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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Discovery

Make the Most of Springtime Blooms

As you explore the whimsical and winding streets of Charleston, hidden oases can be seen through the wrought iron gates of historic homes. Whether the sun is shining bright in the warm summer months or a cool breeze is blowing through the peninsula in the winter, Charleston enjoys vibrant flowers year-round. As springtime approaches, these overflow with some of the area’s most iconic blooms, such as magnolias and camellias. Creating 50 full arrangements and 200 bud vases each week, Belmond Charleston Place’s in-house florist, Bloom Floral, is well-versed in how to use each season’s featured flowers to capture the essence of southern garden style. Discover their expert input on how to bring the iconic Charleston garden ambiance into your own home this spring. 1. Highlight the best of springtime blooms Inspired by the city’s lush gardens, Bloom infuses the courtyard feel in the hotel’s arrangements by featuring some of Charleston’s most recognizable outdoor blooms in unconventional manners. Flowering branches can only be enjoyed in springtime, and the timeless beauty of magnolias makes them the perfect centerpiece for a Lowcountry-inspired arrangement. To create balance in the lobby’s striking centerpieces, Bloom juxtaposed the towering branches with clusters of greenery, like South Carolina’s fast-growing lady fern.  2. Create movement and texture using unique greenery Many of Charleston’s gardens are encapsulated by far-reaching vines, climbing up exposed brick walls and curling around fanciful pergolas. While these vines are best known for providing a green backdrop to colorful gardens, they are also an easy way to create the textured look often encapsulated by the southern garden style. Bloom recommends using cascading green vines, like the locally-grown Carolina jasmine, to incorporate an element of movement to your springtime arrangements. 3. Build your arrangement wisely It is popular for Charlestonians to showcase their arrangements in ornate centerpieces known as epergnes. However, not every variety of flower is well-suited for these intricate displays. When beginning a new arrangement, Bloom suggests choosing which flower you want to incorporate first, and then selecting a vessel that best complements its shape. To keep your arrangement in place, wrap willow branches in the inside of the vase first, creating a chic and environmentally-friendly support grid to keep your flowers from drooping. This spring, surround yourself with the magic and charm of blissful blooms. Located in the heart of Charleston’s historic district, Belmond Charleston Place is not only the perfect location for exploring the city’s rich history, but also for finding your next floral inspiration. From in-room arrangements and local deliveries to event floral design and wedding bouquets, Bloom Floral can take your vision and turn into a beautiful reality.
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Discovery, Featured

One of a Kind Experiences in Charleston

The list of reasons travelers rank Charleston as one of the top destinations in the country is quite extensive. Mild year-round weather, Southern hospitality, amazing history, and one of the most dynamic culinary scenes in the country. Just to name a few.

In addition to helping you explore the city’s most popular activities and attractions, our concierge team can arrange one-of-a-kind experiences—ones that guests typically would not find on their own. We asked our team to share a list of their favorite gems that they’ve planned for guests through the years.

1. A private walking tour of Charleston’s exclusive gardens in the historic district, by native author and expert, Louisa Pringle Cameron.

2. A tee time at either the Seabrook Island or Daniel Island Clubs, both which are closed to the public.

3. A private “behind-the-scenes” carriage ride at Middleton Place Plantation (reservations are not normally accepted).

4. A charter of the sailing yacht, The Fate, which is a privately owned 49-foot Beneteau that sleeps up to six people.

5. A private driving tour of “Little Jerusalem” by a member of Temple Beth Elohim, the oldest reform synagogue in the world.

6. An exclusive “behind-the-scenes” tour of the Calhoun Mansion.

7. Private tours of artists’ studios as well as introductions to the artists themselves.

8. A private historic district tour via bicycle with native authority Harlan Green—author of six books on Charleston history.

9. A morning or afternoon of horseback riding along the beach at Seabrook Island.

10. A private flying tour, either by Cessna or helicopter.

11. For a special occasion, a private dinner in a historic home with a famous local chef.

Have you enjoyed any of these hidden gems? What others would you recommend to locals or visitors? We would love to hear your thoughts!

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