On Location: Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, South Carolina

By Camilla McLaughlin

When you arrive at a resort and one of the first things you receive is a book detailing the history of the land going back to 10,000 B.C., you know a one-of-a-kind experience is in store. That’s the case at Palmetto Bluff, a resort located in the middle of South Carolina’s Lowcountry on a parcel of land so large it’s one and a half times the size of Manhattan.

Here, two different stories converge. One involves conservation and sustainability under the watchful eye of Palmetto Bluff Conservancy and the stewardship of the director Jay Walea, who has a lifelong relationship with these 20,000 acres. On a recent visit, his lifelong passion for the land was obvious on trails winding through an ancient Maritime forests and some 20 different wildlife habitats.

The other story is the evolution of a new paradigm for resort development. Here, life revolves around several villages, existing and planned, each offering a little different lifestyle. The homes that appeared to have grown over time reflect local architecture. Judiciously placed throughout the resort and hidden behind gates are a number of private neighborhoods and custom homes. A new Montage Palmetto Bluff Inn and 13,000-square-foot spa recently opened along with 35 Montage Residences. Thoughtfully designed, these fully furnished, two-to-five bedroom single-family homes help make the best of every moment. Montage’s trusted service means leaving for a day — or the season — is as easy as locking the door.

The deep porches of our resort home overlooked a scenic pond; we spied kids fishing from an iconic bridge nearby. A network of waterways and 32 miles of river frontage means the resort is also a waterman’s paradise. A true sporting club, Palmetto Bluff offers activities ranging from shooting to equestrian to golf and racquet sports.

The best resorts are a state of mind; Palmetto Bluff’s begins on the four-mile approach under massive live oaks and magnolias draped with Spanish moss, and continues long after you leave.

Palmetto Bluff images courtesy Crescent Communities