Luxurious island vacation at The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort

(credit: Patrick J. O’Brien)

A residence on Kiawah Island combines the charm of South Carolina with an oasis of natural beauty with five championship courses designed by the world’s leading golf course architects. The island is home to a per capita income of $168,369, the highest in South Carolina, as well as 10 miles of beaches with perfectly preserved marine forests, sand dunes, and swamps. Just 21 miles from Charleston, the island is home to an abundance of wildlife including white-tailed deer, seabirds, dolphins, sea turtles, crocodiles, and cats that inhabit the 13.4-square-mile island. It is home to 500 charming villas and luxury private homes as well as The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, a 255-room oceanfront hotel and spa.

The elegant 412,000-square-foot hotel opened in 2004 and combines top finishes in Charleston brick, stucco, wood, slate, copper and ironwork. Designed to evoke an aura from its historic surroundings, the interiors are luxurious in nature with high ceilings and classic antique furniture in the lobby. The resort presents luxury in a friendly and detail-oriented way, warm and inviting, true hallmarks of Lowcountry generosity. From their high level of service and facilities (12,694-sf Spa and salon, well-curated retail corridor, indoor and outdoor pools, two indoor restaurants and bars, oceanside restaurant and bar and more) to their location next to the Kiawah River, they offer a plethora of options for all travelers.

(Credit: Courtesy of Kiawah Island Golf Resort)

“The Sanctuary is designed to evoke the feel of a grand, century-old seaside mansion,” said General Manager Bill Lacey. Even the smallest details were considered, including installing special spacers under the hallway floorboards so that the hardwoods give a little creak, just as they would in an old house that has settled over the years. However, in keeping with its oceanfront setting, while The hotel is chic, it’s not stuffy at all, it’s comfortably inviting.We describe it as relaxed elegance – no part of the lobby, for example, feels ‘blocked’ or too precious for guests to relax in and enjoy. I would say that this is really an extension of the spirit of the entire resort.”

(credit: Rod Busby)

With 90 percent of guest rooms and suites facing the ocean, the hotel’s most luxurious accommodation is the Presidential Suite. Measuring 3,100 square feet, guests are welcomed into the spacious living area with an inviting fireplace before advancing onto the spacious balcony through double sets of French doors. Featuring an intimate library, separate dining room for 12 and a bedroom with adjoining dressing room, the suite also offers a private outdoor area with views along the Grand Lawn to the ocean horizon.

In addition to the rooms and suites in the hotel itself, which are scattered throughout the island, the resort manages nearly 500 properties. These units range from semi-detached one-bedroom units to large oceanfront homes that can sleep up to 20 people (perfect for multigenerational family vacations). New to the offering is Ocean Course Cottages, which offers a one-of-a-kind golf experience with a dedicated concierge attending to every detail before and during your stay. From a daily round of golf and daily breakfast, additional enhancements can be arranged including a private service provider’s dinner and recreational activities such as charter fishing trips on the beach or near the beach.

(Credit: Courtesy of Kiawah Island Golf Resort)

“We want to offer our guests the authentic hospitality that the South Carolina Lawcountry has historically been known for,” said Brian Hunter, Director of Public Relations. “But we also want them to explore the unique and enchanting landscapes that are an indispensable part of life on the Lowcountry Barrier Island. We want them to notice and experience the incredible abundance of flora and fauna supported by the closely interconnected ecosystems here – and this is in addition to the world-class golf experiences that our courses offer. The five championships in the resort.

The Sanctuary provides every element to inspire their guests with a platform to explore and appreciate the nature that surrounds the resort. With over 30 miles of paved trails for biking, walking, jogging, and access to the Kiawah River for naturalist-led kayaking, hiking, and boating, there are many nature activities to be enjoyed. One of the unique activities that can be best enjoyed during low tide is dolphin thread feeding at Captain Sam’s entrance where the dolphins graze fish on the sand and then go out of the water to catch fish. Unique in this part of the Lowcountry and a few other specific regions of the world, this is definitely something not to be missed.

(credit: Ozil Lambert)

The resort also offers guests packages to the island’s five championship golf courses (Pete Dye’s The Ocean Course, Tom Fazio’s Osprey Point, Jack Nicklaus’ Turtle Point, Gary Player’s Cougar Point, and Clyde Johnston’s Oak Point) on the island. The recently completely revamped courses made their debut in the 1991 National Spirit of the Age with a Ryder Cup competition at the newly opened Ocean Course. Since then, the island has hosted several World Cup tournaments, a PGA Championship (the last one in 2021), one Senior PGA Championship and many other global events.

Boasting the largest number of coastal holes, 10, in the Northern Hemisphere, The Ocean Course is on every golfer’s must-list for a true test of skill. For those looking to finally take part in a championship course, the Tommy Cuthbert Golf Learning Center invites guests of all skill levels to improve their game in state-of-the-art facilities with personalized coaching from PGA-certified professionals. With 22 courses, including ten new ones from Har-Tru, Roy Barth Tennis Center has received top accolades and offers a number of packages for players to hone their game and learn from the pros.

(Credit: Courtesy of Kiawah Island Golf Resort)

Back at the hotel, their pool complex includes an outdoor family pool and a saltwater infinity pool for adults with a walkway to the beach (where full beach service provides guests with chairs, umbrellas, towels, and beach toys). Adjacent to the state-of-the-art fitness center in the West Wing of the Lobby is the approximately 50-by-24-foot indoor saltwater pool lined for laps.

When relaxation is the name of the game, The Spa at The Sanctuary offers services in 12 treatment rooms with treatments inspired by Kiawah Island’s natural ingredients drawn from the ocean, swamps, and marine forests. The spa combines Southern hospitality with elements of natural design seen in the relaxing solariums and salon, providing a haven for restoration and renewal. Choose from our signature 60-minute classic Southern massage or holistic facials from a selection of Natura Bissé treatments used in a variety of treatments that beautify skin of any age.

(Credit: Chris M. Rogers Photography, Inc.)

On the property, dining group Kiawah offers more than a dozen options ranging from modern pub fare to authentic Lowcountry fare. The hotel’s signature Ocean Room restaurant focuses on USDA Prime Beef, local seafood and signature seasonal side dishes, which can be paired with the 1,000-brand list of typical wines in the cellar. Within the hotel itself, Jasmine Porch is an upscale, family-friendly establishment that specializes in Lowcountry specialties such as crab soup, shrimp and grits, while Loggerhead Grill is a seasonal outdoor poolside restaurant and bar for a casual vibe. . Stop by Beaches & Cream for a light breakfast, locally sourced organic ice cream and ready-made sandwiches, or by one of three bars for specialty cocktails, wine, beer, spirits and light fare.

Further afield throughout the resort, four of five clubs offering distinct dining options ranging from casual to upscale, themed The Atlantic Room on The Ocean Course Clubhouse, which focuses on seasonal, fresh catch sourced from local fishermen and oysters and shrimp Supplemented with fresh seasonal produce from neighboring farms. Perhaps best of all, the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows offer panoramic views of the golf course and the Atlantic Ocean.

Surrounded by distinctive and serene natural surroundings, for a travel experience you wish would never end, a trip to Kiawah Island offers a haven in adventure and luxury. A place where southern hospitality and natural beauty give a breath of fresh air.

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