This week’s broadcast of Peter Greenberg Worldwide comes from the Montage Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, South Carolina. Nestled within a community surrounded by 20,000 acres of maritime forest, the property houses 152 rooms and suites and 48 cottages and suites. Joining us this week is Lisa Sulka, the Mayor of Bluffton, who talks about the town’s development from 450 people when she moved there in 1993 to its current population of more than 20,000. Bluffton Historical Society Director, Kelly Logan Graham, speaks about Bluffton’s role in the Civil War, and the few structures that remained in the town after the Burning of Bluffton. Jay Walea, Director of the Conservancy, teaches us about some of the area’s wildlife and the research projects currently in progress. There’s all of this and more as Peter Greenberg Worldwide broadcasts from the Montage Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, South Carolina.
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Lisa Sulka, Mayor of Bluffton, speaks about the vast growth she’s seen from a population of 450 in 1993 to currently 20,000 in the town limits. Many people used to call the town the gateway to Hilton Head—now Hilton Head is the gateway to Bluffton. She feels it’s the town’s Southern charm, quirkiness, and ease of accessibility to necessities that has made this place special for both locals and visitors.
Kelly Logan Graham, Director of the Bluffton Historical Society, details Palmetto Bluff’s importance during the Civil War as a stronghold for the Union. The Blufftonians were sniping and reporting troop positions. Troops were sent to burn Bluffton because of their position, which resulted in the Burning of Bluffton. One of only eight structures to survive, the Heyward House now serves as the home of the Bluffton Historical Society.
Mary Roe, Director of Programming and Development for Palmetto Conservation Foundation, talks about the Palmetto Bluff trails and their expansion over the next eight years from 300 miles to 500 miles. Many of these were a part of the Rails to Trails program, and the trail system plays host to over 250,000 visitors every year.
Jay Walea, Director of the Conservancy, teaches us about the diverse wildlife within the 20,000 acres of Palmetto Bluff. The Conservancy hosts multiple research studies of the different species throughout the year. It recently concluded a study of the rattlesnakes in the area, just one of over 30 species of snakes on the property.
David O’Donoghue, President of Palmetto Bluff for Crescent Communities, discusses the development of Palmetto Bluff, which began in 1999. It has an agreement to develop the 20,000 acres in a sustainable way and has already set aside the 7,500 that will be preserved.
Alan Fuerstman, Montage International Founder Chairman and CEO, explains how the Montage is about creating a different style of service for the ultra luxury sect. He didn’t want “stuffy,” he wanted people to be as comfortable in jeans and a sports coat as they are in a full suit when at his properties. Then he talks about the Montage Palmetto Bluff and how guests are looking for immersion and a true sense of play.
John Thompson, Fire Chief Bluffton Township Fire District, talks about his 34 years in the fire service and 10 years in Bluffton. Before working in South Carolina, he was in rural Virginia, which presented its own set of problems. One issue they don’t have in Palmetto Bluff is dealing with high rises—the highest building they have is only three stories tall.
Courtney Hampson, Community Developer, Palmetto Bluff for Crescent Communities, puts the size of Palmetto Bluff into perspective by explaining that its 20,000 acres of forest is one and a half the size of Manhattan. With its dense forestry, the paper companies located in the area could have easily made this a cash cow, but they loved the land and wanted to preserve it.
Nathan Beriau, Executive Chef at Montage Palmetto Bluff, shares a few of the property’s top menu items and some of the surprise hit dishes—such as the number of salads the guests are excited about. Then he talks about the offerings that were not a hit, such as the steak tartare. He had luck with this item everywhere else but at the Montage Palmetto Bluff it did not go over well. Of course, he has to serve chicken fingers for the kids, but according to him, there are the very best in the area.
By Darra Stone for PeterGreenberg.com