Interview with Valerie Balderson, Away by TTI Travel Advisor
Why did you choose the destination?
When Preferred Hotels & Resorts invited me to take a learning trip to South Carolina and Georgia, I was excited to visit The Desoto Savannah and the Montage Palmetto Bluff. I had only ever briefly driven through Georgia and had heard many good things about Savannah and the “Low Country”.
What were the highlights?
The experience was a coordinated effort of Air Canada, Preferred Hotels & Resorts, the Montage Palmetto Bluff and Desoto Savannah. It was very well designed and executed. My personal highlights included a boat tour of the May River where we learned about the history of the Montage Palmetto Buff and the surrounding Low Country; informative trolley tour of Savannah and a chance to experience some fabulous properties and develop relationships with the suppliers.
What was your most memorable experience?
I loved being able to bicycle around the Montage Palmetto Bluff property. It was quiet, peaceful and the natural surroundings were so restful. I feel this resort would be an ideal property for a brief respite for clients. It is easy to get to, has fantastic food, beautiful and very comfortable accommodations and many activities to engage in on the property whether it be cycling, equestrian, kayaking, river cruises, yachting, climbing treehouses, paddle boarding, bowling and tennis. There are also a couple of great children’s programs (Montage Merit Badges and Paintbox). There truly is something for everyone of all ages and interests so for family reunions or get togethers, groups, bachelor parties (there is a shooting club, fishing), bachelorette parties (a great spa). There is also a complimentary partnership with Cadillac and Mercedes where clients can have complimentary use of a day vehicle if they register with the automotive manufacturer (this is arranged through the Concierge).
Tell us about your itinerary.
The first hotel we stayed at was the Montage Palmetto Bluff Hotel. This wonderful hotel is located along the May River in the Low Country of South Carolina between Hilton Head Island and Savannah. The 20,000-acre community encompasses an extensive nature preserve, walking trails, a vibrant village, marina, restaurants and a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course. There are a variety of complimentary activities included such as “Culinary Heirlooms”, which is a meet up for guests at the inn around one of the fire pits where tasty dishes are served up; “Southern Sips and Story Time”, nighttime S’Mores etc. Parts of our stay at the hotel included a guided boat tour of the surrounding water in the hopes of spotting dolphins as well as learn about the history of the area. I attended all of the hotel activities and ended our last night with a visit to the S’Mores Cycle (toasting our S’Mores made with homemade marshmallows of various flavors). It was delicious!
Our next hotel was The Desoto Savannah in Savannah. The hotel is overlooking Madison Square in the heart of Savannah’s Historic District. It is a Savannah landmark offering elegancy, history and charm with a wonderful dash of modern Southern hospitality. We arrived at the hotel to be greeted with our own private Trolley Car tour of Savannah arranged by Visit Savannah…the tour was fun and informative.
What surprised you the most?
There were two items that surprised me the most. The first was how close Montage Palmetto Bluff is (only 25 km) to the Savannah airport. I like that Air Canada has direct flights (2 hours 15 minutes) on a Wednesday to Sunday schedule so this is a perfect destination for a quick getaway. The other thing that surprised me was how small the population of Savannah is – only 146,000 permanent residents – to support 13 million visitors a year!!! I feel that is an impressive infrastructure and a clear illustration of how much Savannah enjoys hosting tourists!
Photo courtesy of Valerie Balderson