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Make a Leisurely Visit to South Carolina's Low Country


By Bonnie and Bill Neely

When a friend suggested that we would love the Montage at Palmetto Bluff in between Hilton Head, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia, we decided to explore it in the off-season. We were avoiding the summer months since they are known for the Low Country's extremely hot weather and swarms of flying pests such as mosquitos and "no-see-ums."

We entered Palmetto Bluff on the straight road bordered with swamp land, bayous and the May River and its tributaries. Once through the gate, we drove a bit more than 4 scenic miles past private homes and tall pines, magnolias and palmetto trees of all sizes. The live oaks trees draped with gray beards of Spanish moss were awe-inspiring in their unusual beauty.

As the magnificent property came into view with its buildings in the style of wealthy plantation homes, we were immediately transported to the sights of the old South and wondered if the 20,000 acres of this resort had once been fields of Sea Island cotton, indigo or rice. We realized it would have been enslaved people who tamed these acres and grew cash crops in difficulties too extreme for us to comprehend. We had already seen signs warning of alligators and wondered how the people managed to get through the hostile thick woods and swamps and ultimately make this acreage of sand and saltwater habitable and profitable.

The little town of Bluffton, population about 28,000, is nearby, so most resort guests venture there to investigate shops and small restaurants with typical Low Country fare. Seafood and fish, pork barbecue, shrimp and grits, black-eyed peas and collards comprise favorite recipes that have been handed down for generations. We preferred dining at the several restaurants at Montage, however, where the food at each meal was the best we had ever tasted. We even had the honor of speaking to the Octagon Restaurant's chef Ted Campbell and his excellent staff to compliment them on the delectable dishes.

As guests in the main hotel, we arose early to enjoy coffee awaiting us in the sunroom, which opens onto the big porch where guests gather for visiting over complimentary afternoon drinks and sweets. Just opposite this porch is a large brick fire circle, the location for an after-dinner treat of s'mores and meeting other guests from around the world. Shrubs in bloom add to the beauty of the setting overlooking lakes, meticulously manicured grounds, more bayous and the May River. Here, every event is planned to enhance rest, relaxation, fun and fellowship, with new and different opportunities and seasonal attractions each day and month.

Two small churches with steeples are on the property in matching architecture of white clapboard design. We were lucky enough to see a beautiful wedding crowd throwing flower blossoms at the bride and groom as they descended the church steps. Depending on the season, you can select from many activities for families, couples or singles, depending on your budget. First, have a complimentary ride in a golf cart so your friendly driver can show you all over the large property and explain what each area offers. Activities include canoeing, fishing, bicycling, golf, hiking, swimming in beautiful outdoor heated pools and many activities and classes along with pampering at the spa. Kids adore climbing up to the tall, sturdy tree house. The miles of paved trails throughout the property serve for walking, biking and golf carts.

Guest rooms are beautifully furnished, inviting and comfortable. We loved our stay at Palmetto Bluff Montage and look forward to returning there again. The thoughtful and friendly staff made us feel as if we had left behind many new friends.









Bonnie Neely is the author of "Real Ventures: Did We Really Do That?" which is available at www.amazon.com. She and her husband Bill are freelance writers. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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