Hotels Reviews

Review: Westin Hilton Head Island – a large, family friendly, beachside resort

a pool and palm trees by a resort

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Westin Hilton Head Island

I love Hilton Head. My first trip to Hilton Head Island was well over 30 years ago. It’s long been an end of school, fun in the sun, family vacation spot that holds a near and dear place in my heart. The majority of our visits landed us in Sea Pines where we’d stay on the beach ( with very few people ), bike to Harbor Town, enjoy some ice cream, marvel at the yachts, and occasionally watch golfers on Harbor Town’s famed 18th. It had been roughly a decade since I’d been back and I was eager to take my wife. I truly hemmed and hawed at where to stay and ultimately landed at the Westin Hilton Head in Port Royal.

a pool with palm trees and people in it

Stay Details:

  • When: July 2022
  • Where: Hilton Head Island, Port Royal
  • Loyalty Program: Marriott Bonvoy
  • Status: Platinum
    • Free Breakfast – cold buffet with $7 needed to upgrade to a hot buffet
    • Room Upgrade
  • Rate: Roughly $300
    • Rate jumped to $550 on the Thursday, Fri, Sat after we checked out
  • Upgrade to Grand Deluxe Ocean View King
  • Pets: yes, $150 per stay

a room with a plant wall and a chandelier

Booking and choosing the Westin

Sea Pines is the best place to stay, bar none, no doubt about it. The biggest problem with Sea Pines is its greatest attribute – only one hotel. If you’re not looking to stay at the Harbor Town Inn and Club, which I nearly booked, you’ll be choosing between a Time Share, VRBO, or Airbnb. In peak summer season, traveling with a pet, there weren’t really any attractive options to book last minute via those options.

The Harbor Town Inn and Club is an Amex Fine Hotel and Resort and qualifies for the $200 Amex Platinum Hotel credit and was quite a tempting option, but it clocked in at $750 a night after taxes and fees. With no direct beach access, extra pet fees, even with the Amex FHR benefits and Hotel credit that was a big fat no thank you. Would I come back and stay there in the fall or spring… 100%, but at those rates + the humidity is unbearable and temps nearly 100. Rates fall under $300 if you come back in Oct/Nov – that’s more like it.

I had a couple of Amex Offers populate my account prior to choosing and I have to say that swayed my decision. I was namely deciding between the Westin, Marriott, and Harbor Town Inn.

We currently carry Platinum status so figured that would aid us in getting an upgrade, plus a free breakfast, and the ability to earn $110 back on a roughly $1000 stay meant I’d give staying in the Westin inside Port Royal a shot.

Location:

The Westin Hilton Head is located in the Port Royal plantation, and if you think of Hilton Head as a foot, it’s on the heal of the island, not too far off 278, and has access to the great beach that stretches the sole of the foot. It’s a far more crowded beach since it’s lined with hotels, condo buildings, time shares, etc, but it’s a wide beach with gentle waves.  Great for families with small children who wish to swim in calm waters.

We took a long walk one day around the heal and that area is far more representative of the beach I recall visiting when I was a kid in Sea Pines with very few people on it. The beaches around the hotel are full of people which isn’t a bad thing, but doesn’t feel like the Hilton Head I think of.

 

The heal of the island featuring very few people and has the feel of a private beach. This is roughly a 20 minutes walk from the Westin.

a beach with houses and trees

First Impression and Check In

The resort has about 450 rooms and suites, feel massive, and is built for families. The resort got a $30m facelift in 2013, and parts of it feel still feel updated, like the check in area below, aspects of the room, but other parts feel quite old and outdated.

Our check in was very swift, friendly, and our elite benefits were explained along with our upgrade. ( Our room upgrade was reflected in the Marriott App 4 days prior to check-in ).

Comparing it to other beachside resorts I researched along the east coast, if you’re traveling with a family, this was a darn good option at $300 a night. I would note that rate was for an entry level room – our upgraded Ocean View King was closer to $500.

a reception desk in a building

The Room

The interior of our room felt relatively up to date; however, you could see wear and tear on the furniture and couch.

The balcony offered a nice view when sitting on it, but needed some paint and freshening. The humidity was so high that anytime we left the door open for more than a few minutes our room was covered in moisture.

a balcony with chairs and a view of the ocean

The bathroom offered a dual vanity and tub/shower combo.

a bathroom with a sink and toilet

The Pool+Gym

There are several pools on property and you’d better get here early to reserve a chair. We’d see people around 9am starting to congregate and stake their claim to large groups of chairs. In addition to the large main pool, there is a big jacuzzi, kiddie pool, and even a pool under a canopy.

a pool with lounge chairs and umbrellas

The Gym is pretty stinking nice featuring not only the regular stuff like free weights + treadmills, but also Peloton bikes, TRX cables, kettle balls, and a recovery station with hypervolts.

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Dining

The resort offers a few different dining options with breakfast being served buffet style at the Carolina Room. It wasn’t really what we were in the mood for on any given day, and I’d say that overall we weren’t impressed with the dining or drinks.

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Outdoors you can visit View 32 which overlooks the pool and had a pretty nice breeze!

a group of people outside a building

And then for the older crowd there is Splash which overlooks the ocean and has limited hours. We had dinner here on our last night and while it was ok…it wasn’t worth the price and I’d recommend dining offsite.

Overall

I love Hilton Head. Would I return to the Westin? Probably not. While there isn’t anything bad about the hotel, it’s large and very family driven. Since we are a couple without children, I’d opt to stay either in Sea Pines in either a vacation rental, or the Harbor Inn when its cooler and prices are lower.

The part of Hilton Head that is special in my eyes is really captured within Sea Pines with few people on the beach, the ability to bike anywhere, and the quaint Harbor Town. We drove there every day we were on the island and that detracts from the experience. If you’re looking for a golfing, family friendly, excursion the Westin may fit the bill. For me, staying away from Sea Pines and its emptier beaches made the few days we spent there unremarkable which was never my impression before.

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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