The Low Country of South Carolina has been attracting RVers for years with its beautiful year-round weather, stunning seascapes, and numerous outdoor activities.
One of the area’s favorite draws is Hilton Head Island, where southern charm drips like Spanish moss from the live oak trees. The area is about to welcome its newest RV arrival - Hilton Head National RV Resort - a luxury RV property set on 100 acres amid a championship golf course developed by the same team thirty years ago.
In 1988, an up-and-coming golf professional by the name of Bill Palmer, already bitten by the Hilton Head bug, dreamt of a championship public golf course added to the area’s acclaimed, but mostly private, golf scene. During a chance meeting at a golf outing in Las Vegas that year, he met entrepreneur Jim McGlothlin. After dinner, Palmer pitched his vision to McGlothlin. A handshake forged the beginnings of Scratch Golf Company, the entity that would develop the Hilton Head National Golf Club.
Scratch Golf acquired four parcels of land to build the course - one that Palmer envisioned as an idyllic setting with no houses to disrupt the views. The pair enlisted acclaimed golf course designers Gary Player and Bobby Weed to bring that vision to fruition
For two decades the course existed as it had been conceptualized. Then, time and development pressure caught up, and Scratch Golf had to consider what to do with its empty acreage. At first, Palmer and McGlothlin considered building condos. Then, one evening over cocktails, the pair came up with the idea to build an RV Resort on the property. The details - the seed for Hilton Head National RV Resort - were scratched out on a napkin. That napkin still resides in Palmer’s office.
Palmer and McGlothlin took the next 18 months to visit luxury RV resorts across the country and study the luxury RV market. In 2019, Scratch Golf formally announced plans for the luxury Hilton Head National RV Resort, sited next to its namesake golf course.
Scratch Golf quickly brought on Kathy Chittenden, a seasoned hotel and RV park professional, as the resort’s general manager. I spoke with Ms. Chittenden about Hilton Head National RV Resort and how things were unfolding.
Chittenden’s enthusiasm for the resort’s upscale character was clear. “It’s intended as a more luxurious alternative to a standard RV park. It caters to the upper end of RVers,” she noted, adding, “For instance, we aren’t accepting RVs smaller than 18 feet. So that kind of eliminates teardrops and tent campers.” Inspiration for that upscale bent seemed to stem from McGlothlin. “Jim is a regular guest at Westin Hotels. In his mind he wanted this to be the Westin of RV parks,” Chittenden described.
Then, she enthusiastically pointed out some of the park’s features, “It’s the only park I know of in the southeast with a lazy river. The dog park is unreal; it even has a dog wash. There are beautiful laundry facilities.” When it came to the exercise facility, she declared, “It’s state-of-the-art - and when I say state-of-the-art I mean state-of-the-art!”
The attention to physical features extends to preserving the natural environment, which stems from Palmer’s original vision for preserving the natural environment around the golf course. At Hilton Head National RV Resort, there are features like lakes, park areas, and even two miles of walking trails surrounding the park.
Hilton Head National RV Resort is uniquely divided into two main amenity areas, one family-friendly, and the other adults-only:
Double Eagle - the family-friendly section, houses the main clubhouse, with an 8,500 square-foot beach-entry pool with a lazy river and splash pad. Outside are bocce ball and pickle ball courts, a shaded pavilion, and an activities lawn. Inside the clubhouse is a restaurant, bar, retail store, and arcade.
Waters Edge - the adults-only section features its own clubhouse with concierge, an adults-only pool, hot tub, and some of the resort’s best golf course views.
Of course, resort guests will have access to the Hilton Head National Golf Club during their stay. The resort can rent golf carts and the resort itself is golf cart accessible.
The gated and fenced community offers full security for travelers. Inside, there are 341 70’x20’ full hookup pad sites, each with its own fire pit. Of them, 242 are back-in sites, 46 are pull-throughs, and 24 are buddy sites.
Each site offers Wi-Fi and even premium channel cable TV. “There’s 34 miles of cabling just for Internet,” Chittenden said.
With its location close to Interstate 95, touring the area is easy. Hilton Head Island and the beach are natural draws. The resort is less than two miles from the Hilton Head Island Bridge and 14 miles from the island’s beaches. For those unfamiliar, the island has a quaint, very Southern feel. “It’s a front porch, sipping iced tea kind of feel,” Chittenden describes. “There are neat little restaurants. It’s a great place to bring the family and kids,” she added.
The nearby town of Bluffton also has plenty to offer, including a farmers market, antique shops, and museums. Those staying in adults-only Water’s Edge might want to try some authentic Low Country spirits at Burnt Church Distillery. If a day of shopping is in order, there are the 90+ name-brand stores at Tanger Outlets.
To experience an even bigger slice of the American South, head to the waterfront towns of Savannah, Georgia and Beaufort, South Carolina, each about a half-hour away.
The Hilton Head National team is excited to welcome guests to what they believe will be the South’s premier RV vacation experience. A “soft” opening is currently slated for January 2022. Chittenden noted, “Originally we thought we would have a spring opening, then a summer one, and then fall.” She explained that, while the opening date was pushed back, everything is actually on schedule. Construction at the golf course near Water's Edge facility is the culprit; “We didn't want construction going on during opening,“ Chittenden explained, “So, now we’re looking at pushing the opening back to January of 2022.”
Their ideal location near Hilton Head, connection to one of the South’s premier golf courses, and a luxury vibe certain to appeal to any upscale RV travelers all point to an exciting and anticipated opening day.