Welcome Mrs. Goldstein: My Review of Why The Sanctuary on Kiawah Island, South Carolina Lives Up To Its Name

As you regulars know, Welcome Mrs. Goldstein is my series of hotel reviews. I love sharing each and every place I go so that you can find out more about a resort to find out if it is the right fit for the kind of vacation you’re hoping to have. So without further ado…

Welcome Mrs. Goldstein

As we drove up to the hotel through what seemed like hundreds of oak trees, I knew I was in for a treat. Conde Nast Traveler voted The Sanctuary as one of the “Top North American Resorts” so I could not wait to see what awaited us. As we pulled up to the hotel, we were greeted by friendly employees who took our bags and walked us to reception. Everything after that was like a dream, the Sanctuary surpassed every expectation I had and I can certainly see why everyone I had spoken to had such great things to say.

The Lobby

How can I best describe The Sanctuary on Kiawah Island? Perhaps as an enormous, oceanside mansion. The hotel does a fabulous job of capturing the southern spirit and charm in the finest way possible. The lobby is filled with comfortable places to sit and relax and the décor feels like a fancy home you would see at a plantation. The artwork around the hotel is beautiful and classy–everything from portraits to table-top sculptures. Everything feels authentic yet luxurious at the same time.

View from the Lobby

Chocolate Covered Twizzler anyone?

The Calm Before the Storm that Never Was

The Grounds

After check-in, which was seamless, we headed outside to the pool. We were anxious to get outside and enjoy the weather since The Weather Channel predicted rain for the entire weekend. (I am happy to report that this did not happen. Lucky for us!)

The Adults Only Pool

There were three pools: a main pool, a kiddie pool and an adults only pool. All the pools are steps away from the ocean and the adult pool overlooks the ocean. Since I don’t have children I really appreciate an adult pool. The last thing I want on a vacation is to get splashed and kicked by children so to me the separation is almost a necessity at a family-friendly resort (which this really is). Don’t get me wrong, I love kids and the entire time I kept saying that one day I will take my family here, but for now, for a romantic, luxury getaway, this is key. The staff was extremely friendly and happy to set up chairs for guests upon arrival. A waiter will bring you anything your heart desires right to your chair at the pool–anything from cocktails to snacks to a full lunch so you can stay in the sun all day. They deliver  food from Loggerhead (the café located at the pool) and it was delicious, far better than most poolside restaurants. I’d say it was comparable to food at the Four Seasons, which is the absolute best. And prices weren’t bad either, for draft, local beers it was only $5—a steal for a luxury hotel like this. Our favorite goodies were the fish tacos and the Cajun shrimp. Ooh and there is a Jacuzzi that overlooks the ocean—nothing more luxurious than relaxing in a hot tub after a big meal!

Guests can also take a 30-second walk from the pools down to the ocean via the short boardwalk. The Sanctuary staff will gladly help you set up a chair and bring you towels down here as well.

Enjoying some sweet tea, which is served each afternoon in the lobby

Loving all the gorgeous staircases

The Nightlife

After a long day relaxing on the beach, I always like to start my night with a stiff drink before dinner. The lobby bar is extremely sophisticated and offers creative twists on classic southern cocktails. The drinks here are a bit pricey but are well worth it for the ambiance. This bar was the only thing saving my sanity when I thought our beach weekend was going to be rained out. I thought, hmm, I can handle this. I envisioned a weekend watching the ocean (and tropical storm) safely tucked inside the bar next to the roaring fireplace, sipping my Sparkling Julep—a concoction of gin, champagne, simple syrup and freshly muddled mint. Luckily the sun stuck around and I was able to drink these at night instead. Guests are also able to take their cocktails out onto the patio and enjoy views of the vast green lawn as well as the ocean. There are even rocking chairs to sit and relax on. If you’re looking to keep the night going after dinner, the lobby bar is open until midnight. We popped by at 11:30 PM and there was still a great gathering of people here having a good time. Must try drink? The Sanctuary Bloody Mary, which is made with Scotch instead of vodka. It’s got a smoky flavor and bacon garnish. How can you say no?

The Sparkling Julep in front, followed by The Sanctuary Bloody Mary in back

The Room

The rooms were gorgeous. And did I mention that nearly every room has a view of the ocean that you can enjoy from a private balcony? The room was decorated like my imaginary, dream mansion that I will someday own in the Hamptons. The spacious rooms are complete with private balconies, Italian bed linens, overstuffed furniture, flatscreen TVs and also a vanity station.

I thought the vanity table was the most luxurious thing, a place just for me that I could sit at that had a proper makeup mirror? Color me happy! I felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. I was in heaven. I haven’t had a vanity station since I moved to New York. I typically (no joke) do my makeup over the garbage can in the living room/kitchen where the light is the best. So clearly, this was an upgrade! (Stop judging me). The bathroom featured a deep five-fixture bath tub, a large marble rain-shower, dual sinks, and a private water closet (a must in my opinion to keep the romance alive!) I also loved the shuttered bathroom window separating the bathroom and the bedroom, such a great touch.

Room with a View

The Amenities

Whether you are looking for an active weekend or hoping to relax and unwind, there is something here for everyone. There are two tennis clubs, 24 tennis courses, five award-winning golf courses, a world-class spa and fitness center. The Sanctuary is internationally known for its award-winning golf courses. It actually hosted the 2012 PGA Championship.

The Spa

The spa at the Sanctuary is dreamy. The service in here is wonderful and they have thought of everything you might possibly need before you even have a chance to. There is a solarium room for you to unwind with your honey as well as separate facilities for men and women within the locker rooms. The women and men’s locker rooms each feature a steam room, sauna and mineral whirlpool. I highly recommend coming in here before you have a treatment–it really gets you into the state of relaxation. I had the Signature Massage where heated, herb wraps are placed on areas that are tense in an effort to induce relaxation and increase the benefits of the massage. Let’s just say I felt like jelly by the time I left. If you have a treatment, use of the spa facilities is of course included. Hotel guests can use the facilities for a fee of $15.

The Ocean Room Dining Room

The Dish

All of the restaurants provided extremely high quality food. Jasmine Porch specializes in Southern specialties, while the Atlantic Room focuses on seafood and the Ocean Room is the property’s classic steakhouse. You’ve never tasted bread pudding until you’ve had it at the Atlantic Room. Be sure to make time to come here and enjoy a sunset. It’s very romantic. If you’re looking for upscale steak I highly recommend the Ocean Room, the ambiance here is one of my favorites. It reminded me so much of Le Cinq in Paris, which of course speaks volumes. Last but not least, worth mentioning is Beaches and Cream, the adorable candy and ice cream shop that sells fabulous chocolate covered confections, candy and of course ice cream! They even hold ice cream socials!

Enjoying the World’s Best Bread Pudding

Beaches and Cream Ice Cream and Candy Shop

Of Note

Wi-Fi is included and free throughout the hotel.

Several sunscreen options are available by the adult pool.

There is a free shuttle that will take you anywhere on the property: the golf course, the nature center, etc.

Definitely sign up to use one of the Mercedes-Benz cars on site. You can drive the cars around for free! We took the convertible out, I think my husband liked his temporary toy!

After talking to several locals though I learned that The Sanctuary Hotel is exactly that—a sanctuary. Apparently, even when the weather is terrible in surrounding areas, the Sanctuary manages to remain untouched by the storms.

The Last Word.

This is probably one of the best hotels I have ever stayed at and y’all know I have some high standards. Everything here is the top of the top of the top of the line from service to the food to the rooms to the ambiance. I think that a stay at The Sanctuary on Kiawah Island is a once in a lifetime experience that everyone must experience–it’s just that good.

Hotel Information

1 Sanctuary Beach Dr Kiawah Island, SC 29455 (843) 768-6000

The hotel is located about 45 minutes from the airport and 20 miles from downtown Charleston. To get to the hotel you need to rent a car or take a car service. I recommend using a car service outside of the hotel to save about $40. A car through the hotel is about $175 after tax and tip.

Photos are all taken by me. Please contact me if you would like to use them 🙂

Disclosure: *I was visited The Sanctuary as part of a press trip so the room was complimentary but as always opinions herein are my own. Can’t buy the love here, people!*

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