Arrival/Check-in: I try not to have any pre-conceived notions before entering a hotel, and it was easy here, as I was not at all familiar with South Carolina, let alone the Lowcountry, where the inn sits on 20,000 acres of lush wetlands between Charleston and Savannah.
I pulled up to a small guard house on a country road where a security guard checked our names against a guest list. We drove another five miles through the magnificent tree-lined approach. The inn, at the end of the road on the May River, was so picturesque that I felt like I’d stepped back 100 years, yet it had all the modern luxuries of a 5-star resort. A valet took my bags and showed me to the front desk.
After check-in, the receptionist really made this city girl smile: She showed me to my bicycle. Every guest is given one to ride around the property. I tried to remember the last time I was on a bike, but the old saying is true — you never forget! As I pedaled to my cottage, I passed fellow guests in formal clothes en route on their bikes to dinner, smiling and waving. I was in a different world yet only a 90-minute flight from New York City. I was already loving it. (30/30)
Guest Quarters: I stayed in one of the 50 guest cottages, where I felt like I’d walked into my own Southern living room. The entrance had a small alcove with a sink and refrigerator/minibar. The room opened up into a large bedroom with two armchairs facing a working fireplace. The large, screened outdoor terrace faced the May River. The bathroom had a separate shower that doubled as a steam room. Had I not been so intrigued to explore the bluff on my bike, it would have been hard to tear me away from the room. (29/30)
Services/Amenities: The Inn at Palmetto Bluff offered me every elegant service in a down-home Southern style that was hard not to love. On an initial bike ride through the grounds, I stumbled upon the spa in its own 9,500-square-foot Southern-style manor house and booked an appointment. My treatment room had a private veranda with a soaking pool where I listened to the nature around me and relaxed before my treatment. The spa experience is worth a trip back to the hotel due to the expertise of the therapists and the natural ingredients the spa uses, supplied from the hotel grounds: Palmetto Bluff mud, cornmeal, peaches, cotton, wild rice and red river clay.
The hotel also has its own gorgeous Jack Nicklaus golf course, a canoe and kayak club, an equestrian facility, a lawn and racquet club and plenty of hiking areas and guided tours on and off the water.
I ate one dinner in my room and another at the luxurious Canoe Club. The entire property catered to every luxury, but everyone was friendly and down-to-earth. After dinner at the Canoe Club, I roasted s’mores around a fire pit in the backyard of the main house, mingling with other guests and feeling like part of a community which shared a love for luxury and the outdoors. (40/40)
The Experience: I can’t speak highly enough about my experience. The combination of Southern charm and modern luxuries in a natural setting was perfect. Direct access to the water made the daily activities inexhaustible; and when I wanted to sit and read by one of the pools, I was made to feel like the only person at the hotel. It was a great escape from the city; I would highly recommend it for couples, friend getaways, families and corporate retreats.
Total Score: 99/100
The Inn At Palmetto Bluff
476 Mount Pelia Road
Bluffton, SC 29910
tel 843 706 6500
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