Simply planning a getaway, especially a beach trip, can be an exercise in stress reduction. Aiming to leave our daily dose of Covid cares packed at home, we yearned to lounge seaside under cerulean skies along a seemingly endless shoreline, book and beverage in hand amid baby waves on soft sands. Does such utopia exist? A short drive from Raleigh, found it.
We dropped anchor at The Sanctuary on Kiawah Island, a South Carolina oasis crowning a ten mile wide sandy strand, fringed by gentle breakers and peaceful blue horizon. Arriving mid afternoon, driving dust vanished as we created our own beachy bubble amid socially distant neighbors. Beach attendants set up our umbrella and chairs, offering chilled water to stay refreshed. In calm, clear, shallow water, we waded out a mere 100 feet or so to get waist high. What else to do but bob and breathe in healing salt air, pretending we never had to go home? Pretend, we did.
Though high season, there were predictably fewer guests than usual in August. More room for us to soak up this luxury five star resort, enjoying every amenity imaginable. Covid protocols are naturally in place – plexi shields at checkin, super cleaning evident throughout, guest rooms/public areas fragrantly spotless, lounges and tables smartly distanced. With East and West wings, over 90% of their mammoth rooms (500sf +) have ocean views. We sipped morning coffee and afternoon beverages on our columned balcony overlooking the shoreline.
Having a family pool for the wee ones is a big plus. Adults take refuge in their own splash space, surrounded by dunes and lush greenery with bar and grill service nearby. If so inclined, fun and fitness options abound with golf, tennis, indoor lap pool, bird watching, archery, dolphin encounters. Miles of hike and bike friendly trails lace the resort. We brought our helmets knowing the packed sand is ideal cycling for coaster bikes. Thought we would. We didn’t. Planned to reserve a paddle board lesson. Not this time. As non golfers, we kinda wished we were, just to soak up the magnificent lagoon and ocean views from among the five world class courses, home to the 2021 PGA championship. We settled for sumptuous venues featuring patio dining with long range water views. The only disappointment was driving away, should have stayed longer. Next time.
Aiming for a different coastal experience, we headed further South to Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island. Nestled in a quaint seaside village with beach access sits the Inn & Club at Harbour Town. With waterfront dining, shopping, boating, golfing, horseback riding and 26 miles of walking/bike trails under green canopies, an ideal destination to laze and graze.
The staff here aims to spoil from champagne arrival to take-your-time departure, delivering five star service, meeting each whim and whimsy with eager attention. Every staffer – butlers, van driver, beach club attendant – knew each guest’s name. Personal and impressive. We could call, text, or use their handy app to request the beach club shuttle, minutes away to a beckoning shoreline with similar characteristics as Kiawah – packed soft sand, gentle surf, easily swimmable. We floated on a tranquil sea, devoured fresh catch daily, walked and lounged poolside. Nirvana.
We’ve all been living with Covid consicousness for an onerous six months, stifling both our autonomy and fun loving spontaneity. Given the safety and sanitation thought process required just for a grocery run, getting away for mental and physical restoration should be a high priority for all of us. A relaxing drive, walk outdoors, or just vegging on a beach is broth for the soul, the ultimate RnR: Rejuvenation and Renewal.
At some point, it behooves us to trust our sensibilities and seek therapy: a change of scenery. By exercising basic safeguards – masking, handwashing, sanitizing, distancing – we can still create and experience trip bliss, refreshing mind, body and soul. As a professional travel advisor, it so happens I have an advanced degree in Recreation Exploration!
While we await Corona’s long overdue swan song, there are untold sweet spots all around us which merit discovery and enjoyment within a few zip codes of home. I aim to find them all. Care to join?
DINING RECOMMENDATIONS – at Kiawah: Tomasso and Turtle Point Bar and Grill, Cherrywood BBQ and Ale House, Beaches and Cream. In nearby Fresh Fields: King Street Grill. At Sea Pines: Quarterdeck, The Crazy Crab, Harbour Town Bakery (breakfast, lunch)