We are excited to add South Carolina to our North America portfolio. With its dynamic cities, majestic mountains and ethereal islands, it is a fantastic destination for a family road trip or a couples retreat. For North America specialist, Anna, it was the charm of Palmetto Bluff that really captured her imagination, a quaint yet activity-centric destination, perfect for both young and old.
Imagine manicured lawns, pretty clapboard houses with a porch swing, children riding their bikes along quiet neighbourhood streets dotted with giant oak trees, charming churches with wooden steeples, local shops and eateries where locals welcome you with a welcoming smile and a feeling of safety and community. Seems idyllic I know, possibly something from 50 years ago, or perhaps a little secret piece of South Carolina known as Palmetto Bluff, the quintessential American village.
Amongst the quiet streets of this exclusive community lies the Montage Palmetto Bluff where guests can step back in time to this bygone era in total luxury. Nestled on the edge of a network of waterways wending their way to uninhabited islands, I was instantly enchanted by Palmetto Bluff and all it had to offer. It felt so safe, from the little general store and gas station through to village centre with the remains of an old plantation house which once was the heart of the village until it burnt down many years ago.
We head out on the water, speeding through the calm reed beds toward a deserted island. This is where they take families for the ultimate day out, exploring walkways, lazing in a hammock, watching for dolphins bobbing up in the waters here and there or looking out for a red cardinal bird fluttering from tree to tree. Eagle eyed pelicans sit on the docks spying for fish. Guests can do the same, hanging a fishing rod over the dock or if patience doesn’t allow, jumping in to the water for a swim, kayak or paddle board.
As the afternoon rolls in, and the heat begins to rise, we head back to our new home from home for a spot of “porching”, a Southern tradition of sitting with an iced tea and a cookie, chatting, taking in the view and soaking up the warm air, it’s calming, it’s nice, it’s an escape from real life and I can see why families stay for a while. Life is simple here. We spy one of the resident alligators in the freshwater lake near our room and watch him, he’s completely still in the water. He’s not bothered by us, just enjoying the cool and we leave him to his afternoon and head to the pool for our own dip.
As the sun drops to reveal a balmy evening, we can dine at the inn or in the village but instead we head into the charming town of Bluffton, just 15 minutes away, and eat at a local café, perfect for a spot of people watching before retreating to our little village home just in time to pick some s’mores from the cart by the fire pit that’s out every evening (a firm favourite with younger guests who giggle their way through the sweet treats, faces and fingers covered in chocolate) and reflect wistfully on the day by firelight. This is gentle living, this is a home from home but also something so much more. For a family, for a couple, for just you, this is a little bit of South Carolina heaven than we have found, come see for yourselves…