Like the Hamptons, but more southern: welcome to Kiawah Island, a breath-taking island in the Atlantic Ocean located a half-hour drive away from Charleston, South Carolina. If NYC’s wealthiest elite fights over the best beaches on Long Island to erect its sumptuous vacation retreats, so the Southern millionaires gather right here, on such immaculate stretch of shoreline once inhabited by the American Indian Kiawah people and later turned into an exclusive piece of heaven.
Indeed, Kiawah Island is far from being a well-worn touristic destination. The number of hotels and hospitality facilities is intentionally scarse, so that privacy and elitist luxury can be fully achieved by the island residents. The sole exception is the Sanctuary, a spectacular 5-star hotel first built in 2004 that echoes the look and feel of traditional colonial mansions – I mean, see the cheekily cinematographic ballroom!
Private mansions are no less jaw-dropping, and indeed draw the greedy attention of South America’s jet-set. Imposing architectures bordered by towering gates and lost in wild nature are elegantly inhabited by rich owners in tuxedos eating fresh oysters in the moonlight. Here’s Kiawah Island, nothing but a mix of country club-like formal sophistication and the pleasure of en plain air lifestyle.
Highlights include: the observation of ospreys, foxes, deers, and alligators; pleasant bike rides along the Kiawah River until it delves deep in the ocean; venturing out to the sea with boats or windsurf boards and – needless to say – playing golf, the local community’s best loved hobby. One of the country’s premier golf courses, the Ocean Course clubhouse at Kiawah Island Golf Resort has a sweeping view of the Atlantic and already saw the passage of the world’s best golf players during the PGA American Circuit tournaments. No wonder that, together with the island’s prestigious clubhouses, the Ocean Course is open to residents only.
Fancy to become one? Then get in touch with Kiawah Island Real Estate, the one and only real estate agency operating locally and listing high-end properties at deadly, hyper-selective prices. But hey, forget those lush, quirky villas found in Miami or Fire Island.
Here, the Southerner traditions and aesthetic taste are devotedly followed, to the extent that the island avoids the use of concrete like the plague. Such slender 11-mile by 1-mile slice of land is not that huge, so better to keep neighbours and fellow holidaymakers at arm’s length, whilst keenly preserving the natural reserve’s environmental balance and habitat untouched.
Long story short, Kiawah Island is a lavishly green garden caressed by the ocean waves, a top destination for the Southern rich willing to enjoy summer BBQ’s within the premises of a pure, indomitable oasis.