Palmetto Bluff’s stand-alone accommodations and wide-open spaces are right on time
This time last year I spent a golden afternoon aboard an antique yacht named Grace, tasting caviar and sipping Champagne as a cross-country friend and I caught up in person. In some ways, that idyllic day on the waterways around Palmetto Bluff feels like a lifetime ago.
I’ve found myself having a strong reaction—not in a good way—to the term “the new normal.” Typically, when I hear it, it’s about the sentiment that “life as we knew it, pre-pandemic, is over.” I refuse to believe that, and fortunately, there are nearby places that allow you to get away, spread out and have some much-needed time with people you care about.
I visited last autumn for the Bluffton, South Carolina, property’s annual Music To Your Mouth, a multi-day festival focused on music and food. Because the event draws so much interest and guests attend from around the country, the 200-room Montage Palmetto Bluff was fully occupied. So a few friends and I took up residence for the long weekend in one of the well-appointed village homes. The five-bedroom cottage gave us the best of both worlds: the autonomy and privacy of a private home with the amenities of a boutique hotel (think daily housekeeping, turndown service and afternoon treats delivered by gracious staff). It came complete with a backyard fire pit, front porch rocking chairs, an oversized screened back porch and a living room stocked with board games and cozy throw blankets around the fireplace.
We were there to eat, which we did in grand style, with boozy tasting events, cooking classes and educational seminars with Southern food legends. But it’s impossible to spend any time at Palmetto Bluff and not be completely allured by its landscape of Spanish moss-draped trees and grounds that are just the right mix of manicured and wild.
Though distancing wasn’t on my mind last November, it’s easy to get away from other people, thanks to a 20,000-acre campus that at 34 square miles, is 1.5 times the size of Manhattan. I borrowed a bike to explore, and though I pedaled my little heart out, I barely scratched the surface of the varied landscapes the Bluff has to offer. I wandered along the River Road Preserve, a 122-acre parcel of land along the May and Cooper rivers. Under a canopy of century-old live oaks and southern magnolias, it’s home to wood storks, snowy egrets, great blue herons, summer tanagers and painted buntings. I balanced out some time of quiet reflection in one of the riverside chapels with a little retail therapy in the village. I could’ve also spent time riding horses, playing golf, shooting sporting clays or playing tennis, but I decided to save those activities for a future visit.
We’ve all gotten better at leveraging technology to be present while physically distanced this year. However, in my view, there’s no substitute for spending time with those we care about in person. While I look forward to the next time I’ll travel with a group of loved ones, I treasure the memory of sitting on a dock with my friend drinking a glass of crisp white wine, catching up on life and work, while watching the setting sun dance on the river’s gently lapping waves. For now, knowing that destinations like Palmetto Bluff make responsible travel possible gives me hope, whatever “normal” looks like in the future. And that’s music to my ears.
PLAN YOUR TRIP
Palmetto Bluff is just a five hour drive from Atlanta. If you’d prefer to fly, Delta offers direct flights from Atlanta to Savannah that last well under an hour. The property is 25 miles east of the airport.
Homes in Palmetto Bluff are available for both purchase and rental. See what’s available at palmettobluff.com.
Music To Your Mouth is on hiatus for this year, but the community boasts 10 spots to eat and drink, ranging from casual to fine dining.
Senior Contributing Editor and Beauty Columnist at Simply Buckhead. Travel, Food and Design Writer and Author.