In Charleston, the tempo of life is as sweet as my Uncle Wilbur’s iced tea and as dillydallying as his drawl. That doesn’t stop me, though, from running past the antique stores and art galleries on King Street. I’m headed to cooking school in Suzanne Pollak’s kitchen, where she runs The Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits. After all, I’ve got my priorities. No visit to this centuries-old magnolia blossom of a harbor town would be complete without a visit with her. A cookbook author, socialite and expert on Lowcountry manners, she welcomes me, throws me an apron and gets me cooking the moment I walk in the door. Hoisting a glass of wine, nibbling on some fried zucchini cooked by a friend under Suzanne’s expert tutelage, I fold biscuit dough like origami animals. Suzanne swears this is the secret to flaky pastries. I chop dill for salmon flown in from Scotland that morning, and help mix an organic garden salad, composed from lettuce grown next door. Sitting down at the expertly set table for lunch, we relish our reward. It seems a regular Tidewater social occasion.
A bastion of Southern sensibilities that ensnares with cobblestone streets, Doric-columned antebellum mansions, white-painted porticos, Georgian houses and landscaped gardens, Charleston has the biggest historic district in the world after Rome. Tea parties with china cups are as common behind closed doors as strongly mixed cocktails, and hip restaurants mix it up with beloved local institutions. Enlivened by undertones of African slave descendants (known as Gullah) and their folklore, plus cultural food, language and artistry, the city’s a maze of beauty, stories and mystery, a place invigorated by its history and enhanced by the creative spirit.
A port city should be seen from the water. That’s why this time I choose to stay at the newly opened Beach Club at Charleston Resort and Harbor, a Leading Hotel of the World, just across Charleston Bay from downtown. Part of Charleston Harbor Resort’s stunning complex on the water, this premier hotel within a hotel coddles with class, civility, graciousness and casual Southern chic. Capacious rooms, kitted out in sky blue and cloud white, vaunt subtle nautical themes. Each one frames eye-popping city and water views from large balconies and panoramic windows. Huge bathrooms, equipped with plush seersucker robes and soaking tubs, beckon. A Tiki Bar whips up refreshing tipples, while a two-pool area lined with blue loungers invites repose. The lilliputian, infinitely tranquil spa glossed with dreamy cerulean tones, lies inside near the front desk. There, well-trained therapists administer treatments from massages to facials using top all-natural products such as Naturopathica.
I suppose what I love most about The Beach Club is everyone authentically manages to treat me like family. I travel a lot, so being truly welcomed and cared about makes a difference. Staff seem to intuit my needs, bartenders remember my drink and stellar bellmen, the first Beach Club employees guests see, have their big-hearted salutations down to a science. In the resort complex, yoga classes greet the day, a nifty shop tempts me to buy not one but two bikinis and The Fish House restaurant does an impromptu vegan gourmet menu as well as its Lowcountry-inspired fish and meat dishes. A water taxi at the marina stands by to whisk you to the city’s heart and back again.
The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina
20 Patriots Point Road
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
tel 843 856 0028
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