More about The Sanctuary At Kiawah Island
My entire family, 11 of us, spent Thanksgivning week at the Sanctuary. Everyone from 81 years old to 12 years old had a great time. The rooms are spacious, well appointed and very comfortable. The service was outstanding and the food was excellent. This is not a place for a bargain vacation but it is one where you will get your money's worth and more. It is a great resort in a wonderful location.
What a beautifully decorated hotel! Everything was perfect and we could not have asked for a more enjoyable stay. Even when I requested a grilled cheese sandwich, they brought it to me on a silver platter without question!!!!!!
We've enjoyed two stays at The Sanctuary now and the experience both times was outstanding. I will try to describe what makes this place special, and worth the tariff, and comment on some of the negative reviews that precede mine. The public areas (a "lobby" it is not) of this hotel achieve the grand feel of being in the parlors of one of Newports Great Homes. No doubt the idea was to make you feel you were visiting a great mansion, not a commercial establishment. It works. The hotel's $25 per day service charge is part of this plan. How? When we arrived back in September for our first visit, I anticipated the old "tip three bellman" to get our bags to the room routine. I tried to slip the first bellman a few bucks (he was very pleasant, helpful and deserving) but he declined and advised that gratuities were included. Nice first impression. One would not go around slipping bills to the staff at Uncle Warren's mansion and you do not do that here either. The effect is to diminish the "commercial" aspects of the experience. You become a guest rather than a customer.
Most noteworthy at this grand hotel are: 1) the level of service (on par with the finest hotels in this Country at any price point), 2) the size of the standard rooms (520-540 square feet including huge bathroom "suites") and 3) the opulent and grand public areas and restaurants all of which have stunning views of the ocean.
As we were checking out last September, I timed the response to my call for a bellman just for fun. It took him about 90 seconds to get to my door. The staff, whether at the front "desks" (they do not have a typical, commercial looking check-in counter), the restaurants (both outstanding even in comparison with the amazing, independant restaurants available in Charleston), or at the pool or beach, went out of their way to be kind, helpful, polite and they do so with no trace of the "we don't ordinarily serve your type" attitude you can encounter at some premium properties. The personnel we encountered were absolutely top notch. You might, at first, think management went poaching for Four Seasons/Ritz Carlton Personnel until it occurs to you that most Four Seasons staff are just not this nice (probably a Southern thing in all honesty).
What about the negative comments you've read? (Parking problems, "small rooms" inferior to a villa, etc).
The Villa comparison is silly. There are different accommodations on this island for different purposes. You would not bring two families with kids to The Sanctuary for a week long beach vacation. You'd rent a villa, have fun, get sandy, cook, clean, load and unload the dishwasher and have a great time. We will be doing just that in the Abacos in a few weeks. That is not the goal of a grand hotel. You just cannot compare the experiences. Both are great but nonetheless different. We are going to return to The Sanctuary for our 15th anniversary soon. Why? I've considered our favorite places in the West Indies, in Miami Beach (there are NO rooms in Miami Beach that compare, the reason to go there is nightlife), cruises and many other places and I cannot find a more luxurious place to stay on the beach. Period.
A "parking disaster"! Well, if tight parking is one reviewer's idea of a disaster you get some idea of the problems premium hotel guests have to endure on a day to day basis. True, the self parking lot is tight (full) when the hotel is near capacity. I always got parked. I wonder how they would have reacted had I come to the bell/valet desk and told them I could not get a space. Something tells me they would apologize and park my car. Parking may need some re-evaluation by management but I would not for a minute let this issue impact my decision to stay at this truly grand beach hotel. You will get parked. And do not bother "schlepping" anything across any parking lot, they will take care of that, quickly, and it is included. Just pull up to the front door.
If you can find a more extraordinary beachfront hotel on the East Coast, please tell me about it. I have been fortunate enough to stay at some of the greatest resorts in the world and The Sanctuary is a remarkable achievement.
Any weaknesses? I can see that after a few days teens might get a little bored once the pampering and pool bar smoothies wear off. There is no game room and little to occupy those of us who have far more energy than we do. My kids never got bored and were perfectly happy riding the waves, enjoying the pool (and the tasty mango smoothies at the pool bar) and timing the extremely fast elevators. Yes, they still love elevators and these are some damn fast elevators. I would mention that my 12 year old son was disappointed that the only hot tub (spa) was in the adult only pool area. There should be a hot tub in the family area. Rough life. How do we cope?
The Sanctuary is a gem on the South Carolina coast. Heck, it is a gem for the United States. If you can swing it, you will not regret it. As with ANY resort or hotel, it is not perfect for everyone on all occasions. It is a splendidly luxurious hotel with world class dining and I cannot wait to go back.
More fashion than function
I had heard so much about Kiawah Island for so long that my wife and I spent the last 3 days of our Babymoon at Sanctuary. Not great, but by no means bad. We rated this a good 4 star, not 5. Admittedly we were spoiled by going to a resort that was more to our liking called Palmetto Bluff which was around 2 hrs south, but we didn't find this resort all that special. My wife & I have gone to some exceptional 5 star resorts and most of them above this one. Nothing really wrong, one bout of stomach sickness from a meal at the resteraunt but everything else was very average.
We went during a slow week and the traffic on the island (mostly construction trucks and workers) was painfully slow. I can't imagine what its like during peak season. Also there is little to do on this island. A handful of shops and resteraunts (mostly at the hotels).
We played golf twice and was very let down by the value for the golf on the island. Let's start with the ocean course...highly ranked and everyone said we had to play it. For $250 per person we expected better, both in terms of the course and the accomodations. I've been to better club houses at public courses. They shut down the resteraunt at 4 so after your round you couldn't get anything to eat (and there were still a lot of golfers ont he course).
The fairways were inconsistent and had a lot of second growth weeds coming through. Despite miste Vye's comments about the greatest number of ocean holes, they are not true ocean holes since you have no chance (even with my swing) of actually hitting the water. Two days later we played Turtle Point and were equally disappointed with the quality of their greens. In many places there was no grass to speak of (forget about reading the grain) this was packed mud. The fairways were better but it was nothing special.
Overall Sanctaury is a good resort on a nice island, perfect for some corporate outings or a wedding. I wouldn't want to bring my teenage kids here for a week.
Beautiful and Relaxing Hotel!
I stayed at the Sanctuary for a long week-end in February 2006. The hotel is top-notch and has lovely amenities. The hotel employees were very friendly and made it a point to say hello to you. I loved the spa and they have a wonderful menu of services. My only complaint was the service at the Jasmine Porch. It is a very lovely place to dine but the wait staff was not up to par with the rest of the hotel. The Jasmine Porch has a wonderful buffet breakfast so you can help yourself but for lunch and dinner the waiters were slow to even recognize you. It took a very long time to get your food, after you finally got to order, and refills on drinks had to be asked for. Also if you are staying at the hotel for a few days the lunch and dinner menu are very limited. This is a beautiful hotel to visit and enjoy a relaxing stay. Hopefully the dining staff and menu will improve.
Honeymoon Destination March 13, 2006
Everything was 5-star/5-diamond during our 2 night stay. Since we checked in on a Monday rather than a busy weekend, I think that helped us get impeccable service. And since we were honeymooners w/far in advance reservations, they added some nice touches for us. We were booked under the City & Sea Package, where the second 2 nights were at the Wentworth Mansion in the city of Charleston. My wife discovered this package arrangement, and it ended up being a great idea, and gave us a flavor of 2 distinctly different venues in South Carolina.
Room: $450 a night, plus tax. We were upgraded to a large room; ocean view; complimentary champagne and strawberries on arrival. Beds, bath, shower, robes, seating, deck, all were perfect.
Evening turndown service came w/yellow rose petals shapped like a heart on the king-bed, and a side-car of chocolate candy.
We had dinner the first night at Jasmine Porch -- fantastic. Complimentary glass of champagne and desert to accompany a great meal and service. We came back a day later here for a buffet breakfast...We also had a room service breakfast the first morning, simply because we were tired from the long drive from Richmond, VA -- even though we overnighted in Fayetteville, NC on the way down. I recommend a pool view when eating at Jasmine Porch for breakfast or dinner...All food was fresh and delightful for breakfast and dinner.
Not far from the Sanctuary grounds is a place called the Fresh Market Village where we shopped and had lunch the next day...(nice off-campus visit if you feel the itch to explore)...
The highlight of the trip for us was dinner in the Ocean Room on our second night...This was a 3 hour dining experience that was relaxed and formal at the same time. Gregg our waiter was outstanding...unobtrusive service, but attention to every detail, and extremly well informed on the entire menu...This is not the place to want a quick dinner if you are in a hurry...We arrived at 7 p.m. and were the last table to leave at 10 p.m. And again, as honeymooners we got VIP treatment...I got the fillet mignon, she got tuna steak...there were some complimentary duck confit appetizers, and a superb wine list...(pinot noir and pinot grigio for us...) Deborah the hostess took great care of us too. And if you forget your sportcoat, guys (i can't imagine that when trying to pack after a wedding) they have extras...! Jackets are required in the Ocean Room, and should be.
We had fun exploring the resort building, shops, grounds, beach...There were a few eateries that were not open yet (most everything opens by April 1) because of the mild weather...(68-72 the whole time); and we didn't use the pool or spa -- but those amenities are what helps make the Sanctuary a destination resort. If you golf, a person could easily spend a week to 10 days here. We did two nights and dropped $1200, not including some incidentals and tips. Under the City & Sea package dinner (not including drinks) in the Ocean Room and 1 breakfast came with the deal! (March is off-peak season)
I would highly recommend this resort, and Kiawah Island as a destination spot, or to combine with Charleston as we did...It is pricey, but it also appears to be kid friendly if you have a family -- but it is expensive. The quality shows. It has the combined feel of The Homestead, the Greenbrier, and a Ritz Carlton on the ocean.
My husband and I stayed for only one night and had a lovely time. Our room (#466) was beautiful, quite spacious, with a nice view of the ocean. (At $526/night it should be nice!) The bathroom was also very nice. Every staff member we encountered went out of their way to say hello and seemed to enjoy their jobs. The spa treatment that I had was good, not great although my husband said his was fantastic. And the spa facilities were very nice.
Dinner at Jasmine Porch was very good and the service was great - actually I think our food came almost too fast.
Golf at Turtle Point was also very nice. The conditions of the greens seemed perfect to me, not the packed mud mentioned in a previous post.
The grounds are very nice and Kiawah is a beautiful island with miles of uninterrupted beach, biking trails, kayaking, etc. It really has lots of outdoor activities to choose from. Not much in the way of nightlife unless you want to drive 30 minutes or so to downtown Charleston.
Overall this is a nice beach resort. I think if I was going with my kids though I might consider renting a house instead though since there are many nice places to choose from.
The Sanctuary is Overrated
My review has two caveats. One, neither my wife or I are golfers or big beach people. Two, we attended a large convention at The Sanctuary and the convention seemed to strain the resources of The Sanctuary. Pros of The Sanctuary: beautiful rooms and common areas; and friendly staff. Cons: so-so food; lack of dining options;outrageously high room rates; and inattention to detail. When we arrived at 4:30 PM, our room was not ready even though check in time was 4:00. Keep in mind that we were paying a $670 daily room rate. We had not had lunch. There was no dining facility open inside, so we had to go outside to the poolside bar. It had been raining and the only chairs available were wet from the rain. We had some OK bar food and eventually checked into our very nice room. We had an acceptable dinner in a private room, but nothing memorable. The presentation of the food by the friendly staff far exceeds the quality of the food. That evening, we timely ordered room service breakfast, which never arrived the next morning. We complained to a manager, who arranged for a gratis room service breakfast the next morning (which actually arrived) and sent us a written apology, a cheese plate and a bottle of wine. That evening, we ate another acceptable, but not memorable dinner in the Ocean Room. We were disappointed by the very limited choice on the menu, two starters, two entrees and one dessert. That's it! Again, apparently due to the large convention, this was all the kitchen could turn out. Maybe if we were golfers or beach people, we would have had a different experience.
Southern hospitality at its best
Just came back from a wonderful 4day vacation at The Sanctuary. From the minute we arrived, the staff greeted my husband and myself with warmth and courtesy. The hotel originaly had us booked into a room with 2 queen beds and after requesting a change to a room with a king and a beautiful ocean view we were accommodated . The rooms are decorated with charm. The raised bed with the softest sheets, feather bed mattress, most wonderful pillows was a treat. I felt so comfortable in these beds that I never remember even putting my head down on the pillow.
We are golfers. We played turle point and couger,.both were in very good condition. The play was fast. No crowds even though there was a large convention group behind us. They never impinged on our play.
The beach is magnificent. The sand down by the water is firm enough to go bike riding on. The beach is very long , good for long walks!
There are 2 pools, one adult and one for families. My husbands only negative comment was that the adult pool was not big enough for lap swimming.
The food and service at The Jasmine Porch was friendly, helpful and good. Any requests were met with a smile and we can do that! I made reservations in advance.
We would come back to this wonderful hotel . Visiting Charleston is a must. What a wonderfu city.
Southern Hospitality at its best!
From the time you arrive at this resort, you are pampered til you get into your car and head home. Southern hospitality at its very best. Incredible resort from the pool to the room, to the beach, to the dining! Your every wish is granted without any hesitation! Top notch! 1st class is an understatement. Worth every penny. I do recommend getting the club level. Spend the extra and enjoy fine foods and pastries throughout the day. Drinks unlimited. A relaxing, beautiful retreat. Do get the ocean view so you can be lulled to sleep by the waves. I took children. Plenty for them to do. Highly recommend for anyone just needing an escape!