Life moves as slowly as a Southern drawl at the Inn at Palmetto Bluff, a Montage Resort, a plantation-style luxury resort in the South Carolina Lowcountry. I’m torn between not wanting the days to end and wishing night would fall so I’d be that much closer to witnessing another glorious sunrise on the marsh. You know the ones, with swirls of pink and purple and gold that make you realize just how beautiful life can be.
The experience feels even more poignant from my vantage point here at the resort. Located on a 20,000-acre nature preserve halfway between Hilton Head Island and Savannah, it’s bordered by the lovely May River. My cottage faces the water; shops, restaurants, and even a church in the resort’s town center add to the charm.
Though the Inn at Palmetto Bluff opened in 2004, Montage Hotels purchased it last year and announced a large expansion. By next year, there will be fifty cottages instead of thirty-eight, a 150-room inn, two new pools, an upgraded spa, and two new restaurants.
Until then, the current offerings suit me just fine. The cottages hit that delicate note of luxurious and cozy, with vaulted ceilings, wide-plank pine floors, and screened porches. High-end vacation homes are available for families and larger groups. Every accommodation comes with a golf cart and bikes—use them as I did to explore thirteen miles of trails, keeping an eye out for large Southern fox squirrels.
Indeed, wildlife abounds at Palmetto Bluff. Paddle a kayak to see more than 100 bird species, or try your hand at fly-fishing in the flats. Don’t miss the eco-dolphin tour—during mine, I spotted two dozen bottle-nosed dolphins.
More adventures await on dry land. Play the postcard-perfect Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course, or relax on a wine cruise aboard a restored 1913 yacht. Or do as I did and opt for a three-hour spa treatment in your own cottage. My decadent “Elopement Treatment” included a sugar scrub, steam shower, shea butter wrap, massage, even wine and chocolates.
Considering the resort’s ample activities, it’s easy to work up an appetite. Start your day with breakfast at Buffalo’s—and make a mental note to come back later for local craft beers such as Thomas Creek Red Ale. For dinner, head to the Canoe Club, serving Southern comfort cuisine, or the River House Restaurant, with Lowcountry-inspired meals and sweeping river views.
If you saved room for dessert, snag a seat by one of the outdoor fire pits, roast some s’mores, and enjoy the minutes until the next glorious sunrise.
476 Mount Pelia Road, Bluffton, South Carolina 29910
Concerts Under the Stars | May through August, Palmetto Bluff offers an outdoor summer concert series one Tuesday a month on the Village Green. You don’t have to be a guest to attend; food and drinks are available for purchase.