Experience and Photos by Mary Gallagher and Will Davis-
Through some of the early morning fog and sea smoke coming off the Atlantic Ocean on a late fall morning I wonder if Arnoldus Vanderhorst, one of the early owners of Kiawah Island in South Carolina, would envision as he developed his plantation with rice, indigo and other field crops spread out before him, that one day two hundred years in the future the view might be quite different. Would he have foreseen this wonderful Low Country paradise as a mecca for thousands of visitors including golfers attracted by championship courses, fabulous beach homes to own or rent and the Sanctuary a five star hotel and spa just a few of the reasons to stay at Kiawah. Hundreds of varying styles of vacation rentals for every size gathering, bike and nature trails, beautiful public beaches and more? Probably not.
Today Kiawah Island has become a top resort and exclusive gated residential community attracting those who love not only all it has to offer but a specific ambiance that melts away stress through it’s many features, activities and peaceful setting.
Kiawah is the home to five luxurious golf courses including the Ocean Course which has hosted multiple professional tournaments like the PGA and the Ryder Cup drawing thousands of spectators. Infact, the Ocean course will host the 2021 PGA (Professional Golfers Association) for the second time in nine years (2012). It’s an old school course with no riding and requires the use of caddies but it’s well worth the experience or to cross off a golfer’s bucket list. All five courses are top of the line for design layout, beauty, and location.
Park yourself on the veranda at the modern Ryder Cup Bar at the Ocean Course Clubhouse overlooking the Atlantic in a westerly direction. Take in the ocean breezes, exotic sunsets as well spectacular beach views with a pre dinner drink before enjoying fine dining at the resorts premier Atlantic Room.
When the opportunity comes up to enjoy a class ocean resort in wonderful weather (fall and early spring) at special rates, we’re the first to jump on that opportunity with the Golf or Gourmet Escape.
We’ve stayed at the Sanctuary and enjoyed their spa treatments during past visits but this time chose a spacious one bedroom fully equipped apartment that included a large private screened porch. Located on the second floor in a block of four apartments as part of the “Tennis” villa complex. Quiet, surrounded by greenery, within walking distance of the Sanctuary Hotel and the Barth Tennis Center, #1 US Tennis camp for 2015.
The big mode of transportation for approximately 5,000 residents and guests on the Island is bicycles. You will see them everywhere on winding landscaped hard surface paths. A pleasure riders nirvana with almost non existent danger and it’s flat! Thirty miles of trails flow through natural areas, and ten miles of beach. That spreads out everyone making it easy to combine walkers, runners and bikers of any age or skill level. You’ll ride through areas of pure nature, views of marsh and ocean and you can easily ride to the Fresh Fields area with interesting shops, a slightly upscale Harris Teeter, ice cream store, coffee shop and more
Approximately half the island is a gated private residential community including celebrity and high level corporate owners and the other half the renowned Kiawah Resort with its many and varied accommodations from standard hotel rooms (on the luxury level) to slightly rustic cottages, modern apartments and huge mansions. Any size group or family can be accommodated.
There is a wide variety of dining options from casual poolside grills to the Atlantic Room at the Ocean Course Club House and the Ocean Room or Jasmine Porch at the Sanctuary Hotel. A small grocery with sit down or take away is available if you want to eat in.
Even though it’s wonderful to go out for breakfast we loved the idea of having our own kitchen for something light and casual then eating it on the screen porch in our “sleeping costumes”. This option can save a family or those with really picky eaters a lot of grief and money.
The Jasmine Porch has wonderful breakfasts at the Sanctuary hotel as we experienced when we stayed there.
The spa is everything you’d expect of a luxury establishment and my treatments have been outstanding with their truly professional staff.
Another great feature for guests is the complimentary transportation service from onsite location to location by shuttle bus. Very handy especially if you don’t want to drive you car at night. They’ll pick you up and take you to and from a restaurant on site, one of the five golf courses or locations for other activities..
If you live within a few hours drive this is the place for that really fantastic getaway of any type including romantic for a few nights, family in town for a week, need peace and quiet and just want to ride a bike! If the Vice President can come to Kiawah for R & R so can the rest of us!. If you start to suffer withdrawal from the massive shopping bug or fighting crowds of tourists on treacherous sidewalks take the quick 20 mile drive into Charleston for the day or beautiful historic Beaufort, SC is under 2 hours south.
Access to the beach is everywhere and because you’re in a private place the beaches are never crowded.
The resort has everything from art classes to kayak rentals, bike rentals, dolphin sighting trips, and nature excursions.
I thought it would take me a few days to wind down but come through the gates look at the incredible landscaping and the stress just melts away.
Running November 15- March 31 is the Golf or Gourmet Escape, a popular off season special and if you know Charleston, golf is never out of season, nor bike riding, dining or spas!
Take advantage of this opportunity and you‘ll make it an annual event. Check the website or sign up for news to keep tabs on other specials like “Golfing Gals Bootcamp” for beginner – intermediate golfers. Every year the spectacular Kiawah Island Art and House Tour raises money for the Gibbs Museum in Charleston.
And when you’re traveling elsewhere you’ll enjoy these sister properties, several of which we’ve visited and loved.
The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, VA, The Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, TN, Keswick Hall in Charlottesville, VA, and The Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island, SC.
Inquiries Toll Free 800 654 2924
Direct: 843 768 2121
Kiawah Island Golf Resort
One Sanctuary Beach Drive
Kiawah Island, SC 29455