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Southern resorts that last


Kiawah Island Golf Resort

Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Kiawah draws its name from the Native Americans who inhabited the area when Europeans first settled the island in 1699. In 1974, after more than 250 years of private ownership, the island was developed into the award-winning resort we know today, winning the AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star designations.

Though Kiawah has all the trappings of a luxurious golf resort, including a newly refurbished spa, it offers the outdoor activities typically found only at wilderness-camping-only natural reserves.

“We have 10 miles of beach for walking or soaking up the sun, and nature tours via bike, foot or van available,” said Natalie Payne, director of Leisure Sales. “We’re the only place in the U.S. you can ride bikes on the beach, and kayaking the Kiawah River gives an up-close look at our natural sanctuaries.”

Five championship golf courses fill the resort, but one of the main highlights of the Kiawah experience is the Ocean Course, one of the most challenging golf courses on the East Coast. It has played host to the Ryder Cup, the Golf World Cup and the PGA championship, as well as the film “The Legend of Bagger Vance.”

To reach the island, groups arrive by bus and park in the bus lot at East Beach Village. Once on the island, all transportation is complimentary.

“Charleston is only 21 miles away, so day trips to Charleston and the surrounding plantations are also a big highlight,” Payne said.