Members since February 2020, the Moodie family has certainly had a unique introduction to the Club, with the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting most of their travel plans. However, they got creative with their Membership and enjoyed making a home-away-from-home during an extended stay in Kiawah Island, SC. What started as a seven-day luxury vacation turned into two months as COVID shut down the world. Read on to see how the Moodies made the most of their Membership during this time while focusing on what matters most—quality time spent together.
Where is home for you?
Our main home is in Hoboken, NJ and we have a weekend/summer home in Montauk, NY. Our children go to school in NYC and normally we work there, although this year we have been working remotely thus far.
What made you decide to join Exclusive Resorts?
We have friends in the Club; families from my children’s school. Last winter we were in Whistler staying in a big hotel with two connecting rooms over Christmas. We were feeling cramped and I was annoyed at having to use the hotel’s coin laundry facility, even though we were paying a lot for the rooms!
When I visited our friends who were staying at a beautiful Exclusive Resorts property in Whistler, I was intrigued and asked her about it. My husband and I grew up in Canada and go to Whistler at least once a year, so the Whistler properties are ones we definitely look forward to trying very soon.
What is one thing you love about Exclusive Resorts?
I love staying in homes instead of staying in a hotel. We are a family of five and like to invite our parents, and we imagine inviting other families eventually. I like to cook and try local ingredients. Also, just having privacy and enough space for everyone to relax and getting a good night’s sleep is so important.
Your first trip was to Islamorada, FL at the beginning of 2020. How was your experience?
We are very new Members and have only visited two properties thus far: Islamorada and Kiawah Island. They were both wonderful! We were one of the first families to stay in Islamorada so that was neat.
Islamorada is a very relaxing location. One day we took a drive into Key West for fun, where we did some fishing, fed the tarpons, and enjoyed the pool. We have been to the Keys before and my children really enjoy visiting the dolphins and birds at Theatre of the Sea. They have been able to swim with the same dolphin, Skipper, each time we are there and feel connected to him. I am pretty sure we will visit that destination again!
You took an extended vacation in Kiawah. What was it like? What did you do while you were there?
We will always be grateful to Exclusive Resorts for finding a safe vacation home for us to get through the initial wave of COVID-19 in New York and New Jersey. It was a little bit of being in the right place at the right time—we had not planned on being in Kiawah or staying so long. I had originally planned a March spring break trip to Islamorada with my mom and children, but by the time we got to March, COVID-19 was becoming a real threat. My mom decided not to travel to us—she lives in Canada—and I decided to leave early and started our holiday in Miami before driving to Islamorada. Very quickly concerns over flying increased, so we decided to extend our stay in Florida. My husband drove down to meet us so we would have our car. Sadly, the Florida Keys asked all non-residents to leave and we could not remain there. We decided to drive home and wanted to stop along the way. Our Vacation Ambassador, Lambie, let us know that a residence in Kiawah was available and we thought it made sense to continue our vacation there. We drove straight for ten hours and barely stopped.
We planned to stay for a week or two before continuing home, but it turned into two months! It was a little unusual because Kiawah closed and would not let any new travelers arrive, so this opened up availability for us to be able to stay. At the same time there were no restaurants open, take out dining was limited, and most activities were closed, including tennis, horseback riding, the spa, and the nature center; although golf remained a limited option.
We were homeschooling our kids there, and after online classes we usually went to the beach (our kids loved the beachcombing and found many creatures and shells) or for bike rides (a must do in Kiawah to look for alligators around the golf course or ride right on the beach). We also barbecued and hung around by the pool. We read a lot of books, watched movies with the fireplace going, and got into a routine as if we lived there. I shopped and cooked meals, and as things slowly reopened, we would go into Charleston on the weekends to see the botanical gardens or pick up take out and have a picnic in the park. It seemed very normal, considering what an abnormal time it was.
Can you share a special memory from your time in Kiawah?
Kiawah was a very special travel experience for us because we were able to stay for so long and really experience it as a place. It was a wonderful thing that came up unexpectedly during a scary time. Kiawah is a magical and beautiful destination with so much nature. If I had to pick just one favorite moment, it would be celebrating my daughter’s eighth birthday. We hadn’t originally planned to be in Kiawah during her birthday, and we were not sure how we could make her celebration special without friends in attendance—but we arranged a private boat tour at sunset. It was perfect! We saw many dolphins jumping in the water and visited a private beach area with a swing that had been made from a capsized boat. It was very special, and I am sure she will not forget it!
Is there a time a Concierge or your Ambassador helped make a trip more memorable?
What is more memorable than two months in Kiawah? I definitely felt that was a tense and uncertain time, and both Lambie and our Membership Director were always available for me to talk to. They helped us figure out a great solution.
There were really small things that made a difference too, including a bottle of champagne when we arrived and a cooler in the residence that we could use to transport items to and from the beach. It was not a normal experience, but the whole Kiawah team made us feel really welcomed.
What upcoming vacations or experiences are you most excited about?
We are supposed to go to Peninsula Papagayo, Costa Rica for my birthday this November and to Kapalua Bay, Hawaii for Christmas. We’re still watching to see what will happen with the pandemic, but we really hope we can travel again soon.
What trips are on your bucket list?
Definitely Europe! I have my eye on the Italian villas, and I’d also love to do something in France—either a boat trip or a wine trip, or both!