Let me preface this by saying that we are not “timeshare people” and do not own a unit at the Royal Dunes Resort in Hilton Head or anywhere else, though we have rented a few timeshares in ski areas. This visit to Royal Dunes did very little to change our opinion.
A few facts: we chose the Royal Dunes as a spot where we, Northerners, could meet up and vacation with another couple from the South who are RCI owners. There were five of us---two couples and one child---sharing a three bedroom, three bath unit. . None of us golf.
The accommodations: Royal Dunes Resort is located in Port Royal Plantation, a beautifully landscaped area of Hilton Head with a golf course; it is home to many other timeshares and resorts. Our unit was on the fourth floor of a four-storey building. It was accessible via an elevator from the parking garage. (N.B. Parking spaces are on the narrow side and it took some skill to maneuver our family S.U.V. in and out of the garage.) The unit had a reasonably sized living area with a sofa and two armchairs and a mid-sized flat panel television. This allowed us all to watch movies or TV shows together. The unit was tastefully, if inexpensively, decorated. Think Sears Home Collection. There was a dining area and a small kitchen. The kitchen was equipped with the basics and I mean basic. Although the unit was supposed to accommodate up to eight people, there was only one ancient 8 inch frying pan and about two saucepans. There were enough dishes and cutlery for eight. The knives provided for food prep should have been retired a while ago. They made vegetable chopping more athletic than it should be. I know that timeshares are built for people vacationing and dining out, not for Bobby Flay, but our family likes to eat healthy, so we prefer to cook our own stuff. Unfortunately, the kitchen wasn’t really up to the prep of a real dinner. The two bedrooms intended for adults were fairly spacious. Both had king beds, flat panel TVs and adjoining baths. One had a Jacuzzi tub. Our bed had a strange slant in the middle and the covers consisted of a sheet, a blanket with the consistency of a sponge, another sheet and a polyester bedspread. It was weird. The third bedroom had two twin beds and a bathroom across the hall with a shower, but no tub. All of the furniture seemed relatively new and all of the appliances were in good working order. There was a nice little balcony off the living/dining area. It lacked any sort of view, but it was pleasant to sit and read or talk. WiFi service was sketchy to non-existent. There was no housekeeping, so if your towels (and you weren’t provided with very many) got dirty, you had to do laundry.
The facilities: There were two small swimming pools for guests. Lounges were made of inexpensive outdoor fabric at one pool and plastic with no cushions at the other. About 10-15% of them were in serious need of repair. The pool water was not exceptionally clean. I noticed that mine was one of the few male faces at the pool during the day. The crowd is almost entirely women and children; you would think the men have gone to war, but actually they might all just be playing golf. On our first day at the pool, we were annoyed by a very loud radio that played oldies with many commercials. A guest had decided to share her music with the rest of the complex.The next day, at the lunchtime hamburger and hot dog barbecue hosted by a uniformed security guard, the staff blasted the same oldies station for poolside entertainment. They were trying to get us to dance to it! Every other resort I’ve stayed has either pre-recorded music or satellite radio. Even an iPod playlist would have been better.Using broadcast commercial radio as your music source is just cheap.
There are a couple of public grills next to the pool. Of course, this means you may have to wait to use them and that your food may be cool by the time you have taken it off the grill and walked back to your unit. We used the grill one night and it wasn’t terrible. There are also bikes for rent. There is no gym which was a major disappointment to me because I am an athlete and like to train even when on vacation. All the other timeshares we’ve stayed at have had some sort of gym facility where I could at least use an exercise bike or a treadmill.
Royal Dunes is not on the beach, but it is a short walk to the beach and there is a shuttle bus that makes about four trips a day for those who don’t want to walk. The beach is nice enough, but rental of a beach chair is $30 per person per day for the first day and $18 for each additional day. It would have cost $150 for the five of us to sit at the beach for a day! I recommend going to CVS and buying your own chair if you are staying for any amount of time. There were rip tides and jellyfish for most of the week, so the beach wasn’t too appealing, anyway.
The Royal Dunes office is small and has one aged computer and cheap printer you can use if you need to check your email or print boarding passes. We asked the staff to recommend a fishing excursion; they gave us a phone number that did not work. Unlike other timeshares, we encountered no hard sell, though there was a bit of a pitch at the brunch our friends attended.
Activities: There are no restaurants, game rooms, gym or spa facilities or bars on the property.On site, there was very little to do. There were a few scheduled events every day, including a brunch that we did not attend, but that our hosts liked. There was also a daily morning walk along the beach. With the exception of one woman who seemed to be an activities director and taught the aqua aerobics class, the very few other activities, such as the barbecue I described earlier, were led by security guards and maintenance staff, doubling as hosts and hostesses. There was an “ice cream social” that required a $2 entrance fee. They also offered poolside hair braiding for about an hour. My kid spent most of his time in his room, playing video games and reading. The activities we scheduled outside the resort, such as fishing, touring some local museums and going on a wildlife expedition were very good, but there is little, if anything, to do on the grounds.
Overall impression: There is nothing terribly wrong with Royal Dunes Resort, but the property excels at absolutely nothing. Personally, I want a vacation that is more than just adequate. I would not return and I would never pay $11,000 to buy a week there.
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- Also Known As:
- Royal Dunes Hotel Hilton Head