An outdoor lover’s paradise nestled 30 minutes from Charleston, South Carolina, on the small barrier island of Isle of Palms, Wild Dunes Resort, a Destination Hotel has unparalleled alfresco spaces, says Jeffery Payne, director of event management. “We want to push people out of boardrooms and ballrooms and move them onto porches and to the beach, showcasing the natural beauty that is Isle of Palms,” says Payne, noting that when faith-based groups bring their own music for worship, they’re able to roam wherever they please around the 1,600-acre property, allowing for complete seclusion from other groups. The resort has 50,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor meeting space—including the 10,000-sq.-ft. Sweetgrass Pavilion, a raised conference center with two ballrooms surrounded by wraparound porches.
Accommodations range from The Boardwalk Inn with 93 rooms to The Village at Wild Dunes with 120 units (including one-, two- and three-bedroom suites), as well as vacation homes and cottages. A youth pastors’ meeting, for example, booked four homes that housed 15 people each, and also organized a low country boil outside when guests arrived on-site, says Payne. Giveback activities on-site can include painting cornhole sets for veterans or venturing into Charleston to participate in Meals on Wheels. Attendees can spend downtime participating in outdoor activities, from kitesurfing to paddleboarding to environmental awareness excursions hosted by the Department of Natural Resources.
Dining options include sustainable fare at Sea Island Grill & Lounge, sandwiches at Hudson’s Market or Dunes Deli (located near the resort’s 36-hole golf course) and sweet treats at the seasonal Duney’s Ice Cream Shop. At sunset from May through September, youth groups can engage in complimentary outdoor movies at The Village Plaza, where a fire pit begs for marshmallow roasts.
Ask staff if the nearby South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rescue Program will release recovered sea turtles on the island over your meeting dates. If so, plan a breakout session for guests to witness the experience, followed by a trip to the aquarium to hold baby sea turtles.