What Makes an Experience Unforgettable

What Makes an Experience Unforgettable

The memory of everything we’ve seen, heard, or done is in there, somewhere. That’s what science says about the brain we carry with us through life. It is constantly refreshing itself, and capable of growing as long as we live. And yet the brain, they say, never loses a memory. What makes some of those memories come up more easily, more often, than all the others?

Here at the Harbour Town Lighthouse, we have the privilege of greeting people from everywhere – 1,507 in a single day a couple of weeks ago. Here, visitors and Sea Pines residents alike experience the beauty, tranquility, adventure and action, relaxation and excitement, the repose, and the sociability of life in Sea Pines – the original Hilton Head Island resort. Some of the folks are exploring for the first time, some are returning to a favorite spot or the site of a life-changing experience, and many others have moved to make their homes here and live their lives surrounded by the pleasures of America’s favorite island.

Our Privileged View

There is no doubt about it. The Harbour Town Lighthouse was intended from the start to add a sense of place to Sea Pines, to symbolize the magnetism and inspiration people feel here. Sea Pines founder Charles Fraser did not have as much agreement from his associates as you might imagine, for building the structure that has become the icon of Sea Pines, and of Hilton Head Island itself.

Far more than a symbol, the view from here – of Sea Pines, of Calibogue Sound and the Intracoastal Waterway, of the sunsets and sailboats – has become of the most sought-after experiences of Hilton Head Island.

Experiences that Span a Lifetime

What makes this experience so extraordinary that people who have been everywhere still seek to visit here? Why do folks who could live anywhere choose to live here? And why do visitors return year after year and see their children grow into families of their own on these same shaded paths and waterways? The answers are infinite. The variety of views from the Harbour Town Lighthouse, the abundance of experiences presented by Sea Pines, where the legend of Hilton Head began, are so wide and so deep that each person assembles his or her own collection of memories, each one a unique bouquet.

One way to assemble just a few examples of the extraordinary Hilton Head and Sea Pines experiences that present themselves here at the Harbour Town Lighthouse might be to follow a lifetime of examples we know for certain. Though these stories are a mosaic of experiences shared by many friends, neighbors and loved ones, each one is true – a sparkling cycle of how the Sea Pines, Hilton Head Island experience, as viewed from the Lighthouse, can arch through a person’s life, endowing life itself with a scope of experience that helps make it feel even more worthwhile.

Discoveries of Childhood

Imagine a boy or girl arriving as a child with family. Together the family discovers that a favorite occupation for the kids is to purchase a simple crab trap and some chicken parts for bait, and to teach them the tranquil basics of lowering it into Calibogue Sound at the foot of the pier just below us, and just waiting. Learning in time that they can’t catch crabs by pulling up the trap every few minutes, the kids discover that biking down the beach, both with and against the wind, is a better way to spend the afternoon than hauling in the trap. And a better way to catch dinner, too.

Recognizing that Sea Pines somehow brings the essence of Hilton Head Island to the fingertips of everyone in the family, parents are happy to discover how perfect for children are Gregg Russell’s concerts, right here under the Liberty Oak in Harbour Town. A Hilton Head and Sea Pines tradition for more than 40 years, the extraordinary experience of Gregg’s interactive concerts is well into the second and even third generation of enjoyment, for some families.

One of our favorite examples is the experience of a family who sent Gregg a snapshot they had taken of their son, sitting with Gregg Russell under the Liberty Oak and holding Gregg’s guitar. That pint-sized person from years ago had grown to become a bit of a picker and singer himself, Nashville star Brand Paisley.

And back at home base, after a day outdoors, maybe with that perfectly pleasurable form of “tired” that a day on the beach, in the surf, can install in the memories of the kids, what’s a better fuel for supper than pizza for the whole family? Even pizza becomes a memory when you have it together in paradise.

The Romance is Real

For our cycle of a life lived among the extraordinary experiences of Sea Pines and Hilton Head Island that we see from the lighthouse, let’s now imagine that the young boy of this family returns during his college summers to work on a dolphin cruise boat, right here on the pier at the foot of the lighthouse, He welcomes in his turn other families who seek the rewards of a vacation in the rhythm of the tides. Here he meets a young woman from Europe who’s interning at a Sea Pines Hilton Head resort while she pursues her degree in hospitality management. Against the background of sunsets over the waterway and in the shadow of the Harbour Town Lighthouse, they decide to make their lives together.

This is never a small commitment, and in this case the tests of it were practically global. Their course led through meeting her family in Europe, visiting Asia during another internship, and at last coming full circle to a wedding right here in Sea Pines, a true Hilton Head wedding in its distilled essence.

As the wedding procession ascended the 114 steps of the Harbour Town Lighthouse, collecting guests who awaited at each landing, and finally achieving the top of the spiral stairs, where the bride and her bridesmaids awaited, people felt this might be one for the books, a true story of how extraordinary indeed the experience of Hilton Head Island, and of Sea Pines especially, can be.

A Life Well Lived

Not far from our shadow, alongside the Club Course, a grandmother and grandfather relish every day together in their own home, especially the weekly punctuations of hosting a weekend lunch or dinner for their children who settled nearby. Another benefit of making a home in paradise, which we notice quite a bit at the Lighthouse, is that it becomes quite a bit easier to get your children to visit – or even to reside nearby themselves – when the place where you live is Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island.

Although the grandmother is everybody’s favorite cook and the empress of her own kitchen, she always has her husband pick up a freshly baked loaf of that special bread they serve at Truffles, in The Shops at Sea Pines Center. As self-reliant has her life led her to be, grandma doesn’t hesitate to “outsource” that one thing that reminds her that she lives now in the glow of a life in Sea Pines, with her own inside knowledge of how best to live on Hilton Head Island.

Always Grateful

Here at the Harbour Town Lighthouse, we have had the privilege of seeing countless experiences like these unfold, because here is where so many people come, experience the bird’s-eye view, to hear about that next thing to do, to find that essential missing element or item, or to discover a delight they can enjoy themselves or share with someone else, or to take home and recall.

What a privileged position we have at the lighthouse, here in the middle of the original Hilton Head Island dream, seeing people every day making the memories of a lifetime! We are grateful to play this role in the lives of the people who enjoy Sea Pines and Hilton Head Island. To see their joy unfold, and to offer a suggestion now and then for those who seek, this for us is also a life well lived.

We will always be grateful, and glad to welcome you.