At the Inn at Palmetto Bluff, 50 cottages as well as 18 majestic holes of Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf, are nestled among massive oaks along the picturesque south bank of the May River.
But it’s more than just scenic, according to Washington, D.C.-based U.S News & World Report. The monthly online news publication called it the best hotel in the country.
The Inn at Palmetto Bluff beat more than 1,500 four- and five-star hotels the publication considered for top honors in its 2012 rankings.
“We’re extremely proud and extremely grateful,” said general manager Marty Wall. “It’s always humbling to get this kind of recognition.”
The 22,000-acre community—about two-thirds the size of Hilton Head Island—also features private residences and several public amenities.
But its comfortable accommodations, award-winning centerpiece May River Golf Club course, diversity of activities and quickly growing reputation (it only opened in 2004) helped the inn secure the top spot on this year’s list.
The publication computed a “hotel score” by weighing guest ratings on travel websites, the number of stars it receives in annual surveys and its additional awards and recognition.
Earlier this year, the inn was one of only four properties in South Carolina to receive a 2012 Five Diamond rating from AAA.
It also received the Forbes Travel Guide Four Star Award for 2012 and last year was named one of the 500 best hotels in the world by Travel and Leisure.
Hotel officials are committed to showcasing and promoting its distinct Lowcountry elements, executive assistant Christine Wrobel said.
It offers guests locally made drinks and honey, and produces its own mulberry-and-rice scrub used in its spa.
The sprawling property includes a 3-mile waterway for canoeing and kayaking, two tree houses, grass courts for bocce and croquet, and the Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course.
The guest cottages—about 1,100 square feet each—feature Lowcountry artwork, antique pine floorboards and a screened-in porch. The hotel is managed by Auberge Resorts, which oversees six exclusive facilities around the country.
It was one of three South Carolina hotels in the top 100 nationwide. The Wentworth Mansion in Charleston ranked third and the Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort placed 24th.
Wall said he’d already noticed an increase in calls from prospective guests since the list’s release earlier this week.
“The (award’s) outreach is huge,” he said. “Hopefully it will bring even more people to this unique and special place.”