6 Reasons to Love Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort
I accept that the statement will seem blasphemous to some, but… Sometimes, you may want to vacation at a place that doesn’t have a Disney theme park. Going to a beach is a time-honored tradition for many families, and The Walt Disney Company understands this. It explains why they have built a few hotels away from the parks. Today, I’d like to talk about the one I like the best. Here are six reasons why you’ll love Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort.
The Sea Islands of South Carolina are in the southeastern portion of the state, close to Georgia. They’re also on the coast right by the Atlantic Ocean. Charleston and Savannah are the most recognizable cities in this region. However, many southerners are intimately familiar with one of the hidden gems of beachfront locations.
Hilton Head Island is a standalone city close to the ocean border of Georgia and South Carolina. It has a (well-deserved) reputation as being an exclusive vacation getaway for the upper crust of society. Pricing here has always been on the high end, which explains part of the reason why city residents fought so hard to prevent Disney from building a hotel here back in the 1990s.
As always, Disney won in the end, and everyone’s the better for it. Their Hilton Head Island Resort is in the Shelter Cove Marina portion of the city, close to the more commercial Palmetto Dunes. It’s a perfect location save for the fact that it’s not technically a beachfront hotel. Instead, it’s in a swampy region that does have water views but no direct beach access.
The stylish theming at Disney’s Hilton Head Resort will impress even the most jaded vacationer. It’s South Carolina Lowcountry, which means that the hotel embraces its surroundings. You’re on an island surrounded by water, lush vegetation, and even some swamps. The theming plays up all of these aspects.
The hotel’s style is that of the classic south, like a visit through mainland South Carolina, the region that inspired Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. It’s somehow classic antebellum south while also wholeheartedly Disney. Pictures and sculptures of the Sensational Six are seemingly everywhere, providing a delightful marriage of beachy sensibilities with Mickey Mouse charm.
Hilton Head Island Resort also embraces the local culture. Across the lobby from the check-in desk is a gathering room that’s chock-full of outdoorsy items and pirate lore.
The theming here is so tight that cast members host storytelling time and campfire cookouts wherein they tell stories about pirates and other famous explorers and adventurers in this neck of the woods. When you stay here, you’ll be shocked by how much your children love the hotel activities. Everyone is.
You don’t need to possess any familiarity with the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) to appreciate that it’s effectively Disney’s version of a timeshare. Resorts built with DVC accommodations have larger rooms, but you don’t need to be a DVC member to stay here. To the contrary, you can enjoy all of the benefits of these massive studio hotel rooms the first time that you stay here.
A basic room at Hilton Head Island is called a studio. It is 455 square feet. For comparison, a standard room at my favorite Moderate Tier resort, Disney’s Port Orleans – French Quarter, is 314 square feet. Yes, the rooms at Hilton Head are almost 50 percent bigger than what you’re used to having at Disney.
The room design is elegant, too. When you enter the room, you’ll notice a sink and kitchenette area to one size. It even includes a microwave and mini-fridge, giving you better meal/snack options during your vacation. To the other side is the master bath for the room, while the rest of it is bedding and sitting areas. Outside, you’ll discover another sitting area with a view of Hilton Head.
When you’re visiting the beach, you’ll want a home base, somewhere that you’re comfortable spending a great deal of time. The rooms at Hilton Head Island are ideal in this regard.
The Hilton Head Entertainment
This reason encompasses a wide swath of different reasons to visit Hilton Head Island Resort. Some of them are exclusive to resort guests while others are just a part of Hilton Head. The island city is a destination location for hobbyist activities like tennis, golfing, and boating.
Guests can rent any form of watersports equipment. Anything from water skis to jet skis to sailing boats is available here. At the hotel, guided nature walks and biking trails will entertain you, and the dolphin boat tour is a must-do.
Hilton Head also shares some commonalities with Disney Springs. It’s a mecca for food and shopping, making it an ideal destination for a laid back vacation. You’ll never lack for entertainment options at this resort, whether it’s day or night.
The Private Beach Access
Yes, I said that the hotel isn’t oceanfront. You cannot walk out of your hotel room and feel sand beneath your toes in a matter of moments. However, this statement comes with a significant caveat.
Disney officials knew that they couldn’t buy beachfront property for the hotel. So, they came up with a brilliant Plan B. They bought a private beach exclusively for hotel guests.\
During your stay, Disney runs a shuttle service to and from this beachfront property. It’s roughly a five-minute drive, 10 if you catch all of the red lights. My family skips the middleman and simply walks from the hotel to the beach instead. It’s about 10 minutes that way as well, although you are moving through a bit of traffic. The resort also rents bikes if you’d prefer to split the difference.
The beach house at Hilton Head Island Resort is impressive. It features another hotel pool plus a Quick Service restaurant and a few other amenities. The private beach is just outside of the beach house and is only crowded during the peak season at Hilton Head. Most of the time, you’ll feel like you have the entire beach to yourself.
Guests who vacation at Hilton Head Island will receive a pleasant surprise. Starting at check-in, they’ll receive some of the best customer service interactions that they’ve ever had in their lives.
I’m speaking from experience on this point, but I’m far from the only one saying it. The Disney staff at this resort is renowned for its kindness, generosity, and professionalism.
The first time I stayed here, the woman at the front desk asked me if I’d ever been there before. When I said no, she whipped out a hotel map as if she’d drawn it from a holster and proceeded to draw instructive notes at key locations. I was mesmerized by the effort she took to ensure that I had the best vacation possible.
Also, as a pro tip, ask to meet Shadow when you visit the resort, presuming that she doesn’t greet you at check-in. Shadow is the hotel’s friendly golden retriever who has developed something of a cult following. She’s so sweet that you will hate to say good-bye when you check out.
For that matter, you’ll just hate to check out at Hilton Head Island Resort because the hotel is so superlative in every way.