Nine months in to our relationship as an affiliated member of Virtuoso through our marvellous host agency Gifted Travel Network, and I am learning each and every day that it is our relationships within this industry that are making the difference for our clients. Doors have been opened to us that we didn't know existed, and we have sat with GMs of prestigious hotels, sales directors of cruise lines, met with top chefs, and have made connections to cherish. As much as we have extensive knowledge of amazing properties, cruises and private tours, knowing the people behind these offerings gives us an edge that is priceless. For someone who sat behind a desk for many years, working solo, it's been a giant leap for me to now have hundreds of personal contacts around the world who I can call upon to make your trip just that little bit more special, and I love it.
No matter where in the world you are, if you love great food, beautiful surroundings, history and fresh sea air, then Charleston is for you. Check out this weeks Top 5 and think about visiting Charleston, it is enchanting.
Top 5 - Charleston, SC
the Perfect Weekend Getaway
1. Hotel Bennett (above and below)
Hotel Bennett is the newest addition to the Virtuoso portfolio of luxury hotels. This is some achievement as it only opened in late January this year. It is a stunning property, and perhaps even more importantly, every encounter with a member of staff was effortless and exactly as you'd wish service to be. The hotel has quickly established itself as the #1 luxury property in the city, and with the Belmond Charleston Place and the Dewberry, Charleston is now spoiled for choice in the luxury category.
These complimentary amenities are available to you if you reserve with a Virtuoso travel advisor.
2. Foodie Heaven
Prepare for a detox the week after you return from Charleston. The food scene here is incredible. Dozens of high quality restaurants are located all over the city and surrounds. Choose between high end special occasion dining to down and dirty casual, all serving food that excites. Our personal highlights were the Fried Oysters and Toast (above) at Leon's Poultry and Oyster Shop and the Full Afternoon Tea (below) in Camellia's at Hotel Bennett.
Did I mention grits?
3. The Ocean
If we'd had another day then we would probably have headed to the beach. Kiawah Island, Folly Beach, Sullivan's Island, Isle of Palms and Seabrook Island can all be considered "Charleston" beaches and are perfect for family trips and exploration. I'm usually a bit sceptical of sunset cruises, but the sailboat (below) we enjoyed for our Charleston experience was beautiful and on a perfect early evening, this was a wonderful relaxing time that we enjoyed with new friends.
You shouldn't leave Charleston without a visit to one or two of the grand plantations. It's an experience which provides a very emotional contrast between the beauty and grandeur of the buildings and gardens with the horrors of enslaved people. In recent years Charleston as a city has done a phenomenal job of now putting all its history in to context and your guides will help you to understand just how complicated this is, with the wrongs now rightfully embraced and explained. We visited Drayton Hall Plantation (below left) and Middleton Plantation (below right), the first preserved in its original state, the latter restored to how it would have looked in the 18th century.
A 2 hour historic district tour with one of the most knowledgeable and passionate guides ever, Zach from Bulldog Tours, revealed hidden charms and we did some deep delving into the city's extremely complicated story. It's just incredible that this small city has more perfectly preserved pre-Revolution buildings than anywhere else in USA and by some margin. As always, we recommend a walking tour in any city you visit. The extra insight you soak up if you enjoy a city with a local makes it so worthwhile.
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