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South Carolina scored its 2nd Forbes Five-Star hotel at coastal resort

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Montage Palmetto Bluff

Montage Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton was given a Forbes Five-Star rating, making it the second South Carolina property with the distinction. Provided

South Carolina has scored another Forbes Five-Star-rated hotel.

Like the only Palmetto State property that already graced the list, the new addition is a high-end resort located just outside a larger beach destination.

Bluffton's Montage Palmetto Bluff resort describes itself as being "nestled" between Hilton Head Island and Savannah. It's the first lodging in the Hilton Head area to get a five-star nod from Forbes. 

In its listing in the Forbes Travel Guide, the riverfront resort is described as an "idyllic Lowcountry hideaway" surrounded by nature. 

The sole Forbes Five-Star hotel in South Carolina prior to last week's award rollout was The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort.

Other destinations that logged their inaugural five-star hotel rating included Houston for the Post Oak Hotel and Philadelphia and Seattle for their Four Seasons hotels. 

At 20, California was the state with the highest number of five-star hotels, followed by New York with 11 and Florida with eight. Nationwide there are only 87 hotels with that distinction. 

Palmetto Bluff is now one of a handful of properties managed by California-based Montage Hotels & Resorts with a five-star hotel award. The others are in Park City, Utah; Orange County, Calif.; Maui and Los Cabos, Mexico. 

Montage unveiled its $100 million expansion of the Lowcountry resort in 2016, which included a new 74-room inn and a 13,000-square-foot spa which has its own Forbes rating of four stars.  

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Summerville's historic Woodlands Mansion was the first lodging in South Carolina to get a five-star rating from Forbes, but The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island has in recent years been the solitary property in the state at the five-star level. The Sanctuary also has the only five-star spa in South Carolina. 

But Charleston does boast several four-star and "recommended" lodgings. 

Hotel Bennett, the newest Holy City hotel to make the rankings, was given four stars by Forbes, along with Belmond Charleston Place and Hilton Head's Inn & Club at Harbour Town. Forbes has ranked the French Quarter Inn, the Market Pavilion Hotel and The Restoration one tier lower at the "recommended" level. 

The annual rankings, which are in their 63rd year, are compiled by deploying anonymous inspectors to the properties for minimum stays of two nights. Hotels deemed to be worthy of a five-star award are "outstanding, often iconic" properties with "virtually flawless service" and "amazing amenities."

A four-star hotel is considered to be "exceptional," offering "high levels of service." A "recommended," hotel is recognized for having services that are "consistently good," based on inspectors' experiences. 

Inspections for the 2021 rankings were done before the COVID-19 pandemic, Forbes said. 

Highlights of Palmetto Bluff noted by the Forbes inspector included the nature trails, an Audubon-certified golf course, the property's convenient location but "amply secluded" feel and a partnership with Cadillac that allows guests to take luxury cars out for errands or jaunts to nearby Hilton Head and Savannah.

Reach Emily Williams at 843-607-0894. Follow her on Twitter @emilye_williams.

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