|By Casey Conley, The Island Packet
(Hilton Head Island, S.C.)McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Nov. 19, 2012--The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, considered one of the world's finest resorts, is proposing its first major expansion.
The inn is considering adding 150 guest rooms, upgrading its spa and fitness center and making other improvements.
Palmetto Bluff general manager Gerrit Albert said the proposal comes amid increasing demand at the inn, which has won numerous accolades since opening in 2004.
"We have always contemplated the possibility of expanding the original inn. With the recent national recognition and the increased demand for the Palmetto Bluff experience, it now seems like an ideal time to be taking this step," Albert said in a statement.
The inn was developed by Charlotte-based Crescent Resources and is managed by Auberge Resorts. It is in the Palmetto Bluff planned community in Bluffton and features 50 cottage-style suites, a Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course and amenities such as yoga classes, kayaking and nature preserves. Rooms start at $625 a night.
Earlier this year, the inn was one of only four properties in South Carolina to receive a 2012 Five Diamond rating from AAA. It also received the Forbes Travel Guide Four Star Award for 2012. U.S. News and World Report ranked it the top hotel in the U.S., and Conde Nast Traveler rated it the 17th best hotel worldwide.
Palmetto Bluff spokesman Tom Gardo said the hotel has plans for 64 new guest rooms in five cottages spread across the inn property. Another 86 rooms are planned in a single building. He declined to comment on plans for the spa and fitness center.
The expansion could make the inn more profitable and attract new homeowners to the gated community.
"An increase in rooms and vacationers not only gives us opportunities for further economic sustainability but also should positively benefit real estate sales," Albert said.
About 228 homes have been built and another 47 are under construction in the 22,000-acre community, which, like many Bluffton-area developments, has struggled during the economic downturn. More than 3,000 homes are planned for the community at build-out.
The project is expected to come before Bluffton's planning commission at 6 p.m. Nov. 28. Inn officials say the review process could take a year.
(c)2012 The Island Packet (Hilton Head, S.C.)
Visit The Island Packet (Hilton Head, S.C.) at www.islandpacket.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services