Plantation Living

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PLANNED COMMUNITIES SET LOWCOUNTRY APART

When Charles Fraser first set foot on Hilton Head Island in the summer of 1950, he saw much more than beautiful beaches, virgin pine forests and rich groves of majestic live oak trees.

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He envisioned a world-class gated community, a planned development that would be low-impact and environmentally friendly. To make this grand vision a reality, he brought in the brightest, most creative minds in the real estate industry. Harvard business school graduates worked alongside land planners, contractors and marketing experts. Together, they pioneered new land development and management principals, forever changing Hilton Head Island and the surrounding Lowcountry.

"I felt you could be economically successful developing (Hilton Head) either way, ugly or beautiful," the late Fraser said in an interview with Southern Living magazine. "There's no law of economics that says ugliness pays. I selected beauty and set out to make it work economically."

Today, a substantial majority of Hilton Head Island and a large part of Bluffton are located within the boundaries of beautiful planned residential plantations. Most provide 24-hour gated security and offer many luxurious amenities.

On Hilton Head, Wexford Plantation is home to an incredible 37-acre harbor, an Arnold Palmer signature golf course and a championship tennis center. On the south end of the island, Shipyard Plantation offers championship golf and tennis, trails for biking and jogging, a health spa and an oceanfront beach clubhouse. On the north end, Windmill Harbour is home to the wonderful South Carolina Yacht Club and a 15-acre inland harbor with a 250-slip marina and a lock system, overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway.

Many luxurious plantations have also sprouted up on the mainland. In Bluffton, Colleton River Plantation has two magnificent golf courses designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus and World Golf Hall of Fame architect Pete Dye. Belfair Plantation has two championship courses designed by Tom Fazio and a state-of-the-art fitness facility. Between the towns of Bluffton and Beaufort, Callawassie Island is the first community in South Carolina designated as a wildlife habitat. In addition to kayaking the saltwater marsh and boating from its deepwater dock, members also have access to world-class golf and top-notch tennis.

To enter many Lowcountry plantations, you must be a guest of a property owner or someone with special entry privileges. Over the next several pages, Monthly will take you behind the gates of some of the region's most prestigious communities. This is plantation living.