The hotels were replaced by houses, as people today rent houses for weeks at a time, when they go on vacation. So houses made more sense than building more hotels - they would end up empty.
And I think these "Coalition to Hate Jekyll Island" people are the same way. They are bored and don't have enough to do, and forgot how hard everyone else has it in the world. So they pick apart paradise and look for flaws, real and imagined. They pull at threads in the sweater until it is unwound and then say, "See? I told you this sweater was no good!"
I am sure there are people like this everywhere - telling you how rotten Hawaii is, or whatever. Just ignore them and make your own opinions on things. And don't listen to wild and unfounded rumors - they never end up being true, and just get people riled up.
In the last decade or so, the island has undergone a transformation - for the better. We have new hotels, a new convention center, and a new retail "downtown" - and a new gas station. The place looks better and is attracting more visitors. Nothing like Myrtle Beach or Hilton Head, of course - the island simply doesn't have the capacity for that many people. Even during the "busy" season (in the summer when we usually go away) the island is hardly crowded. Remember, 2/3rds is undeveloped. So it is not row after row of beach houses like in places such as Duck, NC.
Today, we have a critical mass of people to really support the number of restaurants we have here on the island. And we have a variety of venues to choose from, from the upscale Club Hotel, to the Westin, to the Holiday Inn and Hampton. Again, the "Coalition" - Yankees every one of them - claimed that they were going to "save Jekyll Island for the average Georgian". I found that attitude condescending. The "Average Georgian" might not drive a brand-new Mercedes (unless they are from Atlanta) but odds are, he has a pickup truck that cost even more. The idea that people want to go on vacation to some run-down poverty resort is just nonsense. People go on vacation to spend money. And there is nothing wrong with aiming higher in life.
Now of course, this means that we can't afford to eat at the Westin every night - or at the Club. But every Wednesday, the Hampton has a happy hour with special appetizers for locals. And the Bistro at the Villas-by-the-Sea has affordable entrees and a bottle of wine is only $10-$12 with any entree. That's pretty affordable, even for the below-average Georgian. So it is possible to go out and have a good time - but going out all the time? Just not healthy anyway. You eat out every night and pretty soon, well, you're picking apart paradise, because you are so used to being waited on.
Will I live here the rest of my life? Probably not. Eventually, we will sell our house and downsize to a condo or apartment with less room and less "stuff" to deal with, as we get older. Something near a hospital and shopping - preferably within walking distance. Something in a safe and affordable neighborhood. We haven't found it yet.
The reality is, of course, you can buy a much nicer house on the mainland for half as much as here on Jekyll. Maybe even with a marsh view or even a dock. If you live here you have to want to live here, and that sort of becomes an interesting filtering criteria.
Last week, we were coming home from the Hampton Inn, after having a few drinks and some appetizers, and seeing a number of friends. We took the golf cart the "long way" around the island, and the evening breeze off the ocean was lovely. At times like that, you realize why you live here - because really, there is no other place quite like it.
But people are different, and some folks just don't get it. And sometimes you see those folks here on the island - doing 50 in a 25 zone, because they're in a "hurry" to get somewhere on a 7-mile long island. They'd be happier in Myrtle Beach, I think!