Kiawah Island Resort, South Carolina

Bill Nestor
Posted: July 5, 2012

The Ocean Course sits alone at the eastern end of a South Carolina barrier beach isle, set apart from Kiawah Island Golf Resort, its upscale vacation oasis. The course runs along the coast, surrounded by an exquisite landscape that immediately engulfs you with marshes, sand dunes, ocean and wind, a befitting setting for a course of such magnificence.

The resort development, which is largely cigar friendly, includes The Sanctuary, a beachfront, plantation-style hotel with spa, aqua center, pools and restaurants throughout. The Ocean Course clubhouse is home to the Atlantic Room restaurant and Ryder Cup bar.

Teeing it up on a sunny and almost windless day at the iconic Ocean Course with Chef de Cuisine Jonathan Banta was pleasant and serene. Pete Dye’s famed seaside design is an impressive architectural accomplishment in a magnificent natural setting. The 1991 Ryder Cup and 2012 PGA Championship host is considered by Golf Digest as “America’s Toughest Resort Course.”

Dinner in the Atlantic Room was a magical culinary journey. The flawless balance of location, golf course and a near perfect day just kept on giving. The restaurant highlights its panoramic ocean view and cuisine focus of fresh regional seafood.

I savored a sampling of appetizers. Raw, sweet, fresh oysters were first up and a parade of others followed: crispy fried shrimp on Napa cabbage with sweet chili; scallop saltimbocca, country ham and lemon tempura and, finally, croissant toast lobster roll with lemon tarragon aioli. The feast continued with entrées of blackened redfish, Adluh grit cake and crispy Carolina flounder next to a citrus-crab salad. Segura Viudas Brut Reserva, a Spanish cava, was a very nice complement.

Much of the food at the Atlantic Room is locally grown and raised. The seafood is caught by local fishermen, selected at nearby docks and brought to the table under the watchful eye of Chef Banta.

Kiawah Island Resort offers a variety of restaurants, each with their own unique cuisine, style and ambiance, from elegant gourmet to regional homespun fare. The Sanctuary’s Ocean Room specializes in local, grass-fed beef, seasonal fresh produce and regional ingredients. Jasmine Porch features traditional Lowcountry Cuisine.

Although South Carolina smoking laws are restrictive, the resort does accommodate cigar smoking. Guests can purchase cigars and light up at the Sanctuary-Ocean Room balcony, Lobby Bar patio, the Ocean Course's Ryder Cup bar and Atlantic Room porch, Osprey Point clubhouse deck, Turtle Point clubhouse patio and all the golf courses. Some of the brands the resorts sells include Mayorga, Punch, Romeo y Julieta, Diamond Crown, Ashton, Avo, Montecristo and Cohiba. Prices are reasonably set from $10 to $24 a stick.

I lit up an Ashton Cabinet No. 8 and sipped a glass of 40-year Sandeman Tawny Port after dinner on the Ocean Course clubhouse patio. The sound of waves gently washing ashore on the nearby beach was soothing. Shrimp boat lights stretching along the Atlantic’s horizon punctuated a dark night sky. Gentle ocean breezes freshened the warm, moist air as the bright moon rose seemingly out of the sea. Its light began to fill the sky, illuminating the water and silhouetting the land up and down the coast. It was an ideal curtain on a wonderful day. I was at once both sated and breathless.

Kiawah Island Golf Resort
1 Sanctuary Beach Drive
Kiawah Island, SC 29455
For reservations and general information call 800-654-2924, or visit

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