This past weekend was a cousin-in-law’s (congratulations) wedding at Kiawah Island near Charleston, SC. It was a nice reception and a fairly decent location, but the island itself left a lot to be desired.
Rooms at Kiawah are fairly expensive. Though I can’t vouch for the quality of the rooms, I can vouch for the quality of two ‘villas.’ The villas at Kiawah Island are privately owned and rented through the Kiawah Island Resort company, or something along those lines. The quality of the room left a lot to be desired. It wasn’t as if it was horrible accomodations, but do not believe any of the hype surrounding the price. I’ve been to hundreds of luxury and budget hotels and the villas at Kiawah were as pricey as a luxury hotel with quality sub-par to what you’d expect from Motel 6 (no offense, dave).
The island itself is fairly private, and is definately remote from downtown Charleston, expect a 20-45 minute drive, depending upon traffic. The scenery which they claim makes it one of the best 10 beaches just doesn’t come close. I must admit, the sand was powder-white, but I’m still deeply disappointed in the quality of the island itself. If you are a golfer, you’re probably in heaven, if you’re not, go somewhere else, save money — or better yet, eat at an expensive restaurant with the money you’ve saved.
Housing falls along the same lines. The architecture in the private two-thirds of the island left a lot to be desired. Most houses were situated on marshland without beachfront access or even ocean views. Prices? Outrageous. Living in Washington, DC metro area, I tend to understand the “location, location, location” mantra, but not here (we’ll pretend you can afford to have someone go to the grocery store for you as it’s a 20 minute drive, minimum). I entertained the possibility of investing in a private residence to be used as rental property for many people are drawn to the luxury and privacy of the island, but I couldn’t see dropping the premium price demanded for this island. I’d say they are 30-50% over-valued in so many ways.
If you’ve got money to blow, go for it, it will probably to continue to appreciate, but if you like to invest in things you believe in (or can use) I highly recommend looking elsewhere. Isle of Palms, Topsail Island, and many, many, many, many, many, other islands are likely more up your alley. I won’t be going back to this island as a pure vacation spot, it’d take another wedding to bring me there. But please, save your money!