For families looking for an upscale beach stay on the Outer Banks, the Sanderling Resort is a wonderful choice tucked between the Atlantic and Currituck Sound. The exquisite location makes for a glorious setting with water, water everywhere. The only full-service luxury resort on the islands, the Sanderling is uniquely positioned to provide a plush beach vacation with the kids. One unique perk: being able to watch both the sunrise and the sunset over the water without leaving the resort.
North Carolina’s Outer Banks are a world unto themselves, blessed with one of the country’s best natural coastlines for secluded beaches, high sand dunes, and myriad species of seabirds and other wildlife. Among other attractions, the 200-mile string of barrier islands is home to Kitty Hawk, where the Wright Brothers first took flight, and the iconic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, whose 257 steps you can climb to be rewarded with spectacular views.
The Sanderling's accommodations are clad in beachy cedar shake siding on the outside, and exude a tony yet laid-back beach style on the inside, thanks to a palette of taupe and sand-beige accented with Sanderling bright orange. Guest rooms in the hotel feature a king or two queen beds, flatscreen TVs, big bathrooms, and private balconies. Suites offer a sitting room with a sofa bed and wet bar with a microwave, fridge and coffee maker. Larger families should consider one of the five vacation homes, which offer three to six bedrooms, fully equipped kitchens, and accesses to all hotel services, including room service.
Beyond the drop-dead-gorgeous beach (with staff to provide and set up your chairs, umbrella and towels) and pools (one for families, one for grown-ups), there is a lot of fun to be had, from golf and tennis to an activities hut that can set you up kayaking, paddleboarding, or snorkeling. You can take surf lessons, sailing cruises, and Jet ski tours, or go charter fishing or kiteboarding. There are bike rentals on property as well as family lawn games such as corn hole.
Parents, meanwhile, will want to carve out quality time with a good book or a cocktail on the deck overlooking the sound or you can choose from a menu of massages at the spa.
The Sanderling features three on-site restaurants: the Lifesaving Station, a casual place open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner; Kimball's Kitchen, a more upscale option with gorgeous water views; and the Sandbar, an outdoor poolside eatery with snacks and beverages.
Best rooms: The hotel's guest rooms are spread among three buildings: the Beach House, North Inn, and South Inn. Families with younger kids should request the North Inn, which has a family pool with zero-depth entry. A ground-floor room gives easy access to the pool, but rooms on higher floors offer better views. This building was renovated in 2015, and now includes spectacular ocean and soundview guestrooms on the third floor.
Best season: Summer is peak season on the Outer Banks, but also the most crowded. Fall is a wonderful season for a weekend getaway with still-warm water, fewer crowds and lower prices. Always check the Sanderling's special offers for seasonal deals.
Visited: May 2016
Disclaimer: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary services for review purposes. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.
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