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The Sanctuary, Kiawah, SC

Plan to stay longer - that’s my advice right up front. We were fortunate to have two nights to sample The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island, a gorgeous seaside property on a beautiful stretch of beach in South Carolina’s Low Country, about 40 minutes from Charleston, SC. But, we could have easily stayed a week.

There are lots of reasons why: wide stretches of beach that beg long walks - 10 miles of beach to be precise; an adults-only pool oasis overlooking that beach with infinity edge pool, plus, when you’re in the mood, the more active family pool; impeccable service; a superb spa; and chef creations to die for.

Definitely, check out the The Ocean Room, the resort’s premiere steakhouse. With another group of journalists, we had an amazing dinner there under the guidance of Executive Chef Robert Wysong. We first ran into him and members of his culinary team when we were relaxing at the Sanctuary’s indoor pool. We noticed the guys in white just beyond the glass doors in a garden area. Stepping outside, we got the full view and a bit of info on how the team uses some herbs and plants grown right on property.

Speaking of home-grown, one of the other dining venues, the casual Jasmine Porch, known for its authentic Low-country cuisine, hosted a “stone’s throw” dinner this summer featuring ingredients all gathered locally, just a “stone’s throw,” so to speak from the property.

We had another fine meal, including a great fig-and-prosciutto salad and a Caesar salad with warm, polenta croutons at the Italian restaurant, Tomasso at Turtle Point, a short, complimentary golf-cart ride away. It’s located at one of Kiawah’s five award-winning championship golf courses. You might know Kiawah, by the way, as the setting of the movie “Bagger Vance.” Kiawah also hosted the 1991 Ryder Club, the 1997 and 2003 World Cups, 2007 Senior PGA and - update: 2012 PGA Championships and others.

Entering Sanctuary’s award-winning spa, I was impressed with the light, airy feel, the light-wood floors and blend of colors from nature. I seemed to have the ladies’ lounge area to myself as I got the tour.

The whirlpool area quickly became a favorite as I stood under the tumbling waterfall, letting the pressure of the falling water work out the kinks in my neck. I could have easily spent a half hour or more just relaxing here, but within minutes, I was taken back for my treatment, the 60-minute signature massage.

Besides the long, wonderful massage strokes, what I loved most about this treatment were the thermal wraps called Body Wrapture and marketed by DreamTime (they are for sale in spa reception).

These marvelously relaxing oversized wraps are grain-and-herb filled and heated. My masseuse told me mine were filled with eucalyptus, cloves and cinnamon, which explains they the fragrance reminded me of a cookies baking — what a great image for relaxing, huh?

While I was face down, she placed one on my neck — which elicited an audible, “ummm,” and then another on my back after retrieving each from a rolling insulated case she used to keep them warm. So, she worked on my legs while these luscious thermal wraps prepared muscles in these other areas for the the full benefit of her massage strokes to come. Terrific addition!

My masseuse also used that hot-towel finish on my feet that I’ve raved about here often.

I especially liked, too, how when she would finish with a wrap, she would first roll it up before removing it, so as to avoid the “shock” of quickly whipping off a nice bit of warm comfort.

Thinking back, all of The Sanctuary was a nice bit of warm comfort.

If You’re Going

The Sanctuary, a 255-room hotel and spa, is part of Kiawah Resort, also home to 600 private villas and luxury homes, two tennis centers, five championship golf courses, nine restaurants, and more. For more, visit or call 800-654-2924.

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