter, flung open the doors to the public in 1962. Since then, an overnight at Greyfield Inn has felt like bunking down at a friend’s elegant country place—right down to the shared bathrooms.
Greyfield still feels wonderfully anachronistic, but as of late 2017, you no longer need to fret over lingering in the shower. You now have your own in-suite bathroom. “It took us two years to find the right contractor,” says Mary Ferguson, who together with her husband, Mitty (Lucy’s grandson), has undertaken the first real renovation at Greyfield in four decades, adding bathrooms to each of the second-floor guest quarters. To carve out space, one of the original seven guest rooms was sacrificed, but the Fergusons took such pains to stay true to the spirit of the house that even repeat visitors might not notice its absence. “After securing a contractor, it took another year with an architect to come up with a plan that felt representative of Greyfield—something that maintained its family home feel,” Ferguson says. Once construction began last summer, the couple hoped to reopen the rooms in just two months, but life on a barrier island has taught them to be flexible—Hurricane Irma in September threw the renovations off track by almost two months.
Spring and summer guests will also appreciate another update: the addition of honest-to-goodness air-conditioning in the dining room. But most visitors don’t make the trip to Cumberland to sit indoors. Not when there’s eighteen-miles of beach to explore, creeks to paddle, wild horses to track, trails to bike and hike, and fish to be caught. Mother Nature needs no upgrade.