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Review of The Sanctuary Hotel on Kiawah Island

I am going to have to break down my Kiawah experience in several different posts. I thought I would start with a review of the (ridiculously amazing once in a lifetime experience) hotel where I spent four glorious nights, The Sanctuary.



The Sanctuary is the hotel on Kiawah Island Resort which is a golf resort on Johns Island, South Carolina. Kiawah is made up of a mix of residential, condos and the hotel along with tennis and five golf courses. It’s located a little over 20 miles outside of Charleston and it feels like a total getaway. We didn’t leave Kiawah one time in the five days we were there. It’s absolutely everything you need.


The Sanctuary is interesting in that it’s part super swank hotel, part laid back beach resort. The interior of the resort is beautiful featuring dark hardwoods, oriental rugs, wide hallways, high ceilings and plenty of seating areas to encourage you to chat, relax and take in the view of the Atlantic Ocean.


Everything feels warm, homey and welcoming. I was most impressed by the service at Kiawah. It was seriously over the top while still managing to feel natural and even understated.


Arrival and departure were flawless. The bell staff were quick and attentive, the room was ready when we arrived and departure was speedy and painless.


I was in a king garden view room. All of the king rooms at the Sanctuary are over 500 ft and very spacious and light with large patios with options of garden view, ocean view and ocean front. Decor is light, airy and Southern.


The bed was comfortable and very firm but I can’t say it was the best hotel bed ever. I much prefer the Heavenly beds at Westin properties although I did appreciate that the bed was made with two pillow choices with a firm option and a loftier soft option.


There was a large sitting area with local magazines on the coffee table and also a desk/workstation and separate dressing area outside of the bathroom. The hotel included free WiFi which I appreciated but it was rather spotty.


The bathroom was pretty fabulous. I loved the shutters that opened out to the room to allow in natural light. The tub was huge and deep, double sinks, separate toilet and walk-in shower with a rain-like shower head. Also worth noting is that the towels were amazing. Super fluffy and absorbent.


The Sanctuary provides twice daily service for guest rooms. The day service is to replenish towels, change linens, general cleaning, etc but the evening turndown service is really special. They draw the curtains, dim the lighting, turn the TV to a relaxing music channel, and turndown the bed and leave chocolate and bottled water on the nightstand. The craziest thing is that they also organize the room and do things like line up your shoes, zip your suitcase, arrange your toiletries on cloth towels and wrap up cords with twist ties. There is truly nothing overlooked. Walking into the room after turndown service felt like a big exhale at the end of the day.


The hotel includes 255 guest rooms, two full-service restaurants, an ice cream/snack shop, a poolside grill, fitness facilities including an indoor lap pool, a relaxing spa, on-site shopping in several cute boutiques featuring everything from home goods to golf apparel to kids toys and clothing, pools and beach service. It’s a one-stop shop!


I will cover dining in another post but let’s talk pool/beach service. The thing that I loved most is that there is an 18 and over infinity pool that is tranquil and relaxing. There is also a big family friendly pool with all kinds of water features. The Sanctuary also provides beach service with attendants who escort you to umbrella/chair set ups. There are lots of beach games/water craft available for rent.


The service at the pool is as great as the service in the room. You pick out your chair and the pool attendants come and make it up with two towels – one wrapped tightly and another rolled at your head for neck support or for drying off. The attendants keep you refreshed and hydrated with ice water with fresh lemon slices. They also offer food and beverage service at the pool. The attendants also have SPF 30 and 50 available for any guest to use should you have forgotten your sunscreen or need to reapply.


It’s very apparent that there is a huge focus on service and customer experience at the resort. All staff members that I encountered were attentive, personable and friendly. I have to say that this is to be expected given the price point of The Sanctuary but it’s always nice when the service truly goes above and beyond.

The only downside to The Sanctuary is the price point. The room rates are extremely high (averaging over $500/night) and everything at the resort is expensive. For example, a bottomless cup of coffee at breakfast is $5, a 60-minute massage is $180 + 20% gratuity, a margarita is $18…you get my drift. I was extremely fortunate that my room at The Sanctuary was compliments of the YPO so this was truly a once in a lifetime experience for me that I will not soon forget. I soaked up every minute. (Thus the reason you’ve heard from me once in 5 days!).



I would love to make a return trip to Kiawah Island Resort and stay in one of the villas or homes and do more exploring. I got so wrapped up in The Sanctuary that I never wanted to leave but Kiawah has so much more to offer. Did you know that there’s a popular half and full marathon on the resort? If I ever decide that I’m going to distance run again I would love the do the half. The scenery at Kiawah is just beautiful, natural, green and so lush with lots of wildlife to see…everything from alligators to herons to turtles and more.

I would love to hear your thoughts on The Sanctuary if you’ve ever had the opportunity to stay there. Also, I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about The Sanctuary.

{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Angie July 1, 2013, 4:18 pm

    Great review! Did they have a fitness center? Did you use it?

    The view is amazing. I have always wanted to travel to South Carolina but I would say that is a bit out of our prize range. We are heading to Florida this week and I can’t wait for the ocean/beach and RELAXATION. And NASCAR of course!

  • Holly @ Pink-Runner.com July 1, 2013, 7:04 pm


  • jchokie July 1, 2013, 9:04 pm

    Love your review and agree 110% that it is truly an one of a kind place. I’ve been fortunate enough to have vacationed there a few times the past few years (most recently last month) and I love every moment on the island. The rooms are amazing and the service makes the experience. Glad you got a chance to visit the resort & island.

  • Lauren @ I Had a Big Lunch July 1, 2013, 11:15 pm

    Gorgeous pictures!! I can’t believe that’s in South Carolina. Yes it’s crazy expensive but hey, you get what you pay for. You don’t get towel service at the pool like that at just any hotel haha. Definitely a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience.

  • Megan (The Lyons' Share) July 1, 2013, 11:54 pm

    This place looks amazing – adding it to my long list of places I’d love to go!! So, so glad you got some time away – very well-deserved after what seems like a stressful few weeks!

  • Hotel Rimini Italy July 2, 2013, 1:58 am

    Everything you need is there. Excellent service, the sandy shore is beautiful and very simple to get to. It’s very much off the struck path so getting to a shop or the little town is a bit of a ride. Nice post.

  • lauren July 2, 2013, 8:36 am

    i’ve ran the kiawah half island half marathon before & it is lovely! A big group of us always rent a ridiculous house on the island – and it is nice. The folks who don’t want to run can stand in the driveway and cheer us on, while we run. Then it’s a close walk home after the race to enjoy cocktails! I highly recommend running that race

  • Miriam July 6, 2013, 9:50 pm

    I’m going to start saving up :). Absolutely gorgeous, so happy you had a nice getaway!

  • Lamarr July 12, 2013, 12:52 pm

    I had the opportunity to stay at Sanctuary about 3 years ago. I am still dreaming about it!! The most amazing week I’ve ever had in my life!

  • Betsey July 12, 2013, 9:55 pm

    Kiawah Island Golf Resort is on Kiawah Island, not John’s Island. You should def come back and rent a private home thru ResortQuest next time. Not as expensive and more relaxed for sure.

  • Stephen July 15, 2013, 12:19 pm

    Looks like you had a great experience on Kiawah. Nice!

  • Hillary Yttre September 25, 2013, 10:27 am

    I just stayed there over the weekend and they upgraded us to an ocean front suite that was so amazing! 3 balconies, 2 sinks in the bathroom, 2 bathrooms, a foyer and a huge living room. I was in heaven. They also had ceiling fans which made me feel right at home. I literally felt like I was in my bed at home when I shut my eyes. That is very hard to do at a hotel. Only downside was the love bugs were everywhere. They were all over me at the pool so I had to cut it short and return to the balcony. Best hotel I have ever stayed at!

  • Kate April 10, 2014, 8:03 pm

    Headed there on Sunday to stay in a house though and remembered this post! I’ll have to report back after my visit

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