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  • Writer's pictureChelsea Johnson

Featured Family Resort: The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island

Kiawah Island is a something of a hidden gem and truly a family vacationer’s dream. Located on one of the top 10 beaches in the U.S., and overflowing with activities the entire family will love, it also boasts a word class spa, 5 championship golf courses, top-notch tennis and nature programs, and an assortment of great dining options.

The 5-Star Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort is situated on a beautiful barrier island with ten miles of private beach. It is a true retreat that feels worlds away from anything else, yet is only about 25 minutes from historic downtown Charleston, South Carolina.

When you walk into The Sanctuary Hotel, it feels more like you are walking into the living room of a Grand Southern Mansion.

The comfortable, yet elegant lobby at The Sanctuary

Their lobby is the perfect place to cozy up with your drink of choice and a good book.

Cozy fireplaces in the lobby of The Sanctuary Hotel

In the evenings, the large glass doors open up to a lovely Southern-style porch with firepits, perfect for gathering around with the family and enjoying the gorgeous sunsets.

Sunset View from The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina

Can’t Beat That Sunset!

The resort offers a variety of accommodations from luxurious guest rooms and suites to an impressive collection of private villas of varying sizes and amenities to suit your family or group’s needs perfectly.

Why We Love It For Families:

The Beach

The beach at Kiawah Island is consistently rated as one of the “Top 10 Beaches in the U.S.”, and for good reason. The sand is powdery soft, the water is warm and inviting much of the year, and the scenery is near perfect.

Eliette & Arlo looking for fish in the surf

Whether you want to swim, soak up some sun, surf, kayak, or just enjoy long walks along this beautiful stretch of coast, Kiawah Island Resort is the perfect place to do any or all of those things!

Arlo playing in the waves

In addition to seashells, you may even find some treasures on your walks, like we did.

Beach Treasures! Shark’s Tooth!

Beach Boy

Eliette after a fun-filled day at the beach at Kiawah Island

kids walking along the beach hand in hand

Beach Babes- Eliette & Arlo walking back hand-in-hand through the dunes

Our family just loves spending time together at this beautiful beach resort.

The Pools

The Sanctuary has a great family pool and hot tub, as well as a gorgeous (and quiet) adult’s only infinity pool with amazing views overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

The Sanctuary Hotel Pools

Relax at the Adults Only Infinity Pool with Atlantic Ocean Views

I may be letting the secret slip here, but there’s also an indoor pool within the hotel and almost every time I’ve been, it’s been deserted! So if you want to take a nice peaceful dip- this may be your spot! *kids are welcome during certain hours- though it seems they prefer the outside swimming options

Indoor Pool at The Sanctuary

Guests of the hotel (as well as the resort’s rental properties) also have access to the amazing Night Heron Park pool complex, which has a family pool, kids pool, and separate toddler splash zone. There’s also a poolside grill and bar, and the park hosts a number of family events throughout the summer months.

One of the waterslides at Night Heron’s children’s pool

Toddler Splash Zone at Night Heron Park pool complex

Amazing Kids Activities and Programs

When I saw the extensive catalog of children’s programs and activities available at the resort, it totally blew me away! They have an amazing nature center and Jr. Naturalist Program, an art studio (with family craft classes too!), kids camps, surfing and archery lessons, and the list just goes on from there!

Jr. naturalists checking out some of the abundant local wildlife with their instructor

Casting their nets!

There is also a myriad list of activities the whole family can join in on, including nature walking and photography tours, boating adventures, fishing, and so many more.

Father-Daughter Kayaking Duo

Tennis Program

Named the #1 Tennis Resort in the World by Tennis Resorts Online, there is something for everyone here with a Tiny Tots Program for kids 4-6, Juniors stroke clinics for ages 7-16, and even Parent-Child Round Robins. Of course, private lessons are also available.

Kiawah Island Golf Resort is also the #1 Tennis Resort in the U.S.



You can’t mention The Sanctuary without mentioning the golf- it’s what they’re most famous for! Play on any one of the five championship courses designed by the likes of Pete Dye, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio, Gary Player, and Clyde Johnston.

The Ocean Course golf course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina. Home of the 2021 PGA Tour.

The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, designed by Pete Dye and home of the 2021 PGA Championship

We surprised my husband, Ryne, with 9 holes on the Ocean Course for Father’s Day morning and he had a blast!

Ryne Johnson enjoying his round of gold on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort for Father's Day 2019.

Happy Father’s Day! Ryne enjoying his 9-holes of golf on Kiawah’s Ocean Course

The Ocean Course hosted the 1991 Ryder Cup and the 2012 PGA Championship, which it will host again in 2021.

Kiawah Island Golf Resort is ranked as one of the top golf resorts in the world by Conde Nast Traveler.

The Spa

While your husband is out on the golf course, moms- hit the spa! With 12 treatment rooms, a sauna, steam room, indoor pool and hot tub, and impressive treatment selection, it’s no surprise that the spa at The Sanctuary has been named one of the best in the world by Travel + Leisure.

There’s also a salon, fitness center, and a number of fitness classes available at the resort. Your husband can join you for a couple’s massage after his golf game, and with all of the amazing options for kids activities, it’ll be easy to slip away for a few hours of you-time.

Relax and Rejuvenate at The Spa at the Sanctuary

The Gift Shops

There’s seriously great shopping to be had at The Sanctuary shops. You can find everything from Tory Burch sandals, designer swim and resort wear for the whole family, to sunhats, sunscreen and other beach essentials and fun mementos for your trip.


True Beach Cruisers

Bikes are the perfect way to make your way around the island or for a cruise along the beach. You can rent bikes for the whole family, including kids bikes, bikes with child seats, trailers, or tag-alongs!

Beach Chairs & Games

If you are staying at the hotel, there are lounge chairs readily available for you, but if you are staying in one of the resort’s properties, beach chairs, towels, umbrellas and more can be set up for you each day of your stay, or delivered to your property at the start.

Beach Chairs & Umbrella on Your Private Stretch of Sand

You can also rent sand toys, bocce sets, cornhole, KanJam, Spikeball, and every kind of beach board you could want for your stay!


Right down the road from the resort is the fantastic Freshfields Village. Whether you want to do some shopping, dining, or just grab some groceries, you’ll find an impressive selection at this lovely outdoor marketplace. They also have a farmer’s market during summer months, as well as live music and other fun, family-friendly events.

Visit the famous Angel Oak Tree, about a 15-minute drive from Kiawah Island, to experience one of the oldest and largest trees in the country. At 65 feet high, with limbs larger than most trees, it is an awe-inspiring sight! *Entry is free, and there is a little gift shop

The Angel Oak Tree near Charleston, South Carolina

The Angel Oak Tree near Charleston, South Carolina

Arlo at the Angel Oak Tree near Charleston, South Carolina

Arlo was impressed

Eliette at the Angel Oak Tree near Charleston, South Carolina

As was Eliette, here in tree pose

The Charleston Tea Plantation is another fun spot for families to visit close by. It is the only tea plantation in the United States! Admission is free, but the trolley tour costs a small fee. You can see as much or as little of the growth and production process as you (or your kids) would like.

And of course- you’re only about 25 miles from downtown Charleston and all of the amazing history and charm it has to offer.

Enjoy some time at the beach at The Sanctuary, and stay a few nights at The Belmond Charleston Place (another one of my favorite family hotels, located in historic downtown Charleston), for the perfect sea and city vacation. Between the two, you’ll truly have the best of both worlds!

If you’d like help planning the perfect sea and city stay, contact Chelsea.


Arlo on the lobby stairs of The Sanctuary Hotel

Arlo heading up to his room

The Rooms & Suites

The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort features 255 grand rooms and suites.

Guest room with private terrace and ocean view at The Sanctuary

Guest room with ocean view terraces at The Sanctuary

Every room has its own balcony or terrace where you can listen to the surf and enjoy the beautiful views. They’re the perfect place to start and end your days at The Sanctuary.

Stunning ocean views from the terrace

Guest Room at The Sanctuary

All the rooms also have spacious bathrooms with dual vanities, stand-alone rain-head showers, and soaking tubs. My kids get a kick out of these bathroom shutters, that close for privacy but are great when your kids want to have a bubble bath.

Bathroom in one of The Sanctuary’s guest rooms

There are a number of spacious suite options, as well as adjoining room configurations that are perfect for larger families, or families with teens.

All suites come with concierge level access, and there are 44 concierge level rooms that offer sit-down check-in, private elevator and club access with excellent food throughout the day!

The Properties:

In addition to The Sanctuary Hotel, the resort also manages an impressive collection of rental properties on the island. You can fully customize your stay based on the number of bedrooms you’ll need, your preferred home type, location, desired view, and level of service and amenities.

Private home rental with private pool and spa

One of the Many Lovely Private Homes Managed By the Resort

When you rent your property through the resort, you get amenities such as pool access, golf and recreation discounts, grocery stocking services, and island transportation.

private home rental with private pool and spa, oceanfront location on Kiawah Island in South Carolina

Oceanfront Private Vacation Home Rental

Home’s Living Room

If you opt for one of their Premier Homes you get the most perks. Homes range in size, up to eight bedrooms, and include full housekeeping service and newspaper delivery daily, complimentary use of four resort bicycles, access to The Sanctuary Hotel fitness center and a dedicated concierge.

Eat & Drink:

No matter where you choose to eat during your stay, you really can’t go wrong.

Mingo Point Oyster Roast and BBQ

Don’t miss this decidedly Lowcountry dining experience if you can help it! They serve up fresh oysters roasted over an open fire, BBQ specialties such as ribs, pulled pork, smoked chicken and grilled steaks, with all the Southern side dishes and desserts you could dream of! It’s loads of fun for the whole family with live music and activities to boot. *seasonal- offered over most major holidays and every Monday evening all summer long

Mingo Point Oyster Roast & BBQ

Ocean Room

A more formal steakhouse with an amazing wine selection and ocean views. Don’t miss the delicious adjoining sushi lounge either. *Dinner Only Tuesday through Saturday evenings, resort attire

Jasmine Porch

Southern style specialties are served for all 3 meals of the day in this elegant yet comfortable atmosphere. We also dined here for their Father’s Day Brunch, and they put out quite a spread with everything from oysters on the half shell and classic shrimp and grits to delicious pastries and desserts.

Jasmine Porch Restaurant inside The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort

Jasmine Porch Restaurant inside The Sanctuary

Father's Day Brunch, dad holding his cards at Jasmine Porch in The Sanctuary Hotel

Al Fresco Father’s Day Brunch at Jasmine Porch- A Happy Daddy had just come from playing 9 holes on The Ocean Course

Definitely sit on the porch and enjoy the ocean breezes if the weather permits, and top off your delicious meal with a nice walk on the beach.

Eliette at Jasmine Porch Restaurant inside The Sanctuary Hotel at Kiawah Island Golf Resort

Eliette showing off her newly toothless grin at brunch at Jasmine Porch

Arlo at Jasmine Porch Restaurant inside The Sanctuary Hotel at Kiawah Island Golf Resort

Arlo enjoying brunch conversation at Jasmine Porch

Father's Day Card

This Year’s “Happy Father’s Day” Card from Arlo

Loggerhead Bar & Grill

Serves up classic American fare and great drinks both pool and beachside.

Beaches and Cream

This adorable little sweet shack serves up grab-and-go coffee and quick breakfast items daily from 7-11:30, then turns into an ice cream and sweet shop in the afternoons and evenings. They serve Wholly Cow natural ice cream—plus malts, shakes and floats in a wide selection of old fashioned flavors. They also offer sandwiches and paninis later in the day. *Breakfast: Daily 7:00 – 11:30 am Lunch & Ice Cream: Sun–Thurs Noon – 9:00 pm | Fri & Sat Noon – 10:00 pm Casual Attire

The Lounge off the lobby

The perfect spot for a cocktail or glass of wine and a light bite.

The Clubhouses

Each of the 5 clubhouses serves up great and different fare as well. Check them all out: The Ryder Cup Bar at The Ocean Course, Tomasso at Turtle Point, The Players’ Pub at Cougar Point, Turtle Point Bar & Grille, and the Cherrywood BBQ & Ale House at Osprey Point. *they’re all totally kid-friendly too!

Hotel Amenities:

  1. Sanctuary Guest Rooms Include The Following:

  2. On-Demand On-Island Transportation to all resort owned venues

  3. Local and 800 telephone access

  4. High-Speed Wireless internet access

  5. Golf club storage

  6. Fitness Center access

  7. Complimentary coffee at Beaches and Cream daily from 6:30 am to 9:00 am

  8. Twice daily housekeeping

  9. Self Parking

  10. Complimentary Beach Services (chairs/towels/umbrellas)

  11. Overnight shoe shine

Eliette Enjoying Some Sweet Tea on the Porch Rockers

When You Book Your Stay With Alair Travel you also Get Exclusive Perks, Such As:

  1. Room upgrade on arrival, subject to availability

  2. Daily full breakfast, for up to two in-room guests

  3. Full bottle of sparkling wine

  4. $100 USD Resort/Hotel credit

  5. Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

  6. Complimentary Wi-Fi

Getting There:

The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort 1 Sanctuary Beach Drive, Kiawah Island, South Carolina 29455 1-800-576-1570 45 Minutes from the Charleston Airport (CHS), 15 minutes from Charleston Executive Airport (JZI) 21 miles to Charleston, South Carolina

*transportation to the resort can be arranged

Contact Chelsea to book your perfect beach vacation at The Sanctuary Hotel, or one of their fabulous vacation properties today!

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