Before I went there, I had dismissed Hilton Head as just a golf destination. But after spending a few days there in December, I came to realize that the island is ideal for families, dog owners, beach lovers and foodies.
We stayed one night at the Omni, a luxury resort in Palmetto Dunes, and two nights in a nearby condo. The resort, undergoing a huge renovation (half the hotel was closed when I was there – the renovation will be finished in spring) is a dog-friendly hotel right on the beach, with a host of amenities for the active family.
Or not – the Omni also boasts a new spa, a relaxing adults-only pool, cabanas, fire pits surrounded by rocking chairs, ping-pong and giant chess and checkers sets. You could just chill out here, too.
If you want to spend some of your time being active, you have a variety of choices. For families, the most important feature may be the huge playground. How great is being able to tire your kids out right on site?
My children are late teens/early 20s, but they are not neglected here. There’s a new fitness center, a basketball court and volleyball court (you borrow equipment from the concierge) and a bike rental outfit for riding bicycles on the beach. Not to the beach, or beach adjacent, actually ON the hard packed sand. We saw dozens and dozens of families doing just that and we had to join them. It was a blast.
Hilton Head is just under an hour from Savannah, so you could take a day trip there, or spend a couple of days in Savannah and a couple in Hilton Head for a city/beach vacation.
For the Serious Athlete
Guests at the Omni can play on one of the 25 tennis courts in the community, or on three golf courses (OK, serious athlete may not equal golf in some opinions, but then there’s Tiger Woods).
Omni also has a new partnership with a local CrossFit facility. The Performance, Fitness and CrossFit Package is a two night stay with an assessment by a personal trainer, two CrossFit sessions and an “Athlete Performance Prescription” so you can continue the exercises at home.
We stayed in one of the un-renovated rooms, which was still fine – comfy beds and bedding, good sized bathroom with extra sink, mini kitchen with fridge, microwave and coffee maker, and a balcony. I got to see one of the new rooms, which have upgraded countertops and tiles, more luxurious bedding and nicer fabric on the couches.
The full service resort has three pools, one with zero-entry, plus a kids’ splash zone, a bar with lunch available poolside and a restaurant, plus a less expensive cafe with seats and to go items.
The restaurant, HH Prime, has an extensive breakfast buffet with natural peanut butter, organic cold cereal, impeccably fresh fruit and enough options to please even the pickiest diners (and if those diners are under age 5, they eat for free).
A concierge can help arrange off-site activities, but you need a couple of days just to do everything here – hang at the beach, ride bikes, play sports, read at the fire pit, challenge your kids to a chess match.
- Rooms have kitchenettes with mini fridge, microwave and coffee maker
- The inexpensive cafe offers family platters – a huge salad, pizza, a bowl of pasta to feed 4-5
- The substantial and healthy breakfast buffet is a great way to start the day: free for under age 5, half price for ages 6-12.
- A playground
What Doesn’t Work
- The so-called suites are just large rooms with a mini-kitchen area. If you are looking for privacy with kids, you have to get a connecting room or a luxury suite with a separate room
Note: I was a guest of Omni, which covered our room cost. Opinions expressed are my own.