As I write this, the taste of mango Iced Tea still lingers on my lips. Served each afternoon in the lobby of The Sanctuary, the spectacular new hotel on the grounds of the Kiawah Island Resort near Charleston, South Carolina, it is just one example of the service standard that makes this outstanding hotel leave a perfectly lasting memory.
Becoming a known quantity with the hosting of the prestigious Ryder Cup in 1991, the Kiawah Island Resort did have accommodation available from the very beginning but they paled in quality to that five stunning golf courses and other amenities that graced the place. That all changed with the creation of The Sanctuary and subsequent opening in August 2004.
Costing more than (US) $125 million dollars for the building alone (the land was purposed to be worth some $50 million) The Sanctuary is already rising in stature as one of the top hotels in the entire world. 255 rooms each offer their own flair with all modern amenities; marble floored bathrooms and many with spectacular balconies that embrace ocean views. In fact, from most of the rooms you can see the beach.
A grand lobby bar (where you will fond coffee in the morning and the mango ice tea in the afternoon) provides both a grand entrance way and an inviting place to engage other guests socially.
The Sanctuary also boats a nature-based luxury spa, fitness room, indoor and outdoor pools. The adult pool sits just footsteps off the beach.
Foremost in The Sanctuary experience is the service. Rarely will you find a hotel at this level where the staff appears to be genuinely happy to work there. They are attentive without being overbearing, the combination that makes travellers both comfortable and knowing that when they need help, someone will be there to meet their needs or answer their questions.
The resort offers up five championship golf courses. The clear star is the Ocean Course, the Pete Dye creation that has hosted the Ryder and World Cups is will also host the 2007 Senior PGA and 2012 PGA Championships. Ocean front holes undisturbed by real estate serve up some of the finest waterside tests in al of the world. Take a caddy for the complete experience.
The Jack Nicklaus designed Turtle Point Course also has three Oceanside holes. Additional choices include Osprey Point by Tom Fazio, Cougar Point by Gary Player and Oak Point by Clyde Johnston.
The gastronomic experience at The Sanctuary is a varied one. The Ocean Room is he resorts signature and speciality restaurant and brings sophisticated New American Cuisine to a whole new level. For a slightly more casual experience (and my favourite) try the Jasmine Porch. Here you can enjoy Lowcountry fare including She-Crab soup and other dishes using local ingredients. Their desert offerings are both bountiful and delicious. The clubhouses at the Ocean Course, Turtle Point, and Osprey Point also serve up casual fare in a relaxed setting.
What Else You Need To Know
As much as you will not want to leave the resort try a day log excursion into Charleston. Take a stroll or carriage ride through downtown and see why the city has been acclaimed as on of the friendliest on North America.
At the resort make sure to visit the nature centre and sign up for a late night tour that reveals the animal world you rarely see. Rent a bike for an hour or a day and try out the island’s many scenic bike paths. Maps guide you through all the sites. The amazing homes along the beach make this a worthy trip just by themselves.