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Need help with Hilton Head Island vacation in May-June, 2009: Sea Pines resort, Sea Crest, or Palmetto Dunes Plantation?

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Need help with Hilton Head Island vacation in May-June, 2009: Sea Pines resort, Sea Crest, or Palmetto Dunes Plantation?

Old Dec 14th, 2008, 07:48 AM
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Need help with Hilton Head Island vacation in May-June, 2009: Sea Pines resort, Sea Crest, or Palmetto Dunes Plantation?

We are experienced world travelers but new to this area of the US. My husband, college-age daughter, and I are primarily looking for: nice beaches with water warm enough to swim in (we are from the northeast where it often feels too cold to swim comfortably...at least for me... even in August in the Bay area ocean water on the Cape!); biking; dining and shopping. Being that we have time to travel at the end of May-beginning of June,for 7-10 days, we are exploring Hilton Head Island as a destination point and need help with accomodation choice. We are looking for a nice property with quality accomodations (meaning, clean, not musty in odor, kept up nicely).

Yikes! There's lots to choose from and for an outsider, it feels a bit overwhelming. We are interested in a 2 BR condo with an ocean view and bike paths and that's close to nice shops and restaurants (Sea Crest Resort seems to fit this description...how is Coligny Plaza for restaurants and shops?).

On the other hand, Sea Pines seems like an interesting place to stay as well, also near shops for our daughter to go to on her own. What condo areas would you rec if we were to stay there that would offer nice ocean view or of the harbor? Is the property showing its age now given that it's one of the older properties in the area? Is it too commercial around Harbour Town? It would be great to enjoy ocean views, have easy access to the beaches, but have nice restaurants and shops nearby as well! I guess we want it all!

Lastly, being concerned that Sea Pines might feel too commercial or crowded, I've come across Palmetto Dunes Plantation as another option, but have questions whether it might be too away from restaurants and shops. Less has been written about this property so any feedback here would also be appreciated to help us choose.

Any suggestions, advice, and specific recommendations of particular buildings or condo units to stay in would be appreciated. Also, do you think it's best to book directly with the property or through an agency like islandgetaways.com or Vacation Company? Memorial Day weekend falls into one of the weeks when we can vacation...would it be very crowded there then...should we try to avoid that weekend if possible?

Many thanks for helping us choose our accomodations well to start a successful vacation! We have always counted on Fodorites to help us!
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Old Dec 14th, 2008, 08:17 AM
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terryr-please see thread a little further down titled "Summer in Charleston, Savannah, Hilton Head....". It might be helpful..
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Old Dec 14th, 2008, 08:41 AM
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thanks, tambennett...I did read that thread and found it somewhat helpful although it wasn't addressing our questions around 2-BR condo choice for our family at HHI (the OPs were in a younger age/stage bracket and looking for different needs in the way of nightlife, etc).

Given that you don't seem to care for HHI much yourself...given the quality of the beaches, hard-packed sand, etc...where would you recommend to us based on what we're looking for and why? Thank you for any specific accomodation choices and location!
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Old Dec 14th, 2008, 11:37 AM
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terryr-Do you have your heart set on HHI? If not I would suggest St Augustine, Savannah, Amelia Island or anywhere in the panhandle of Florida? The water in the gulf will be pretty warm by June!
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Old Dec 14th, 2008, 02:43 PM
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tambennett, our family feels there would be many things that would work well for us at HHI so am interested in getting feedback from others who have been, particularly about these resort areas that I have listed. But certainly open to learning about other areas in the region. It's pretty overwhelming for those of us who don't know this area at all so any help or feedback is appreciated!
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Old Dec 14th, 2008, 02:55 PM
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terryr-Hiltonhead.com has very useful information to help you plan your trip. Have fun planning!
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Old Dec 14th, 2008, 04:25 PM
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Sea Pines is an extensive plantation with beautiful homes, bike paths, beaches and three commercial centers. Sea Pines is about 3 miles X 3 miles. The shops and restaurants are all upscale. You can be miles from the commercial areas. I have traveled to Sea Pines for vacations for over 20 years and been pleased with every one.

The ocean is plenty warm for swimming in June.

Sea Crest is on the beach. Many units will have ocean view. Coligny Plaza has good restaurants and tourist shops. Nothing to be concerned about, but at times Coligny is busy. I have stayed at Sea Crest twice, and found the condos to be nice, the beach fine and the location good.

Palmetto Dunes is also a big place. Palmetto has a narrow beach frontage. Palmetto has a couple hotels and a couple restaurants. Palmetto has exits to Coligny and Hwy 287 by the mall and many restaurants. Palmetto has more space for golf than beach. Understand exactly what your proximity is to the beach.

I like Hilton Head. Many people visit every year. The island has taken exceptional effort to preserve natural beauty and been successful. You can hike, bike, kayak, take nature cruises, beach, dine and shop in a beautiful setting.

I would go for Sea Pines.
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Old Dec 14th, 2008, 06:35 PM
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My vote is SeaPines. We always (2-3 times/yr) stay at the Harbourtown Yacht Club - not in a built-up or commercial area yet several restaurants/shops within walking distance at Harbourtown and the nearby SeaPines Center. For view ask for marina(harbour) or ocean - there are many beautiful yachts anchored at this marina,it is very nice, well-kept, and conducive to leisurely strolls. There are 2 bed/2 baths but you need to call soon for that time of year. http://www.harbourtownyachtclub.com/
I prefer Harbourtown over Coligny. Really like CQ's for a nice dinner. We play tennis, ride bikes on the miles of paths, and play golf. Also take the trolley or bike to the beach. And bike to horseback riding. It is not over-built so it is not too cowded even during busy times of year. At the yacht club there are also sunset dolphin watching cruises with only about 15 or so other people but I am not sure if that is for members only, ask for Sue Thurber. This may be more info than you wanted, but I thought I'd give my opinion. Have a great time! If they are sold out for your dates- 2 bed/2 bath Sue can recommend other villas in the Harbourtown area.
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Old Dec 14th, 2008, 07:45 PM
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Thank you for your responses so far! I really appreciate all the detailed information...so very helpful. Please keep them coming!
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Old Dec 14th, 2008, 08:55 PM
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stumpworks73 and others, how do you book your accomodations at Sea Pines? Do you work directly with the resort or through an agency, and if so, which one? Do people use a vacation property agency in order to save on pricing? Is the savings considerable to make it worth it?
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Old Dec 15th, 2008, 03:57 AM
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Sea Pines Realty has an extensive selection on their web site, www.seapines.com. Marriott has three condominiums inside Sea Pines and one just outside the Ocean Gate. Also www.vrbo.com The South Beach area has South Beach Rentals at www.sbinn.com offering homes at Lands End and two townhouse areas across the street from the beach. Pay close attention to your distance to the beach.
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Old Dec 15th, 2008, 05:24 AM
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go to:
http://marriott-vacations.com/packages.asp

check out Surfwatch on Hilton Head. Great property! Two bedroom suites about 1200sf. Several pools and beachfront. Bldg. 55 or 54 among the best. They also have 3 bedrooms.
New (timeshare) resort with a bit of new construction but a terrific place.

As a second choice I wouls go with Ocean Grand.

Have a nice visit.
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Old Dec 15th, 2008, 05:55 AM
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From a 27 year resident of HHI:

I'd recommend Sea Pines and their rental operation. I'm certain that you can google it. Harbourtown is terrific and Sea Pines will have everything you could want.

Coligny Plaza is fifty years old and shows its age a bit. I find nothing to merit going there at all.

If you need info for dining, etc. you can PM me. Cheers.
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Old Dec 15th, 2008, 06:41 AM
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You will thoroughly enjoy HH regardless of where you stay.
Consider a day trip to Savannah, about 30 miles or so. Charleston is farther (about 100) but worth a sleepover if you are driving back .
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Old Dec 15th, 2008, 07:06 AM
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You might also look at Kiawah Island just outside of Charleston. It hits on a number of the criteria you seem to be looking for.
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Old Dec 15th, 2008, 08:03 AM
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We've stayed at SeaCrest a couple of times, most recently this past summer. We like that it's right on the beach (pay attention to your location on Sea Pines if that is a priority to you), has two pools, a large hot tub, and is an easy stroll to Coligny Plaza, which we primarily go to for ice cream and groceries at Piggly Wiggly. We like that we really don't have to get in the car much. The condos we've rented (through Sea Crest's management company, although there are some VRBO units out there) have been bright, spacious, clean and well-maintained. Sea Crest doesn't have the isolated feel that you would get in Sea Pines or Palmetto Dunes, but the beach has never been what I would consider really crowded, and we like the activity and amenities (for example there is chair and umbrella rental on the beach).

Unfortunately we found this year that you can no longer bike through the gates onto the Sea Pines property--in the past we had ridden bikes from Sea Crest to the Salty Dog. There still are a lot of bike paths and quiet streets to ride on from Sea Crest, but we ended up riding on bike paths next to busy streets more than we would like to. It's an easy bike ride though to the Sea Shack, which we enjoyed. BTW, there are lots of bike rental companies on the island that will bring the bikes to your condo at the beginning of the week and pick them up at the end--ask for a recommendation from the property management company.

Sea Pines is certainly not too commercial or crowded, it's spread over a large area and quite lovely. If you don't stay on Sea Pines you have to pay $5 to drive onto the property, which we did to visit and eat at Harbour Town and at the Salty Dog, and for horseback riding.

We stayed in Palmetto Dunes a couple of times several years ago (thanks to family friends who had a condo there) and it was very nice, but we did feel then more like we had to get in the car to go anywhere. That being said, though, there is a whole grouping of shops and restaurants on the inlet side of that part of the island, including the Shelter Cove area just across William Hilton Parkway. Shelter Cove is very popular, but for hanging out at restaurants/bars waterside I'd personally rather be at Harbour Town or South Beach inside Sea Pines.
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Old Dec 15th, 2008, 04:22 PM
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Wow...thank you for all of your responses and help! We are concentrating on Sea Pines right now as a way to focus on one area at HHI and based on all the rave reviews. But we find that choosing exactly where to stay at Sea Pines through the resort website is a bit daunting. I mean, those street addresses don't really mean much to us outsiders!

We love the idea of being around Harbour Town as it looks like it's loaded with charm and we won't feel so isolated as at a private property...plus our daughter can go out to the shops on her own. But what beach and pool area would we have access to if we stay in that area? Also, if we stayed at Harbour Town, how far is it really to a nice beach on our bikes? Would it feel like too much of a hike to bike there? We were imagining a beach vacation at HHI and would prefer the amenities at Sea Pines, such as around Harbour Town, but are concerned that we would be giving up the convenient set-up at Sea Crest with oceanview condos and easy access to pools and the beach. Does staying at Sea Pines mean that you "can't have it all" at any of their neighborhood locations?
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Old Dec 15th, 2008, 07:03 PM
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I really can't say enough about Marriot's Surfwatch. Pools, large oceanfront property (cabanas are available), large, clean villas. They have a fitness center & propane grills are scattered about the property. The staff can arrange tours. Some on-site activities may also interest you. It is located about mid-island which is perfect for touring by car or bike, which they rent on site. There are lots of shops and restaurants along 278

With all due respect to fellow posters, we have found Sea Pines & Harbour Town rather ho hum.
You can and should visit there but you can do it in a few hours.

We're from NYC and have visited HHI about 10x over the past 7 years. We've stayed at Marriotts in Harbour Town as well as Grande Ocean and the Barony.
Surfwatch was the best.

P.S.
We have no affiliation with Marroitt other than we like their style.

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Old Dec 15th, 2008, 07:17 PM
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If you stay at Harbourtown there is a pool right there on property. It is not too far to bike to the beach, I think less than 3 miles. Lately we are traveling with babies/small children so usually for us it is more convenient to take the trolley or drive, but we used to bike. We will again in a few years... Anyway, chairs/umbrellas are set up and available for rent at the beach so you don't have to worry about that. For most active people (without small kids) the bike is easy. Also, there is a beachside grill with sandwiches/snacks and a separate large covered bar area. Is it vacation time yet? We really have a fun time there!
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Old Dec 16th, 2008, 07:19 AM
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Thank you, stumpworks73, atlantan123 and mike_k, for your enthusiastic remarks on the properties that have worked well for you and your family. I will certainly explore your personal recommendations as user reviews is the great benefit of this website.

Thank you too to DancingBearMD for speaking to all 3 properties that I asked about, helpful comparisons.

nygvic, aah, Kiawah Island looks great as well! Good to have so many choices, and if this part of the US works for us as a vacation destination, being from the northeast, we will certainly keep KI in mind.

Thank you for your continued input and enthusiasm!
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