The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island, South Carolina
S o u t h e r nC o m f o r t Kiawah Island, located approximately 20 miles from Charleston in South Carolina's coastal low country, has long been a golfer's haven. Five courses located on a 10-mile stretch, including the Ocean Course (host of the 2003 World Cup) and the Jack Nicklaus's Turtle Point Golf Club, draw thousands of golfers every year. But the island's new resort offers much more than golf.The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island aims to be the finest resort on the East Coast— a goal most guests would deem reachable after spending time there. With 255 spacious guest rooms and suites, The Sanctuary was designed to resemble a grand 19th century seaside mansion, with a sweeping “Scarlett O'Hara staircase” in the lobby. Despite the recent August 20 opening, there have been few growing pains here. This refuge offers a perfect mix of Southern hospitality, luxury and comfort.
The Beach: Travel Channel's “Dr. Beach,” Stephen P. Leatherman, named Kiawah Island one of America's top ten stretches of sand in 2002. While it is not as expansive as others (no doubt due to the active hurricane season), it is perfect for long walks, running or even biking, as the smooth sand ensures a flat and even coastline. If you need a break, head to the pool area, where the accommodating staff will greet you with a fluffy oversized towel and a cold bottle of mineral water. Be sure to try one of the ocean-facing lounge chairs for two, while you peruse the extensive poolside menu or sip a frozen cocktail.
What to Do: Kiawah Island is more bike-friendly than car-friendly. Bike rentals are available through the resort for guests to explore the 30-plus miles of trails, including some that wind through the Kiawah Island Natural Habitat Conservancy. Thanks to the Federal and state-supported Turtle Patrol (run by residents), wildlife is plentiful and the island's Loggerhead Seat Turtles have an impressive 90 percent survival rate.
Best Room/Suite: Ninety-three percent of the rooms have ocean views, but the best rooms and suites are the on the Club Level. Perks include 24-hour concierge services and daily food presentations in a private lounge reserved for club level guests. The Sanctuary has 13 suites, including the 2,200 squarefoot Governor's Suite and the 3,100 square-foot Presidential Suite. Each guest room and suite features French doors leading onto a balcony, so be sure to request one of the 32 ocean front rooms.
Where to Eat: The Sanctuary offers two ocean-front dining rooms, the Jasmine Porch and the Ocean Room. The Jasmine Porch offers a more casual, Southern dining experience, while the Ocean Room features Culinary Institute of America-trained chef Chris Brandt's menu highlighting seafood and fresh, seasonal produce from local farmers, as well as a variety of game, steak and vegetarian dishes. Both restaurants provide spectacular ocean views.
The Ultimate Indulgence: The nature-themed spa offers a broad array of services and is modeled after a Southern garden and porch. All of the treatments are inspired by South Carolina's ocean, forests and gardens. For a unique and relaxing experience, try the Signature Massage, featuring warm grain-and herb-filled wraps placed on key tension areas and muscle groups, designed to relieve muscle tension and increase circulation prior to the massage from the technician.
Interesting Sanctuary Fact: Before The Sanctuary was built, the plot of land contained over 200 live oak trees along the coast. Instead of cutting them, the 50-foot trees were transplanted and placed along the driveway, so that they hang over it in true plantation style as guests drive in.
Contact Information: For reservations, call (877) 683-1234 or visit www.thesanctuary.com. Photos courtesy of Kiawah Island Golf Resort.