9 months ago
As you turn off Rt. 46 in Bluffton, S.C., onto Old Palmetto Bluff Rd. (after a quick 35-minute drive from Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport), you might expect to quickly arrive at your destination. But the road keeps going, and, in a sense, with every turn of your wheels, taking you back in time as you meander through Palmetto Bluff’s pristine 20,000 acres (a large portion of it allocated to preservation and conservancy). You pass private luxury residences that lay just behind Spanish moss-festooned trees; past a picture-perfect golf course; into the resort’s charming residential village complete with stores and restaurants; and finally to the modern-meets-antebellum inn of the Montage Palmetto Bluff. Greeted with mannerly “m’am”s and “sir”s by the well-trained and refreshingly diverse international and local staff and stirred by the cool coastal breeze of the area’s backwater-protected riverfront location, things just seem to slow down. This effect is welcome, and, of course, intended.
Accommodation options present a spectrum of offerings to suit the needs of your getaway and party size. The immaculate inn boasts 152 rooms and suites as well as residential guest house accommodations, but 48 cottages and cottage suites and 35 secluded whole-home luxury residences and charming village homes are available to guests, as well. The design approach is clean, laid-back modern authenticity with anchoring architectural cues and color palettes that reference the Old South, creating an overall environment where wearing seersucker seems not at all ironic or corny. In fact, regardless of your accommodation choice, your favorite spot might end up being on a tall-back rocker on a porch, sitting near a fire pit at night, or lounging beside one of two pools, bourbon or iced sweet tea in hand. Rates from $370 nightly at the Inn, inquire about other accommodation options here.
Golf: The Jack Nicklaus Signature-designed May River Golf Course is one of the South’s best, taking players through live-oak and Spanish moss forests out along the banks of the May River itself. Caddie service is required, and players are encouraged to walk the course to best experience its beauty.
Clay Shooting: The instructors at the Palmetto Bluff Shooting Club are experts, whether you need some critical tips to hone your skills or you’ve never even picked up a shotgun before. An elevated 5-stand shooting station is augmented by 13 clay launchers set back for safety in a dedicated 40-acre forest reserve.
Bike Riding: In true low-country form, the resort area is flat, level, rife with water views and cross-stitched with paved pathways to explore. Ride along the footbridges and waterfront to the village square, past the column ruins of the original legacy mansion built by New York Banker Richard T. Wilson (which burned down in 1926) and out into the serene forest. Wetland waterfowl and heron abound, and you may spot an alligator or two sunning themselves.
Equestrian: The resort’s Longfield Stables is a state-of-the-art 173-acre facility complete with dressage arena, a 5-acre turf event field and more. Stabled horses are available for all skills and interests, including sturdy “marsh tacky” ponies descended from Spanish conquistador horses that were abandoned on the area’s barrier islands centuries ago.
Boating: Two yacht options are available to explore the sights of the May River and beyond. The Grace is a restored historic 1913 touring craft that conducts regular sight-seeing and wine cruises, and the Palmetto Bluff, a Hinckley Picnic Boat, hosts private charters for smaller groups.
Spa: The 13,000-square-foot Spa Montage is a haven-within-a-haven, indeed. Talented, well-trained staff deliver a full menu of massages, treatments and rituals inspired by the low-country region through the use of aroma and products. Try a signature Palmetto Body Bliss massage—you won’t regret it.
Cuisine: Of course, “low-country” generally translates into “good eating.” Executive chef Nathan Beriau, who earned his chops working in the Ritz-Carlton’s cuisine operations, oversees an ambitious cuisine program that artfully proves that a bit of elevation and technique can take perennial favorites like fried chicken, shrimp and grits, seafood boils, local fruit-enhanced desserts, and even traditional cocktails (like the resort’s signature Artillery Punch) over the top. The resort sports six dining venues, all with variant vibes and a number of private dining options are available.