Monday, July 23, 2007

Kiawah Island--Still A Terrific Family Resort

Every summer we haul off to Kiawah Island, South Carolina for a weeklong mini-reunion with the Curmudgeon's brother's and sister's families, and every year we have a terrific time. Last year, we posted on why Kiawah, which bills itself as a golf destination, really ought to play itself up as a family resort. To see why, read our post, "Kiawah, The Perfect Family Resort."

Not much changed this year. The weather, although a bit sticky, was still terrific, with only a couple of very late, and quite brief, afternoon thundershowers to force the kids out of the surf and pool. We did the usual things--swimming, boogie boarding, sand castle building, biking, tennis, golf, a big poker game, margarita night, banana daiquiries, a big dinner at SNOB (Slightly North of Broad) in Charleston.

One thing we did new this year was to rent a motorboat at nearby Bohicket Marina. For roughly $450 (including gas) we were able to get a boat for the whole day that would comfortably hold eight passengers. Captain Joel, our brother-in-law, took two shifts out on the water for a few hours of cruising, dolphin watching and tube riding. With the wide, uncrowded, undeveloped Edisto River within easy range, it was a lot of fun. One could easily add fishing and crabbing to the itenerary.

Another new thing--for us--was to take some of the younger kids out on tandem sit-on-top kayaks. Kiawah's regular guided family kayaking trips were sold out--an indication of how popular these activities are--but in the afternoons you can rent the kayaks (roughly same cost as the guided trips) and go at whatever pace and for however far you want. About 200 yards from where we put in, we encountered three dolphins frolicking in the Kiawah River, no more than 20-30 feet from us. We could've stayed there with them for hours, but for a nasty wind blowing us in the wrong direction. It was a delightfully nice little paddle, despite the wind, and the Kiawah naturalists who helped us were terrific.

Kiawah is also still a fabulous golf resort. One improvement this year is that Kiawah moved up the start time for its popular "family golf" program to 5:00 pm (used to be 6:00). In family golf, the adults pay $45 apiece, the kids are free. You play nine holes from tees well out into the fairway--essentially a pitch and putt for the adults. Tee times are 15 minutes apart, so you aren't rushed. It's a great way to let the kids--even pretty small ones--get out and have some unpressured golf. (It's also a good way to work on your concentration--trying to hit a shot while several kids run around making a racket.)

For us golfers, the highlight of the week, however, was the opportunity to play on the River Course, one of two spectacular private golf courses available to members of the Kiawah Island Club. We've been wanting to play both courses--the other, newer, one is Cassique (pictured here)--for years. When we realized that one of Mrs. Curmudgeon's partners owns property at Kiawah and is a member of the club, our opportunity arose.

The River Course was designed by famed golf course architect Tom Fazio, who also designed the stunningly beautiful, public, Osprey Point links at Kiawah. It is a beautiful, challenging track in pristine condition. Enormous waste bunker await your wayward shot, along with dozens of alligator infested ponds and lagoons. Lightning fast greens test your putting skills, and a series of holes along the Kiawah River--with panoramic views of Kiawah's well-preserved marshlands--require negotiation of tricky cross winds. Guests unaccompanied by a member are required to take caddies and it's a good thing--we needed every bit of their help. We were quite impressed with what we saw of the Kiawah Island Club--terrific facilities and friendly staff.

So, if you're at Kiawah and get offered the opportunity to play the River Course--or Cassique, which we hear is just as fabulous--don't turn it down!

No comments: