Dreaming of Isle of Palms

Find Your Way to Wild Dunes Resort

Sometimes you just want to do nothing on vacation, but don’t realize it until you pack the car with big plans and bags of gear, arrive at the resort, unpack, get your bearings and exhale.

With luck (and planning), you’ll find yourself at the expansive Wild Dunes Resort in South Carolina, an easy five-hour drive to the tip of Isle of Palms, just outside Charleston. With 1,600 acres to explore on bike or foot, you can stay busy or find a lounge chair by one of the pools or on the beach to do less. The resort promises “unpretentious luxury” which, to us, meant all the amenities of an elevated resort in the company of families, friendly staff and plenty of opportunities for fun.

The Sweetgrass Inn, new in 2021, is a modern oceanfront sanctuary that sits on four acres of the liveliest area at the resort, featuring 153 rooms, sparkling pools, a world-class spa, al fresco dining, bustling meetings, and a rooftop bar. Also on the same campus, and a short stroll from the beach and resort recreation, is the Boardwalk Inn with 93 rooms. The decor across both is coastal, but with unexpected sophisticated touches of art and bold colors. From the warm welcome provided by the valet (self-parking is available), to the excellent service provided by wait staff, the vibe is professional, but approachable and friendly. 

Our dinner at Coastal Provisions, the signature restaurant and bar inside the Boardwalk Inn lobby overlooking the pool, was excellent. The She Crab Soup with brioche croutons was better than my mother-in-law’s (my gold standard) and the saffron pappardelle with braised shank, sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese pistachios was surprising and rich. Everything on the menu reflected Chef de Cuisine, Thalia Smith’s careful attention and creativity. 

 A nightcap on the rooftop at The Nest gave us a chance to watch the stars come out, then we took our drinks down to the beach to feel small against the expansive sky and lapping waves of the Atlantic. 

Continue to feel grounded by booking a facial or massage at the Spa at Sweetgrass, with a mellow and shady spa-only outdoor patio lounge. You could easily spend the day reading, noshing and melting into the fluffy robes, drifting in and out of your vacation. 

The Links Golf Course, tennis center (yes, there's pickleball), rental bikes, resort pools, splash pads, hot tubs, al fresco dining and grab-and-go snack options offer everything else you might need.

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