Setting a course for Charleston and points south in the Osprey Custom Cars Defender 110.
We recently brought you information on Aaron Richardt, the Land Rover Defender expert who created the awesome restomod versions at the Osprey Custom Cars workshop in Wilmington, North Carolina. After touring his workshop where he hand-built the British-born beauty, we borrowed one of his latest creations and set a course for South Carolina.
The six-figure truck that Richardet lent us for the occasion was a Defender 110 soft-top, painted in the heritage Land Rover color called Arles Blue—the perfect form of transportation for our tour of a major part of the Sports South.
We spent our first night in Wilmington where the Osprey is based in order to get a head start at ack emma. The place we picked was The Hive, a historic brick building in the middle of town that has been reinvented as a hospitality concept that blends the amenities of a high-end hotel with loft-like design, making it feel like you’re borrowing a friend’s apartment for the weekend.
The Hive has 15 suites in total, decorated like a special pillow for a gorgeous urban city, and features spa-like bathrooms with oversized walk-in showers, along with an exercise room, lounge area, and most importantly when you’re driving a custom Defender, parking outside street. It is easy to see why it is so popular by visiting the genres of film and music industry; The owners have hive-like spaces in the downtown business because they have been so successful.
The next day, we plugged in the Charleston coordinates, and made paths for the South Carolina State Line. With Osprey’s signature Corvette LS3 engine making 435 horsepower, the custom Defender 110 engine was nothing but sluggish, and more than held the traffic we needed to get around. But once we hit the country roads, the luxury truck really felt right at home.
You can see our full guide to Charleston here, but no trip to the area is complete without a visit to a historic farm, and we stop at Boone Hall, one of the best examples, founded in 1681 when Major John Boone of England came to Charleston and established a profitable farm scattered with a manor house Nabil. The Defender was at home on the shady streets of Boone Hall and private roads.
Then we made our way to Charleston’s most elegant and luxurious hotel, and one of the best preserved historic hospitality venues in the country: Wentworth Mansion. It has been called the No. 1 Small Town Hotel in the United States Travel + LeisureAmong other homages, this “21-room tribute to the greatness of Charleston” was built in 1886 for wealthy cottontail Francis Silas Rodgers, and quickly gained a reputation as one of the South’s finest private residences.
The 24,000-square-foot architectural treasure, designed in Second Empire style, includes Italian crystal chandeliers, Tiffany glass panels, hand-carved marble fireplaces, rich wood paneling, elaborately carved crown moldings, and original Victorian fixtures. Wentworth Mansion has been subtly modernized with all the amenities of a luxury hotel yet still looks like a private mansion from the golden age.
It is surrounded by walled gardens with lush landscaping, and there is a balcony at the back accessible from a glassed balcony where complimentary wine and appetizers are served to guests every evening. The drawing room has a gas fireplace and there is also a library if you need more privacy. And don’t overlook the alcove where a selection of brandy, sherry and port ware is always on hand.
While the fireplaces in most historic hotels are merely decorations, the marble mantles at Wentworth Mansion run on gas logs that add to the hotel’s grand charm. The best accommodations are found in the former bedroom suites and guest salons that comprise the family’s original apartments. Not surprisingly, Wentworth Mansion is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH), a group of the finest luxury properties on the planet.
Aside from the main residence, the property now houses an AAA Four Diamond restaurant, called Circa 1886, in what was once the carriage house. One of Charleston’s best and most romantic restaurants is Circa 1886, where guests have breakfast (included) in the morning. Come evening, Chef Mark Collins offers “a lighter, brighter take on classic Lowcountry fare,” with specials on Southern classics that have earned him great reviews.
Our other restaurant in Charleston, picked out of the amazing options, was The Ordinary on the city’s most famous King Street. The sign declares it a “Luxury Hall for Seafood and Shellfish,” which gives you the general idea, but The Ordinary is much more than the name suggests. It is located in a luxurious historical building It has been converted into a bustling American brasserie, with period décor, elevated cocktail bar, and non-tiled bar.
The menu has the freshest seafood available, whether from the raw bar or served in innovative ways – crunchy oyster sliders, with nuoc cham Chutney and spicy mayonnaise on freshly baked Hawaiian rolls, a must-do – you celebrate “merroir” (that would be the land of the sea) From the Carolinas and the East Coast, The Ordinary’s support for local and regional fishermen, lobster, and oysters, farmers and producers is a delicious guide.
Climbing back into Defender the next morning, we set off on a fun trip to Kiawah Island, a beautiful 10,000-acre island located 25 miles southwest of the city that includes a private beach, sports and golf community, stunning real estate and a world-class luxury resort. Before checking into The Sanctuary, a masterpiece at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, we stopped at the Kiawah Island Sports Club, exclusively for the use of Kiawah Island Club members.
The club also includes two private golf courses, as well as the five outstanding golf courses and clubs at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, making the island a true world-class golf destination. But skeet shooting is our style, so we arranged a private lesson (based on availability) with a club pro because we’ve been feeling a little rusty since our last foray into sports shooting. Mud bath courses and skeet booths are among the best we’ve ever visited, as the Kiawah Island crowd takes this Southern tradition very seriously.
They fitted us with our favorite clay-breaking rifle, the Beretta Silver Pigeon, an elegant over-the-bottom piece, beautifully balanced and finished in a rich Beretta tradition, which always seemed to improve our scores. The Defender was in place on the gym’s sprawling 800-acre grounds, and drew more than one note of admiration from members. Although exotic, the truck’s cool poses a stunt on the inside, more than just a luxury SUV might have done it.
After you’ve had a successful morning, it’s time to drive through the gorgeous expanse of Kiawah Island to The Sanctuary. The The unparalleled luxury beachfront Forbes Five Star/AAA Five Diamond hotel has a Gatsby-esque feel, as does the storied Newport mansion inhabited by a graceful Southern family of aristocratic lineage. In addition to golf offerings—the Pete Dye-designed Ocean Course hosted the 2021 PGA Championship—the resort is also named the world’s number one tennis resort, and the Roy Barth Tennis Center features 19 clay courses.
We naturally had to arrange a tennis lesson as well, which proved to be a real workout. Sports pugs, i.e. “golf with a gun,” might just be our style. We quickly refreshed after walking on the beach for miles in the fresh breeze and plenty of sunshine. This was followed by a dip in The Sanctuary overlooking the dunes and a snack at the informal poolside Loggerhead Grill.
After relaxing a bit and then refreshing, we fixed up at the very elegant lobby bar for a pre-eating cocktail. With wood paneling, a soaring fireplace, John Singer Sargent-style portraits, yacht models, and mahogany floors that creak when you walk on them to evoke the spirit of the historic mansion, it’s one of the most gentleman’s cocktail retreats anywhere in the South.
The Sanctuary features spacious and elegant rooms and suites, staff trained to provide “the highest level of proactive service”, a luxurious spa and fitness center, two in-house restaurants, excellent bars, Jasmine Porch at the Ocean Room, with more dining options at its various world-class golf clubs. All done in classic style and excellent taste, on a scale that is truly impressive and yet feels very welcoming and intimate.
The Ocean Room in particular feels like a private Gatsby hideaway, with upholstered banquettes, dark wood paneled walls, fireplace, and grand English palace-style décor. This is the resort’s premier steakhouse, with a focus on USDA Prime Beef, locally sourced seafood, and signature seasonal side dishes, complimented by an impeccable list of 1,000 label wines in the cellar. Their signature is 16 oz. Angus Beef ribeye is 21 days old, and you can order it with pepper rind and a variety of homemade sauces, courtesy of Chef de Cuisine Robert Rando.
Meanwhile, Jasmine Borsch Restaurant has been awarded the title of “Best Kitchen in the House” by the prestigious Andrew Harper Hideaway reportsIt offers a more casual look in a private palace atmosphere. Old Charleston brick was used in its construction along with oak flooring, adding a touch of timeless elegance. The seafood comes straight from the local waters while certified organic produce is sourced from across the region. This is the place to go for an elevated experience of the local classic shrimp and grits, among other options.
Given some more time, we would definitely go boating because the waterways on Kiawah Island are known for their serene beauty; Kiawah is also home to the Heron Park Nature Center, which is staffed by full-time naturalists and offers a program of nature excursions ranging from birdwatching trips to kayaking, SUP tours, and motorboats to search for resident Kiawah River crocodiles and glass-nosed dolphins. And of course fishing is an option in specific places.
Too soon we were forced out of The Sanctuary, with a reluctance to hold back the prospect of the final drive along those charming country roads of the Arles Blue Osprey Defender. call it Bye However, rather than say goodbye, as we are already planning a return visit, to further hone our skeet shooting, tennis and steak picking skills in this most glamorous haven of the premium sports group.
Tags: Charleston Kiawah Island Kiawah Island Club Kiawah Island Golf Resort Land Rover Land Rover Defender Osprey Custom Cars , South Carolina The Ordinary