December 13, 2016 • PEOPLE, PLACES, Southern Travel
DJ on the Go: The Montage Palmetto Bluff
Henley Vazquez is the CEO and Co-Founder of Passported, an e-travel agency focused on high-end family vacations. A Charlottesville, VA native who now lives in Manhattan, Henley shared her five favorite spots in the South with us over the summer and we were smitten. “Take us with you on your travels!” we pleaded. And she did…
A new Montage hotel—”a brand that’s legendarily great with kids,” notes Henley—recently opened in Palmetto Bluff, SC, and Henley decided to treat her family of four to a mini-vacation-slash-work-trip. “It’s my job to know the ins and outs of the best new resorts,” says Henley, whose husband and two children had the great fortune of helping her with her research.
Coincidentally, the Montage Palmetto Bluff is the sight of our Draper James spring campaign photo shoot, so the Draper James team was especially happy to hear Henley’s travel tips, below.
What’s Palmetto Bluff like during the holiday season?
Weather in the Carolina Lowlands may not be as warm as Florida or the Caribbean, but during the day, we were outside in t-shirts biking everywhere, kayaking with dolphins on the river, and even swimming. At night, it’s cool enough to still feel festive, so you can bundle up around a fire pit for post-dinner s’mores, and a Christmas tree doesn’t look out of place. It’s not too late to book for Christmas, and Palmetto would be a great option for spring break as well, especially for families avoiding Zika.
Sitting on the outdoor veranda for lunch at Jessamine in the main hotel is a must. But my favorite meal was the night we drove into neighboring Bluffton for dinner. It has an Austin-esque vibe, with cute restaurants and live music. Farm is the more upscale spot to dine, but I also loved sitting at a picnic table outside at the Dispensary. It’s super casual and kids can run around and forget their manners for a minute, while parents dig into pulled pork nachos and a frosty beer or two.
Biking! Our kids are city dwellers, and their mom is a worrier. I am terrified of letting them out on the busy bike paths in the city, so they never get a chance to practice. The freedom they had to explore Palmetto on two wheels was so special.
Describe your perfect day at Palmetto Bluff.
Wake up, have a light breakfast then take out a few kayaks for a morning paddle. Afterwards, head to RT’s Market to pick up a couple coffees and let the kids play on the three-story tree house and zip line while mom and dad relax. Have lunch at Buffalo’s on the outdoor patio (try the Po’boy or the bacon pizza), or if it’s a Thursday, drive or boat over to Bluffton to roam the farmer’s market. In the afternoon, let the kids play in the hotel kids club while you hit the spa (or the links, if you’re a golfer) then go for a long pre-dinner bike ride before all digging into Lowcountry seafood with a view at the Canoe Club.
What do you love most about the South during the holiday season?
Well, when it’s the colder season and you’re wrapped up in a cape, you can indulge in a lot more grits and no one’s the wiser! But seriously, it’s the weather and the fact that no matter how long I live away, being in the South still feels like home, no matter the season.
With Christmas vacation coming up, any final tips for a family trip?
My family has zero good photos of us all together. It’s mainly terrible selfies or badly angled snapshots on my phone. Since I had these cute new Draper James clothes, I thought this would be a good time to call in the experts. I discovered Flytographer a couple years ago and am obsessed with them. They have on-demand professional photographers all around the world, and you can book as little as half an hour with a photographer who can capture shots of you and your crew on vacation. This was the second time I’ve used them (the first was in Lisbon—they are everywhere!) and I will absolutely be calling on them again.