Kiawah Island Golf Resort Review

TripAdvisor Rating: TripAdvisor Owl
326 Family Reviews
1 Sanctuary Beach Drive, Kiawah Island SC 29455
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Editor’s Review of Kiawah Island Golf Resort

The closer we get to Kiawah Island from Charleston, just 21 miles away, the more the lowcountry landscape envelops us. En route we pass roadsides lined with pine and palmetto trees and live oaks draped with Spanish moss. The 10,000-acre barrier island off the South Carolina coast, situated between the Kiawah and Stono rivers on one side and Atlantic Ocean on the other, is home to Kiawah Island Resort. Marshlands, lagoons and five golf courses lace the eco-sensitive mix of resort and residential lodging. We find the Southern scenery soothing.

The Kiawah Island Golf Resort takes its name from the Kiawah (Kee-a-Wah) natives who lived on the island during the 17th century. The first major, modern development began in 1974 primarily on the
... more island's west side. In 1993, the current owners purchased the land, adding villas (a.k.a condominiums, townhouses or cottages) and homes. In 2004 the Sanctuary, a 255-room hotel, debuted and now rates Five Diamonds by Mobil and Five Stars by AAA.

Kiawah offers a great blend of children, teen and family activities, as well as facilities. The sandy beach stretches for 10-miles, five golf courses provide a range of challenges and the tennis instruction is noteworthy. In addition, families like the convenience of staying in condominiums or homes with kitchens and for those looking for luxury, book hotel rooms at the Sanctuary Hotel, which has its own check-in. The Sanctuary gets kids into the beach mode with a gift of a bucket, shovel, stuffed turtle, sunglasses and bubbles.

If renting one of Kiawah Island Golf Resort's 500 villas or one of the 90 homes, check-in at Town Center in East Beach, two miles from the main gate. None of those properties provides any special welcome gift; but don't worry. Just show your sand loving kids the wide, long dune bordered beach with its gentle waves and they'll be happy.

Kiawah Island Golf Resort's accolades include being rated a top 10 U.S. beach by Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman ("Dr. Beach") and the Travel Channel; a top golf resort by Travel and Leisure; and a top tennis resort by Tennis magazine. We like Kiawah Island for all of those reasons as well as for its nature activities. On Kiawah snowy egrets, great blue herons, and sandhill cranes swoop low over the marshes in search of shrimp, fiddler crabs and grasshoppers. Families can enjoy canoe trips, find dolphins when sea kayaking, and learn about watery critters on an ocean seining expedition at Kiawah Island Resort. less
Our Editor Loves
  • Beach, with 10 miles of hard-packed sand
  • Top-rated tennis program for kids and adults
  • Family tee programs in the afternoon
Family Interests
  • Beach
  • Bicycling
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Museum/Cultural
  • Water Sports
  • Water Parks
Family Amenities
  • Babysitting
  • Children's Program
  • Cribs
  • Family Room 5+
  • Kids' Pool
  • Kitchenettes
  • Laundry Service
  • Onsite Dining
  • Refrigerator
  • Pool
Our Member Reviews 326 Reviews
Villa was comfy - but the Resort did NOT maintain it properly, My DH had to fix the stove-top burner, plus other items, plus several were NOT cleaned properly (beautiful, expensive carpet was previously left wet, on obvious ...
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From the waterfront Sanctuary hotel, you can walk directly out to the beach. Rated Five Diamonds and Five Stars, the hotel looks corporate from the outside, but is casually elegant inside. The Sanctuary blends southern belle style -- grand curving staircases, antiques and Oriental rugs in tasteful shades of yellow and cream -- with a bit of beach house decor. Thirty-foot high murals of the island's ponds complete with blue herons and grasses adorn the lobby's walls. (Maybe Queen Elizabeth II has a beach castle like this). Nevertheless, well-behaved children won't be intimidated - just watch those sandy feet and wet bathing suits.

The oversized guestrooms have balconies and from some of them, you can listen to the breaking waves as you fall asleep. The Sanctuary provides cribs with baby blankets, rollaways, baby shampoo, rubber duckies, nightlights and outlet protectors free on a request basis. With a villa or a home stay, cribs and bedrails are available for a fee and in lieu of cots, guests get air mattresses for a fee. Outlet protectors and nightlights are not available.

If not residing at the Sanctuary, pick your accommodation first by location. East Beach, with easy accessibility to the Town Center Market as well as Night Heron Park, location of Kamp Kiawah as well as a popular gathering spot with a pool, tends to be more convenient for families than West Beach. Then, choose: ocean, partial ocean or "scenic" view (woods, trees, lagoons). Kiawah does not guarantee a specific location, only an accommodation's view and category.

Kiawah's freestanding homes come with more space both inside and out. That may be a consideration for families who don't want to rent a place that's extremely close to another rental. Quiet neighbors are a blessing. That said, you and your neighbors will spend most of your time outdoors.

Kiawah divides its villas (condo, townhouse, or home) into three categories based on furnishings. Remember, some accommodations date to 1976 and since the villas are privately owned the decor varies; some owners have updated while others have not, or at least not recently. Premium villas, the highest-rated lodgings, feature newer furniture and kitchens than the other categories, plus all the bedrooms have televisions. Generally, these units have wide-screen televisions, hardwood floors and stainless steel kitchen appliances. Deluxe villas, the mid-range category, offer what Kiawah labels "tasteful" decor, with televisions in the living room and the master bedroom. Resort villas, the least pricey category, have comfortable and possibly dated furnishings and kitchens, but everything works. All villas come with their own washers and dryers.


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