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New Yorkers are fleeing to exclusive Kiawah Island this summer

New Yorkers are fleeing to exclusive Kiawah Island this summer

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.

Exterior of Timbers
A Timbers Kiawah Ocean Club & Residences, a one-ninth fractional share of a three-bedroom condo is $625,000.
Kiawah Island

“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.”

Chaise lounges on Kiawah Island
The South Carolina island club is a perfect place to chaise by the sea.
Kiawah Island

Like thousands of New Yorkers, the Cianciolas have witnessed the price of vacation properties soar in New England — with one East End home selling for nearly $150 million last month.

Despite not knowing “anything about South Carolina,” they decided to expand their getaway search.

A pool on Kiawah Island
The rich and famous have been living in the lap of luxury that is Kiawah Island for decades.
Kiawah Island

“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.

A gym on Kiawah Island.
If you’re going to knock a few strokes off your golf game, hit the gym at Timbers.
Kiawah Island

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 director 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.”

About the author

Vicky Sequeira

With more than 6 years of experience working as a media professional, Vicky flaunts prowess in bringing the juicy tit-bits from the entertainment industry for the readers of News Brig.

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