Kiawah Island Resort, Charleston, South Carolina

Kiawah Island: A Southern Oasis

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Back in July following Layne’s bachelorette, I took a couple nights to myself and headed out to peaceful Kiawah Island to relax.

Kiawah Island Resort, Charleston, South Carolina(OK, we all know that last part was a lie: I was working the whole time—running a start-up among a dozen other things doesn’t allow a whole lot of time for true R&R—but at least it was in a gorgeous locale!)

Kiawah Island Resort, Charleston, South CarolinaI’m a major hotel nerd, and ever since I accidentally fell into the travel industry and started paying attention to lists and accolades, I’ve wanted to visit Kiawah Resort. I could have headed to Charlotte early before my mom and SVV arrived to meet me for our pal Dustin Lynch’s concert, but I figured a calming beach retreat is just what the stress gods ordered. Or maybe it was a massage, which I indulged in mere moments after arriving.

Kiawah Island Resort, Charleston, South CarolinaIt took me a full hour to reach Kiawah Island from downtown Charleston, something I hadn’t believed possible when I saw that it was only 28 miles on the map. But the road is a slow and winding one, so if you’re on a schedule, be sure and allow yourself at least 60 minutes to make the drive.

Kiawah Island Resort, Charleston, South CarolinaKiawah Island Resort, Charleston, South CarolinaMy room for the first night was in the opulent Sanctuary Hotel, which is the grand dame of the sprawling resort complex as far as I can tell. The property is massive—the island, which more or less consists of the resort, is 10 miles wide, and the resort employs more than 1,000 staffers—and I barely scratched the surface of it during my quick two-night stand with the island.

Kiawah Island Resort, Charleston, South CarolinaI had wanted to check out the Athletic Recovery Massage in the Sanctuary Spa for a fitness story I was writing, but alas didn’t book my appointment in time. Given that Kiawah Resort is first and foremost a golf destination, it’s no surprise there were treatments targeting golfers. The full treatment includes a personal training session followed by a massage; I still got the latter, so I left happy and spa-drunk.

Kiawah Island Resort, Charleston, South CarolinaWhen I came back down to Earth, a surprise was waiting for me in the Sanctuary lobby: Sarah! Some of you may remember her from her previous blogging life as the wordsmith behind Jemima. To me, in San Francisco, she was my running buddy, my work pal, my fellow dog lover, my sometimes therapist. And somehow I hadn’t seen her in four years since she was pregnant with baby Benjamin, who is hardly a baby anymore but three years and three-quarters old!

Kiawah Island Resort, Charleston, South CarolinaWe moseyed on down to the TKTKTK for an oyster BBQ (my first). OK, so I didn’t have the oysters—don’t get mad, Charlestonians! I’m weird when it comes to shellfish—but I ate pretty much everything else they had to offer. Kiawah Island Resort, Charleston, South CarolinaSarah crashed at the Sanctuary with me, and we may have had a nightcap at the bar then downed a good portion of a bottle of Bulleit in our room. “I love that you’re the kind of girl who keeps a selection of bourbon in the trunk of her car,” Sarah praised me. (At least, I think it was praise…)

Kiawah Island Resort, Charleston, South CarolinaI would see Sarah again later that week, but the next morning, we went for a kayak and then I switched rooms and she headed back to town to tend to the Urchin. The downside of booking so last minute was that there was only one night open at the Sanctuary. Luckily, there were available rooms elsewhere just down the road.

Kiawah Island Resort, Charleston, South CarolinaKiawah Island Resort, Charleston, South CarolinaBut that was fine: I moved over to an even more spacious condo instead, which was every bit as comfortable (if not more so).

Kiawah Island Resort, Charleston, South Carolina Kiawah Island Resort, Charleston, South CarolinaThe downside was not being able to use the Sanctuary pool, but the upside was having the beach right outside my door. And for this ocean girl, there’s no better view to wake up to in the morning.

Kiawah Island Resort, Charleston, South CarolinaHave you ever visited this iconic resort? If so, what did you think?

  • October 2, 2013

    That first shot especially is stunning!

    And I wish I had a cool blogging buddy, I have a few “friends” but I’ve never met them in real life!

    • October 2, 2013

      When I first moved to San Francisco, I *only* new bloggers. It became the norm that all my IRL friends were people I met online πŸ˜‰

  • October 2, 2013

    I just went on a girlfriends getaway in that area but we ended up at the Wild Dunes Resort on Isle of Palms. It was perfectly lovely but I’ll definitely check out this location on my next visit. Thanks for sharing.

    • October 4, 2013

      Funny, I initially looked at Wild Dunes for this trip but I think it was already booked (I went at the peak of high season in mid-July). Kiawah was, too, at first but I got lucky and they had a cancellation!

  • October 2, 2013

    I wanted to go there, but when we were down that way it was near Thanksgiving and it was fully booked and seemed to be focused on activities for families for that week. Did you find it to have a lot of kids or would it be a good place for a couple? We ended up at the Inn at Palmetto Bluff instead that I absolutely adored, which was about 1.5 or 2 hours from Charleston I think. Here’s my blog post about it should you want to try something else next time you are down there. I still have Kiawah Island on my list though.

    • October 6, 2013

      It is definitely very family-oriented. For that reason, I would recommend all couples stay in the Sanctuary vs. renting a condo (I did both due to the lack of availability). The majority of kids seemed to be in the condo areas. And I would also go when the kids are in school, so early fall some year when the summer heat has subsided and school’s back in session.

      P.S. Palmetto Bluff is also on my Southern bucket list!

  • October 2, 2013

    I visited many years ago and LOVED it! You know how much this part of the world means to me. Awesome pics! πŸ™‚

    • October 4, 2013

      Ahhhh, Charleston is such a lovely, lovely place. It’s only a shame there’s no major airport there, or I might consider a move! Then again, EVERYBODY would move there if that were the case, I’m sure =)

  • October 2, 2013

    oh my gosh…that was a blissful indulgence! I am yet to experience something like that! I loved your pictures, too πŸ™‚

  • October 2, 2013

    OMG, is that first photograph for real!?! It’s beautiful.

    • October 4, 2013

      Yeah, snapped with my iPhone. Has a filter but it was an amazing scene even without one =)

  • October 2, 2013

    You certainly know how to travel first class.

  • October 2, 2013

    That hotel looks so opulent!! I don’t think I’ve ever even used the word opulent before. Amazing!

    • October 4, 2013

      Ha! I love the word opulent but it was one of those “banned words” by my Frommer’s editor so I rarely get to use it =)

  • October 3, 2013

    I’ve actually been to Kiawah Island before! It was so long ago the memory was actually lodged in there pretty deep…. I just had to check with my mom to confirm it! Ha.

    • October 6, 2013

      So long and hundreds of countries ago, right? =)

  • October 3, 2013

    Wow, it would be really easy to get use to that all the time.
    Beautiful photos!!!

  • October 4, 2013

    Ah, looks like a wonderful place. I can use some of these relaxing time (without a laptop)!

    • October 6, 2013

      I plan to do my next trip post-conference without a laptop for that very reason! It will be my first since my honeymoon, ha.

  • October 4, 2013

    Awesome photos. This is a place I would love to be.

  • October 4, 2013

    Soooo gorgeous! My family and I used to take a trip to a different beach in the Carolinas, but sadly, we never went here!

    • October 6, 2013

      Well, then you’ll have to visit as an adult!

  • October 5, 2013

    Looks like you had a great time here on Kiawah. Great photos also!

    • October 6, 2013

      Your area may very well be the most beautiful in the continental US. If there was a more major airport nearby, I likely would have moved there years ago! Though there’s that one little issue–the PALMETTOS–that I’m not sure I’d ever come to terms with…

  • October 5, 2013

    been loving your recent all ‘merican good ol’ southern posts. it’s the good life!

    • October 6, 2013

      Thank you! I love me good ol’ Southern destinations. More to come as I was just in North Carolina for a week =)

  • October 7, 2013

    Thanks Kristin for wonderful photos. Really this is amazing photos. I will try to go there for my next trip.


  • October 7, 2013

    I have never heard of this island before, or the resort, but wow. Kristin, it looks so beautiful and peaceful. After having just visited the Atlantic Ocean for the first time in years, it was so nice to see this little paradise. For some reason it made me homesick … I could just imagine standing outside, looking at those palm trees and feeling the sticky humidity on my skin.

  • October 9, 2013

    What a lovely place. I can tell that the area is very peaceful and very elegant. Thanks for sharing your experience. I hope someday I can go there as well. at least once in my lifetime.

  • October 13, 2013

    Kiawah Island and especially The Sanctuary, is one of my faves. I feel like a boss whenever I’m at the hotel bar there. And love the drive from Charleston to Kiawah.

  • October 14, 2013

    These are really amazing photos! This post grabs my attention. I would definitely not mind going here for a visit!

  • October 19, 2013

    This is amazing life. This year I am planning to go across north America. I hope I will take so much beautiful pictures.

  • October 20, 2013

    That place is surely heaven. An elegant hotel in a beautiful beach is absolutely perfect.

  • November 6, 2013

    We stay at the Sanctuary very often and have always had a wonderful time. The property is beautiful and the service is second to none. This last trip was the best ever! The staff is so friendly and personable, they make you feel very special. The food at the Ocean Room was outstanding. The spa was a great experience as well.

  • November 7, 2013

    This place is heaven. I would love to have a visit of this someday. And you do get wonderful photos.

  • May 25, 2014

    Childrens will find getting fit fun with our fun and exciting children’s health & fitness classes

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