Aaaaahhhh, Kiawah.

Kiawah Sunset

Kiawah Moonrise

A snotty Polish aristocrat I know texted me, “Where are you?” I wrote back, “Kiawah Island, SC.” He said, “My family used to have a house there. J’adore.”

I texted back, “This isn’t A house on Kiawah. It’s THE house on Kiawah.”

And it is. 16,000 square feet on 11 acres, without another house in sight. The museum-quality antiques and furnishings are worthy of a grand mansion anywhere, which seemed foolhardy in a beach house on a barrier island until I learned that this place was so climate-controlled and hurricane-proof that you couldn’t drive a tank through the windows. Outside, spectacular wetlands were punctuated by a putting green and paths. The infinity pool, hot tub and decks had postcard views, and a 600-foot-long dock extended out to where the porpoises and pelicans frolic.

A corner of the house, poolside


It’s my friend’s parents’ house, and she was hosting her husband’s 40th birthday there. We were four couples, and we each had our own wing. Sam and I got the poolhouse, which featured a full (and fully stocked) kitchen, two full baths, up-and-downstairs living rooms, a sunset terrace, and a bedroom big enough to land a plane in. There was also a gym you could charge 150 bucks a month to belong to, which I poked my head into once and said, “Wow.” It was so pristine and private, our hostess assured me I could lie naked by the swimming pool, and while the birthday boy seemed less than enthused about this, there was enough room for me to move out of his direct line of vision.

In the morning, massage therapists came to give al fresco massages on two of the porches, while a yoga instructor offered private lessons on a third. On Friday night, we threw an intimate low-country feast in the dining room, and on Saturday night, there was a van into Charleston for drinks among the antebellum charm of “SOB” (South of Broad) and an Italian feast at Lucca, one of the gastronomic gems in the South’s new foodie Mecca.

A friend who’s never hit a golfball in his life messaged me that my time on Kiawah would be wasted without playing 18 holes, but I beg to differ. A bike ride and mint juleps at the club house sufficed nicely, and when the weekend was over, I hugged our hostess goodbye. I told her I was sorry the place was for sale (her parents are getting divorced), but that I hoped they didn’t get any offers anytime soon, because I’d love to go back.

…And if anyone reading this has a spare $30 million, please keep me in mind for an invitation. Aside from the nudity, I’m actually a pretty good houseguest.

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