Splendor by the Shore

A getaway to The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort is a recipe for romance and splendor by the shore. Perched on a majestic barrier island located 21 miles south of Charleston’s Historic District, this “worlds away” resort is a study in coastal luxury.

From the outside, The Sanctuary resembles an oversized seaside mansion, the sort of hushed estate that would fit right in with Newport’s storied turn-of-the-19th-century summer residences. Thanks to a gentle rise in the land on which the hotel sits, a sweeping, unobstructed ocean view greets everyone who walks through the front door. A high polish walnut-plank floor and plush carpet in soothing marsh tones lead to sister staircases, the grandeur of which can make even the most jaded Scarlett swoon. Guest rooms are spacious and sumptuous. Tasteful furnishings, a marble bathroom, soaking tub, private terrace, and quick-to-appear room service are compelling reasons to remain cloistered in the room throughout the stay, but the island’s untrammeled beauty and the resort’s many amenities are what make a visit to The Sanctuary memorable.

The journey to Kiawah Island unfolds beneath a canopy of moss-laden oak trees, past a private airport tucked amid fields of wildflowers, farmland, and roadside vegetable stands. Allow yourself to transition to a carefree “island time” mentality over the course of the 30-minute drive. After all, Coastal Living magazine recently named Kiawah the Happiest Seaside Town in America.

Hand over your car keys to the hotel valet—you won’t need them again until it is time to go home. Pick up your room key and bypass (for now) the sprawling lobby parlor. Head directly to the lawn, and have a seat on an ocean-facing Adirondack chair. Feel the sun on your face, hear the waves in your ear, and breathe in fresh air. Ahhhh…. Total relaxation has begun.

For the next 72 hours, you and your significant other will be spoiled and pampered, fed, and catered to by the staff of The Sanctuary. Your only job is to enjoy.


Of Kiawah Island’s five golf courses, the dauntingly beautiful championship Ocean Course, where a riveting Ryder Cup occurred in 1991 and the world’s best professional golfers gathered for the 2012 P.G.A. Championship, is calling your name today. The Ocean Course may be difficult-to-play, but it is beautiful-to-walk, and the two of you will long remember playing golf alongside egrets, alligators, and exquisite wind-swept scenery. Even if one of you is not a golfer, this is the perfect opportunity to tag along and soak up the setting.


Once you’ve completed the 18th hole on Pete Dye’s challenging par 72-links, head to the Ryder Cup Bar inside the Ocean Course Clubhouse. Order an iced tea (or a Black and Stormy!) and watch fellow golfers practice their putting skills. Hop the shuttle back to The Sanctuary and peruse the fashions stocked at Elizabeth East, one of the resort’s boutiques, where the racks are lined with well-known brands such as Tory Burch, Milly, and Coach.


After a day spent at the mercy of the Ocean Course’s legendary firm greens and unpredictable sea breezes, followed by a mini shopping spree, the mahogany-paneled Ocean Room is a welcome refuge. Indulge in the best this fine-dining steakhouse has to offer, including caviar, lobster bisque, and the especially indulgent black truffle pommes frites. You won’t be disappointed. And be sure to save room for the dessert menu’s shining star: the interactive “Chocolate Brownie Dome” that is unlike anything we have ever seen. Trust us!


On the way back to the room, ask the concierge to schedule a wake-up call 10 minutes before sunrise, then wind down the evening while counting stars and sipping champagne on the balcony of your guest room.

Wake up, give your sweetheart a kiss, and walk directly out the door together. Take the boardwalk to the beach to witness the golden hour of sunrise, a glorious awakening of the natural world. Shore birds and tiny crabs scuttle about, while the occasional deer appears on the dunes in search of a foliage breakfast. This languid pace sets the tone for a day of rest and rejuvenation.


After enjoying fluffy pancakes in the Jasmine Porch dining room, explore Kiawah Island’s scenic vistas via bicycle. With more than 30 miles of sun-dappled paved bike paths and 10 miles of pristine beach, it is a pleasure to roam the resort on two wheels. There are 24 tennis courts on the island making this the opportune place and time to play a match or two.


Forbes has awarded five stars to The Sanctuary Spa, an oasis designed to melt stress and tension with luxurious face and body treatments. The Sodashi facials, rich in nurturing herbal extracts, are a fabulous and relatively new offering at the spa. Choose radiance, purity, calm, or thermal infusing to personalize the facial to your satisfaction. The spa’s ultimate experience for a couple to enjoy together is the Romance Retreat, a private suite for two to enjoy champagne, chocolate-dipped strawberries, a whirlpool tub, and side-by-side candlelit massages.


Revisit the Ocean Course Clubhouse to have a seafood dinner with a spectacular view at The Atlantic Room or try the family-style Italian dinner at Tomasso located inside the Turtle Point Clubhouse.

Pick up a light bite breakfast, perhaps yogurt and a banana, at Beaches & Cream and stroll outside to The Sanctuary pool, where the best of two worlds collide: the panoramic view of the ocean paired with the comfort of umbrella-shaded chaises and cheerful servers who deliver fresh fruit smoothies to thirsty guests. Time, baked by the sun, slows down and the harried world seems far, far away.


Perhaps a nap or a game of chess in the parlor to round out the day’s activity… or perhaps the simplicity of unfettered time spent with the most important person in your life. No matter your style of romance, The Sanctuary is a special place to rekindle and reconnect.


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