By Lauren Matich
There aren’t many mementos that remain of Sea Island’s original barbershop and beauty salon. Along with a black-and-white photo from 1936 of a caped gentleman sitting in a barber’s chair, there are only a few newsletter clippings and two small boxes on a 1941 floor plan that make any mention of the early establishments. According to early building records, Sea Island’s barbershop and the next-door beauty salon date back to The Cloister’s origins in 1928. But the sparse documentation belies the role that the establishments played in the culture of Sea Island and the importance of the services they provided.
“In those earlier years, barbershops and beauty shops were just essential for a resort like this,” says Mimi Rogers, archivist at Sea Island and curator of the Coastal Georgia Historical Society. “The Cloister was in a rather remote area, and the people who vacationed here would have been accustomed to a barber’s shave and having their hair done on a very regular basis.” Rogers explains that ladies might have visited the beauty salon several times a week for hair treatments and to purchase the newest cosmetics, while gentlemen probably looked forward to a daily shave. It was all part of the delight of being at Sea Island.
More than 79 years since that early photo, a trip to the Salon at Sea Island is still a treat. Comparing the modern space’s interior to what is known about the previous incarnations, it’s evident that Sea Island’s beauty institution has seen a lot of changes. While the business was previously broken up into a beauty salon for women and a barbershop for men—both located just off of a patio in the original Cloister—today’s salon, now inside The Spa at Sea Island and Fitness Center, caters to both sexes.
In the last two years, the salon has received a few treatments of its own, “We’ve added two new hair stations and a makeup area,” explains manager Nikki Browning. But that’s just the start of the makeover. The renovation created more separation between the portions of the salon that offer differing treatments. In the space where guests and members receive manicures and pedicures, a quiet atmosphere with soothing music encourages relaxation. In contrast, the area for hair styling and shampoo is made lively with upbeat music and the happy chatter of patrons and stylists.
The attention to providing distinct but welcoming spaces reinforces the tie between the contemporary salon and the tradition of service that has been the cornerstone of the facility since the beginning. That isn’t the only reason why the salon has survived all these years: Guests and members have always liked to look their best while enjoying the resort’s activities. This appreciation of beauty and Sea Island’s commitment to quality combine to provide the amenities that enable ladies and gentlemen to put their best faces forward.