The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island held a “Topping Out” Ceremony, today on the site of the $125 million dollar luxury hotel and spa rising along the South Carolina coastline. The Sanctuary, which was raised to 20 feet to provide views of the ocean from the ground floor, has some of the largest guest rooms found in America and is the most expensive hotel ever built in South Carolina, where the leading industry is tourism.
“Topping Out” is a 1,300 year-old custom that originated in Scandinavia to signal the completion of a structure and to appease the gods and ancestral spirits living in the trees cut and used for the construction project. In modern times, builders place an evergreen tree at the site of the uppermost steel or concrete structure marking the final stretch in the building’s progress and recognizing the fine efforts of the construction crew. The over-riding theme of the day was pride in workmanship.
In addition to hoisting the evergreen tree, The Sanctuary celebrated this milestone by setting in place the final internal steel section of the chimney that rises from the fireplace in the main lobby of the hotel. All those in attendance had the opportunity to sign their name or write a good luck message on a special panel attached to the chimney for posterity sake. A private reception was held in the lobby overlooking the grand lawn, sand dunes and the Atlantic Ocean complete with red carpet and white glove service. Guests received miniature bricks - replicas of the Flemish Bond brickwork that will be used throughout the hotel - as mementos of the occasion.
The hotel’s architects are Cooper Carry from Atlanta and Smith+McLane Architects in Richmond. The general contractor is Skanska Construction Company in Atlanta. The construction project has created 400 jobs and the hotel will employ over 300 workers upon its Grand Opening in March 2004. Revenue to the surrounding community is projected at approximately $40 million during the first full year of operation.
The official groundbreaking for The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island was held in June 2002, and the project has moved along with speed and precision. “We are on schedule for a March 2004 opening,” says Managing Director Prem Devadas. “This ceremony allows us the opportunity to thank our fantastic work crew, local community supporters and to invite members of the media and the travel industry to witness our splendid progress.”
Among the dignitaries attending the festivities were Kiawah Island Mayor William Wert, Seabrook Mayor John Dubois, and Charleston City Council members, Deborah Morinelli and Larrry Shirley. Pope Bullock, Architectural Director at Cooper Carry, Howard Pharr, President of Hirsch Bedner Associates and Jeff Cross, Executive VP, Willy Russell, Group VP, Henry Hene, Sr. Project Manager and Ken Smith, Project Director from Skanska Construction Company were also in attendance as well as over 500 construction workers.
The 255-room oceanfront hotel and spa will incorporate the classical and historical flavor of nearby Charleston and the gracious “Lowcountry lifestyle” that personifies Southern Hospitality. “The Sanctuary will be the crowning jewel of an island, already recognized for championship golf - including the 1991 Ryder Cup - a world-renowned beach and outstanding service and amenities,” said Devadas. “The luxurious guestrooms and suites, as well as the inviting public areas and fine dining establishments, reflect our vision of creating a timeless and elegant experience,” he concluded.
By combining traditional construction techniques, using the highest quality stone, stucco, wood, slate, ironwork and brick, with contemporary interior design concepts from Atlanta’s world-famous design team, Hirsch Bedner Associates, The Sanctuary will incorporate the gracious feeling of a grand beach home with the innovative space planning, state-of-the-art technology (including wireless internet access) and spectacular visual effects of a 21st century world-class hotel.
The Sanctuary will also offer a nature-based spa with 12 treatment rooms and a staff of professional therapists offering treatments defined by the ocean and marsh. An indoor pool, beauty salon and fitness center will complement the spa as well as two infinity pools (adult and family) overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Business and convention facilities include more than 18,000 square feet of luxurious meeting and conference space including the 6,200 square foot Grand Ballroom and a 3,200 square-foot Junior Ballroom with sweeping ocean views and garden terrace.
Reservation telephone lines for The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island are now open. For more information, call 1-800-576-1585 or e-mail [email protected]