In an effort to continue to enhance guest experience and accommodate visitor's evolving needs, The Inn at Palmetto Bluff welcomed 2013 with an upgrade. The inn's 50 guest cottages received design overhauls that included new fabrics, carpets and fixtures, and technology upgrades that included new iPads in each cottage.
The inn opened in 2004 and is managed by Auberge Resorts and is located in the 20,000-acre Palmetto Bluff community in greater Bluffton. David Smiley, director of guest services, said the renovations were something the inn was considering for a while.
"We just knew it was time to freshen the cottages. Our customers expect a high level of quality from The Inn at Palmetto Bluff and we wanted to make sure we were giving them that with the products in the cottages," Smiley said. "We wanted to present a clean, crisp look and feel."
Smiley said the upgrades, which began near the end of 2012, took about three months to complete. Excluding the iPads, the cottage upgrades cost roughly $350,000.
The inn offers standard cottages and cottage suites, which include separate bedroom and living quarters. Each cottage also has a screened-in porch and a fireplace.
KEEPING IT NATURAL All guest cottage suites now feature pull-out sofas, drop-leaf tables, 56-inch high-definition televisions, plush new rugs and re-upolstered indoor and outdoor sofa and chair cushions.
Smiley said the new patio upholstery features a darker brown fabric and smaller pattern that helps create a crisp, square design throughout the covering.
"The colors mirror our surroundings and goes with the woodsy feel," he said.
When it came time to undertake the upgrades, the inn tapped J Banks Design Group of Hilton Head Island. Smiley said they chose J Banks because of work the design agency completed with other Auberge Resorts and because of the group's excellent reputation.
"They are known for their exceptional quality of work and the talent the entire team brings to the table is phenomenal," Smiley said. He said it was important that the cottages kept their Southern feel and that the upgrades remained consistent with the property's Lowcountry chic architecture and design elements while paying homage to the area's historic roots.
While J Banks did not do the original inn design work, president Joni Vanderslice said the agency was thrilled to be asked to work on the cottages.
"This was a great opportunity for us," Vanderslice said. "The overall look of the cottages was very successful and we didn't want to change that."
Smiley said the main difference in the cottage's before and after look is that the new upholstery is more toned down, allowing it to integrate with the natural surroundings, rather than overpower them.
"When you walk by the cottages, your eye focuses on the natural beauty of the Bluff, rather than the bold furniture, which used to be the case," he said.
Vanderslice described the cottage style as Lowcountry casual with a touch of elegance. She said the team stayed within the original color palette and worked with soft yellows and golds, soft greens and neutrals.
The group also designed new room service tables that were made specifically for smaller cottages.
"We are very proud of the new room tables. They have a very traditional Southern feel and are reminiscent of something that would be found in an old Southern home," Vanderslice said.
BIKES AND IPADS On-site transportation for guests also has been upgraded. Each cottage now comes with top-of-the-line bikes fitted with baskets and lights.
"We want guests to get out and really experience what Palmetto Bluff has to offer."
Each cottage also is equipped with an iPad that allows guests to communicate with hotel personnel. Guests can use the iPads to secure restaurant reservations and sign-up for activities.
The new iPads also allow guests to experience life as a homeowner using the Palmetto Bluff app, which allows guests to explore new homes and homesites, view photo and video galleries and even contact a real estate agent.
"We're really excited for guests to experience these new cottages. The upgrades were a great chance for us to freshen up the cottages and provide the upscale, quality products our guests have come to expect from the inn," Smiley said.