Bennett Hofford Construction Co., one of Charleston's biggest retail and hotel developers, has snapped up the long-dormant Indian Head Restaurant & Lounge on Savannah Highway just west of the Ashley River.

Bennett Hofford paid $1.75 million for the property: a shabby building on a weed-choked, 0.9-acre lot sandwiched between a Waffle House restaurant and the round Holiday Inn — or as some locals call it, "the Holiday Inn hotcurler."

Principal Michael Bennett said Friday that the company had yet to decide what it will build on the site.

"It's just a good piece of property," he said. "It's as close to downtown as you can get, and I wanted to own it."

I'm not much of a real estate speculator, but I'd be willing to bet that Bennett is interested in something more ambitious than reopening the Indian Head.

The land is likely too small for a hotel, unless Bennett can cook something up with the Waffle House and possibly the scuba diving shop one lot over.

Big easy

A former Louisiana state film recruiter pleaded guilty Friday to taking kickbacks for pumping up tax credits on major movie productions.

The accused is Mark Smith, who led the state's film recruiting efforts from 2002 to 2006, a period when Louisiana offered some of the state's most-lucrative film incentives and, consequently, hosted a string of big-budget projects, including "Ray" and "All the King's Men."

Smith allegedly took about $60,000 in kickbacks in exchange for fibbing about in-state spending on some films. He was charged by federal attorneys with bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery. The fraud reportedly followed several films, including "Mr. Brooks," a Kevin Costner vehicle that was budgeted at $20 million but went into the government books as a $34 million project.

Smith will be sentenced Dec. 5.

Meanwhile, Louisiana lawmakers passed a series of bills in recent weeks to close loopholes and limit the gush of film incentives.

There's no evidence that South Carolina's Commerce Department isn't on the up and up, but the gang in Columbia might consider doing the same to sidestep a similar script.

Best in show

Kiawah's crown jewel, the Sanctuary hotel, was picked as the top U.S. resort hotel by the readers of Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report, an authority with the jet set.

Just three years after opening its opulent doors, the Sanctuary jumped to the front of the survey from the No. 5 spot. In doing so, the $125 million property bested some legends, including the Four Season Hualalai in Hawaii (No. 2), the Cloister in Sea Island, Georgia (No. 5) and West Virginia's Greenbrier (No. 11) and Las Vegas' Bellagio (No. 17).

The Hideaway Report is received by 25,000 people who are, shall we say, well-funded. It claims that its hotel ranking is "the longest-running and most reliable poll of its kind conducted among sophisticated frequent travelers."