Kiawah Turns 40

The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort

The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort

On May 3, 2016, Kiawah turned 40.  The Charleston Post and Courier commorated the event with this article appearing on the cover of the Business Section on May 8th written by John McDermott (

Kiawah Island Golf Resort turned the big 4-0 this past week, still looking swell, no worse for the wear.

But the road to the traditional middle-age milestone was no walk on the beach, especially in the early years. Those initial hurdles aside, the manicured seaside getaway has left a nearly incalculable imprint on the South Carolina tourism industry.

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Kiawah Family Fun


On a recent visit to Kiawah Island Golf Resort, writer Robin Hutson of the blog “Luxe Recess” which bills itself as a blog “For Parents Who Like Really Nice Hotels,” started her review of The Sanctuary, entitled “Kiawah Family Fun” this way:

I’d never seen the South Carolina coast. As we boated through the marshes at dusk with dolphins escorting us on either side, I soaked up the colorful landscape wondering why I had taken so long to visit Lowcountry and enjoy a Kiawah family vacation.

The Kiawah Island Golf Resort near Charleston has been a favorite destination for South Carolina families since it opened in 1976. Once New Yorkers found this paradise, expansion and development of Kiawah Island has been consistent since the ‘90s.

One of the more recent additions to the island is the Sanctuary Hotel at Kiawah, the island’s first actual hotel amidst its villas, condos, and vacation homes of the bigger resort. The Sanctuary at Kiawah opened in 2004 and is a prestigious Legend property with Preferred Hotels.

Like with most new construction buildings on Kiawah Island, The Sanctuary Hotel is meant to look like it has always been there. Walking into its two-story lobby, the staircases are sweeping, as is the scale of the art and windows. There’s nothing casual about it. Its design in both rooms and public spaces are to create a historic heritage it would have had were it not part of a private plantation during the ages when The Breakers, Jekyll Island, and Sea Island were developed.


For more on the Luxe Recess review and images of their visit, click on the link below:



The Culture Trip blog named Kiawah Island as one of the best beaches in Charleston, SC.  See link to blog below:

Here’s our review!

Kiawah Island
Kiawah is one of the best barrier islands in the country. Its sheer lack of commercialization, peaceful summertime breezes, and friendly locals each work in sync and contribute to the ideal island experience. This beach has not only assumed a ranking as one of America’s Top 10 Beaches on numerous occasions in the past, but Kiawah is also home to several incredibly respectable golf courses. Keep in mind that Kiawah is technically a gated beach with many private homes – but don’t forget, it’s this very privacy that makes the beach so perfectly serene.

Inn Aerial

Aerial of the old Kiawah Island Inn

Forty years ago today (May 3, 1976), the Kiawah Island Resort opened for the first time.  The resort featured the Kiawah Island Inn with its two swimming pools, two restaurants and a bar.  The Charleston Gallery was the more formal dining option at the resort, while the Jasmine Porch was a more casual atmosphere.  After dinner, guests migrated up to the Topsider Lounge for cocktails.  For $45 a night, guests could stay in an oceanfront room.  The first golf course on the island was not finished until August 1976.  Gary Player was the design consultant for the Marsh Point Golf Course.  He would return in 1996 to totally renovate the course which would reopen as Cougar Point in 1997.  The resort’s tennis complex contained nine courts – seven clay and hard “GrassTex” course, and a clubhouse.  Pros Roscoe Tanner and our very own Roy Barth were there to give lessons.  The resort was also building a small shopping center on the island called the Straw Market.  The stores included a ladies’ boutique, a deli, a beauty shop and a liquor store.

My, how times have changed!

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The Sanctuary Kiawah Island Luxury Resort Review | Fabulously Chic Over 50
Have you ever dreamt of being an honored guest in a grand seaside mansion, with sweeping staircases, soaring ceilings and a decor so luxurious, it might make Scarlet O’Hara blush? Well, we’ve discovered such a place and if ever there was a luxury resort that lived up to it’s name, it is The Sanctuary, a … Read at link above.
Next up, is the review of their unforgettable meal and evening at The Ocean Room.

reasons to stay at Kiawah

Travel bloggers Mary Gallagher and Will Davis say Year round there are plenty of reasons to stay at Kiawah:

Through some of the early morning fog and sea smoke coming off the Atlantic Ocean on a late fall morning I wonder if Arnoldus Vanderhorst, one of the early owners of Kiawah Island in South Carolina, would envision as he developed his plantation with rice, indigo and other field crops spread out before him, that one day two hundred years in the future the view might be quite different. Would he have foreseen this wonderful Low Country paradise as a mecca for thousands of visitors including golfers attracted by championship courses, fabulous beach homes to own or rent and the Sanctuary a five star hotel and spa just a few of the reasons to stay at Kiawah. Hundreds of varying styles of vacation rentals for every size gathering, bike and nature trails, beautiful public beaches and more? Probably not.

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Travel Experta reviews visit to Kiawah Island and says Kiawah Is the #1 American Island Getaway:

Readers of Condé Nast Traveler know that the publication reaches out to its readers every year to find out what the world’s best places and experiences are. For 2014, more than one million readers let their voices be heard on a diversity of topics.

Once again, South Carolina’s Charleston topped one list as the #1 City in the United States. But it was an island just off SC’s coast which had the (perhaps) more prestigious title of #2 Island in the World. Little Kiawah Island has quite a reputation, and though it didn’t get the #1 spot for the world, it’s runner up status makes in a shoe-in for best island in America. Here’s why.

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TOC Breakfast


As the first to see the sunrise on Kiawah Island, Breakfast at the Ryder Cup Bar offers guests a unique experience. Chef Jonathan Banta said, “Sitting on the deck, guests overlook the ocean and golf course while enjoying an upscale breakfast, completely cooked-to-order. It’s a relaxed setting with a view and the food can’t be beat.”

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Billy Jean King & Roy

Tennis legend Billie Jean King poses with Kiawah Director of Tennis, Roy Barth,  at the Professional Tennis Registry’s (PTR) Awards & Hall of Fame Banquet ceremony which was held on Hilton Head February 17.  The PTR is an international tennis coaches association  founded by Dennis Van der Meer in 1976.  It currently has 15,600 members world-wide with its headquarters located on Hilton Head Island. The highlight of PTR’s Annual International Symposium last week was Billie-Jean King ‘s induction  into  the PTR’s International Hall of Fame. As the President of the PTR, Barth went down ‘memory lane’ and gave his memories of Billie-Jean King when he was a young teenage tournament player in Southern California.  When Barth was thirteen, King stayed at his house for a junior tournament in San Diego and he’s known her ever since.   As a professional, he played against her in mixed doubles at Wimbledon in the late 60’s.  Dennis Van der Meer was Billie-Jean’s coach during her legendary victory or Bobby Riggs billed as the ‘Battle of the Sexes.’  It was held in the Astrodome in Houston, TX in 1973 with the largest attendance for a tennis match ever with 100,000 people. Billie Jean is a Champion for women’s rights including starting a separate women’s tour with the Virginia Slims in the early 70’s pushing for equal prize money for women on the tennis tour, and Influencing the passage of Title IX for equal women scholarships in women collegiate sports.


Tiny Tot Tennis Body

Sunny skies, miles of coveted coastline, and a diverse selection of family-friendly activities make the Kiawah Island Golf Resort the perfect vacation destination for parents and kids of all ages.

From toddlers to teens, the key to planning a family vacation everyone will love is finding a destination that delivers the right accommodations, an escape from the everyday, and plenty of relaxation for Mom and Dad. Plus, lots to keep the kids entertained.

After all, no parent wants to hear “I’m bored!” while on vacation. And here on Kiawah Island, you certainly won’t.

Discover 10 things to do with your family on Kiawah Island:

1. Explore the Island on two wheels!

Our wonderful bike rentals are the perfect way to cruise around Kiawah Island, providing ample opportunity to explore. And best of all: our wide variety of bike sizes and accessories accommodate every family member. Take a tour with an experienced naturalist who will show you the wetlands, salt marshes, Loggerhead sea turtles, the American alligator, and various species of birds.

2. Hit the water (and a multitude of water sports).

From kayaking, to surfing, or stand-up paddleboarding, there is a multitude of ways to enjoy the water with your family on Kiawah Island. Get ready for hours of paddling fun through salt marshes and tidal creeks. Paddle tours give you a chance to get close to the Island’s native wildlife. For a more adventurous ride, our beach rentals like surfboards and stand up paddleboards are perfect for you. Don’t know how to ride the waves? Take a class or a lesson!

3. Check in to Kamp Kiawah.

For kids aged 3-11, Kamp Kiawah offers an incredible camp experience with exciting and adventurous activities, from treasure hunts to building enormous sand castles on the beach. The kids will also love the evening activities available – like the Kiawah Kampout and the Sanctuary Splash Bash!

4. Explore the many things to do in Charleston, SC.

No stay at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort is complete without a trip to beautiful and historic Charleston, South Carolina. Just 21 miles (45 minutes) away, Charleston offers something for everyone. From the nationally recognized Spoleto Festival to touring the streets by carriage ride, discover Charleston’s hidden treasures. The kids will love the Museum Mile, the South Carolina Aquarium, and so much more! Explore things to do in Charleston.

5. Pay a visit to the Heron Park Nature Center.

Open daily, the Heron Park Nature Center is the heart of our nature programs and is a wonderful place to start in your exploration of the Island. Here you’ll discover a schedule of activities and events, as well as gain information on recent nature sightings. The Center is located adjacent to the Night Heron Pavilion, which hosts fun activities for the whole family, including disc golf games, crafts, tye dye projects, the stuffed animal factory, and so much more.

6. Hit the course at the top family resort in the Southeast.

Boasting 5 championship golf courses, we’re the ultimate vacation destination for all golf lovers! Enjoy a few rounds with the family, surrounded by the most breathtaking and inspiring views imaginable. And if there are family members new to the game, enjoy a lesson or two at our Golf Learning Center.

7. Take a boat ride.

From fishing tours, to motorboat excursions, to paddle tours, there are many ways to hit the water on Kiawah Island. Discover the best fishing the Lowcountry has to offer, with a variety of expeditions from reef to shark fishing. Or, hop on a boat in search of adventure! Get ready for a day full of dolphins, breathtaking scenery, and so much more.

8. Hit the tennis court!

The top tennis resort in the world, treat the family to two complete tennis complexes offering the ultimate go-for-the-gold standard in service, instruction, and above all, enjoyment. Get the family ready with an instructional program, or simply head out to enjoy a great game.

9. Unwind & enjoy spacious accommodations.

Whether you’re looking for the perfect oceanfront resort hotel, a relaxing private vacation rental home, or an island family villa, we have an extraordinary property waiting for you, with ample room and amenities to satisfy all your family’s needs. The resort villas and the private homes are especially great for family vacations.

10. Let Mom & Dad have fun, too.

While the kids are away on an island adventure, it’s time for championship golf and luxurious spa treatments. Afterwards, get together for a casual poolside meal at the Loggerhead Grill or indulge in Kiawah’s signature steakhouse, The Ocean Room.

Family Vacations on Kiawah Island.

Don’t forget, a vacation at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort is intended for the whole family, and that means your furry friends too! Here are some tips if you’re thinking of bringing your pet to the Island.

PS – the Kiawah Island Golf Resort has also received multiple awards, recognizing our family-friendly atmosphere, services, and amenities, including:

  1. 3rd Best Family Beach Resort in the World – Travel + Leisure
  2. One of Harper’s Top 10 Family Friendly Properties
  3. One of Travel + Leisure’s Top 10 Family Vacations

Discover more family activities at Kiawah, and get started planning your next summer family vacation.