Lowcountry luxury on Hilton Head Island

Situated at the southernmost tip of South Carolina, the resort town of Hilton Head Island has long been a popular destination for those seeking a laid-back respite from the daily grind. Almost as intrinsic as the island’s southern hospitality is its atmosphere of luxury. Though subtle, high-end resorts, upscale restaurants and boutique shopping await vacationers looking for the more luxe side of Hilton Head.

Accommodation

Sonesta Resort

Nestled inside Shipyard Plantation, oceanfront Sonesta Resort boasts spectacular views of the Atlantic and impressive grounds that make up this 11-acre beauty. Newly refurbished, Sonesta wears her recent $30 million renovation extremely well. Hues of gray, with white design elements and pops of orange throughout the resort bring an understated elegance to the environment. New additions to the property include a hot tub and shade pool, and a zero-entry heated lagoon swimming pool.

Sonesta Resort

Rooms feature a private balcony or patio; a Keurig coffee maker, ridiculously comfortable oversized bedding; a roomy shower; electronic safe; iHome docking station; a mini refrigerator; and other accoutrements worthy of a pampered stay.

New to the property is the Arum Spa, an intimate temporary hideaway to release the stress of your day. Local products of fragrant jasmine and sea salt are the stars in their signature treatments. After sun treatments, indulgence wraps, hot stone therapies and other blissful diversions are on offer here. The cherry on this idyllic sundae is perhaps sipping a glass of lavender infused champagne as your feet soak post treatment.

Whether it’s a serene walk on the beach or a leisurely bike ride through the plantation grounds, time outside is well spent here. Hammocks under palms, overstuffed rattans, and canopied loungers by the pool lured this self-proclaimed extrovert to “check out” on more than on occasion.

Inn at Harbour Town

This 60-room boutique hotel is located within the 5,200 acres of lush Sea Pines Plantation. It’s a nature-lover’s dream, as no building is taller than the highest blossom-kissed magnolia or moss-draped oak. Soft linens and down pillows grace the beds that are difficult to pry yourself away from. Guests can opt for a little self-pampering in the spacious bathroom’s large soaking tub. A stand-up shower, granite vanity and choice of aromatherapy toiletries create quite the soothing, life-of-Riley environ.

The Inn at Harbour Town

This coffee fanatic delighted in the deluxe tea and coffee service every morning on each floor. Enjoying a cup from my room’s balcony while watching early golfers tee off at the first hole on Harbour Town Golf Links (RBC Heritage tournament, anyone?) is the perfect start to any day.

Though tempting to enjoy your room’s opulent surroundings as long as possible, venture out. You’ll find 20 miles of bike trails, 23 tennis courts, a five-mile private beach, a 605-acre forest preserve, and a myriad of water sports to engage in. A new gem in the Inn at Harbour Town’s crown is the boutique pool. Guests can relax in one of the sky blue cushioned loungers surround a rim flow edged pool; or enjoy food and beverage service while gazing over Harbour Town Golf Links.

Upscale dining

The Sage Room

Dining in the Sage Room is much like taking the atmosphere of “Cheers” and marrying it with exquisite cuisine. It’s hidden in the rear of the nondescript Heritage Center Complex, and finding this restaurant was like finding buried treasure.

Whether it’s the Colorado Lamb (roasted rack with boursin grits and a wild mushroom demi) or the Champagne Poached Scallops and House filet with Rosemary Shrimp, even the most discerning palate will be sated. Reserve a spot at the open kitchen area called the “chef’s table” – the most popular seat in the house. Servers are well versed with the Sage Room’s substantial wine list, and their camaraderie with their “regular” guests is endearing.

Old Fort Pub

Perhaps the only thing rivalling the menu here is the sunset view over Skull Creek from your table. Southern dishes with global inspiration grace their eclectic menu. Opt for the Calamari Skillet ‘Roasted’ with sun dried tomatoes, Niçoise olives, sweet garlic and wilted greens; or try the Long Island Duck – a grilled breast and confit of leg with sun dried cherries and rosemary gremolata.

Old Fort Pub is open nightly and serves a sumptuous Sunday brunch. Come weeknights for great drink specials and appetizers. Make your way to the upstairs deck to enjoy your drinks with an unparalleled vista.

Shopping

Upscale shopping options abound on the island. Thankfully, my favorite jaunts happen to be located in one convenient spot. Galleries, boutique stores, specialty shops and restaurants comprise the Village at Wexford. An ideal place to purchase a one of a kind souvenir, Karis Art Gallery features works from American contemporary artists including sculptures, vibrant wall art, pottery and exquisite handmade jewelry.

The area’s only Pandora shop, Blue Parrot Fine Gifts features pieces from Lori Bonn Designs and John Medeiros. They also carry Goat Island boxes – ornate treasure boxes made by artisan and resident of Goat Island, Sarah Sanders. Goat Island is a bucolic island beside Isle of Palms. Just 30 residents live there full time, and it’s accessible only by boat.

For your inner chef, stop by The Oilerie. Shelves teem with extra virgin olive oils (from Italy), aged balsamic vinegars, gourmet foods, sea salts, marinades and nut oils. Sample the wares at the Olive Oil Bar before you make your purchase. You can even stock up on beauty and wellness products here – olive oil based, of course.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Koz says:

    My family and I love to travel to Hilton Head every now and then. A lot has changed over the years. In the past it was primarily a golf destination, but now you see more families heading there for the beaches. Plus, both Charleston and Savannah are a short drive away if you’re looking for more things to do. We’ve used the website in the link I entered above for almost all of our vacation rentals.

  2. justin says:

    I stayed at the Sonesta last year and loved it! Easily one of nicest hotels I’ve stayed in in a loongg time.

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