Kiawah Island Golf Resort's 'The Sanctuary' - Haven to Lavish Relaxation

By Jeffrey A. Rendall, Photos Courtesy of Kiawah Island Golf Resort and Kevin Gaydosh

 

KIAWAH ISLAND, SC – If there’s one thing to be said about all of the east coast’s super-luxury golf resorts, it’s that they’ve got first-class sleeping accommodations and fine dining to go along with their pristine links of emerald green.

 


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The grand entranceway to The Sanctuary.

Take for example, the Golden Horseshoe at Colonial Williamsburg.  It’s got the world-renowned Williamsburg Inn, which has played host to Presidents and Prime Ministers in its 65+ years of existence.  Or the Greenbrier, which was Sam Snead’s stomping grounds and a previous site of the Ryder Cup – its beautiful hotel grounds were once the play place of a ‘who’s who’ of the Civil War South, then a holding area for enemy foreign diplomats during WW II – the ‘prisoners’ were housed in the luxurious hotel rooms, no less.  How’s that for being ‘captured?’

 

Or how about Pinehurst, the ‘Home of Golf,’ with its grand Carolina Hotel?

 

The common denominator for all these destinations is a hotel with distinction.  You can offer all the great golf in the world, but if there isn’t a plush place waiting to pamper your players, then you can’t be mentioned with the elites.  You’re doomed to merely having incredible golf.

 

That was the situation at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, at least until last August (2004), when its new hotel, The Sanctuary, opened its opulent doors for the first time.


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The Sanctuary's Morning Room.

 

Prem Devadas, Kiawah’s Managing Director said, although the resort had golf that could compete with any of the top luxury legends, it needed something more to be mentioned with the others:  “Our company’s vision, when Kiawah was purchased in 1993, was to create one of the finest golf resorts in the country.”

 

He continues, “So our owner, Bill Goodwin, over the past ten years has invested heavily into making our golf experience the best it can be.  All of our golf courses have received extensive renovations.  We’ve built new clubhouses where only very, very poor facilities existed before.  We’ve worked hard on the service end as well, all with the goal of creating a great golf experience.”

 

“But we also recognized that we were missing the ultra high-end accommodations that the luxury golfer has become accustomed to at other places, such as Pebble Beach or Pinehurst.  We knew we needed a better hotel accommodation than the original Kiawah Island Inn,” Devadas added.

 


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Looking towards The Sanctuary's pools.

It’s one thing to assess a situation, it’s quite another to commit the time and resources to building the vision.  Almost a decade later, The Sanctuary completed its 255 guest rooms and suites, pools, restaurants and spa to the tune of $125 million.  That’s not a typo, folks.

 

With that kind of price tag, you’d almost expect The Sanctuary’s entranceway to be carpeted with green portraits of Ben Franklin, but the décor, needless to say, wows you just the same.  The hotel is designed to reflect the style of a grand southern seaside mansion – and we’re glad to say, even Scarlet O’Hara would probably find its hallways very comforting and homey (complete with grand staircase, patterned after the one that was used in ‘Gone With The Wind’).

 

The Sanctuary was over nine years in the making.  According to Devadas, the extended period of construction was due to making sure the property would grow with the times:  “The quality of the hotel experience just kept going up and up and up, as did the costs.  At the end of the day, we wanted to be not only one of the finest golf resorts in America, but one of the best in the world.”

 

“And because of that long period of development, we really had a chance to put a lot of thought into how people would use it.  We were interested in becoming an American icon, much as The Greenbrier has been in another generation.  So, we planned for the type of hotel that, even fifty years from now, would be considered really special,” Devadas proclaimed proudly.


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You can see the Turtle Point Course from many of The Sanctuary's guestroom balconies. Photo By Kevin Gaydosh.

 

That meant making the hotel experience a bit less like a hotel, and a bit more like staying as a guest in that fine southern mansion that we talked about above.  The guest rooms are a good bit larger than a typical resort guestroom, and the bathrooms are much more luxurious that the typical resort guestroom.  No doubt about it, a space you’ll want to spend time in for something other than sleeping.

 

Devadas said they, like every developer, considered making the rooms smaller for economic reasons, but felt very strongly that ten, twenty or fifty years from now, they wanted The Sanctuary to still be considered at the high-end of luxury.

 

How’s that for planning beyond the next fiscal quarter?

 


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The Sanctuary's Lobby Bar.

As nice as the sleeping rooms are, the entire ‘mansion’ and grounds of The Sanctuary received the same kind of aristocratic attention.  The lobby is something to behold – open and airy, with high ceilings, hardwood flooring, theme-appropriate furnishings and sparkling chandeliers.

 

The hotel is located on a pristine stretch of South Carolina beach, and you can literally stroll out the rear exit and rub your toes in the sand within a matter of seconds.  Of course, you can also spend time at the pool(s) or in the Spa.  Another choice would be to enjoy some quiet reflection on your room’s private deck, overlooking the beautiful ocean setting or the finely manicured grounds.

 

The Kiawah folks even went to the trouble of transplanting mature trees to give the hotel the look and ‘feel’ of a place that’s been around a lot longer than a few months.  The Sanctuary may not enjoy the years of history as some of the others do, but it’s got the ‘look’ just the same.

 

Perhaps one of the nicest things about The Santuary is its resort-like atmosphere, but at the same time, preserving a relative sense of privacy.  Kiawah Island offers a 10-mile stretch of beach, but The Sanctuary is the only hotel.  There are condos and homes along the shore, but no one will mistake this for Myrtle Beach – or even Hilton Head Island.


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Standing on the beach, this is the view you'll have of The Sanctuary... the ocean's just behind you.

 

Add in its proximity to one of the neatest cities in the country, Charleston, and you’ve got an added incentive to visit.  “Charleston has rapidly become known as one of the premier destinations among luxury travelers around the country,” Devadas said.  “And so, there are very few places in this country where you can go to a resort experience and then get to enjoy all the culture and nightlife of a place like Charleston as part of your visit.”

 

Charleston’s about a half-hour up the road, and it’s true, there’s a multitude of activities to partake in there – the history alone is worth an extended stay.  But that’s only if you’ll want to do it, because staying at The Sanctuary is haven enough for just about anyone.

 

On Our Visit

 


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Luxury defined. You won't want to go home.

Unfortunately for us, The Sanctuary was completely sold out when we visited the island.  Though our Kiawah experience wasn’t quite as luxurious as it would’ve been had we stayed at the new hotel, it was plenty well appointed and comfortable – if not a bit more convenient and private.

 

We stayed in a villa (there are also private homes available for rent through the resort), complete with full kitchen, a deck and short walk over the dunes to the beach.  As we often like to do when traveling, lodging with the comforts of home is something not to be discounted – we were able to enjoy quiet evenings near the ocean without the ‘you have to do something’ feeling sometimes associated with staying at a once-in-a-lifetime type hotel accommodation.

 

That’s not to say we won’t be trying out The Sanctuary at some future time.  But for this past visit, the villa experience was just as comfortable, indeed.

 

Note:  Check the links below for more stories on the golf experience at Kiawah Island, including reviews of four of its courses.


Details:

The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island

 

Website:  www.kiawahresort.com

 

The Sanctuary’s Website:  www.thesanctuary.com

 

Telephone numbers below, in the ‘rates’ section.

 

Rates:

 

Package rates for Kiawah Island:

 

The Championship Golf Package

Enjoy your choice of accommodations — in a luxurious oceanview guest room at The Sanctuary or in a one-bedroom scenic villa — plus one round on the world-renowned Ocean Course and two rounds at any of the resort’s other championship courses.  Green fees, cart fees, range balls, daily breakfast and dinner at any resort restaurant are also included.

 

Sanctuary Championship Golf Package Rates

(Per person, per night for two people staying in an oceanview room. Single rates available.)

March 9 – May 31 . . . . . . . . . . . . From $540

June 1 – September 6 . . . . . . . . . From $468

September 7 – November 29 . . . . .From $529

November 29 – February 7, 2006 . .From $393

 

Villa Championship Golf Package Rates

(Per person, per night for two people staying in a one-bedroom scenic villa. Single rates available.)

March 9 – May 31 . . . . . . . . . . . . From $429

June 1 – September 6 . . . . . . . . . From $383

September 7 – November 29 . . . . From $423

November 29 – February 7, 2006 . .From $303

 

 

The Classic Golf Package

Enjoy your choice of accommodations — in a luxurious oceanview guest room at The Sanctuary or in a one-bedroom scenic villa — and one golf round per night's stay at any of the following four championship golf courses: Osprey Point,Turtle Point, Cougar Point and Oak Point. Green fees, cart fees, range balls and daily breakfast are also included.

 

Sanctuary Classic Golf Package Rates

(Per person, per night for two people staying in an oceanview room. Single rates available.)

March 9 – May 31 . . . . . . . . . . . . From $395

June 1 – September 6 . . . . . . . . . From $328

September 7 – November 29 . . . . .From $362

November 29 – February 7, 2006 . .From $260

 

Villa Classic Golf Package Rates

(Per person, per night for two people staying in a one-bedroom scenic villa. Single rates available.)

March 9 – May 31 . . . . . . . . . . . . .From $261

June 1 – September 6 . . . . . . . . . .From $241

September 7 – November 29. . . . . .From $254

November 29 - February 7, 2006. . .From $169

 

For additional information or to make reservations, call or click: 800.654.2924 www.kiawahresort.com. For groups of 12 or more, call our group golf specialist: 800.576.1585.


Related Links   Comments on this article?
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E-mail Jeff Rendall, Editor:
jrendall@golftheunitedstates.com