As I pull up to the guard gate, I’m handed a CD the guard tells me will explain the area as I wind down the four-mile drive to reach the Inn at Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina’s Low Country.
CD on play I start to drive on the Spanish Moss draped tree-lined drive and I’m seduced by the beauty. With soothing music playing in the background, the narrator tells how the development in Palmetto Bluff is low-density and molds itself into the land in a very unobtrusive way. I’m so taken with the landscape that I, not known for my slow driving, pull over to let a car pass so I can drive at a snail’s pace to take it all in. They say things move slower in the South and its laconic pace has clearly penetrated my Type A nature.
By the time I reach the Five-Diamond Inn, I am in love. I am ready to hit the real estate office I see across the way and pack my bags. I want this tranquility full-time. At check-in I learn that they take this serenity seriously when I inquire about an activity on the daily list called “porching”. I’m told “We’ve taken relaxation and made it into an activity.” Porching is simply sitting on the porch of your cottage, rocking in a chair, drinking a glass of wine and connecting with the people you are with, or simply with your inner self. I make a note to bring the spirit of porching home.
My 1350 square-foot cottage suite is done in beach chic décor and features a separate living and bedroom, a large screened in porch and a huge bathroom with not only a claw-foot tub, but a shower that doubles as a steam room. I’m falling deeper in love.
In this sanctuary of calm, you can only imagine how peaceful the Auberge Spa is. At the reception desk I’m asked to pick two health elixirs to have added to my post-treatment water and in the waiting lounge, a hot pillow is draped around my neck while I wait for my therapist beside the roaring fire.
I’m trying a sampling of some of the spa’s top treatments and start with a wild rice and mulberry leaf scrub that is created using ingredients harvested on the property. The spa is known for its array of Baths on the Bluffs-a blissful soak in a claw-footed tub on a private veranda off the treatment room. Choose from a wide array of herbs, oils and salts to suit your skin. After the all-too-short soak I’m like Jell-O for my deep tissue massage. After my treatment I relax sipping my health water and peruse a book of comments from past guests. I wholeheartedly agree with Gigi who proclaimed, “This is so much better than Betty Ford!”
In a spa stupor, I jump in my golf cart to head back to the cottage for a little porching before dinner at the member and guest only Canoe Club. The restaurant is designed to make you feel as if you are in a canoe, with a wooden, hull-shaped ceiling and maritime décor. The menu puts a spin on the classic American grill featuring meats and seafood with an array of sauces and side choices. Save room for the build it yourself desserts or roasting s’mores by the Inn’s fire pits.
After a dreamy sleep cocooned in Fretté linens, I’m up early the next morning for a bike ride through the property to check out the five-story tree house. During the summer the area hosts Oyster bakes by the water. Before leaving I check out the Mercedes SL550, one of several Mercedes in the Inn’s fleet available to guests. And despite the peacefulness of that long driveway, this time I couldn’t resist seeing it go by at 100 mph.