Fitness rules at Hilton Head Health

By Jane Bokun

I’ve never been to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, so I was excited when I received an invitation from world-renowned diet and health mecca Hilton Head Health.

I didn’t even know that to get to the island, I would have to travel about an hour from the Hilton Head Island – Savannah Airport where I landed. What? I thought since the airport was named after the two towns; they would be very close to each other – not true.

Hilton Head Island is almost 50 years old and is located on a barrier island off the coast of South Carolina on the Atlantic Ocean and it’s 20 miles away from Savannah. It took about an hour, but once I reached the island, I saw palm trees mixing with magnolias. The property even smells sweet with lush plants, riotously colorful flowers and lots of different species of birds.  It was the kind of dichotomy you would find between the two towns. One is a beach resort with verdant golf courses galore, and the other is in Georgia, a whole other state.

Although both are known as resort and beach towns, they are widely different. One of the differences is Hilton Head has tiny holes of spa-like health places that cater to everyone including celebrities which jet into its small airport. The Indigo Spa, located on the property, is in a separate area, and is one of three unassuming buildings. Although, one of the masseuses told me that she had worked on the Bravo Network’s Housewives.

Once inside, there are a lot of people with a lot of accents.

“How did you find Hilton Head Health?” I asked a man with a Brazilian accent.

“It was named one of the top spas when I googled it,” he says.             

Indeed, the property has three different goals including weight management and spa, exercising and classes, and culinary arts. The latter includes a chef that teaches patrons how to eat healthy with recipes like Pistachio Chicken, which includes chicken breast, egg whites, oil and yummy pistachios. This dish has 30 grams of protein and only 320 calories. The chef’s concepts prove you can have great food and still lose weight.

One of the spa’s many activities includes a 7 a.m. walk to the beach and there is even Tai Chi along the picturesque waves. There are classes that are truly life changing. What’s the secret to weight loss the second time? “Do it the same way you did when originally you lost it.”

There are three meals per day and in the interim, there are prunes, Triscuits, fruit, nuts, yogurt and more for healthy snacking. 

“I’ve been stuffing my pockets with snacks,” one of the patrons told me.

For breakfast there are eggs, lunch is fish and chicken, and dinner is about the same. On Wednesdays, as everyone quickly finds out, there is dessert after dinner. However, dessert isn’t the usual chocolate cake, it’s more like P-nut butter hummus, which is great. That’s the thing, there is no sugar here, not in the drinks (water, coffee and iced tea) or pretty much the food.

Owner Kevin Carter, says he and his wife went to Hilton Head and “had a blast.” They loved the resort so much; they bought the place.

“There’s a 50 percent return rate,” Carter says.

In fact, he says during the next year, Hilton Head Health will be taking its show on the road with a new concept called At Home Wellness, where you can get the same kind of treatments that make the health spa so popular in the comfort of your living room. Those will include weight loss and various wellness panels.

“Know your numbers,” Carter says. “We have a very strong weight loss program.”