The 92-room harborfront, boutique hotel The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor opened in fall 2016, is a member of Leading Hotels of the World and the recipient of multiple hospitality awards. It’s a contemporary building with wrap-around porches and balconies that face the marina and city skyline and/or the imposing Arthur Ravenel Bridge. Inside, there’s a definite feel of southern charm from the entry to the back porch, with white columns, planked-wood floors, shell-bedecked mirrors and an airy ambiance. The nautical-chic décor is bright white with blue and coral accents. Spacious accommodations include family parlors that provide a twin-bedded room behind a door and all have wonderfully large balconies and impressive views.
Amenities feature The Estuary Spa — a petit-bijou (little jewel) with a duo-treatment room for couples — reached from the lobby — and the private, 33-seat theater equipped with comfy recliners and surround sound for the family movies screened on Saturdays. The Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary boasts a bocce court, a life-sized outdoor chess board and two pools; private cabanas flank the family pool, the casual Beach Club Tiki Bar borders the other. There’s a sandy beach for sandcastles; fire pits; volleyball; and ladder golf, but no swimming allowed, as the harbor is a major shipping channel. The USS Yorktown and other naval vessels docked at the adjacent Patriot’s Point seem within touching distance through the window walls at Charleston Harbor Fish House, on the property.
The children’s club emphasizes crabbing, hunting shark’s teeth and investigating bugs, typical coastal Lowcountry adventures. The hotel also offers typically Southern traditions, such as pig roasts and etiquette classes. Bikes are available for cycling on nearby trails, and the marina offers opportunities to sail.
The city of Charleston pleases children of all ages, especially if it’s reached via the Charleston Water Taxi, which picks up guests at the marina behind the hotel and stops downtown and at the South Carolina Aquarium. Downtown is also conveniently reached by car or the complimentary hotel “trolley.” It’s worth visiting for a few hours look-see, an outstanding Lowcountry meal or a visit to The Gibbes Museum or nearby riverfront plantations, Middleton Place and Drayton Hall.
When my daughter and I stayed at The Beach Club, we took our Charleston Heritage Passports (it provides entry to nine sites and is for sale at the Visitors Center), boarded the water taxi, wandered downtown and scheduled a horse and carriage ride past the Holy City’s churches and a synagogue and through a residential area past pastel, antebellum mansions. We admired unique front doors, large-scale wrought iron work and double porches on homes separated from neighbors by huge trees, gorgeous gardens, hidden alleys and narrow passages.
The next afternoon, we traveled seven miles to downtown in the hotel jitney to the four-block City Market, where local African-American descendants maintain their Gullah heritage by handcrafting sweetgrass baskets. More than 40 percent of the Africans who became slaves passed through the port at Charleston; part of the city’s heritage is their culinary influence: she-crab soup and staple ingredients, including peanuts, okra, red rice, yams, peas, hot peppers, sesame seeds and watermelon. For our dinner, we chose Lowcountry specialties at Hanks, where we shared she-crab soup, shrimp and grits and crab cakes.
Charleston’s past incorporates slavery, wars and fires; in its present incarnation, it’s a beautiful and thriving culinary destination.