Food-Full Gatherings: Dunes Catering & Events
Author: Linda S. Hopkins | Photographer: Photography by Anne
Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, named by Travel + Leisure magazine as one of the Top 25 “World’s Best Family Resorts,” is, not surprisingly, one of Hilton Head Island’s most sought-after wedding venues as well as a hub for corporate events and group gatherings of every sort. For Dunes Catering & Events, this translates into many mouths to feed and people to please.
Dunes Catering & Events is well-known for meeting and exceeding the expectations of resort guests and brides, but what you may not know or perhaps haven’t considered is that they are a valuable resource for area residents as well. Whether you are hosting a business meeting, wedding, family reunion, church banquet, awards ceremony, club function, holiday event, or birthday party, they are prepared to provide a unique experience along with over-the-top customer service. It doesn’t matter if it’s a continental breakfast, box lunch, corporate catering delivery, buffet or plated dinner.
Top Photo: Lowcountry Boil
Bottom Photo: The Dunes House set for a private corporate event featuring a rustic southern decor, fire pits and live entertainment
Location, location, location…
If you haven’t found that perfect location for your special event, Dunes Catering & Events can help. Within Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, the Dunes House is a popular beachfront venue with indoor and outdoor accommodations. It can be dressed to the nines for a formal affair or dressed down for a more relaxed gathering, depending upon the client’s desires and the tone of the event.
Cecilia Hanna, director of education and events for the Hawkins Society, plans an annual weeklong event for an elite group of orthopedic surgeons from all over the country who convene on Hilton Head Island in May. For the past eight years, they have hosted a seafood dinner and Lowcountry boil at the Dunes House and, according to Hanna, they wouldn’t dream of going anyplace else. Attendance at the dinner in 2014 included 130 adults and 20 children.
“The Dunes House is a great place for our group to gather and include their families,” Hanna said, singing the praises of the catering staff. “They are super accommodating, serving menus that are fun for everybody. They are easy to work with and more than willing to accommodate special requests.”
An often overlooked venue is the Centre Court Pavilion in Palmetto Dunes, which Fleury describes as a miniature ballroom. “We have a group of over 100 businessmen who come here every year for a week and use it as their meeting place. We serve them breakfast and lunch every day—different menus each day. We also provide bag lunches if they are going to play golf or tennis so they can eat lunch on the go,” he said.
According to sales manager Lindsay Thompson, Centre Court is a beautiful place to do any kind of corporate event or team training, especially if you want to conduct breakout or networking sessions, because the room can be divided. “Our Centre Court facility is great because it’s so easily customized for casual family gatherings to lavish lowcountry weddings and professional business mettings,” she said.
Many private homes are also available for rent and make perfect settings for events of all kinds, from elaborate wedding ceremonies and receptions to casual cookouts and everything in between.
But Dunes Catering & Events’ services are not limited to Palmetto Dunes properties. They have the capability and means to serve in private homes, on yachts, in area parks or venues inside other plantations—private backyards and at other clubs that don’t offer catering or have limited catering capacity. “We can take it anywhere,” Fleury said.
Pictured left to right: Executive Chef Don Reinhardt, sales manager Lindsay Thompson, Director of Food & Beverage Chris Fleury and sales manager Lou Anne Takach.
Caprese Salad Appetizer
Food, glorious food!
While Dunes Catering & Events has a full, separate catering menu, they have the culinary expertise and resources to customize their offerings. With access to multiple menus and kitchens within the resort, including Big Jim’s Barbecue, which specializes in barbecue, burgers and pizza, they have the capacity to provide a full spectrum of food and service, from the most elegant seated dinner to the most informal beach barbecue.
“By doing the full catering with our own menus as well as Big Jim’s barbecue, we’ve been able to segue into some smaller, more casual events,” Fleury said. The week after Christmas, somebody wanted to do takeout for 20 people. They were able to just pick it up and go.”
According to Jay Roppelt, vice president of the Palmetto Dunes board of directors, Dunes Catering & Events was able to pick up the ball and run with it when the PD Club recently eliminated their private culinary services. During the months of November and December, the club hosted four separate events (a golf tournament, turkey dinner, neighborhood meet and greet, and New Year’s Eve gala), with different menus and serving styles, ranging from a drop-off buffet to a full-service plated dinner. Attendance of these events ranged from 40 guests to 150, and all came off without a hitch, thanks to meticulous planning, clear communication and attention to every detail.
At your service
Catering, of course, is about more than the food, and Dunes Catering & Events prides itself on top-notch service. “Our culinary staff is well in place to basically put on anything,” Fleury said. “When it comes to weddings, we are a one-stop shop, providing tables, chairs, linens, centerpieces and more. If they want something that we don’t have, we take care of it for them.”
“We take what we offer and incorporate it into what they envision their day to be, making sure that everything that we planned out is put on by our operating staff,” Thompson said. “What sets us apart is that we take it from the beginning and follow it all the way through to make sure that our customer service is what we tell them it is going to be.”
“Our job is to make sure that we have great communication between our departments so that the team understands the client’s needs and we can exceed their expectations” added sales manager Louanne Takach. “Most people have been just amazed by what we’ve done.”
According to Fleury, many of the weddings they book are destination weddings, and the staff at Dunes Catering & Events is intimately involved in creating an idea of how they can best please their guests, including regional menus and plenty of Southern hospitality.
Tastings are personal for executive chef Don Reinhardt. “With most caterers, the food is just brought out from the kitchen and served by a waiter. Don is actually serving our brides and grooms. He brings it out. He explains the food, talks about the sauces. He wants them to be 100 percent sure,” Takach said.
“From start to finish, it’s just really impressive to have him standing there and willing to spend the time with them,” Thompson added.
“Our name is on every single plate that goes on the table. We want to make sure it’s delicious and it’s hot, and presented well,” Takach said. “I think we’ve hit the mark every time.”