The Traveling Steve's

Three Days at Hilton Head Island

Continuing moving northbound on our trip up to Virginia, Steve (DOS) and I next stayed on Hilton Head Island for 3 Nights at the Sonesta Beach Resort. We checked out of the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Wednesday, and then drove a couple hours up to Hilton Head Island.

Distance-wise it’s less than 60 miles, however due to the island location and topography, you have to drive inland, then north, and then over to Hilton Head Island, so it’s over 100 miles total to get there.

We checked in the Sonesta Beach Hotel, and got a very large (standard, non suite) room on the sixth floor, which formerly might have been called ocean view, but today the trees block the ocean view mostly, with only a tiny bit of the ocean visible in the very far distance. Still, we love having a balcony, and the view gave us a partial pool view, and the ocean horizon in the distance. It definitely beat the parking lot view!

The room itself was definitely larger than a normal room, and in fact felt like a junior suite in many hotels. We had a nice separate seating area, king sized bed, large bathroom, and a nice entranceway to the room, being that the room was at the end of the hall, so it was actually a bit bigger than the adjoining rooms.

In what’s become the new norm in these COVID pandemic times, there was a sticker on the room door when we entered, which signifies no one had been in the room since it was cleaned. Likewise the remote controls for the two TVs were wrapped in a plastic bag, and a couple sanitizing wipes were next to it.

Another “new norm” for even luxury hotels is the limited housekeeping service they now provide. The room is freshly cleaned on each guests departure, however during your stay daily housekeeping is a thing of the past. You can request fresh towels each day, and they are delivered to your door in a sealed plastic bag. We actually don’t mind this, in fact like this sometimes as you don’t have to worry about the maid coming to your room at any time, especially late in the day if you want to take a nap.

While we were here for 3 days/nights, we really didn’t doing anything special like take a tour, boat ride etc; rather just enjoyed the peacefully location and relaxation that it offered. The resort was set back in a gated residential area with what looked like expensive townhomes and golf course located homes, similar to the Williamsburg, Virginia area we stayed at last year.

The Sonesta Resort was located directly on the ocean, and the beach area was quite wide and not real crowded. There were vendor operated umbrella and deck chairs available for rent, but shortly past this area were private homes and condos, combined with the gated access to the community, making this a fairly exclusive stretch of beach.

We enjoyed our daily walks along the beach, although mid-April (at least to us) was a bit to cool to swim in the ocean or even pool. That certainly didn’t bother some families, which we said must be from Michigan or Minnesota! LOL!

The property was immaculately landscaped, and was relaxing just walking around the resort, especially in the quieter mid-week days. There was even a huge pond area, and had a platform for feeding the turtles if you liked.

We pretty much stayed on property the three days were on Hilton Head Island, (HHI) although we did go our for dinner each night, and a couple days went into town for lunch and/or shopping. We ate at some nice restaurants while on HHI, with most very good service. We had breakfast each day at the Sonesta Resort, normally eating outside and enjoying the beautiful weather, except for the last day. I had the yogurt and berry parfait each day with a side of crisp bacon, while DOS had a full breakfast with eggs, pancakes, fruit cup and sausage and bacon.

We even had a little green visitor on the ledge near us while having breakfast! A beautiful green lizard stopped by long enough for a photo before jumping into the bushes. We love watching the green lizards back home climbing the outside pool screen, but in recent years they’ve been harder to spot as the brown anoles seem to be more prominent and invasive.

For dinners, each night we tried somewhere different, but located fairly close to the hotel. Unfortunately unlike Savannah, St. Marys, and Amelia Island, there were no restaurants within walking distance from the resort (other than the hotel’s cafe-like restaurant), but most of them were within a couple miles. Just getting out of the gated development was nearly the whole 2 mile distance, with the restaurants just down the road outside the entryway. One night we went to Cowboys; a Brazilian-type restaurant where the servers come by your table and carve you whatever selection of meat (or even grilled pineapple!) they have on their skewers at that moment.

They also had a huge self service salad bar as well as a vegetable bar which was a surprise with COVID still in full swing. Cowboys, however had both gloves and hand sanitizers at the entrance to each station and required people to sanitize their hands prior to using the clean and well stocked salad and veggie bars.

When we had finished dinner, we walked outside into the courtyard of the shopping village, and saw an older couple dancing to the light jazz music playing. We had noticed another couple dancing when we went in and just thought they were waiting to be seated. The restaurant, however, is adjacent to a Jazz studio and classroom, and the couples were happily dancing outside.

Good for them – “Dance like no one is watching and live for today!”

The next night we had a seafood dinner at Catch 22. DOS and I shared a delicious appetizer of hush puppies, which were stuffed with shrimp and crab meat.

We next had a Cesar salad, which we had along with Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon, one of our favorite red wines.

For our entrees, DOS had the stone crab special, while I had the Ahi Tuna. We had great service and it was offered to us in a leisurely pace, per our request.

For dessert DOS and I split a delicious key lime pie that was dipped in Chocolate. Yummy!

The last night we had dinner at a family owned restaurant name Stellini.

While the food was very good, we felt rushed throughout the meal. We got there right on time for our 7:30pm reservation and they were full at that time, as another couple without reservations were told to come back at 8:15pm. The restaurant had a closing time of 9pm, but typically most restaurants will seat people until shortly before the closing time listed. Fortunately with our reservation in place, we were seated promptly. Our waitress at Stellini’s made us order everything at once as ‘the kitchen was small’. I think that was code for I’m in a hurry to finish my shift, or more likely the owners were telling her to hurry people thru. We like to order our drinks while looking at the menu, then order an appetizer, and intentionally not order the entree until we nearly finished with our appetizer so the food doesn’t come out to quickly.

Actually, the food was very good, but service was only fair and felt rushed. Not just us, but the managers or owners were standing around looking out at the dining room and diners most of the time we were there. We ordered a bottle of Chianti and it didn’t come until after we had finished our meatball appetizers.

Meanwhile another couple came in around 8:20pm for dinner and were seated in the back room across from the 8:15pm returning non-reservation couple. We were served our main entree around this time, and that was the last time we saw our waitress. She didn’t say goodbye, nor did her relief person (probably the owner or manager but they didn’t identify themselves) or saying they would be taking over for our former waitress. It was rather bizarre, and another older man by the bar (I think was the owner husband) kept starring at the dining room as it was starting to clear out. It would have been nice for him or any of the other managers or owners to come by our table and ask us how everything it was, explain the waitress had to leave early etc, but we felt a bit of tension with his starring and no service to others it appeared. But there’s always Karma you will see shortly.

We finished with a slice of cheese cake, which we ordered and was served by our new waitress. I still wonder who got the tip for the meal we left. Even with so-so service we still leave a good tip.

Speaking of tips, (and foul language alert ahead!) we watched the 8:20pm couple leave right before we did at 9:03pm sharp. (No overtime for staff obviously!). The football-sized male diner told his waiter (the older man I was just referring to; the owner man/bartender/manager whoever he was that didn’t seem to do anything but stare at diners) “I gave you a shitty tip, because of your shitty service” as he patted him on the shoulder and walked out the door! Karma is alive and working! LOL!

Anyway, back at the Sonesta Resort, we packed up our suitcases for our morning checkout. Next stop will be Charleston, South Carolina. Thanks Sonesta Resort for a wonderful stay!

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