Festivities At La Tai Inn
Fripp’s luxury motor Lodge, the La Tai Inn, held its grand opening in mid-March 1968, with a weekend feel with special events. The schedules feature something for everyone. There was a performance by an equestrian team, a demonstration by the Marines sport parachute club, entertainment by Tahitian dancers, exotic Polynesian foods, a swing band and champagne and lace, a midnight lingerie fashion show.
A pool surrounded by a palm tree patio and a grass lawn reaching the foot of the large sand dunes that grace the entire beach provided a superb setting. The focus point of La Tai Inn was the restaurant and dance floor. The restaurant combined the fascinatingly strange aspect all Polynesian with the hospitality of the Carolina Sea Islands. The menu feature local seafood prepared by Pierre Rosier, and international acclaim French chef. Dressed in white chef attire, he oversaw all the preparation of gourmet dishes, oyster pie being a favorite. On weekends, there were festive formal dances. Women in long dresses and men in suits and sometimes tuxedos dance to popular swing music. A number of Fripp’s early residence were regular readers of Vogue and women’s wear daily and wore the latest fashions for the evenings at the inn. In the evening that any gentleman forgot his coat or tie, the inn kept a supply that could be provided quickly.
Only upper-level La Tai Inn there was a bar featuring live music. Billie Mustin, a popular pianist and vocalists who performed in Columbia and New York, was among the featured artist. Her sister Helen Fant, who owned the house on Fripp, recently recall an occasion when Billie was performing for a full house at the La Tai Inn and suddenly someone shouted that a sea turtle was on the beach laying eggs. The audience hastily departed, and Billy noted that it was the first time she had ever been upstaged by turtle.
La Tai Inn became the center for the resort functions as well as a gathered place for island residents. Resort lodging Incorporated, a separate corporation, operated the inn. However, Jack Kilgore was its president, and there was considerable overlap between the board of the resort and that of the inn. As a full-service upscale operation with 60 rooms and a dining room that serve three meals a day, the inn employed 80 people during busy seasons to work at the front desk, in the kitchen and dining room and only cleaning crews.
With a reputation for fine dining and large luxury bedrooms, many with ocean views, the La Tai Inn develop a program to attract both families and small groups. During its very first summer the hotel established a children’s program and ran a stable to provide guests with horses to ride. Emmy Sullivan, who moved to Fripp with her family when she was a teenager, work at the Stables and fondly remembers leading guests on rides along the beach and through inland trails.