March 05--The $7 million-plus spent by MMI Hotel Group over the past three years on re-imagining King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort on St. Simons Island is evident with one step into the newly redesigned lobby, the last of the three phases of renovation completed in February.

Gone is the indoor pool. Gone are the various jungle-like plants positioned in different places throughout the lobby. Gone are the two massive stair cases that were taking up valuable space.

Replacing them is a sleek and modern restaurant, bar and lounge space designed to capitalize on the resort's oceanfront location that King and Prince General Manager Michael Johnson hopes will become a regular stop for hotel guests and residents.

"It's a complete transformation," Johnson said of the entire three-year project that redesigned the lobby, pool area and administrative offices to give the 80-year-old resort a fresh, 21st century feel.

The ocean can now easily be seen across the lobby through the two-story tall windows from the resort's main entrance.

Crews began working on the lobby this past November by stripping the old restaurant and bar area down to bare studs.

"And some of those studs came out," said Allen Lancaster, the resort's director of food and beverage.

Everything from the floors, decor and furniture to the lighting and the layout of the bar and restaurant is brand new, he said.

Echo, the new full service restaurant and bar with an ocean view, officially opened to the public on Saturday.

Echo's menu features creations from executive chef Jason Brumfiel, who previously worked as head chef at restaurants in the United Kingdom and Sea Island.

The restaurant's name -- Echo -- pays homage to the resort's history as a radar station from 1942 to 1947.

The renovations have added jobs as well. Lancaster said 30 new employees were hired to ensure the new kitchen can keep up with serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.

Johnson said Echo's full menu will be available to diners on the patio overlooking the Atlantic Ocean after a few finishing touches are wrapped up and the weather improves with the arrival of spring and summer.

-- Reporter Michael Hall writes about public safety, environment and other local topics. Contact him at mhall@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 320.

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