Escape to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
By Hope S. Philbrick
Looking for a place to truly retreat? The Marina Inn at Grande Dunes is one answer.
Located between Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach, this upscale resort is near enough to everything the area has to offer—stage shows, restaurants and bars, shopping, state parks, water parks, outdoor adventures, whatever!—but is secluded and far enough off the beaten path that you may be tempted or plan to just hide out in this pampering haven.
I escaped here. And I loved it.
After an exhilarating day of kayaking, I arrived to discover my guestroom was a huge haven. After learning where I’d be staying a local I’d met earlier that day had promised, “Those rooms are so big!”; she did not exaggerate. My “exceptionally oversized” Club Suite had a plush king bed, seating area with gas fireplace, private balcony overlooking the waterway and golf course, a fully-equipped kitchen, and a big bathroom with double sinks, tub and separate rain shower. The room was well-above-average nice in terms of its décor, sprawling spaciousness, amenities and furnishings.
I saw no reason to leave. So I didn’t.
I showered then powered up my computer and powered down myself. I sat at the desk to write and then did something I almost never do: Ordered room service for dinner. Though I’m accustomed to traveling and thus dining in restaurants solo, it felt decadent to don my pajamas and have swordfish tacos and beer delivered to my door. I was able to mingle work with relaxation, skip the hair and makeup process and simply be. It was awesome.
Later that evening the weather cooled enough to warrant turning on the fireplace for a brief time, so I flicked the switch and sank into the couch to welcome fall.
During my stay, I savored the pleasure of being a guest at Marina Inn. I walked the beach, got an in-room spa treatment, and dined at WaterScapes (more on these below). The luxury of the overall experience was pretty much how I assume The Queen is treated on a regular basis.
There are hotel rooms that serve the purpose of a place to sleep. Others manage to make the vacation. Marina Inn is firmly in the latter category. You could come here and enjoy a complete retreat, leaving only when it’s time to depart for home.
“Everyone deserves to be pampered,” is the motto of Coastal Spa, which provides the in-room services for Marina Inn. It’s a promise that’s kept. This hotel doesn’t have a separate spa facility, but as massage therapist Mittie says, “In-room is the only way to go.” It certainly does have its perks, like the fact that post-massage you can immediately step into your private shower or slip into bed as suits your mood and schedule.
From the moment I opened the door to let Mittie in, I was impressed by her professionalism. She marched in carrying a massage table, told me to start relaxing immediately—in other words, to stop playing hostess and fussing about the room to ensure her comfort—and quickly transformed the seating area into a spa oasis. She clicked on the ceiling fan, set the TV to play soothing music, closed the drapes, and then went into the kitchen to wash her hands while I slipped under the sheets on the massage table. When I expressed amazement that she so effortlessly knew how to work all the mechanics in the room, she said, “I’m here a lot.”
The massage itself was one of the best I’ve had in terms of just-right pressure and her skilled ability to nudge tension out of muscles. When it was over I was thoroughly relaxed. After she whisked herself and equipment out of the room, I sank into arguably my best nap ever—a definite perk of an in-room treatment.
An hour-long therapeutic massage is $125 (+gratuity). Other available services include deep tissue massage, warm stone massage, aromatherapy, and body scrub. Add-on services (+$20-30) include facial massage, hot stones, warm shells, steamed towels, foot scrubs and more.
WaterScapes Restaurant is helmed by award-winning Chef Corbett Rourk. The menu showcases local ingredients and bears a “certified South Carolina grown” logo as well as “fresh on the menu” and “good catch (seafood)” certifications. To underscore the point, a sidebar boasts, “WaterScapes strives to be at the forefront of sustainability and utilizes every effort to ensure the products we serve are locally grown and are of the freshest quality possible.”
How fresh is the seafood? “Freshly caught seafood specials of the day are caught within 10 miles of our tables!” says David Nelson, general manager.
“I had one of the best meals of my life at WaterScapes!” enthused one local recommending the restaurant to me. I didn’t need to be sold on it: Room service the previous night was above-average and I was happy to remain on property.
Shrimp & grits is a quintessential South Carolina dish and it’s on the menu. This version is juicy and spicy and features large shrimp cooked to perfection.
The resort has a private beach, but The Marina Inn at Grande Dunes is not directly on the beach; the window of your guestroom will overlook the resort or the waterway and golf course. During summer months and on weekends, there’s a free shuttle between the inn and the beach just five minutes away. Other times of year, you can drive yourself, and it’s an impossible-to-get-lost straight route with free parking; the route crosses two heavily-trafficked roads, however, so walking is not advised.
The beach is open year-round is billed as “unique private section of the beach” that “offers solitude not found at other Myrtle Beach access” points. “This section of the beach is unspoiled with a winding path of trees, beach grass and dunes. It is relatively unpopulated other than Marina Inn guests or local members…. This is a rare Myrtle Beach experience!” These claims proved true. For your personal safety, my advice is to walk the beach during daylight hours; pay close attention to landmarks and especially the tides. As the sun sets and waters surge to shore, the beach shrinks and some sandy sections transform into impassable rivers. The Marina Inn’s private beach is between two such high-tide rivers, so if you walk outside that zone during low tide getting back to your car at high tide can be a challenge.
- AAA four-diamond rating
- Free local calls
- Free Wi-Fi
- Valet available 24/7
- Complimentary newspaper and coffee served in the lobby daily from 6-10 a.m.
- Complimentary cookies and punch served daily at 3 p.m.
- Complimentary use of DVDs, board games, ping pong
- Business center
- Fitness center
- Indoor and outdoor pools; sauna and hot tubs
- Pool bar (open weekends during the fall)
- Gift shop
- On-site dining includes WaterScapes Restaurant, Reflections Lounge and Room Service
- Private beach
- 18-hole golf
- Tennis courts
- In-room spa services provided by Coastal Spa
- Odds of Encountering Children: Lower than at other area resorts due to location, price and general grownup ambiance.
Earth-friendly initiatives at the Marina Inn include…
- Earn a $5 coupon each day you decline housekeeping services (except day of departure). Coupons may be used at all Marina Inn food and beverage outlets.
- Recycling efforts throughout the hotel including designated bins in each guestroom.
- WaterScapes Restaurant is a “Platinum Partner” with South Carolina’s Sustainable Seafood Initiative. All seafood purchases are on the “green list.”
- Environmental-Preferred purchasing initiatives favor local vendors, energy-efficient appliances, recycled-content paper, and more.
- Biodegradable to-go packaging.
- Reduction plan for cleaning chemicals.
- Power-saving equipment including lighting and thermostats.
- Green Seal-certified cleaning products.
Marina Inn at Grande Dunes
8121 Amalfi Place
Myrtle Beach SC 29572
– Property photos courtesy Marina Inn at Grande Dunes; food, beach and spa © HSP Media LLC
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.