the Outer Banks, a land of water and wind, sea and sand, the
perfect vacation should be simple. Miles of beach to walk with
only the gulls for company. Telescopes looking out to sea. Broad
decks leading down to the water. Snug shutters to keep out the
chill. Misty sunrises. Lingering sunsets.
these qualities make the Sanderling
Resort, Spa and Conference Center one of the most popular
getaways in the world.
the beach bird it's named for, the Sanderling keeps a low profile
among the dunes of the Outer Banks. The three-story hotel, covered
in weathered grey shingles, is no high rise. Rather it evokes
the spirit of the Banks' legendary beach cottages famous for
their "shabby" elegance.
porches and decks, rocking chairs and a cozy reading room make
the Sanderling the beach retreat everyone dreams of.
if the exterior recalls the "unpainted aristocracy" of the Banks,
the interior offers every convenience. A recent $4 million renovation
equipped rooms with pillow-top king-size beds, walk-in showers
and 32-inch, flat screen TVs. Every room has a large private
porch furnished with rocking chairs, a chenille throw and a
Outer Banks are narrow here, and guests who don't have a view
of the ocean from their porch are guaranteed a view of Currituck
Sound. You can check your email out there if you like. Free
wireless internet access now stretches throughout the property.
you get hungry, no need to drive. Two excellent restaurants,
each with its unique atmosphere, are just across the parking
The Lifesaving Station Restaurant (above) occupies the
renovated 1899 Caffey's Inlet Station, one of 29 outposts that
once rescued seamen along this coast. The paneled interior,
beautifully restored, is studded with maritime memorabilia,
historic objects, bird decoys and culinary awards.
our story on Chicamacomico
Lifesaving Station for more on this historic chapter
of Banks' history.]
vary with the season, but the Sanderling's signature chowder,
a creamy blend of shrimp, crab and corn, is available year-round.
the street, the Left Bank (above) offers a different
atmosphere entirely. Here an elegant dining room overlooks the
marshes of the sound. In the exhibition kitchen, the Left Bank
chefs let their imaginations soar, creating three-, seven-,
even 12-course tasting menus. Wine selections from the resort's
extensive cellar accompany each course.
are a must for this dining experience, but if your appetite
isn't up to the challenge, stop at the Left Bank's blond onyx
bar for a sunset cocktail. The sun puts on a colorful lightshow
daily as it sinks over the marsh.
Sanderling has more to look at than water and natural wonders,
however. You could spend an entire vacation just checking out
the artwork. While resort management declines to put a dollar
value on it, the collection of bird statuary, Audubon prints,
and original artwork is formidable.
the treasures is the largest collection of Grainger McKoy
sculpture in private hands. His wood and bronze birds, often
caught in mid-flight, soar through the resort's lobbies.
Sanderling also displays a complete collection of the "Birds
of North America" Royal Worchester series created by the renowned
Dorothy Doughty. More than two dozen of the life-like ceramic
birds nest in display cases throughout the Left Bank restaurant.
Doughty's sculpture of the extinct Carolina parakeet is a highlight
of the Sanderling Conference Center. Occupying its own building
in the heart of the resort, the center's fully equipped Swan
and Heron meeting rooms open onto an oceanside deck and can
accommodate groups of up to 150 people. Upstairs, the spacious
private suite is a popular location for executive powwows and
Despite the priceless display of artwork, the Sanderling maintains
a casual charm. You won't feel odd wandering barefoot down the
hall to get your morning coffee or to visit one of the several
Jacuzzis scattered around the grounds.
the resort's sound-side, indoor and outdoor pools flank a full-service
spa. In keeping with its lifesaving location, the Sanderling
Spa features treatments aimed at rescue and recovery. Many incorporate
oil of the Russian olive, a local aromatic shrub.
the resort's northern edge, Pine Island Audubon Sanctuary's
thousands of unspoiled acres attract hikers, kayakers and many
species of migrating birds.
are naturally attracted to the Sanderling, but the area has
something to offer for a variety of interests. Guests can enjoy
the facilities at the Pine Island Racquet Club and Fitness
Center, a few miles up the road, or play the Rees Jones
course at the Currituck Club, one of Golf Digest's "Top
10 You Can Play."
a village just south of the Sanderling, boasts some of the most
interesting shopping on the Outer Banks. Boardwalks join eclectic
emporiums built under the town's many live oaks and along the
short drive north of the resort lies Historic
Corolla, where the
Currituck Light (above), one of the few working
lighthouses open to climbers, still stands guard. At its feet,
Banks Center for Wildlife offers exhibits and educational
programs tailored to nature lovers and the magnificent
Whalehead Club (below) recreates life of an earlier
era in a luxurious hunting lodge.
Corolla is also the place to embark on an off-road adventure
to the restricted north beaches where the area's famous wild
ponies roam. Outfitters offer a variety of transportation for
these trips, from Hummers to Segways.
so many attractions and amenities joined to its outstanding
location, it's easy to see why the world's travelers hold the
Sanderling in such high regard. The property makes regular appearances
on Travel + Leisure's list of Top 500 Resorts.
Wine Spectator and Santé magazines have applauded
the Sanderling's restaurants and wine cellar. Conde Nast
Traveler readers are especially fond of the Sanderling.
They recently voted the resort among the top 25 in the nation.
Originally published in North Carolina Magazine, 2007.