It is remarkable how many longtime islanders began their stories here unexpectedly. From the founder of The Club Group, the firm that has managed The Shops at Sea Pines Center, and the Harbour Town Yacht Club, and several residential and golf properties for decades, to the server who greets you at Truffles one evening, Hilton Head Island is full of folks who came for a visit with friends, or a golf getaway, or a family vacation, and said, “Why not?”
The boldness, the daring, the sheer temerity that would enable someone to leave behind the life they knew before, the future as they used to see it, and instead to set down roots on Hilton Head Island, is a marvel. It is also a measure of how powerful the first impression of this place can be. When we hear one of these neighbors recount their story, there is a note that sounds like, “Of course,” in their voice. It is as if the ones who decided right away can imagine no other conclusion. “Why would you not decide to make your life here?” they seem to say.
Still others approached the decision to live on Hilton Head Island little by little. Many of the stories that islanders tell begin with, “Well, my family had been vacationing here for about as long as I can remember.” The wonder behind decisions such as these is that – far from infatuation – even people who know the island well, who have sampled their share of it in every detail – still decide to make this their home, once the demands of career, or family, or property permit them to stay at last.
Among the islanders who made their home here after years of visiting, we notice that they created their own version of Hilton Head Island, too. Such an assortment of experiences, attractions, diversions, and points of interest are here in easy reach that the particular mosaic, the picture that each person paints of Hilton Head Island can be as distinctive and original as the personalities who decide to call this home.
A Goal for Years
Remarkable, too, in a different way are the islanders who make this the destination of their lives. Many are they who bought or built a home here as the conclusion of a wide-ranging career. A friend we saw again at the most recent First Thursdays Art Market before the holidays had literally travelled the world before buying the home for her retirement here. She went to China 32 times before she first saw the Carolina Coast.
For folks as busy as these, for people who have been everywhere – and who could go anywhere – to decide that Hilton Head Island is where they want to hang it up, where they want to stay, where they want to write the concluding chapters of their wide-ranging story, this is yet another measure of how powerful is the pull of pleasure that people encounter on Hilton Head Island.
The Thing We Share
When we greet each other here, in the ever-changing light of the plaza amidst The Shops at Sea Pines Center, we don’t always stop to reflect. Like any other hometown, we find here the faces with whom we are already familiar. Deep within, we know that no matter how different we might seem on the surface, we share a love. The love of what we found on Hilton Head Island can be as different as the experience that each of us brings, that each of us finds, that each of us chooses to return and relive. And yet as different as these reasons might be, the choice is what we share.
For a weekend, for a week, for a vacation or a golf getaway or a wedding, what brings so many people back – more than 40% of visitors are returning – and what leads so many of us to stay, is the feeling we find here. Fascination or fulfillment, it is what we find in common.
The Shops at Sea Pines Center have become a gathering place for us, the ones who come and the ones who stay – for shopping, yes, and also for rendezvous, refreshment or repose – in the heart of Sea Pines. Come see us soon.