HomeTravelNew Yorkers are fleeing to exclusive Kiawah Island this summer
New Yorkers are fleeing to exclusive Kiawah Island this summer
May 14, 2021
We haven’t seen a “Westchester Boil” on any Low Country menus yet but they’re probably already out there.
Head down to Kiawah Island on the coast of Charleston, SC, and you’ll understand why.
Kiawah has been an exclusive, family-oriented getaway for wealthy Carolinians and celebrities since it was first developed into a second-home destination in the 1970s.
And like Westchester County, the 15-square-mile barrier isle is loaded with golf courses (including the Ocean Course, home of the 2021 PGA Championship), gated luxury real estate, stately hotels (the island’s posh the Sanctuary hotel is owned by billionaire Bill Goodwin) and preppy pizazz.
But more recently, actual Westchester residents, and New Yorkers more generally, have begun to flood its beaches.
“We wanted a place that had warm winters and allowed us to just sit and look at the ocean,” said Nicholas Cianciola, a 65-year-old retired consultant who lives with his wife Barb, a 63-year-old social worker and their pet vizsla, Oliver, in Pound Ridge, NY. “We had looked [for a second home] in Miami down by Bal Harbour, and it was too crowded, too hot and too expensive.”
Despite not knowing “anything about South Carolina,” they decided to expand their getaway search.
“Some of my friends were really surprised at first when we went to South Carolina,” Barb Cianciola said. “It had certain connotations.”
But in late 2019, they purchased at property at Timbers Kiawah Ocean Club & Residences, a luxury beachfront community where a one-ninth fractional share of a three-bedroom condo is $625,000.
Timbers, which operates luxury vacation properties around the world, opened in the resort in 2018 — the first new residential development on Kiawah Island’s oceanfront in over 30 years.
It offers hotel-like services, with private meals by the property’s chef Teddy Folkman, as well as extensive culinary programing, wine tastings and cocktail demonstrations. The Timbers Beach Club even servers up its own labels of IPA, wine and barrel-aged spirits.
Michael O’Donnell, the senior sales executive of real estate at the development, told The Post that over the last year a bevy of New Yorkers have bought up numerous shares, leaving the resort nearly sold out with “very limited inventory remaining,” he said.
And it’s not just at Timbers. Kiawah saw the highest sales volume in the history of the island in 2020 with $807 million in home sales across 656 transactions in 2020, according to a local property report.
“We’re are New Yorkers and if I had an extra $25 million, I probably would have gone to the Hamptons or at least somewhere close, like Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod or Nantucket,” said Barb Cianciolas. “But when you go down to Kiawah now, since the pandemic, you see these humongous houses being built by people from New Jersey, Connecticut and New York. More and more people from the northeast are starting to find out about Kiawah.”