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Culture / Travel

A Southern Escape

This Almost-Island Getaway Packs Luxury, Water Sports and a Crazy Backstory Into One Vacation

BY // 06.06.16

The first thing you notice at Montage Palmetto Bluff is the imposing ruins — remnants of a grand house’s facade. Nearly 115 years ago, New York banker Richard T. Wilson Jr. purchased Palmetto Bluff and built his dream estate overlooking 
the May River.

In 1926, a party got out of 
hand, and the mansion burned to the ground. Devastated, Wilson sold the property, never to return.

It’s just part of the rich lineage of the almost-island known as Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina, with its prehistoric and Native American roots and antebellum history lush with tales of plantation life. These days, Palmetto Bluff is a luxury destination for vacationers and those seeking a second home — Spanish moss and 100-year-old trees included. As a hotel, Montage offers guest houses and cottage, and will open 200 guest rooms when its inn debuts this fall.

Residences for purchase adhere to a design scheme and conservation requirements; Montage employs a conservationist and historian to ensure that the environment, wildlife and history go undisturbed.

Water sports abound: fishing, kayaking and private tours on board Grace, the restored 103-year-old yacht named for Wilson’s sister, wife of Cornelius “Neily” Vanderbilt III.

An ideal day at Palmetto Bluff starts with breakfast at Buffalo’s, followed by a boat tour with resident outdoor and water guide Boo Harrell. After lunch, take a dressage lesson at Longfield Stables or perfect your croquet game at Wilson Lawn and Racquet Club. During a lazy afternoon, set yourself on the porch at The Inn and have dinner at the Canoe Club, a posh eatery atop the boathouse. Wind down with s’mores roasted fireside on the great lawn.

After a few days, you’ll be gone with the Low Country wind.

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