Live well and savor a luxury cruising weekend in South Carolina’s Palmetto Bluff. 

The region known as the South Carolina Lowcountry designates a certain geographical area in the southeastern part of the state, but the term also conveys the specific culture, history, and traditions indigenous to the area. Many visitors from other parts of the country, including this former Midwesterner, have preconceived ideas about the South. Mine were limited to notions about “southern hospitality,” foods like grits or collard greens, and Spanish moss hanging from oak trees. With the exception of images of southern plantations, my impressions of the South did not include anything related to luxury.

Soon after arriving at Montage Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, South Carolina, however, I got a sense of my lack of understanding about almost anything southern. Travel has a tendency to do that for a person. During three days of southern immersion, my initial suspicion grew to a full realization of my inexperience, and when I finally arrived at the inevitable state of acceptance, my former unfamiliarity was replaced with a warm fondness—dare I say “love”—for the Lowcountry.

Six hotel and resort properties comprise the Montage Collection, an ultraluxury hotel and resort management company founded in 2002 that serves affluent travelers and provides the utmost level of service ( In addition to the newest location, Montage Palmetto Bluff, the five other properties are in Beverly Hills and Laguna Beach, California; Park City, Utah; Kapalua, Hawaii and Los Cabos, Mexico. All of the properties
exude a comfortable elegance, yet each is designed to not only reflect the individuality of its surroundings but to protect it. Palmetto Bluff’s setting along the May River between Hilton Head Island and Savannah encompasses 20,000 acres, more than half of which are committed to the Palmetto Bluff Conservancy as a nature preserve and will never be
developed. Furthermore, an archaeologist is on staff for the purpose of preserving the property’s botanical and historical integrity.

The list of former owners of the land where Palmetto Bluff is situated is lengthy and includes the Wilsons, whose vision was to build a luxury estate that would offer the very best of living at that time. Unfortunately, their 72-room mansion burned to the ground in 1926. In keeping with the previous owners’ dreams, Palmetto Bluff was designed as a charming southern village that offers the best service imaginable. Indeed, RT’s Market, a general store, will order residents’ favorite items so that they’re available for purchase
during their seasonal stays. The village includes a waterside chapel overlooking the May River, an ideal setting for intimate weddings. Single-story, two-to-five bedroom homes line lantern-lit streets, where the preferred mode of transportation is by bicycle. Home ownership with the Montage Branded Residences includes all the amenities of the 200-guest hotel and club, including concierge service and housekeeping and fulfills just about any request you can think of.

Cruisers would do well to make marina and hotel reservations for a long overdue, long weekend of pampering or more active options; there’s no shortage of ways to fill your time here. Wilson Landing on the May River—a certified South Carolina Clean Marina—offers five docks, dry-dock storage for 80 members’ boats, a boat ramp, and a storage yard. Kayaks and stand-up paddleboards are also available for rental. For a real treat, leave your boat at the dock and arrange for a leisurely sunset cruise on May River aboard the beautifully restored, resort-owned, antique yacht GRACE.