Discovery, Featured, Sip & Savor

Charleston Is Your Oyster

Both culinary playground and educational classroom, set out on an aquatic adventure in the ACE Basin. With a professional fisherman and oyster farmer as your guide, you’ll experience the lifecycle of an oyster and its sustainability firsthand from your perch in a boat in the winding estuary creeks of South Carolina. The ACE Basin, located where the Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto rivers converge, is one of the largest undeveloped estuaries along the Atlantic Coast. Located just over an hour south of Charleston, this 350,000 acre wildlife refuge and natural environment is home to marshes, wetlands, cypress swamps, and hardwood forests. As the city landscape gives way to lush green spaces, glimpses of marsh grass beckon beyond. After arriving in Bennetts Point, South Carolina, you’ll be greeted at the rustic dock by the bearded crew behind Lowcountry Oyster Company. What started as a boyhood dream is now a daily endeavor for owner and operator, Trey McMillan. Along with his team, McMillan raises millions of oyster seeds each year, helping to replenish the diminishing oyster supply while purifying the area’s waterways. Your tour will start in the nursery, where millions of baby oysters are starting their maturation process before setting out from Mosquito Creek via boat for the floating oyster farm. As dolphins swim past and pelicans glide overhead, you’ll enjoy a leisurely 30 minute cruise through the winding estuary creeks as a gentle sea breeze blows the marsh grass and fish jump beyond. On the water, you’ll have a chance to see firsthand the hard work that goes into hand raising these single, select oysters. The entire process takes up to a year, before the oysters are shipped out nationwide, within 24 hours of being harvested. When you sample some of the Lowcountry Cups, you get a true taste of the place they come from. Lowcountry Oyster Company’s are high in salinity, a result of the pristine waters they are raised in. Not only does the water produce a better oyster, but the oyster helps better the water. Because oysters feed by filtering algae, they function as a natural filter, helping to improve the water quality. Truly one of the most sustainable from start to finish. After the tour and boat excursion, you’ll head around the corner to a private undeveloped forest for a picturesque Lowcountry oyster roast. Overlooking the Combahee River and a historic rice field, savor more oysters as you sip Champagne and enjoy black angus pepper-seared roast beef filet, mesquite-smoked grilled chicken and more while our team attends to your every whim. After living the Lowcountry lifestyle, you’ll depart for downtown Charleston and your home away from home. Later, shed your oyster overalls for fine frocks as a celebratory evening awaits at the Charleston Grill. If you haven’t had your fill of Lowcountry Cups, order the Local Oysters with Heirloom Pepper Mignonette or sample one of Chef Michelle’s other Southern delights that celebrate the bounty of our area’s rich waterways. Charleston is Your Oyster is exclusively available for guests of Charleston Place, A Belmond Hotel. For more information or to book this incomparable experience, contact us at 843-722-4900.
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Arts & Culture, Discovery, Featured

Spring Blooms in Charleston

When the sun begins to cast warm rays on the city’s historic buildings and backyard gardens blossom vibrant splashes of color, you know spring is finally here. Charleston is known for its quiet and charming secret gardens, Palmetto trees and local flowers sprinkled throughout the city. While the Holy City has a long list of reasons for travelers to explore, spring brings a variety of floral delights; the most breathtaking regional flowers including Azaleas, Wisteria, Tea Olive, Magnolia Trees and Camellias.
Wherever you turn in Charleston, you will surely see Azaleas blooming in hues of pronounced pinks, brilliant reds and warm purples, adding sweet, rich pigment to secret gardens and public parks. Azaleas, also called “the royalty of the garden,” are from the rhododendron family and one of the most sought-after shrubs locally, producing brilliant full color.
While its arrival is shortlived, Wisteria, a wispy, willowing vine that climbs and wraps around historic stone buildings and arching iron gates, welcomes visitors with it’s pretty purple color and slightly sweet scent. The curious vines of a wisteria can reach as high as 65 feet above the ground and spread out 32 feet wide.
The fragrant Tea Olive’s dark glossy, green leaves and dense foliage can be discovered all throughout Charleston in the form of well-manicured hedges providing shade and privacy. These sweet shrubs bloom tiny but amazingly fragrant, creamy white flowers which give gardens a crisp and fresh aesthetic.
Jasmine, an evergreen that climbs walls, posts, arbors and more, signals the start of warmer weather ahead. It’s rich, intoxicating scent envelopes the city each spring, a true favorite of locals and visitors alike.
You can also find beautifully strong and tall Saucer Magnolia Trees blooming light pink flowers. Part of the Magnolia family, these can grow as tall as 80 feet at full maturity. Often selected for their joyful robust tulip-looking blooms, the tree also provides cool shade for Charlestonians on warm spring days.
Camellias, another Southern favorite, come in many different shapes and sizes, yielding hues of red with colors ranging from stark white to rich pink ombré. These gorgeous trees, growing up to 65 feet tall, can be seen at Middleton Place, which is home to the oldest Camellias in North America. Charleston Place is currently offering an exclusive, behind-the-scenes experience at Middleton Place, home of the oldest formal gardens in America.

Floral insights were provided by Bloom at Charleston Place. Utilizing local product as much as possible, Bloom provides stunning floral arrangements for weddings and events, creating some of the most breathtaking arrangements inspired by the city of Charleston itself.

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Discovery, Featured

Anchored in History

Set off on an educational excursion and step back in time. As you cruise up the winding Ashley River, Charleston’s Lowcountry beauty is on full display. Your destination? The 300-year-old Middleton Place, home of the oldest landscaped gardens in North America.                  You may have already fallen in love with Charleston’s coastal appeal. A peninsula surrounded by water, glimpses of its blue shimmer peak out behind historic mansions and cobblestone streets. But beyond historic downtown, Charleston’s living history comes alive in an even more impactful way. Slip away for an insightful cruise with Coastal Expeditions and Master Captain Chris Crolley, one of the state’s most knowledgeable naturalists. As you pass the site of the first settlement dating back to 1670, Charles Towne Landing, you’ll be regaled with tales of those first settlers and the Kiawah and Wando tribes, who called the Lowcountry home. As you traverse up the Ashley River into more peaceful waters past notable sites like Drayton Hall and Magnolia Plantation, feel the ocean spray, smell the rich scent of pluff mud and be amazed as dolphins and pelicans glide past. As Middleton Place slowly comes into view, you’ll be reminded of how life once was, when visitors arrived via the waterways 200 years ago. Established in 1741, the plantation was the primary residence of several generations of the Middleton family, many of whom played prominent roles in the colonial and antebellum history of South Carolina along with the enslaved West Africans who lived and worked tirelessly to sustain the thriving plantation. Now a National Historic Landmark, the grounds are used as a museum to tell the complete history of the early Colonial period through the Revolution, the early Republic, the Civil War era and beyond. Surrounded by water on a tiny split of land, you’ll pull up onto the historic field dike, still preserved, as wild flowers and sea reeds blow in the distance. Birds fly over head and alligators can be seen swimming and sunning themselves on the adjacent bank. As you round the corner and traverse the grass path toward the main house, you’ll notice rolling terraces and buildings dating back to the 19th century. Escorted by Middleton Place’s expert Historian, a carriage ride will take you past the Cypress Lake and live oaks covered in Spanish moss, as you learn more about the upkeep – then and now – of these storied grounds. Next, you’ll be guided through the house museum, which contains original furniture before going “beyond the fields” to learn about the personal histories of the enslaved people. As you explore the working stableyard and barnyard, you’ll get a glimpse of the tools, pottery and clothing made by the skilled enslaved artisans. They also tended to an array of livestock and you’ll see that numerous animals still call Middleton Place home, including horses, sheep and water buffalo. After, get lost in thought among the allées in the formal gardens, considered to be the oldest in the country, where camellias date back to 1787 including the first four camellias brought to North America. The gardens are also home to the oldest tea olive and crepe myrtle trees in the country. Past the Butterfly Lakes, you’ll discover the most notable feature of the gardens, the Middleton Oak, a massive Southern live oak tree with a trunk diameter of 35 feet, generally thought to be amongst the oldest in the Southern United States. As you reflect on your day, discuss all that you learned as you savor a farm to table lunch with vegetables grown at the on-site organic farm before departing for downtown Charleston and your home away from home. An essential American experience, Anchored in History is exclusively available for guests of Charleston Place, A Belmond Hotel. For more information or to book this incomparable experience, contact us at 843-722-4900.
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