When new acquaintances ask me to describe my home in “The South,” I know they are always expecting me to compare my lifestyle to something out of Gone With The Wind, Fried Green Tomatoes or Dawson’s Creek. There is an incredible romance that has built up around this part of the world, because of the way it has been portrayed in popular culture around the globe. Forrest Gump sold us the simple life, with Spanish Moss billowing in the live oaks at every turn; Reese Witherspoon returned home to Sweet Home Alabama, turning her back on the big city and re-embracing the slow southern lifestyle; and of course no one living should carry on without watching the kiss to end all kisses at the end of a Southern dock in The Notebook. In short, there is a reason so many stories are given life in the Southern states. It’s every bit as romantic as you would imagine it to be. Even after calling it home for 38 years, it can still charm and seduce me every time. My heart is here, it will always be here. But, there are moments when the Southern Charm is so powerful, so poignant, that I am nearly brought to my knees by it’s unique ability to woo even the toughest critic. But, I’ve often struggled with answering the question, “where can I stay in South Carolina where that Southern Charm will be delivered in spades?” It’s not for lack of searching. It’s a challenge I haven’t taken on lightly, but one that came to a swift conclusion after spending five minutes inside The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island, a Preferred Hotels Resort.
Polite dedication to guests’ enjoyment is found in every corner of Kiawah Island Resort. From the minute you arrive curb-side, to your first experience in any one of the half dozen eateries available for culinary excellence, you will be greeted with a smile and an aim to somehow make your holiday more relaxed. Only my promise to you is this – your muscles will all relax within the first five minutes of arrival on Kiawah Island, with minimum effort, from you, required. You might as well check your worries at the island security gate. Even the bike rides around the island are without strain, as you navigate long and curving paths down through winding streets along the beach, the marsh and endless stretches of golf courses. The hardest choice you will be faced to make is whether to cool down by the pool or in the ocean; whether to order a sweet iced tea or freshly squeezed lemonade; or which restaurant you’ll be dining in for lunch or dinner.
Saying that, the one choice you simply cannot say “no” to is waking up for the sunrise. The sunrises on Kiawah Island are some of the most beautiful in the world. Standing on the beach, that is so long you could feel like the last man standing, as a bright orange sun glides up over the horizon, is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Follow it with pancakes for breakfast in the restaurant and a cup of coffee on the front lawn, looking out over the ocean, and you have the perfect start to a day at the resort. If sunrise is too early a morning for you, never fear, as the beach loungers are awaiting your arrival and naps here are totally encouraged. Gentleman staff make their way up and down the beach supplying guests with drinks and food throughout the day. It’s not uncommon to see frozen cocktails and double cheeseburgers making an appearance beachside.
Biking down boardwalks, paddling in the pool while trying to balance a cocktail in hand and sitting on the room balcony watching endless pelicans fly by the hotel in flocks of fifty or more does tend to work up an appetite. While Kiawah Island could easily rest on its laurels and serve the standard southern comfort food, they go above and beyond the norm and offer everything from sushi (some of the best I’ve ever had) to a classic crab roll with a view of the sunset over the 18th hole of an award winning golf course. One thing you will never grow tired of, here on the property, is the selection of culinary delights.
Of course none of these activities can truly be enjoyed without a good night’s sleep under your belt, and this is often an area of hotels I feel isn’t talked about enough. The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island offers rooms that are comfortably laid out, feature contemporary conveniences and also a bed that might as well sing you to sleep. I was out like a light the moment my head hit the pillow. And that’s certainly a good sign. The day’s activities had worn us out, and rightly so. The hot southern sun, mixed with a day full of bike riding around the property had left me dreaming of bed just as I scoffed down my last sushi roll.
On the morning of our departure, we were on a first name basis with all of the staff, after only 48 hours in residence. We were told we would be missed and it was believable. We were told we would be welcomed back with open arms and we were already checking our calendars to see how quickly we could make that happen. I left feeling a renewed sense of pride in being southern and in seeing what southern hospitality at its finest really looks like. It is found here, at The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island.