Having read about the booming tourism industry on Hilton Head Island, one might expect an over populated, over commercialized destination. After all, Hilton Head has been a long-standing getaway for snow ridden Northeasterners and weekend beach-seeking Southerners, alike. Despite the concerns, we were delighted to find that Hilton Head’s roads are actually far more populated by tall oaks and overhanging Spanish moss than commercialized signage.
One of the unique aspects of Hilton Head is the amount of tree coverage for such a developed island. A special town ordinance limiting the type of development has resulted in a beautiful, natural feeling surrounding, while still offering an abundance of restaurants, accommodations, native culture, and activities (hint: beaches and golf courses) for vacationers. It really is a destination that offers the best of both worlds!
Where to Stay: The Inn at Harbour Town
Being a popular vacationers island, there is no shortage of hotels, resorts, condominiums and houses for rent in Hilton Head. Given our stay was golf focused, we chose the Inn at Harbour Town located in the Sea Pines Resort. The resort is located on the southern portion of the island, nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Calibogue Sound, and stretches nearly one-third of the island. Given its massive size, it’s no surprise that the Sea Pines Resort offers a wide variety of activities and restaurant options.
Upon our arrival at the Inn, a woman with a lovely English accent warmly greeted us as we entered the lobby. After a brief check-in, we were “properly” welcomed with a complimentary Champagne toast to celebrate our arrival, before heading on a brief tour. Moving past the reception area and into the main lobby, we found an array of elegant yet welcoming furniture surrounding a cozy fireplace to the left, while off to the right the Tartan Room serves as the perfect setting for on-site cuisine and happy hour beverages. Step outside and feast your eyes on the beautiful Fountain Terrace, overlooking the first tee and newly built clubhouse at the famed Harbour Town Golf Links. Add the tranquility of the new boutique outdoor heated pool and spa for guests, and you might find yourself asking, “Does it get any better than this?“
As we continued onto our room, we were met by a nicely sized space that exudes classic elegance. A stately oak frame surrounds the heavenly comfortable bed, while the quaint room balconies offer the perfect setting for sipping your morning coffee. Each room is outfitted with amenities such as a Nespresso machine and complimentary shoe shine bag, while the welcome chocolate and hand-written note from the head butler are a nice touch.
Step into the bathroom and discover an in-room retreat that includes a soaking tub, standing shower with rain-shower head, full-length mirrors, and luxurious bath products by Molton Brown. Request a room with a view and watch the sun set through the tall oaks lining the first hole of Harbor Town while you visualize your opening tee shot the next morning!
Where We Ate
The Inn at Harbour Town (Tartan Room) – Morning tee time at Harbour Town? This is the perfect place to fuel-up before the big round. Order the amazingly fresh omelet then mosey over to Harbor Town Golf Links, just steps from the Inn’s front door.
Palmetto Bay Sunrise Café – After hearing rave reviews from a few locals, we decided to brave the rumored long wait and try the café. Two solo-cup sized $6 ‘Morning Glories’ later (think mimosa + peach vodka) and we didn’t mind the 30-minute wait at all! A bustling yet laid-back atmosphere is a perfect way to start an afternoon of island touring. Try the shrimp hash and Apple Cinnamon pancakes.
Truffles – Perfect for lunch or a casual dinner, Truffles is located a mere mile down the road from the Inn. Grab a spot at the bar area and order a burger and your favorite draft.
Crane’s Tavern – At the suggestion of a colleague, we made our way to Crane’s for dinner. The epitome of an old-school family owned steakhouse, we found ourselves savoring every bite of the delicious steak and seafood menu. Start with the crab cakes and my advice for any steakhouse – order the filet!
Read about two magnificent golf courses on Hilton Head Island in Part II: Navigating the Fairways.