Kiawah Island is America's paradise

Are you looking for the perfect getaway to celebrate the end of another busy school year? How about a visit to a place where immaculate ocean beaches are the backdrop for well-preserved sand dunes, calming sunsets and gentle breezes? Kiawah Island, off the coast of Charleston, S.C., has all that and more.

Paige Pinson, a Peachtree Corners resident who visits the golf resort on a regular basis with her family, heads there to get away from crowded places like Panama City and Daytona Beach. “It’s quiet and simple,” she said. “There are no tall buildings. I have been all over the world, and Kiawah is one of my favorite places to visit.”

Recreation, nature live in harmony

In recent years, criticism has been aimed at resorts and hotels that have been built on beautiful natural habitats, exploiting the natural resources. That can’t be said about the lodging choices on Kiawah Island, though. Both the Kiawah Island Golf Resort and the Sanctuary at Kiawah Island are luxurious places that are also environmentally responsible.

The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island, which opened in June 2004, is located on a 50-acre site that uses less than half of that land. The luxury oceanfront hotel and spa features a grand lobby, retail shops, salon, two restaurants and spectacular views. Whether you’re in the hotel’s grand lobby or an elegant guest room, you will be guaranteed a breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean. The Sanctuary is appointed in a classic Southern decor, with high ceilings and Charleston brick, stone, stucco and copper. The overall effect makes you feel as if the hotel has been on the island for centuries.
Pampering at the Sanctuary begins when you enter your room. Each spacious guest room offers a king, double or queen size bed. A five-fixture bathroom features private water closets, dual vanities, deep soaking tubs and walk-in showers. The room also has the usual suspects, including a DVC/CD player and Internet access.

The pampering continues with the spa, which contains 12 treatment rooms, a steam room, whirlpool and sauna. You can lose yourself with any one of their treatments, which are based on Kiawah’s indigenous ocean and marsh qualities. The spa’s massages, Lowcountry Verbena Body Polish or Mint Julep Facial take you away to South Carolina’s Southern porches and gardens. The spa’s signature treatment, the Body Wrapture, is the first of its kind in the country. The technique  blankets the guest in a warm grain and herb-filled wrap that induces deep relaxation. 

If you’re on the hunt for authentic Lowcountry cuisine, you’ll find it at the hotel’s Jasmine Porch. It was named “Best Down Home Cookery” by Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report, a respected Web site dedicated to luxury travel. Seafood is the signature item on the menu at Jasmine Porch, which also offers an excellent Thursday buffet and Sunday brunch. The breakfast buffet is a great value for families — just $17 for an adult buffet and $10 for children ages 5 to 12. 

For an upscale dining experience, visit the Ocean Room at the Sanctuary. Seared Hawaiian Ahi Tuna, Domestic Kobe Beef “Flat-Iron” and Juniper and Fennel Encrusted Antelope Loin are all delectable dishes that make for a memorable dinner. This is a fancier dining area, so proper attire is required — dinner jackets are a must for the men.

If the Ocean Room is out of your budget, the Loggerhead Grill might be more in line with your bottom line. Located near Kiawah’s beach, the Loggerhead Grill boasts simpler fare, including entree salads and barbecue pork sandwiches. Interesting appetizers, such as Chilled Summer Gazpacho and a Logger Head Crab Cake, are elegant choices in a casual atmosphere.

Fun for the entire family

Aside from escaping the hustle and bustle of daily life, Paige Pinson and her family escape to the Kiawah Island Golf Resort for its activities. “There is 30 miles of bike trails. The kids just love it,” she said. “They can ride to the pool or the ice cream parlor.” Visitors can also take advantage of canoeing, kayaking and bird walks.

Pinson’s husband, Shane, comes for the ultimate golf experience. The property has five championship courses, including the Ocean Course, where the Ryder Cup and the World Cup of Golf tournaments were held. It is also the future site of the Senior PGA and PGA Championship contests in 2007 and 2012, respectively.

Best of both worlds

Staying on Kiawah Island doesn’t mean you’re secluded from the rest of the world. The city of Charleston is one hour away. “If we feel we need to get off the island, we go into Charleston and do something like a ghost walk tour,” Pinson said.

When they’ve had their fill of Charleston, the Pinsons return to the island and stop at a farmer’s market to stock up on their supplies for their resort villa. Aside from its natural environment and unlimited recreation, Pinson said the best part about staying on Kiawah Island is the laid-back atmosphere. “Everyone you meet is extremely friendly,” she said. “The whole experience is good, clean family fun.”

More info

The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island 

Kiawah Island Golf Resort 

Fun Facts

The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island hotel is raised to allow unobstructed views of the ocean from the first floor. 

Using the world’s largest mechanical spade, the Sanctuary has transplanted more than 200 live oak trees to create an entrance that appears to have been in place for centuries. 

The name Kiawah is derived from the Indians who lived in the area during the 1600s where they hunted and fished.

Sources: The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island, Kiawah Island Chamber of Commerce


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