Posted by eemilla on September 21, 2013
For the past few years I’ve been lobbying my maternal family to forgo the end of the year gift card exchange in favor of a family vacation, and last year everyone finally seemed to agree it was time to do something different. Then interest dissipated for about four months so my honey and I planned a trip to Manhattan thinking we would not be taking a vacation with the extended family. An almost collective itch to travel brought the idea back to the fore after our vacation had been booked for months.
My idea was to travel somewhere new or exciting or exotic which was in direct conflict with economic concerns and comfort levels that limited us to the Charleston area or the Savannah area. As we’d just visited Savannah and Tybee Island last year and only I wanted to visit the Outer Banks, my honey and I were all for Charleston. After spending hours searching for houses in both locations that met all of the various needs of everyone (pool, close to the beach, large kitchen, bath for every bedroom, enough bedrooms) the group decided the Charleston area had better large house options for the money.
Once we narrowed it down to the Charleston area we had to find a large enough house available and in our price range. While the task sounds easy enough it required hours of searching between three or four members of our group. My frustration was that there were multiple folks who were non-commital about if they would be joining us or how many people would be in their party. Without having one person footing the entire bill another concern was the best way to distribute rooms without having to haggle over different pricing, and fortunately everyone acquitted themselves admirably.
Including the couches in the living room there was enough room to sleep 20 adults based on double occupancy in each of the king beds, and there were enough areas for everyone to mingle or retreat as needed. The crows nest or rooftop was a favorite place to escape the noise, and the patio chairs were comfortable even though a few were worse for the wear. The second floor balcony was sparse without any furniture, and the balcony off the twin room was so small it seemed superfluous. My honey and I didn’t want to have to spend the extra money to rent a house with a pool, but we were certainly sold on the benefit of having the pool to float around in especially after the ocean. I believe the house came with two separate gaming consoles, and there was a nice flat screen over the fireplace in the great room.
For a house with a 20 person capacity, the refrigerator/freezer/icemaker was the feature that everyone agreed to be insufficient; it was a double door deal so there were narrow shelves which made it difficult to accommodate groceries. Even after the ice maker was replaced it took about eight hours to make a tray or so of ice which left of us purchasing bags of ice for the sodas, iced tea, and blended adult drinks. There is a nice wet bar with a wine cooler, and a stand alone ice maker would be perfect there. The maintenance man said the freezer’s ice maker had repeatedly been an issue. The large gas range was more eye candy than functional; all five burners had two temperatures: on and off (which for a gas stove is really irritating and unexpected). We also had to have a towel rod and a door knob replaced on the first day, and although we mentioned the additional three of the five (in addition to the one that was replaced) atrium doors had alarmingly loose handles they were not replaced.
With so many cars it was difficult to juggle them as the two driveways were a car’s width, and the street was much too narrow to park on. The golf cart created most of the tension as people wanted to pocket the key rather than leave it in the lockbox, but it was an even better feature than the pool as we could cart our gear to the beach rather than lug it the few blocks on foot (especially as any parent knows the kid will want to walk then insist on being carried whilst you juggle the beach bag and/or chairs). The key to main house also had a lockbox which really came in handy as we had about fourteen adults sharing three keys.
The house was a few blocks from a public beach access point, but we were so far down on the Isle of Palms that the beach was never crowded even though we were there during the high season.