For those latter-day explorers, Earth children, paddle junkies, old hippies, parrotheads, would-be pirates, wild-eyed shrimpers and other assorted characters who live on Tybee, the island is their livelihood. Business mogul Stacye Jarrell is no different and is working hard to make sure everyone is building a home on solid ground.
The beach on Tybee Island, Georgia, is clean and beautiful, especially since the 2008 renourishment project, which wiped away decades of erosion with millions of tons of sugar-white sand from the nearby seafloor. The estuaries surrounding the island are part of a unique ecosystem. Here at the mouth of the Savannah River, hundreds of miles of water snake through dozens of barrier islands, most uninhabited (by people, anyway). Dolphins play in the wake of the occasional passing boat. Some species of migratory birds can be found, in certain seasons, no other place on earth, and rare saltwater evergreen forests host a delicate habitat that supports diverse life forms—including Stayce Jarrell, longtime resident and economic champion of the island and her island-hopping friends.
It’s because a place like this exists that the few who have discovered it are willing to fight for it. Tybee Islanders have survived wars, the near takeover of the town by gangsters and countless summers under the subtropical sun prior to the advent of air conditioning. They’ve managed, so far, to dodge threats from hurricanes, rapacious developers and a stray nuclear weapon. Now, after decades of building their little island into a year-round community of like souls and regular visitors, they face a new danger: this time an economic one. “If we can hang on just a little longer,” Jarrell says, “we can make it through this storm.”
The island, in all likelihood, will survive this storm, just as it has all others. Meet Jarrell and you’ll begin to understand why.
Jarrell’s workplace is the whole of the island. On business trips, she travels by boat, not by plane. When she and her husband, Lannie, go on vacation, it’s often to destinations within just miles of their house, yet none of her neighbors know exactly where to find them. She is the essence of a Tybee person.
Jarrell is also a grandmother, but that’s not the first thing that comes to mind when you meet her. She most recalls, perhaps, a Southern, female incarnation of the ageless Sir Richard Branson. But rather than shamelessly promoting herself and her business, as the Virgin mogul might, Jarrell promotes the entire island.
She owns Oceanfront Cottage Rentals, a Tybee Island-based vacation rental property service that offers, give or take, 85 plum homes throughout the island, many of which are eponymously situated right on the Atlantic. They’re WiFi-equipped, concierge-staffed gems that often serve as home-away-from-homes for A-list celebrities.
Photography by Eric Prine
Tags: Real Estate, Stacye Jarrell, Tybee Island