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Living High in Low Country

ARCHWAYS OF SPANISH MOSS–draped oaks over country lanes, meandering rivers, antebellum estates, sunlit sweetgrass, and the salty perfume of tidal marshes: South Carolina’s low country is a slice of slow-paced paradise.

Whether you’re on a college tour, exploring Charleston’s dynamic culinary scene (two hours away) or intrigued by the cultural character of sultry Savannah (30 minutes away), a stopover at Palmetto Bluff is the perfect portal into the wonders of low country. The 20,000-acre nature preserve, home to 32 miles of riverfront and expansive maritime forests, is a wildlife sanctuary, swanky resort and elegant private-home community steeped in conservation and Old South history.

Once the sprawling estate of R.T. Wilson until his 72-room manse burned to the ground in a fire back in 1926, Palmetto Bluff retains its historic Southern charm with 50 bespoke cottages that line the edge of the May River. They’re notable for their stunning interiors: think claw-foot tubs, fireplaces and oversize settees on screened-in verandas — here, “porching” is a verb and usually involves sweet tea or chardonnay and meditative gazing at the water. Under the luxurious hand of Montage since 2014, a new 150-room inn recently opened, reflecting the original mansion’s architecture and grandeur.

Time at Palmetto Bluff means early-morning kayaking in the company of playful dolphins feeding in the river; electric Duffy cruises through greenbelt waterways laced with rookeries of roosting herons, egrets over oyster beds and the occasional sunbathing alligator; tee times on a pristine Jack Nicklaus course that weaves along the river’s bench; dressage or trail rides through coastal woodlands; guided hunts or sporting clays sessions at the shooting club; shrimping and crabbing family excursions; indulgent pampering at the spa; banjomaking with the rotating artist-in-residence; and champagne sunset cruises aboard Grace, the restored 1913 motor yacht named for the original owner’s daughter, who married Cornelius “Neily” Vanderbilt.

Palmetto Bluff keeps expanding, but thankfully with conservation at its core (more than half of its 20,000 acres are preserved). In addition to the Montage Palmetto Bluff and its 35 private residences, there’s the charming neighborhood of Wilson Village, as well as the just-completed Moreland Village, another private-home hamlet. No matter how you choose to enjoy it, Palmetto Bluff invites you to gracefully slip into the ebb and flow of its low-country lifestyle.

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