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Darrell Huckaby - 08/26/09

Guess what, y'all.

I now have a house at the beach - on Tybee Island. Pretty cool, huh?

Don't get the wrong idea. I haven't robbed a bank or won the lottery. Nor have I found the elusive Confederate gold, although I have been looking for it for about half a century. And I have not bought a house on Tybee - or a condo or even a time share. But I have found a great place to stay and plan to make it my home away from home whenever I get the urge to head toward Tybee Light from now on.

In fact, I started not to share my find with you, the reading public, for fear that I would not be able to get a reservation myself the next time I needed one. But I never could keep a secret - so to quote my favorite television detective, Adrian Monk, "Here's what happened."

Last May my oldest child, Jamie, took up residence on Whitemarsh Island, near Savannah. She will spend a year in Georgia's oldest - and most eclectic - city doing her clinical rotations for UGA Pharmacy School.

At any rate, she is in Savannah and seems to be having way too much fun down on the coast to come home for even a weekend. So if Mohamed won't go to the mountain ...

Where Jamie lives is closer to Tybee than it is the city, so when my lovely wife, Lisa, and I feel the need to visit Jamie, particularly in the summer, we like to stay on Tybee. Hey, if it's good enough for Hannah Montana and Sandra Bullock, it's good enough for us, right?

But there is just one problem. Most of the people who own rental properties on Tybee Island think an awful lot of their rental properties. They are sky high in other words. And the ones that aren't - well, to be brutally honest, the ones of those that we have found weren't places we wanted to stay. If they weren't too expensive they were too loud or too dirty or too far away from the beach.

But now I have found a place, thanks to a tip from my good friends Ivy and Ken Munger, that is not too anything - unless too perfect counts.

The property is called The Georgianna Inn, which is according to its own motto "your beach house since 1921."

The Georgianna was built in 1910 and must have really been something in its day. And now, thanks to the hard work of innkeeper Nick Basta and his family, it is really something now.

Nick is "from around here." He grew up in DeKalb County and graduated from Henderson High School. After college he and his family moved up North, from whence his mother originally hailed. When she got tired of the corporate rat race and couldn't get anybody to hire her in a stress-free job like working the counter at the local Burger King, Nick's mom went to work for herself. She bought the Georgianna and the whole family went to work putting their own signature on the property.

Let me tell you what they have done so far. They have created or updated seven units. Some are simple studio apartments and others are two-bedroom units. You wouldn't believe what Nick has done to those. If you walk into one you will want to stay for a week. I know I did. They look just like you'd want your beach house to look if you had a beach house. The colors are great - vibrant and happy (if a color can be happy; and I think a color can) and the furniture is tasteful, comfortable and functional. The two-bedroom units have large kitchens that actually have the utensils you need to cook a meal at the beach - thinking fresh local seafood, here - and dining room tables that scream "good food and good company."

The only thing better than the accommodations - and the price, of course - is the hospitality. When you check in Nick will show you around personally. When he says that you are welcome to come up to the office and borrow one of the thousand or so movies he has on display, he means it. When he shows you the half-dozen or so bikes he has and says "you are welcome to ride those anywhere on the island, including on the beach," he means it, and when he shows you all the beach chairs and boogey boards and sand toys he has collected and tells you that "my stuff is your stuff," he means that, too.

He also means it when he says, "Let me know if you need anything at all." I felt like family after about five minutes.

The large deck that surrounds the upstairs units does not overlook the ocean. There is a house and some sand dunes between you and the beach. But the ocean is a two-minute walk and you don't have to cross the street or a parking lot.

And Tybee's great. There is a lighthouse to climb, a beach to walk on and an ocean to swim in. Plus plenty of clubs and restaurants - and Savannah is only 25 minutes away. Plus you might run into Sandra Bullock shopping in the IGA.

See. I told you I had a place at the beach. Google Georgianna Inn if you need a place - but don't book the days I want to be there. And tell Nick I said hello.

Darrell Huckaby