Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 24, 2021
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South Carolina sanctuary

Just a stone's throw from Charleston, the Woodlands Resort is a great southern retreat

Charleston is a beautiful seaside town filled with storybook southern mansions, with a feel that evokes pirates and plantations. Yet one of the city's signature attractions is actually located outside its historic centre. Thirty kilometres inland is the sleepy village of Summerville and the sumptuous Woodlands Resort and Inn, one of the top small luxury hotels in the US.

Part of Relais & Châteaux, the exclusive French group that sets sky-high standards for hoteliers, the Woodlands Resort combines a sense of elegant grandeur with laid-back charm and easy southern ospitality. Set in a 17-hectare estate filled with magnolias and mossy oaks, the inn occupies a Greek Revival mansion complete with white columns and a front piazza so extravagant no one could ever dismiss it as a mere porch. Inside, 17-foot ceilings look down on public salons that brim with luxurious furnishings and antiques, but still manage to feel spacious and relaxed.

The same is true for the 19 guest rooms, each with its own personality, created by New York designer David Eskell-Briggs. While the rooms vary in size and scheme, all are over 46 square metres and feature sitting areas, fireplaces and whirlpool baths as well as balconies, heated towel racks, monogrammed robes, VCRs and Bose CD players. Beds are unique as well, ranging from four-posters and sleigh beds to wrought-iron and picket-post styles. The third-floor Hideaway Suite is a favourite among honeymooners, who can climb spiral stairs to a cupola and sip the complimentary Alfred Gratien champagne.

General manager Martin Wall says Woodlands offers guests a perfect hideaway from the hectic pace of modern life. He smiles as he describes the resort's "Romance Package," which includes fireside feasts of chocolate-dipped strawberries and a nightly "rose petal turndown" of the lucky couple's bed. "We want you to lose yourself here," he says. "Sure, there's lots to do, from kayaking and swimming to tennis with a pro to first-class golf at our five local courses. But this is also a place where you can walk in the woods, linger for hours over lunch, sip tea in our spa, or just lie in bed with a book and listen to the mockingbirds sing all day."

If there is a reason to get out of bed at Woodlands, it's to taste Ken Vedrinski's award-winning cooking. In a corner of America known for its produce and traditional fare, Chef Ken has garnered rave reviews for his regionally based but internationally flavoured cuisine. With his stellar touch in the kitchen, dining at Woodlands is a memorable affair -- one bite of the Maine lobster sashimi on spicy mango salad, and you'll barely register the crystal chandeliers or trompe l'oeil ceiling of the resort's 75-seat dining room. Similarly, a taste of dessert (say, caramelized pear Napoleon with fig crisps and sourwood-honey ice cream) immediately cancels out the cicadas serenading diners from the bamboo forest beyond the wall of French doors. The restaurant also offers an extensive and esoteric wine list specializing in RhÖne varietals. For more intimate dining, a private room is available with its own lounge, fireplace and seating for up to 14 guests.

The luxurious accommodations and facilities offered by the Woodlands Resort and Inn are a perfect base from which to enjoy Charleston's attractions, ranging from pristine beaches to 150 local golf courses and the centuries-old city centre. On the other hand, to really do Woodlands justice is to never leave at all.


This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.