Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The four year old traveler turns 5!

The four year old traveler asked me a question back in April. I answered that question with a resounding “YES”. If I could have looked ahead to the busy year of 2012 upon us, I may have given a different response. Predictably and not a moment late, the four year old traveler has turned five but before she did, she has asked me (almost) every day since that comical entry, “Am I going to the beach when I turn 5?”. I was also asked (almost every day) “How many days are there till February?” Honestly, counting down to her birthday has been more exciting than counting down to Christmas.

As demonstrated above, this now 5 year old does not forget a thing. She has a memory like an elephant. So did I have to keep my promise of taking her to Costa Rica? Yes, one day, but not this year. This year my husband and I have decided that an 8+ hour flight may be a bit much for our precious little princess (and for us too, with “are we there yet?”, reverberating every two minutes). We also thought that there was a strong possibility she would not be able to decipher the beaches of Costa Rica from the beaches of Australia or the beaches of Florida from the beaches of Charleston.

Therefore with much deliberation, careful word choice construction and prayer, we delivered the news to the young one that her fifth birthday would not be spent on the tropical beaches of Costa Rica, but rather on a semi warm beach in Charleston (average temperature in Charleston in February 60+ degrees). She was ecstatic and squealed with glee. “So I get to go to the beach when I turn five? Yay!” We were relieved and excited. With that relief, we began planning her beach excursion to Kiawah Island Resort, 20 miles outside of Historic Charleston, South Carolina.

Kiawah Island Resort consists of miles and miles of pristine white beach with gentle lapping waves, an 18 hole golf course, animal sanctuaries for endangered species, and top notch cuisine.

From the moment we set foot on the property our little traveler was treated like a princess. The first night of our stay was spent in a casual dining restaurant with high end surf fair. At the end of our meal she was served dessert and serenaded by our awesome waiter who had a wonderful French accent. The complimentary dessert was vanilla and chocolate ice cream, fresh, plump berries and hot chocolate sauce with a sprig of mint on the side. She also received a balloon to boot.

Word spread quickly that it was her birthday. Every bellhop and attendant we passed greeted her with a hug and a “happy birthday!” Shuttle service was the transportation of choice on the island and she had the luxury of being driven from location to location in a private shuttle with a pleasant driver and comfortable temperature control.

The night before her actual birthday, another kind gentlemen rapped on our door accompanied by another doorman who had a surprise treat for the birthday girl; gourmet popcorn, chocolate bars, cookies, a free movie pass and plentiful drink. Though she does not eat chocolate she enjoyed the other treats and the surprise was enough to put her on cloud nine for the remainder of the evening.

She and her sister enjoyed bubble baths in the gigantic garden tub. The bubbles where so big they nearly covered their heads.

On February 21st, her fifth birthday, she spent the day at a nature center petting snakes and lizards and crawling behind turtles and alligators. She had a blast with this hands on experience.

And what about the dream of playing on the beach for her fifth birthday? It came true. The weather was nice. It stayed between 65 and 70 the entire stay and there was no rain. One sweet staff member told my daughter that it had rained several days in a row before she arrived, but that she had brought the sunshine with her. His prediction seemed true; for there was bright, warm sun that shined the whole three days we were there.

She wrote, "I am 5!" in the sand.

The resort encompasses several hotels, villas and suites within its vast properties. We stayed in the Sanctuary. It was quiet and immaculate and the food was awesome. This 5 star destination was just awarded a triple A, five diamond distinction from Forbes.  I would recommend it for couples, families and little girls turning 5!

Much less pomp and circumstance would have sufficed, but it was nice to be treated in such a special way and I am sure this will be a birthday she will not soon forget.

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