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Trip Report Sanctuary at Kiawah - February 2013

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In February, my husband and I headed south to Kiawah Island, to celebrate our 5 year anniversary. I had not been to Kiawah since the summer of 2001, when I spent a weekend there with my mom, who had a conference to attend. It rained cats and dogs the entire weekend, and, left to entertain myself in our musty, humid room, I did pretty much nothing but watch TV. Besides the rain, my memories of Kiawah were fuzzy. I remember that we stayed in a hotel that didn’t seem too fancy, but that was fine, and I remember the island seemed like it would be a really fun place…..if (and only if) it was sunny and warm outside.

Needless to say, my past memories clouded my anticipation of this weekend, and while I knew we would have a good time, I wasn’t expecting to be wowed. Little did I know that in the past 12 years, Kiawah has “arrived."


The Sanctuary at Kiawah, opened in 2004, is completely different than the Kiawah Inn, where I stayed before. It is not just a reburbishment and a new name, which I had assumed – it is in a new prime location, and is 100% luxury. The Sanctuary at Kiawah strikes the difficult balance of being luxurious and well-appointed, yet warm and friendly, all while displaying some of the best service I have experienced anywhere in the world.

The weather this weekend, while better than my experience in 2001, was still not optimal Kiawah weather. On our first day it was cloudy/rainy, and the second day it was sunny, but windy and bitter cold. Regardless, because Kiawah has bolstered its activities so much, there was still so much to do. Greg and I snuck in a bike ride on the beach and through the beautiful homes on Saturday morning, before taking a much-needed nap on our heavenly feather mattress. On Sunday, we braved the wind and hit the links for a fantastic golf lesson at the Golf Learning Center. We are novices at the sport (to say the least), but our instructor didn’t mind, making the experience a highlight of our visit. Should the weather continue to be inclement, I would’ve visited the spa (just ranked #30 in US hotel spas by Conde Nast Traveler), taken a dip in the indoor lap pool, and cuddled up by the fire in the lobby to read a book. Weather is no longer a mitigating factor at Kiawah, to say the least.


The dining on the island left little to be desired. The Atlantic Room provided world-class seafood and floor-to-ceiling oceanview windows, Cherrywood BBQ served one of the best pulled pork sandwiches I’ve eaten in a long time, and Jasmine Porch had lovely “high Southern” cuisine. The Ocean Room, which is The Sanctuary’s premier restaurant, is open only for dinner, and is closed on Sundays and Mondays. Because of this, our dining options within the resort were limited to Jasmine Porch (another poolside restaurant, Loggerhead’s, is seasonal). However, complimentary shuttles will whisk you to any of the other restaurants on the island, so while a slight inconvenience, it didn’t dampen our spirits too much.


The rooms, decor, and atmosphere of The Sanctuary are perfect. Sunny, warm tones and natural lighting burst throughout the resort. The bedding is extremely comfortable, and the rooms are clean, spacious, and have balconies. Ask for an oceanview room on the 5th (top) floor, where (as the golf pro told us) “you can almost see Portugal!”


I left Kiawah counting down the days until I can return in the summer with my daughters. Yes, Kiawah is at its peak in the summertime, but there is something to be said for quieter, off-season days, where tennis and golf times are abundant and a handful of people are on the beach. Regardless, it is worth the easy trip to Kiawah (45 minutes from Charleston) – it is certainly one of the most enjoyable, luxurious, and family friendly resorts I have ever been to!

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