When New Jersey native Bob Nitkewicz first visited Kiawah Island shortly after the Ryder Cup Golf Tournament in 1991, he was mesmerized by the natural beauty and coastal terrain. “I saw a family of bottlenose dolphins strand feeding in the ocean, and I walked the magnificent greens at the Ocean Course,” says Bob. “I knew that if I could live anywhere in the world, it would be right here,” he adds. Presently, Bob and his wife Carol, who is the Director of Instruction at Kiawah Island Club, live on Johns Island with their three adorable and personable rescue hound dogs.
Now the branch manager for the Golden Bear Realty Kiawah-Seabrook office and a full-time Johns Island resident, Bob enthusiastically enjoys directing buyers on their quest to find the perfect Kiawah or Seabrook Island home. “I take care in matching homes to the desires of my buyers,” he says. “After all, they are not just my clients; they are my neighbors and friends.” In fact, what Bob enjoys most about the real estate profession is meeting people from all over the United States and world, listening to clients share memorable stories about life in their home, and watching neighbors’ children grow up and establish themselves as professional adults. “Of course, none of these things make me feel old at all,” he laughs. For Bob, and other Johns Island residents, the spirit and serenity of island life is one that cannot be duplicated anywhere else.
Named after the native Kiawah Indians, the 2,700-acre island was purchased with cloths, beads and hatchets by the English in 1675. In 1699, the Lords Proprietor granted the land to reformed pirate Captain George Raynor, who then sold half the land to Captain William Davis and deeded the other half to his daughter, Mary Raynor Moore. In 1737, both tracts were owned and operated by the wealthy planter John Stanyarne, who cultivated the land for indigo and cattle. Stanyarne owned numerous properties, plantations, and people. At one time he had close to 300 slaves, most of whom hailed from West African tribes. These slaves brought their rich Gullah traditions and knowledge of rice planting on coastal terrains to the Lowcountry. Upon his passing, Stanyarne divided Kiawah into two sections and gifted the eastern and western properties to his grandaughters, Mary Gibbes and Elizabeth Vanderhorst. The family continued to harvest crops, cotton, and indigo on the plantations, but the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the rampant diseases amongst slaves wreaked havoc on the farm. A lumberman from Georgia, C.C. Royal, purchased the island in 1950 and initiated a small development along the oceanfront. The Royal family sold the island in 1974 to the Kuwaiti Investment Company, who had the vision to create a remarkable resort and residential enclave. Kuwaiti investors’ dreams came to fruition with the formation of Kiawah Island Resort and Inn in 1976. After decades of sustainable and environmentally-conscientious growth, Kiawah Island was sold in 2013 to South Street Partners, an investment group located in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Today, Kiawah has two “ownership entities” on the island: The Kiawah Island Golf Resort and Kiawah Partners. Kiawah Island Golf Resort owns and operates the opulent Sanctuary Hotel, the Ocean Course, Osprey Point Golf Course, Turtle Point Golf Course, Cougar Point Golf Course, and Oak Point Golf Course. The resort also manages world-class tennis facilities, multiple swimming pools, villa and home rentals, meeting venues, and public entertainment events. Additionally, the Kiawah Resort is the largest owner of prime oceanfront real estate on the island, boasting spectacular estates that range in price from $250,000 for a villa or condo to well over $5 million for an oceanfront estate. . The master developer of the island, Kiawah Partners, operates the private, members-only Kiawah Island Club which includes the Cassique and River golf courses as well as the Beach Club and the Sasanqua Spa.
Currently, a significant amount of new construction is in progress on Kiawah Island in the form of custom homes and builder/developer spec homes. Additionally, numerous resale lots are available, many of which represent great value from a historical perspective. The inventory of resale homes also provides an advantageous opportunity for savvy buyers. However, Bob cautions potential buyers that purchasing a home on Kiawah Island can be a tricky experience for those unfamiliar with real estate on the island. Therefore, “selecting a real estate firm and agent who truly has the client’s best interests at heart is essential,” advises Bob, who humbly but proudly identifies himself as that type of real estate professional. Previous clients attest to Bob’s expertise when it comes to Kiawah Island real estate. Gene and Barbara Willhoft of Kiawah and New York describe Bob as “patient, informative and always eager to assist on any matter, big or small. He is a true professional who guided us through a complicated thicket of buyer/seller issues.” William Baker of South Carolina, who has bought and sold 13 times, adds that Bob is “by far the best real estate agent I’ve worked with. He is knowledgeable, trustworthy, thorough and a real asset to have on your side.” When it comes to marketing and personal service, Greg Rand of North Carolina notes that “no grass is growing under your feet.”
Many retirees and business professionals purchase primary or secondary homes on Kiawah Island because of its pristine, white sand beach, abundance of amenities, and commitment to ecological preservation. “Living on Kiawah is like being on a permanent vacation. Residents and visitors are forced to relax, breath in the salt air, and admire the beautiful scenery,” reflects Bob. “And the golf courses aren’t too shabby either!” he laughs. For a personal tour of Kiawah Island and a cold glass of Jack Nicklaus Lemonade, stop by the Golden Bear Realty Kiawah - Seabrook Island office at the entrance of Bohicket Marina.