Site Inspection at The Sanctuary Hotel in Kiawah Island

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Advisor - Lisa Livingston (Livingston Travels, LLC)
Curated By

Lisa Livingston (Livingston Travels, LLC)

  • Babymoons

  • Group Travel

  • Kiawah Island

  • Island

  • Romantic

  • Relaxation

Site Inspection at The Sanctuary Hotel in Kiawah Island
Curator’s statement

A visitor to Kiawah Island since the early 2000s and a part-time resident of Kiawah since 2015, I have stayed at The Sanctuary Hotel many times and regularly frequent its restaurants and shops. It is one of my favorite hotels, and thus I decided to do a site inspection in November 2023 in order to share information with our Fora community. Once you visit, you too will go back again and again.

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Located forty-five minutes from Charleston on Kiawah Island, The Sanctuary Hotel is a family-owned independent hotel. It was built in 2005 and refurbished during the pandemic. The hotel closes for four days every January for a deep cleaning. It is an oceanfront mansion, impeccably maintained, that feels like home. The Sanctuary not only boasts a Five-Star rating by Forbes but is one of only five hotels in the country to also have a Five-Star rating for three different parts of the hotel–the accommodations, the spa, and The Ocean Room restaurant.


If you fly into Charleston International Airport, you can rent a car or the hotel will arrange transportation ahead of time from/to the airport. This is important because there are not a lot of rideshare drivers going to the island and definitely none on the island for your return to the airport. If you bring a car, there is plenty of self-parking on the island and even EV charging stations at the hotel. Regardless of how you arrive at the hotel, the resort has shuttles that operate 7am-11pm that can take you to all resort activities and restaurants. The hotel also has a Volvo house-car program where you can request use of one of their cars for up to four hours at a time.

Guest Rooms:

The Sanctuary has 255 guest rooms comprised of 242 guest rooms (520 square feet) that either have a king bed and sleeper sofa or two queen beds and 13 suites (1,200-3,100 square feet) that include access to the club lounge. All rooms and suites in the hotel have balconies and the same luxurious bed linens. And all bathrooms are spacious with dual vanities, showers with rain heads, a soaker tub, and private water closets. The 13 suites are divided into five categories. They are all one bedroom and have a living room with a sleeper sofa and can connect with up to two other rooms, making two- and three-bedroom suites a possibility for travelers in need of extended space. Three-bedroom suites also have dining tables. The Club Lounge (available with any room) comes with a dedicated concierge to arrange transportation and secure activity reservations. Additionally, food and beverages are offered in the club lounge throughout the day and evening. Room service runs from around 6am-11pm.


The Sanctuary has two year-round table-service restaurants. Jasmine’s Porch hosts a full breakfast buffet as well as à la carte dining each morning and also serves lunch and dinner. The Ocean Room, Forbes Five-Star rated, is the island’s premier steakhouse but is only open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Additional hotel food and beverage options include Signature Gourmet, serving coffee and grab-and-go breakfast and lunch options and Beaches & Cream, which offers ice cream and other sweets. The Lobby Bar, open each afternoon and evening and featuring live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights, serves an extensive menu of cocktails, wine, and beer, as well as small menu items. The Lobby Bar seating spills out onto the lawn area where you can enjoy an ocean view and breeze. (Note, the resort has many more dining options; these are just the hotel's offerings.)

Spa and Wellness:

The Sanctuary has a Forbes Five-Star-rated spa with twelve treatment rooms that offer a variety of treatment options from facials to body treatments to massages and couples treatments. Additionally, they offer multi-hour “inspired sequences” as well as salon and nail services. Extend your spa visit with use of the sauna, steamroom, and mineral whirlpool available only the day of your spa appointment.

Rounding out the wellness options, The Sanctuary has a fitness center that has a variety of weight and cardio machines and equipment. A studio classroom hosts daily group classes as well as private classes and personal training. Lastly, an adjacent indoor pool and spa offer a great place to swim laps or let the kids swim in winter.

Outdoor Pools & Lawn:

Oceanside, The Sanctuary has one family pool, one adult pool, and one kiddie pool. The pools are heated as needed from March into November. The hotel maintains concierge services at the pools and beach to secure your lounge chairs, towels, and umbrellas. The Loggerhead Grill serves food and drinks at your lounge chair and offers outdoor table service throughout the day and is open about eight months out of the year. Additionally, the resort has two family pools on the island with water slides that hotel guests can enjoy. Lastly, the hotel has an expansive oceanfront lawn off the lobby that is tucked between the hotel's wings. It hosts outdoor hotel events and is an excellent place to sit outside to enjoy a cocktail, read, and play with the kids.

Need to Know

The Sanctuary is the perfect vacation destination for families, couples, man-cations, girl’s getaways, minimoons, and babymoons. The hotel is part of Kiawah Island Golf Resort, which offers a variety of activities year-round. See my trip guide on Kiawah Island for more information on island activities. There’s so much to do!

Island activities vary throughout the year and for holidays. Check the resort's website for the most current event information. Hotel guests have first priority for reservations at hotel restaurants, the spa, and resort activity bookings as well as discounted pricing at restaurants, golf, tennis, and some activity reservations when using their room cards. I recommend making activity reservations around the time you make your hotel reservation. Contact me and I will work with you to plan your ideal vacation.

This trip report is part of our ongoing series on travel to Kiawah Island. In need of further inspiration? Check out Lisa Livingston’s guide, Outside Charleston: Be Active and Relax in Kiawah Island.

Advisor - Lisa Livingston (Livingston Travels, LLC)

Travel Advisor

Lisa Livingston (Livingston Travels, LLC)

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