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Inn at Palmetto Bluff vs. Lodge at Sea Island

Which is the more appealing resort?

By: Tom Cunneff

A delectable dessert choice at the Inn at Palmetto Bluff’s River House is the roasted pear and blackberry crisp with buttermilk ice cream. Does it beat the Oak Room’s warm chocolate cake a la mode at the Lodge at Sea Island?

The answer depends on personal preference, as does the choice of the resort itself. Located on the May River near Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, the Inn boasts 50 cottages with wide pine-plank wood floors, fireplaces and large screened-in porches with ceiling fans. In addition, hanging plants and gas flame lights on the porch entryway pay homage to the area’s Lowcountry heritage. The cottages ring a long courtyard of oaks, palmettos and pines and are a short walk to a Hollywood-perfect village.

About two hours south on St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, the Lodge at Sea Island has the feel of a grand English manor. There’s no reception area; rather, a butler greets you upon arrival, leads you to one of 40 rooms, and tends to your every need during your stay, from unpacking your clothes to bringing you warm cookies and cold milk at night.

Rooms at both properties have every conceivable amenity, from high-definition televisions to deep-soaking tubs and giant rainwater showerheads with enough pressure to douse a forest fire. When you do muster the will to leave these pampered cocoons, there is plenty to explore.

The Lodge can’t be beat when it comes to golf and camaraderie. There are three courses and a first-rate learning center, and there’s no better way to relive a round than over dry-aged steaks at the pitch-perfect clubby atmosphere of the Oak Room or Colt & Alison.

If you throw in the Cloister, the Lodge’s sister hotel, the choice really may be impossible. But when it comes to individual properties, the Inn receives the final nod because of all the extras, like the bicycles that come with each cottage and three giant fire pits for making s’mores. At the spa’s waiting room, guests receive a warm terrycloth neck roll that smells of fresh baked cookies; post-massage, they are handed a heated robe that is emblematic of the warm, enveloping experience provided by the Inn at Palmetto Bluff.

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