When Spa Montage in Laguna Beach, CA, first debuted, it raised the bar in the industry as the first spa to be awarded the five-star rating by Forbes. Since then, Montage Hotels and Resorts has introduced locations in Beverly Hills, CA; Deer Valley, UT; and Kapalua Bay, HI. Last September, the company celebrated the grand opening of the new Montage Palmetto Bluff (Bluffton, SC). Although the company acquired the resort in early 2014, it recently underwent an update that involved the addition of 76 new two-story guest-house rooms, an inn with 74 accommodations, a 13,000-square-foot spa with salon and fitness center, a resort pool with bar and grill, and more. For wellness enthusiasts, the new Spa Montage is a welcome retreat that captures the authentic southern hospitality that characterizes the inviting Low Country destination.
As the brand’s first East Coast property, the resort is located within the community of Palmetto Bluff, which was once made up of 21 plantations. “The Inn, including Spa Montage, was built on a beautiful peninsula overlooking our lagoon waterways and estuaries with stunning views of the May River,” says spa director Raye Vogler. “Spa Montage has forest views from most treatment rooms and is easily accessible by our guests.” The 13-treatment-room spa is a far cry from the intimate Cottage Spa that served as a temporary reprieve in one of the guest cottages for spa-goers while the new spa was under construction. Making guests feel right at home, Spa Montage provides a far more luxurious setting. The spacious spa relies on a refreshing palette of blue and white, which even extends to the seersucker robes spa-goers sport. According to Vogler, the spa features the first cold plunge pools in South Carolina. They’re part of the Art of Spa amenity circuit—found in both the ladies’ and gentlemen’s area—which includes a heated whirlpool, a eucalyptus steam room, and a western red cedar sauna. Water lovers will also enjoy the spa’s Hydrotone hydrotherapy tub, which has more than 50 jets and LED light therapy. “We expect to do well with all of the treatments on our new menu, but we know that we will have to promote our hydro-tub to encourage our guests to benefit from this amazing new wellness offering,” says Vogler.
As for the rest of the menu, it wasn’t difficult to find inspiration. “Spa Montage Palmetto Bluff features many of the luxury spa and wellness services of our sister properties, but we also offer signature services that are uniquely inspired by our wonderful regional culture,” says Vogler. For example, spa-goers can experience the Signature High Cotton Massage ($275, 90 minutes; $345, 2 hours), a firm but nurturing treatment with a stimulating scalp massage and a nourishing hair mask, and the Signature Carolina Kur Experience ($365, 2 hours), a healing service that involves a full-body exfoliation, a mud mask using a custom blend of pluff mud from the May River, a therapeutic marine-inspired soak, and an application of shea butter to hydrate the skin. The menu also features other locally inspired treatments, such as the Signature Low Country Lemon-Aide Nail Service ($195, 2 hours 15 minutes), which incorporates an application of paraffin to deliver the natural antioxidant and antiseptic benefits of lemon and essential oils deep into the skin; the Coastal Carolina Body Wrap ($290, 90 minutes), a healing seaweed cocoon that comes complete with a dry brushing, undaria body polish, and scalp and foot massage; and The Deep South ($195, 60 minutes; $275, 90 minutes; $345, 2 hours), an eclectic blend of Thai, shiatsu, and sports massage. “We developed signature services that reflect our personalized southern hospitality and celebrate ingredients indigenous to the Low Country,” says Vogler.
Wanting to provide spa-goers with products that stand out from the crowd, Janet Denyer, corporate director of Spa Montage, knew she was onto something when she met Jacqueline Piotaz, a highly regarded esthetician, in London last year. It was there she learned of Piotaz’s eponymous skincare line, which relies on plant stem cells. After experiencing the line for herself, Denyer was sold on its effectiveness and introduced it at several Spa Montages earlier this year. The spas, including Spa Montage Palmetto Bluff, are the only ones in North America to offer the Jacqueline Piotaz Switzerland line. “First and foremost, I was impressed with Jacqueline and her passion for excellence in the spa industry and in skincare,” says Denyer. “When I had the opportunity to preview her product line, I was so impressed not only with the amazing performance results but also with the attention to detail in every facet, such as the quality of the packaging and air-pump delivery system. I was also impressed with the simplicity of using just five core products regularly to achieve healthy, beautiful skin.” The spa also relies on skincare products from Kerstin Florian and Osea. “Our product lines were chosen based on our vision of offering a diverse menu that incorporates organic and natural, corrective, and luxury brands that align with the Montage vision, providing our guests with the ultimate in spa, beauty, and wellness experiences,” says Vogler.
With 28 full-time and 22 part-time associates on staff, the spa is equipped to handle about 60 to 75 guests each day. “Our spa and salon guests range from four to 94 years of age,” says Vogler. “They are well traveled, highly educated, and tend to be outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy fishing, golfing, kayaking, and discovering the abundant wildlife our natural preserve offers.” Of course, operating a spa in the rural setting does present its fair share of challenges. According to Vogler, staffing can be difficult. However, that isn’t stopping the spa from enticing guests with its southern charm. “Spa Montage Palmetto Bluff is a wonderful addition to our collection of ultra-luxury wellness spas,” says Denyer. “This beautifully designed spa set within an enchanting Low-Country nature preserve exudes the gracious ambience of southern living, which we are delighted to combine with our expertise in creating leading-edge wellness programs and luxury spa offerings.
Spa Montage Palmetto Bluff (Bluffton, SC)
Crescent Communities and The Athens Group
13,000 square feet; 13 treatment rooms
CND, Deborah Lippmann, Jacqueline Piotaz Switzerland, Jerdon Robes, Kérastase, Kerstin Florian, Oka B., Osea, Shades EQ, Sumbody, Tara Spa Therapy
Continuum Pedicure Spas, Hydrotone Hydrotherapy Tub, Ionto-Comed, Life Fitness, Living Earth Crafts, ResortSuite, Taiji, Takara Belmont
Wilson Associates (Dallas)