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Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

By Roger Cox, Editor

Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Courtesy Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort

On one of my visits to Palmetto Dunes, I opted for a bicycle to get around the resort using its extensive web of dedicated bike paths, an option popular with many of its guests (though there's also a free on-call Dunes Buggy shuttle). My own route to the tennis courts took me through quiet tree-filled neighborhood of houses, villas, golf fairways, and lagoons. Not until I'd ridden beyond a guard gate did I come upon anything resembling commercial enterprises, though even those consisted of little more than an unobtrusive General Store; a bike, canoe, and kayak rental shop; the odd restaurant; the tennis center; a golf clubhouse; and the entrance road to the Marriott, one of two hotels (the other an Omni) tucked into this 2,000-acre resort. Only by then following the bike path north though a canopy of trees and then under William Hilton Parkway (Rte. 278) would I eventually leave behind the resort's leafy neighborhoods for the collection of shops, indoor and outdoor restaurants, and art galleries (and some marina-view villas) in the Mediterranean-inspired buildings that line Shelter Cove Harbour.

There are really two faces to Palmetto Dunes. The largest section, which extends from the beach to the parkway, contains most of the lodging as well as the tennis, three designer golf courses, and most of the other recreational amenities other than those associated with the marina. And if you don't opt to stay in a beachfront villa—which I did not on this latest trip—a bike is also a useful vehicle not only to reach the beach but to ride along it, since at low tide the extremely broad, hard-packed beach is an ideal natural bike path. You can, if you choose, ride on the beach for virtually the entire length of the island (rental bikes have fat tires suited to the hard sand). Beyond that, once you leave the resort there are some 50 miles of paved public bike paths that lace the island itself.

Over the last few years a subtle change has taken place at Palmetto Dunes to the benefit of its vacationers, tennis and otherwise. Greenwood Communities and Resorts, which owns the resort's recreational amenities, has also taken on a larger and larger share of the villa rentals. That has given them far more flexibility to offer a range of attractive packages that bundle lodging with whatever recreational activities you want as part of your holiday, whether that's tennis, golf, group outings, weddings, family reunions, or other celebrations. With a phone call or online request to a trip planner, you can arrange every detail of your vacation, including lodging in a villa or home at preferred rates.

Tennis Features

Pro Shop: 843-785-1152 or 888-322-8720

The Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center caters to a mixture of groups and vacationers. It consists of a main complex of 18 clay courts set in a landscape of pine trees and a satellite facility and 8 Pickleball courts. Those are supplemented by an additional 8 clay courts a five-minute walk away. A spacious, 3,000-square-foot clapboard clubhouse with a dark-green shingled roof anchors the main tennis complex. Inside is a brightly-lit pro shop, showers for men and women, and offices for the professional staff. The reception is extremely friendly—these aren't kids behind the desk but adults. All of them play tennis—many in fact are on teams—and so they really do understand tennis players and their needs. Extending out from one side of the clubhouse is a long, raised wooden deck with a roof and views of courts to the right and left. The courts have been laid out in pairs, with California (angled) corners and a perimeter of trees and low shrubs. Some have small, shingle-roofed courtside pavilions and chilled water fountains.

Tennis Staff. Tennis director John Kerr played Division III tennis for Hiram College in Ohio and then taught at indoor clubs before coming to Hilton Head Island in 1986. Originally, he taught at Shipyard Plantation but moved over to Palmetto Dunes as head pro in 1990, taking over as director in 1996. He now heads a staff of 9 full-time pros, among them head pro Brian Kiggans, who had previously spent 15 years at South Beach Racquet Club in Sea Pines and Jackie Reynecke, who directs all the tournaments and works with Mary Jackson to coordinate group and package programs and the social activities. Kerr also has a stable of former pros he can call on to fill in when the resort gets very busy. "Those retired pros can really connect with the people," he says. "They are teachers, lawyers, dentists. We get older players telling us how nice it is for the pro not to say run, run, run."
Tennis Programs. One of Kerr's first acts was to re-craft the program. "When I first came to Palmetto Dunes the structure of the teaching programs was very confusing," he remembers. "So we tried to simplify the choices but still give a variety of options to players." Rather than offer tennis camps, Palmetto Dunes runs back-to-back group clinics and drills so that as a guest you can carpenter together a program day by day that could be as short as one hour or as long as 4½. And the junior programs coincide with the adult programs, so families can more easily come and go together.
Among the options are a 90-minute Grand Slam clinic (a series of fast-paced drills and ball machine workouts), a 90-minute Competitive Edge Doubles clinic, and a 90-minute Competitive Edge drill session—all scheduled to run one after the other and geared to intermediate-advanced players. Beginners and intermediates, meanwhile, can choose from less demanding 60-minute stroke-of-the-day, daily drill, and cardio tennis sessions, also scheduled back to back. Because of this thoughtful, modular schedule, those who want activity after activity can easily spend a whole morning and part of the afternoon on court. What's more, as a boon to parents, the junior clinics run at the same time as the adult clinics, so the whole family can come and go as a group. Beyond that the tennis center runs a daily round robin, supervised by a member of the staff, and former Finland No. 1 Tapi Hayrinen runs a set of Cardio tennis sessions. And from March to October there is a weekly exhibition and happy hour and a demo day and there are big tournament scheduled for various times throughout the year.
The biggest recent change is the introduction of pickleball, now available on 8 dedicated courts. "We hired a head pickleball pro for 2016," Kerr told m. "We are ramping up our lesson, clinic and round robin offerings for pickleball and really are having fun with it." He's very enthusiastic about the response. "It's a great family activity because the learning curve is much shorter than tennis," he says. "Nobody is a beginner for very long and soon they are smiling and laughing. The grandparents can compete with grandkids on court, making it a multigenerational activity." He's even gone so far are to offer pickleball packages. At the same time he's offering POP tennis, which is played on the smaller junior courts using a low-compression ball and underhand serves.
Tennis remains a focus. Stop by the pro shop, as I did, and you'll find an experienced staff who are at once friendly and very service conscious. Game matching remains a priority: if you give them 24 hours notice and book a court, they promise to have someone for you at that time. All in all, the center offers an excellent series of programs.
Courts & Fees. The Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center has a total of 26 clay tennis courts (5 of them relined to accommodate 5 junior/POP courts) and 8 pickleball courts altogether in two locations: the Tennis Center proper another bank a short walk away. Those at the Center fan out from a contemporary, 3,000-square-foot clubhouse. Palms, maples, pines and live oaks border the courts as do oleander and other low shrubbery. All of the courts have chilled water fountains though not all have shade. Six courts have lights on a token system so people can play when they want just by showing up. Court fees: $30/hour.

Ratings

(239 Reviewers)
Tennis Overall
5-Ball Rating Tennis Staff
5-Ball Rating Instruction
4½-Ball Rating
Game Matching
4-Ball Rating Junior Tennis
4½-Ball Rating Tennis Complex
4½-Ball Rating
Cuisine
3½-Ball Rating Lodging
4-Ball Rating Spa & Fitness
4-Ball Rating
Dollar Value
4½-Ball Rating Other Recreation
4½-Ball Rating Setting
4-Ball Rating
Kids' Programs
4½-Ball Rating Romance
4-Ball Rating Solo Travelers
4-Ball Rating

Marriott Ratings
( 1 Reviewers)

Omni Ratings
( 1 Reviewers)
Lodging
4-Ball Rating
Cuisine
4-Ball Rating Romance
5-Ball Rating
Solo Travelers
5-Ball Rating
Other Recreation
5-Ball Rating Dollar Value
4-Ball Rating
Spa & Fitness
5-Ball Rating


Expedia.com

Expedia.com


Ratings

(239 Reviewers)
Tennis Overall
5-Ball Rating Instruction
4½-Ball Rating Tennis Complex
4½-Ball Rating Cuisine
3½-Ball Rating Dollar Value
4½-Ball Rating Setting
4-Ball Rating Romance
4-Ball Rating Kids' Programs
4½-Ball Rating
Tennis Staff
5-Ball Rating Game Matching
4-Ball Rating Junior Tennis
4½-Ball Rating Lodging
4-Ball Rating Spa & Fitness
4-Ball Rating Other Recreation
4½-Ball Rating Solo Travelers
4-Ball Rating

Marriott Ratings
( 1 Reviewers)

Omni Ratings
( 1 Reviewers)
Lodging
4-Ball Rating Other Recreation
5-Ball Rating Romance
5-Ball Rating Dollar Value
4-Ball Rating
Cuisine
4-Ball Rating Spa & Fitness
5-Ball Rating Solo Travelers
5-Ball Rating

Other Recreation

Beach. Palmetto Dunes fronts three miles of beach. It tends to be most crowded near the center, where the two hotels are located, but you don't have to walk far to the east or west to have large expanses of sand all to yourself. And the farther you get from those hotels, the less obtrusive the architecture

Golf Courses. Palmetto Dunes itself has three designer golf courses, each named for its designer: Arthur Hills, George Fazio, and Robert Trent Jones. There are also a golf school.

Robert Trent Jones Oceanfront Course: Designed by Robert Trent Jones and renovated by his protege Roger Rulewich, this Par 72 course begins near the tennis center and flows east meandering around the system of lagoons before jogging down to the ocean at the Par 5 10th hole and then working its way back westward. 6,122-7,005 years.
George Fazio Golf Course: The most challenging of the three layouts, if not the most challenging course on Hilton Head Island, this Fazio course demands both accuracy and length. Bunkers and water hazards riddle several of its long par 4s. Par 70, 6,239-6,873 yards.
Arthur Hills: This Par-72 course can be played as short as 4,999 yards or as long as 6,651, but whichever tees are chosen, the Lowcountry course stands out for its topographic beauty, ocean breezes, and off-balance lies.


Spa & Fitness Center. The resort itself does not have a spa or fitness center; however, both of the hotels do.

And ... Palmetto Dunes 12 miles of lagoons afford opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, and fishing, while the Shelter Cove Marina adds additional kayaking options as well as sailing cruises, fishing and boating charters, and dolphin tours.

Children's Programs

There is much to appeal to kids at Palmetto Dunes—not only the beach, tennis, golf, and lagoons but also Harbour Fest, held every Tuesday festival from April into August at shelter Cove Harbour and consisting of live entertainment in the form of popular troubadour Shannon Taylor, street vendors, and fireworks (especially impressive over the harbor). During summer, Palmetto Dunes also organizes supervised children's programs for those ages 6 and up.

Lodging

Lodging choices within the resort consist of two beachfront hotels and a large number of condominiums and homes in various locations, from beachfront to golf course to marsh.

Restaurants

Dining can be as simple as sandwiches, salads, and drinks at the casual beachfront Dunes House to Continental cuisine at the lagoonside Alexander's Restaurant or any of more than half a dozen places to eat at Shelter Cove Harbour, ranging from Frosty's Italian ices to Mexican fare at San Miguel's, seafood at Scott's Fish Market, or French bistro menu at Bistro 17.

Calendar

May12-14, 2017: Paws & Balls Team Tennis Challenge
www.palmettodunes.com/activities/hilton-head-tennis-tournaments/ Phone: 843-785-1152

A World Team Tennis format comprised of men's and women's singles and doubles and combo mixed doubles, sponsored by Coast Restaurants and Bars (CRAB) and benefitting Hilton Head Humane Association.

June 2-4, 2017: 38th Annual Banana Open
www.palmettodunes.com/activities/hilton-head-tennis-tournaments/ Phone: 843-785-1152

Men's and Women's Singles and Doubles and Mixed doubles and a 55+ doubles and combo mixed doubles competition. Presented by Honor Our Heroes Foundation.

Sept. 1-3, 2017: 10th Annual Palmetto Dunes Tennis Fall Classic
www.palmettodunes.com/activities/hilton-head-tennis-tournaments/ Phone: 843-785-1152

Men's and Women's Singles, Combo Doubles, and Combo Mixed Doubles, sponsored by Captain Woody's.

Sept. 28-Oct. 1, 2017: 33rd Annual Banana Open Challenge (closed)
www.palmettodunes.com/activities/hilton-head-tennis-tournaments/ Phone: 843-785-1152

Men's and Women's Singles and Doubles, Combo Mixed Doubles, and 55+ Doubles and Combo Mixed Doubles, all open only to those who have played in another local Banana tournament.

Oct. 27-29, 2017: 23rd Annual Wild Wing Cafe "Nutty Buddy" Classic
www.palmettodunes.com/activities/hilton-head-tennis-tournaments/ Phone: 843-785-1152

This is a fun men's and women's doubles and mixed doubles event.

Nov. 10-11, 2017: Team Tennis Challenge
www.palmettodunes.com/activities/hilton-head-tennis-tournaments/ Phone: 843-785-1152

Singles, doubles, and combo mixed in World Team Tennis format. Benefitting the Hunger and Homeless Coalition of Hilton Head Island.

Nov. 12, 2017: Team Tennis & Pickleball Challenge
www.palmettodunes.com/activities/hilton-head-tennis-tournaments/ 

Men's and Women's Doubles and Mixed Doubles event

See Also

If you're looking for something similar to Palmetto Dunes, check out:

Rates and Reservations

Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort

Palmetto Dunes has 1-to-4-bedroom villas, all with kitchens, and homes as large as eight bedrooms. These occupy various locations throughout the resort, including oceanfront, golf course, and the harbor. As a guest of Palmetto Dunes, you receive one hour of free daily court time per bedroom, per night up to 4 hours/day. There is a three-night minimum at selected times of the year.

Visit the website for current rates

Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort
4 Queens Folly Road
P.O Box 5628
Hilton Head Island, SC 29938
Toll-free: 888-322-8720
Web Link: Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort
Book Online: Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort

Hilton Head Marriott Beach & Golf Resort

A 10-story hotel with 512 rooms and suites.

Visit the website for current rates

Hilton Head Marriott Beach & Golf Resort
One Hotel Circle
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
843-686-8400
Toll-free: 800-228-9290
Fax: 843-686-8450
Web Link: Hilton Head Marriott Beach & Golf Resort

Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort

All 323 units have kitchenettes

Visit the website for current rates

Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort
23 Ocean Lane
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
843-842-8000
Toll-free: 888-444-6664
Fax: 843-341-8033
Web Link: Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort

Travel Essentials

Seasons. Year-round.

Travel Instructions. By Air: Palmetto Dunes is 45 miles from Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) in Georgia and 95 miles from Charleston International Airport (CHS). Major airlines serve both of those gateways. It is also possible to fly directly to Hilton Head Island Airport (HHH), on commuter service from US Airways Express, via Charlotte, NC. Rental cars and shuttles are available at all three airports.

General Tourist Information. Visit the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau website or contact them at 1 Chamber Dr., P.O. Box 5647, Hilton Head Island, SC 29938; 843-785-3673 or toll-free 800-523-3373.

©2017 Roger Cox


Expedia.com

Doubles Boot Camps

Visit one of the award-winning Cliff Drysdale Tennis programs in Florida for a Luxury Ladies Retreat this fall. Omni Amelia Island Plantation, October 11-15. Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, October 4-8 or 18-22. Contact us for more information at 830-625-5911, x208 or visit  Cliff Drysdale Ladies Retreats



Ratings

(239 Reviewers)
Tennis Overall
5-Ball Rating Game Matching
4-Ball Rating Tennis Complex
4½-Ball Rating Lodging
4-Ball Rating Dollar Value
4½-Ball Rating Other Recreation
4½-Ball Rating Romance
4-Ball Rating Solo Travelers
4-Ball Rating
Tennis Staff
5-Ball Rating Instruction
4½-Ball Rating Junior Tennis
4½-Ball Rating Cuisine
3½-Ball Rating Spa & Fitness
4-Ball Rating Setting
4-Ball Rating Kids' Programs
4½-Ball Rating


Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center Ratings
( 241 Reviewers)
Instruction
4½-Ball Rating Dollar Value
4½-Ball Rating
Tennis Staff
5-Ball Rating Junior Tennis
4½-Ball Rating

Marriott Ratings
( 1 Reviewers)

Omni Ratings
( 1 Reviewers)
Lodging
4-Ball Rating Other Recreation
5-Ball Rating Romance
5-Ball Rating Dollar Value
4-Ball Rating
Cuisine
4-Ball Rating Spa & Fitness
5-Ball Rating Solo Travelers
5-Ball Rating

©2017 Roger Cox