Pluff Mud from the May River is blended and applied after an invigorating full body exfoliation, followed by a therapeutic soak in ocean-inspired, mineral rich botanicals at Spa Montage in Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina.
Succumb to an “extreme spa,” alternating heat (eucalyptus-infused steam room, giant hot tub or sauna) with a quick cold-water plunge and then a required rest to round out your experience. Spa Montage is a 13,000 square foot comprehensive spa which will leave you a mere puddle of happiness. But, if you’re looking for a vacation that is more about the “big world” than just “your world”, check out Montage Palmetto Bluff.
An easy six-hour drive from Chattanooga, Montage Palmetto Bluff continues to build stronger connections to the environment with research partnerships, an Audubon-certified golf course, and opportunities for guests to interact with all the nature preserve has to offer. Nestled in a lush, 20,000-acre coastal nature preserve between Hilton Head Island and Savannah, this stunning Lowcountry resort will haunt your thoughts for days after you leave the property.
As Palmetto Bluff is known for regular dolphin pod sightings, one dolphin in particular stands out among the rest – sporting a unique notching pattern on her dorsal fin and known for her playful behavior. Her name is Lucky. Through the relationship between the Conservancy and USC Beaufort, Montage Palmetto Bluff was able to “adopt” Lucky, thus becoming the symbol for the sustainability program. There, 32 miles of riverfront — featuring the May, Cooper and New Rivers — a maze of waterways provides a safe haven for the Atlantic Bottlenose dolphin. Scientists hope to gain a better understanding of the behaviors and needs of the Atlantic Bottlenose dolphin that are home to the vast tidal estuaries and rivers that make up the Lowcountry.
Regular guest lectures on the Dolphin Research Program are complimentary to resort guests (and the local community). The series is part of a robust schedule of 200+ educational programs and activities being offered through the Palmetto Bluff Conservancy each year.
Paddle, bike, walk or horseback ride through the ecological diversity which thrives under the watchful eye of the Palmetto Bluff Conservancy, the caretakers of the ecological and environmental integrity of the honored land.
Guests can join the Feederwatch citizen science project monitoring bird feeders, meet winged predators under the watchful eye of an instructor with Lowcountry Raptors, or explore the prehistory of coastal South Carolina with an archaeologist. Free classes, brown bag lunch workshops and guided nighttime hikes are listed in the extensive catalogue on the Montage website or the friendly concierges can help you make a plan for an engaging stay.
But of all, the feather in the cap of the property’s conservation efforts is the May River Golf Course. Recognized as a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course, the 18-hole May River Golf Course is a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, with a variety of conservation efforts used in the development and maintenance of the course.
Club superintendent Chris Johnson and his crew of 35 check daily to correct irrigation needs and are diligent not to over-water which would cause unneeded run off or drainage issues on the precious land. Once the crew identifies exactly where on the 18-hole watering is needed, they can remotely trigger any of the approximate 2300 sprinkler or mister heads to take care of business.
Golf courses do not have the best reputation as environmental caregivers, but Jay Walea, director at the Conservancy gives May River an A+. “Chris has taken a holistic approach to golf course management and is doing it right, growing beautiful and healthy grass and being a good steward of the land. And, the two don’t often go hand in hand.”
All this care benefits golfers, too. “It’s a very special course,” says May River Golf Professional, Greg Wrobel. “It’s one of only eight Jack Nicklaus signature courses in the state and the views are spectacular, much the same now as 200 years ago.” He applauds his colleagues for their dedication to the course. “Novices will find it playable and fair where our members can play every day and find new nuances. You can look out across the marsh and see dolphins, boats cruising by, oysters being harvested and Bluffton across the river.”
While golfers may never know about the chemistry behind the greens as they play the striking May River Golf Course, they will undoubtedly feel a natural pull, a connection to the earth that everyone at Palmetto Bluff works so hard to preserve and present.
Montage’s team remains resource-efficient and eco-conscious through day-today operations – including water conservation through laundry practices and offering only paper straws and to-go boxes at all nine of the property’s dining outlets, in efforts to reduce plastic waste that makes its way back into our waters.
Bookend your day with mimosas on the May River aboard the restored motor yacht Grace, and a nightcap craft cocktail around one of the resort’s many giant fire pits. Gorgeous entrees, soups and salads, low country staples along with fresh fish served inventively to feed body and soul. The menu is veggie-centric and healthier. The peach and banana bread pudding with candied bacon and vanilla ice cream is not.