Enjoy the good life at these 5 luxe hotels in Southeast

From Virginia to Florida, the Southeast is home to some stellar resorts.
Seaside glamour merges with Italian architecture inspired by the Villa Medici in Rome at The Breakers at Palm Beach. 
(Courtesy of The Breakers Palm Beach)

Credit: Jerry Rabinowitz

Credit: Jerry Rabinowitz

Seaside glamour merges with Italian architecture inspired by the Villa Medici in Rome at The Breakers at Palm Beach. (Courtesy of The Breakers Palm Beach)

Luxurious escapes can do the soul good. A delicious meal, a spa day and a restful night’s sleep can feel like a vacation in itself –– never mind the romance and culture of the destination.

This fall, escape the traffic and crowds of the city for a serene setting, world-class cuisine and tailored wellness experiences to recharge your batteries. Spoil yourself when you revel in luxury at these sumptuous five-star properties across the southeastern U.S.

The Breakers Palm Beach

Seaside luxury coupled with Italian architecture inspired by the Villa Medici in Rome makes The Breakers a one-of-a-kind property. The fabled Palm Beach, Florida, resort was established in 1897 by industrialist Henry M. Flagler and has long been a magnet for the elite like the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and Astors. The iconic hotel is a destination still known for its history and glam, and it remains independently owned by the original family who founded it.

Spanning eight stories, the 534-room hotel boasts 10 restaurants, four pools, two golf courses, an indoor-outdoor spa and a state-of-the-art fitness center. Fashionistas will appreciate The Shops at the Breakers, a courtyard filled with signature retailers such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Lilly Pulitzer and Guerlain.

Atop The Breakers Palm Beach is the exclusive Flagler Club, a AAA Five-Diamond boutique hotel occupying two restricted floors featuring 21 rooms that were revamped in 2023 by the hospitality design studio Tihany Design. Amenities range from a private lounge and rooftop terrace to a premium cocktail hour and chauffeured Tesla car service.

The Breakers. $890 and up. 1 S. County Road, Palm Beach, Florida. 561-655-6611, thebreakers.com

At the Cloister at Sea Island, rooms and suites promise plenty of space, with high-end perks like turndown service, custom bed linens and Molton Brown toiletries. 
(Courtesy of Sea Island)

Credit: Handout

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Credit: Handout

The Cloister at Sea Island

If privacy mingled with nature is what you envision for a five-star getaway, visit this private island perched on 50 acres in Georgia’s Golden Isles. The Blackbank River, saltwater marshes and Atlantic Ocean envelop The Cloister, where guests merely have to walk across the street to enjoy five miles of pristine shoreline.

Distinguished by its personalized service and amenities, The Cloister at Sea Island invites travelers to relax by the pool, fish and play a round of golf on one of three championship courses. Book a day at The Spa at Sea Island, a wellness center that features hydrotherapy, aromatherapy, as well as Swedish, deep tissue and Balinese massages. Or simply unwind in the Spanish Colonial-style property’s elegant accommodations. The meticulously maintained rooms and suites promise plenty of space, with high-end perks like turndown service, custom bed linens and Molton Brown toiletries.

Among the resort’s three restaurants, the recently opened Georgian Rooms feature an intimate lounge serving maki, sashimi, sushi and Japanese A5 Wagyu alongside “Ginza”-style cocktails and a dining room and bar offering an upscale interpretation of a classic American grill, plating Georgia grass-fed beef and regionally sourced seafood.

For outdoor enthusiasts, the resort hosts a range of activities such as the Salt Marsh Dolphin Tour and Coastal Encounters at the Sea Island Nature Center. Learn about the Georgia coast’s diverse wildlife and ecosystem in this guided, family-friendly experience.

The Cloister at Sea Island. $509 and up. 100 Cloister Drive, Sea Island. 866-966-5983, seaisland.com

Montage Palmetto Bluff is situated in a serene nature preserve in Bluffton, South Carolina. (Courtesy of Montage Palmetto Bluff)

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Credit: Handout

Montage Palmetto Bluff

Situated in a serene nature preserve in Bluffton, South Carolina, Palmetto Bluff is a 20,000-acre community 30 minutes northeast of Savannah. Within this idyllic Lowcountry destination lies Montage Palmetto Bluff, an award-winning resort and spa with eight Southern-inspired restaurants, a movement center, three pools and an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course. For accommodations, visitors can choose from guest rooms, suites, cottages and village homes, all dressed to the nines in refined Southern style.

If food is top of mind on your getaway, try dishes like the short ribs and Lowcountry shrimp with Anson Mills rice grits paired with Sommelier-selected wines at the restaurant Octagon. Likewise, treat yourself to a fine dining, waterside meal at River House where chef Daniel Vesey helms the kitchen, preparing lamb Porterhouse, peppercorn crusted Ahi tuna and Chateaubriand. Meanwhile, sip a whiskey neat or quaff a craft cocktail at Hush, an intimate speakeasy with an entrance below River House.

At Spa Montage, therapists offer custom wellness treatments ranging from anti-aging sessions to full body exfoliations and wildflower rituals. For a workout, opt for a yoga, Pilates or spin class in the movement center. If outdoor activities are your preferred way to relax, the resort provides kayaking, fishing, golfing, biking on the property’s trails and more. The concierge can organize outings.

Montage Palmetto Bluff. $545 and up. 477 Mt. Pelia Road, Bluffton, South Carolina. 843-706-6500, montage.com

The Inn at Blackberry Farm welcomes guests for formal dinners at The Barn. 
(Courtesy of Blackberry Farm)

Credit: Heather Anne Thomas

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Credit: Heather Anne Thomas

The Inn at Blackberry Farm

About 45 minutes south of Knoxville, this luxurious property occupies 4,200 acres in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Varied accommodations include historic and estate rooms, suites, cottages and houses with three to five bedrooms. Historic rooms are the original quarters when the hotel opened as a six-room inn in 1976. Each is uniquely decorated with antiques and elegant appointments. Providing more space, Farmhouse Cottages come with two bedrooms and two baths, a full kitchen, three fireplaces and a screened porch and patio, as well as a golf cart for getting around the farm.

This exquisite Relais & Chateaux property has received numerous accolades, from Travel & Leisure’s top hotels in the Southeast to Wine Spectator awards and James Beard nominations. It should come as no surprise, then, that Blackberry Farm has become a culinary leader in the region, attracting travelers not only for its luxurious accommodations and personalized service but for its “foothills cuisine.”

Each meal is an event at Blackberry Farm. Much of the produce used in the kitchen is grown on site, with other ingredients foraged and sourced locally. Formal dinners are held in The Barn –– a turn-of-the-century structure moved from Pennsylvania –– with more family-friendly casual meals served in The Dogwood. Beyond the daily culinary offerings, The Inn at Blackberry Farm hosts cooking demonstrations, wine events and more for foodie travelers.

The Inn at Blackberry Farm. $1,045 and up, including meals. 1471 W. Millers Cove Road, Walland, Tennessee. 800-557-8864, blackberryfarm.com

One of Salamander Middleburg’s highlights is its 25-acre equestrian center. 
(Courtesy of Salamander Middleburg)

Credit: Photography by Justin Kriel of C

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Credit: Photography by Justin Kriel of C

Salamander Middleburg Resort & Spa

Nestled among the rolling hills of horse country in Loudoun County, this alluring retreat occupies 340 acres in the Northern Virginia countryside, less than one hour from Washington, D.C. Located within walking distance of Middleburg, Virginia, a tiny town with a vibrant main street that dates to 1787, this property showcases warm and inviting details throughout, feeling more like someone’s home than a hotel. The living room, wood-paneled library and reception area are furnished with a Chesterfield sofa, leather wing chairs, candelabras and trimmed accent pillows. Working fireplaces invite guests to wind down before enjoying a cocktail at Gold Cup Wine Bar or after a meal at Harriman’s Virginia Piedmont Grill.

Home to the state’s only Forbes five-star spa, Salamander Middleburg presents a 23,000 square-foot wellness center with 14 treatment rooms –– some with terraces and gas fireplaces. Amenities include an outdoor infinity pool and heated loungers in the tepidarium –– like a sauna but less humid and hot. Beyond massages, wraps, scrubs and facials, Salamander Spa offers Rasul, a Moroccan-influenced therapy, using mud, steam and heat to cleanse and rejuvenate.

A gorgeous backdrop surrounded by vineyards, farms and the Blue Ridge Mountains sets the scene for the namesake equestrian center, one of the property’s highlights. The complex dedicates 25 acres with a 14,000-square-foot stable housing 22 stalls, nine paddocks and an outdoor riding arena to entry-level equestrian pursuits. The center provides private and group trail rides, lessons, equine communication sessions, pony parties for kids and other horse-centric activities. Book at least two to three weeks in advance.

Salamander Middleburg Resort & Spa. $500 and up. 500 N. Pendleton St., Middleburg, Virginia. 540-751-3160, salamanderresort.com