Charlestowne Hotels Welcomes Hotel Clermont to Charleston, S.C.

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Management company continues expansion in adaptive reuse market with historic Atlanta building

Charleston?,?SC – Charlestowne Hotels proudly welcomes Atlanta’s famed Hotel Clermont as the newest addition to the company’s expanding portfolio. Experienced in historic preservation projects, Charlestowne Hotels worked in partnership with Oliver Hospitality to oversee renovations for the nearly century-old Hotel Clermont and will now take over hotel management. Standing above the Clermont Lounge, an Atlanta institution, the 94-room boutique hotel features whimsical and lavish design elements that pay tribute to nine decades of Atlanta history. The hotel also includes four food and beverage outlets, including a swinging French-American brasserie with Southern accents and a rooftop bar with city skyline views.

To usher Hotel Clermont into the present while maintaining touchstones of its iconic past, Charlestowne worked closely with local partners, including the Georgia Historic Preservation Division and National Parks Service to develop a refreshed identity for the Clermont. “We looked to integrate modern, luxury amenities and services while still utilizing Hotel Clermont’s eccentric background as a foundation forbrand development,” says Michael Tall, president and chief operating officer of Charlestowne Hotels. “The hotel’s historic significance is an intrinsic storytelling element that guides the rest of our programming, dining and guest experiences.”

Hotel Clermont maintains signature architectural details of the original building, including the trademark Clermont signage and 65-foot radio tower from 1940. Interior design elements pay homage to Atlanta past and present, including wallpaper featuring the famous “Clermont Ladies” and Georgia peach trees, along with quotes from Atlanta rap duo Outkast etched along the walls.

A rarity among boutique properties, Hotel Clermont offers 15 bunk rooms with en-suite bathrooms and modernist twin bunk beds to sleep up to four people per room. The hotel will also feature three luxury suites and 76 guestrooms with king or queen beds. “Hotel Clermont was notorious as a dynamic and colorful gathering place,” Tall says. “Honoring this legacy, the bunk rooms, open bar areas and group packages are a nod to the hotel’s roots as a communal melting pot.”

The Hotel Clermont joins Charlestowne’s growing collection of preservation projects including The Collector Luxury Inn & Gardens in St. Augustine, Florida, The Fairlane Hotel in Nashville, The Bristol Hotel in Virginia (opening September 2018) and The Foundry Hotel in Asheville, North Carolina (opening September 2018). Known for a tailored, hands-on management approach, Charlestowne will integrate strategic sales and marketing initiatives along with significant community outreach to ensure the property reaches full revenue potential.

For more information, please visit

About Charlestowne Hotels

Founded in 1980, Charlestowne Hotels is a leading full-service hospitality management company offering innovative expertise in hotel development, operational controls, marketing management, revenue optimization, and financial reporting. Now regarded as one of the top hotel management companies in the U.S., Charlestowne Hotels leads its properties to consistently achieve RevPAR growth nearly double the national average. The brand offers a robust portfolio of properties around the country, from independent inns and resorts to franchised hotels and condos. By employing a proficient management style that hones in on the guest experience, Charlestowne Hotels drives its properties to regularly receive industry accolades on Condé Nast Traveler’s Gold List and Readers’ Choice Awards, Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards for “Top City Hotels in the Continental U.S.” and “Top 100 Best Hotels in the World,” and top standings on TripAdvisor. For more information please visit

Hilton Garden Inn Charleston/Mt. Pleasant recognized by brand for exceptional service in 2017

Hilton Garden Inn Charleston/Mt. Pleasant was recently recognized by the brand with three top awards for their 2017 achievements. The hotel won a Hotel Success Award, General Manager Merit Award for Jennifer Colangelo and a Director of Sales of the Year Award for Jennifer Maxwell. These awards solidify the hotel as one of the brand’s best in class properties for the past year.? Additionally, the Hotel Success Award is awarded only to the top five percent of all Hilton Garden Inn hotels in North America. In recognition of these achievements, the hotel will receive a trophy to share with employees and to display in its lobby.

“We are grateful to be recognized by Hilton Garden Inn for our dedication to serving our guests with the highest level of customer service,” said Jennifer Colangelo, general manager.? “This award is a physical representation of our staff’s commitment to exceptional customer service and a quality stay for all of our guests.”

Located at 300 Wingo Way, Hilton Garden Inn Charleston/Mt. Pleasant offers amenities including complimentary Wi-Fi, a state-of-the-art fitness center and guestrooms that feature large work desks, Serta beds and a Keurig coffee maker. The hotel also offers up to 5,000 square feet of flexible meeting space to include a 2nd floor rooftop terrace with an outdoor pool and fire pit.

Hilton Garden Inn Charleston/Mt. Pleasant participates in Hilton Honors?, Hilton’s award-winning customer loyalty program. Hilton Honors members who book directly through preferred Hilton channels have access to benefits including an exclusive member discount, free standard Wi-Fi, as well as digital amenities that are available exclusively through the industry-leading Hilton Honors app, where Honors members can check-in, and choose their room.

For more information or to make reservations for Hilton Garden Inn Charleston/Mt. Pleasant, please visit the hotel’s website or call +1 843 606 4600.

pictured – Jennifer Maxwell and?Jennifer Colangelo

About Hilton Garden Inn

The award-winning?Hilton Garden Inn brand provides business and leisure guests with upscale yet affordable accommodations and modern amenities for a successful and comfortable stay. The satisfaction promise affirms the brand’s goal to make each stay better and brighter. Guaranteed. As a recognized F&B leader, Hilton Garden Inn serves daily cooked-to-order breakfast and offers full service restaurants and bars.?Team Members at?more than 770 hotels around the world are committed to guaranteeing today’s busy travelers have a bright and satisfying experience from the first hello when they arrive.?Hilton Garden Inn is part of Hilton Honors,?the award-winning guest loyalty program for Hilton’s 14 distinct hotel brands.?Hilton Honors members who book directly through preferred Hilton channels have access to instant benefits, including a flexible payment slider that allows members to choose nearly any combination of Points and money to book a stay, an exclusive member discount that can’t be found anywhere else, free standard Wi-Fi and digital amenities like digital check-in with room selection and Digital Key (select locations), available exclusively through the industry-leading Hilton Honors app. For more information about Hilton Garden Inn, visit?,?or connect on social media at Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and?Instagram.

CARTA to Launch Hospitality on Peninsula (HOP) Park-And-Ride Lot and Shuttle Operations – April 15

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Service will offer extended hours and $5 all-day fee

CHARLESTON, S.C. (March 21, 2018) – The Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) Board of Directors today announced that the transit system will launch the Hospitality on Peninsula (HOP) Park and Ride Lot and Shuttle on Sunday, April 15 at 999 Morrison Drive.

The park-and-ride program is the first of its kind on the peninsula and was brought to fruition via a collaborative partnership with the City of Charleston, Charleston County, the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments.

The HOP is targeted at workers in the area’s booming hospitality and food-and-beverage industries – though it is open to all commuters – as way to mitigate downtown parking challenges. There will be approximately 170 spaces available in the lot.

“The HOP park-and-ride service is an important way we are addressing an obvious need of workers in downtown Charleston,” said CARTA board chairman and Charleston city councilman Mike Seekings. “This lot and shuttle, essentially a pilot program that has been developed from scratch, is the first step in a regional strategy to tackle a number of pressing transportation issues, namely parking and congestion.”

Key details regarding the lot and shuttle service include:

  • Hours of Operation: The shuttle will operate from 6 a.m. to 3 a.m. daily, with bus service every 15 minutes. Parking is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Cost: The cost to park in the lot is a flat fee of $5 all-day. Once a pass is purchased and displayed on a parked vehicle’s dashboard, commuters can board a HOP shuttle for free.
  • Route: The HOP shuttle will exit 999 Morrison Drive, turn left onto Romney Street, left onto Meeting Street, left onto Broad Street and left onto East Bay Street as it returns to the lot. There will be eight HOP-specific stops on the route, each denoted by a white bus stop sign.
  • Bus Transportation: CARTA will operate the shuttles and the lot itself. Commuters are encouraged to download the Transit app in order to track buses in real-time.
  • Lot Features:

    • Parking attendant on location during all hours of operation
    • Enhanced lighting and security cameras
    • Holy Spokes bike share on site
    • Bike racks available

“We certainly would like to thank the City of Charleston, Charleston County, the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and the BCDCOG for their collaboration on this project,” Seekings said. “We’re confident the service will be well-used and look forward to seeing it expand to other locations.”

In addition to the HOP service, Seekings said commuters are also encouraged to explore reduced after-hours fares in City-owned garages and the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Government’s recently launched Lowcountry Go commuter services program that offers rideshare matches.

The Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) is a public transportation system dedicated to providing affordable transit in the Charleston community through local fixed routes, on-demand paratransit service and express commuter routes. For the latest on CARTA, visit, like us on Facebook or follow on Twitter at @RideCARTA. All customers are encouraged to plan rides and track buses with the CARTA-endorsed Transit app and the CARTA Bus Tracker.


TownePlace Suites by Marriott now open in Charleston, South Carolina

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“We are excited with the continued growth of the TownePlace Suites brand in the Charleston area,” said Diane Mayer, vice president and global brand manager, TownePlace Suites. “At TownePlace Suites, we get it. We want to go above and beyond to do everything we can to make our guests feel comfortable. We encourage our guests to be real, and help them to do so by providing a seamless residential atmosphere with a friendly staff who genuinely care about our guests. That is what our brand is all about, and this property is a great example of that.”

All service team members are thoroughly trained on local knowledge and look forward to connecting guests to the local area. Our floor-to-ceiling TowneMap?also helps guests instantly acclimate themselves to Charleston by featuring great places to eat, play and live (explore). The TownePlace Suites Charleston Airport/Convention Center is located just two miles from the Charleston International Airport and 20 minutes from downtown. The new hotel offers guests convenient access to the Tanger Outlets, Park Circle, numerous golf courses and the local beaches. The hotel also offers guests easy access to Joint Base Charleston, Boeing, SAIC Inc. and Trident Medical.

Ideal for travelers who need accommodations for longer stays, this new property offers studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom suites with fully equipped kitchens, as well as separate living/working and sleeping areas. Guests can work and relax on their own terms in modern suites that feature full kitchens with stainless steel appliances and granite countertops, adjustable work spaces with built-in shelves and lighting, a large flat screen television, as well as luxurious new bedding. Most rooms also feature the Home Office?Suite, designed to provide guests with plenty of storage and flexible space to spread out and make it their own.

The TownePlace Suites Charleston Airport/Convention Center allows guests to maintain a healthy lifestyle with an array of food options. While on property guests can create their own complimentary hot breakfast every morning in the custom lobby area, and can fire up their stay by grilling up dinner on our outdoor Weber grills. The 24-hour In a Pinch?market and On Us? coffee service offer guests the chance to get their snack and caffeine on whenever they feel the need.

“We are proud to continue our long term commitment to serve the Charleston market,” said D.J. Rama, president and CEO, Auro Hotels. “This is our sixth Marriott branded hotel in Charleston, and this addition to our portfolio was a strategic move to allow us to better serve the needs of all types of travelers in the beautiful and desirable Charleston area.”??

TownePlace Suites helps its guests stay organized on the road with the help of our partners the Container Store. While staying at the TownePlace Suites Charleston Airport/Convention Center travelers can unpack their suitcase in a custom elfa? closet. From drawers to shelves to smart hanging space, you’ll find everything you need to make you feel right at home. Other hotel amenities include a fitness center open 24 hours per day, a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, an outdoor patio with fire pit, laundry facilities, complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the hotel and on-site business services, including copying, faxing and printing. The hotel also offers 500 square feet of conference space to accommodate functions of up to 20 people. As a brand TownePlace Suites recognizes that your family may include more than just humans, that is why the hotel is pet-friendly (fees may apply).

Beyond the Caffeine: Metto Coffee & Tea Brings It Home with a Smile

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By Mark A. Leon

In the heart of the constant flow of traffic moving swiftly down Coleman Boulevard in Mount Pleasant, lies a corner coffee house on the intersection of Coleman and Broadway Street, Metto Coffee & Tea.? Today’s single origin java offering includes a bold citrus cocoa blend and on tap for the specialty lovers is a cherry hazelnut latte.? After you are settled by the fragrant aroma of warm and tingling coffee, the welcoming culture will sweep you away.

Metto, doesn’t just look for a barista with the skill of creating the perfect latte or espresso.? They seek out artists who embody warmth and genuine passion for the creative canvas of the mug.? Rarely will you order a foamed drink without a leaf, smile or other artistic signature brimming over the top.? Before your wallet has exited your pocket, you are greeted with a hello and a smile from the entire staff.? This is not masked hospitality, but a genuine connection to the customer and that is why the loyalty factor is so high.

There is a warmth the goes on inside the walls of this intimate coffee shop which offers only six tables and two lounge chairs on the inside and five tables and a bench on the outside.? Ordained on the walls are flyers for events from yoga to ballet, music to art.? The local decor is highlighted with featured artist paintings or photography.? An inviting penetration of the local arts scene throughout.

We don’t want to downplay the food.? With an outstanding assortment of sandwiches, wraps, quiche, fruit and salads, Metto is a hot spot for locals, bikers and bridge runners.? Exceptional credit to the soft and abundantly flavorful muffins and the Prosciutto and Brie Panini.? There is an extraordinary blast of flavor and fresh ingredients which are a permanent fixture at Metto in all its freshly prepared daily food offerings.

With an eclectic customer base, on any given day you may find patrons from age five to eighty-five.? This is a testimony to the welcoming open arms culture created here.

Often, we plan an early morning five mile walk to each end of the Cooper River Bridge and that walk does not begin without a cup of Metto resting comfortably in our hands.

As a writing, I surround myself by elements of inspiration, where I can feel comfortable, be around creative and passionate people and feed off of the ambiance.? Metto is one of those rare places.? I won’t lie, sometimes you can be distracted when the staff screams in excitement or breaks into a little dance or song from the audio above.

Metto is located at 354 West Coleman Boulevard, Mount Pleasant, SC.

Fairfield’s Charleston Airport Hotel Introduces New Area Director of Sales

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CHARLESTON, S.C., Sept. 14, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Atlanta-based hospitality management group Hotel Equities recently named Polly Ann Elliott as the Area Director of Sales for its properties in Charleston, South Carolina, including the Fairfield Inn & Suites Charleston Airport / Convention Center.

In addition to the conveniently located Charleston South Carolina airport hotel, Ms. Elliott now directs the sales teams at four other area hotels managed by Hotel Equities, including Sleep Inn Charleston North, Residence Inn Charleston North / Ashley Phosphate, Fairfield Inn & Suites Charleston North / Ashley Phosphate and Fairfield Inn & Suites Charleston North / University Area.

Formerly with Interstate Hotels and Resorts as the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Courtyard by Marriott Charleston Historic District, Ms. Elliott built an impressive record of success by increasing both occupancy and revenue during her seven-year tenure.? She brings two decades of sales experience, leadership and training to her new position with Hotel Equities. Past positions include Eastern Regional Sales Specialist with Marriott International and Director of Sales for the Courtyard by Marriott Charleston Coliseum.

“We hired a gem in Polly Ann,” said Mr. Salapka. “She’s a topnotch sales person with a depth of experience in the Charleston market.? She shares her expertise by training and mentoring her sales team and she enjoys building relationships with her clients.? She does it all.”

Fairfield Inn & Suites Charleston Airport / Convention Center is just moments from the city’s unforgettable downtown historic district and offers guests convenience to the North Charleston Coliseum and other area sights as well as near the Tanger Outlets. The North Charleston hotel is conveniently close to the airport, less than 5 miles away, and a 3-minute drive from the Convention Center. Complimentary shuttle service takes guests to and from the airport, and the friendly, warm staff welcomes guests every evening Monday through Friday with a Manager’s Reception that offers complimentary beer, wine, soft drinks and light snacks.

About Fairfield Inn & Suites Charleston Airport / Convention Center

Truly confident travel begins at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Charleston Airport/Convention Center. The hotel offers both the friendly service guests expect and the convenience they need for a rewarding stay in North Charleston, South Carolina. Settle in to spacious rooms or suites, and enjoy amenities like free Wi-Fi and plush pillowtop mattresses. Stay productive at well-lit work spaces, or relax in front of a flat-screen TV. Mornings are always bright, thanks to the property’s complimentary hotel breakfast and the evenings greet guests with a special weekday Manager’s Reception, which includes beer, wine, and soft drinks. For travelers in South Carolina for work, the hotel’s two versatile meeting rooms and 24-hour business center are a perfect match. And the property’s prime location in North Charleston, near both the airport and the Convention Center as well as other sights, makes traveling to and from the hotel easy and stress-free.

Fairfield Inn & Suites Charleston Airport / Convention Center
4841 Tanger Outlet Blvd
North Charleston, South Carolina 29418 USA

Female Owned Long Island Based Frozen Beverage Company Expands to the Lowcountry

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For Immediate Release

Long Island Based Frozen Beverage Company expands to the Low Country in 2017.

Daiquiri Daddy, a Frozen Beverage & Machine Rental Company is expanding its operations to the Charleston, South Carolina area in 2017. This female owned and operated business has received major success on Long Island, servicing both corporate and private clients from New York City to Montauk since 2014.

Christine and Andrea’s mission was to provide amazing frozen beverages for backyard parties and corporate events.

As lovers of Frozen Margaritas, Strawberry Daiquiri’s and of course who could resist a Pina Colada, we found ourselves constantly filling blender after blender at our personal events.

Enough was Enough!

We researched the best machines to produce our favorite beverages, purchased a bunch, added a truck and we were in business.

Since 2014, we have serviced thousands of private events, weddings and corporate events for companies like Gulbrandsen Technologies, Phillips Art Gallery, & many more.

Since we are completely mobile, we are able to accommodate any event, any size and time

We are thrilled and excited to bring our concept to the Charleston area where Christine will head up operations while Andrea manages Long Island – together with family and friends we aim to be a crowd pleaser.

Interested in becoming a Daiquiri Daddy in your area, give us call.

Daiquiri Daddy Charleston ( will begin taking reservations for September 2017 for weddings, bbq, or as we like to say, any day that ends in “Y”

We can also be reached at 1.877.DADDY.07 (1.877.323.3907) to answer any of your questions.

Renaissance Charleston Historic District Hotel Unveils Fresh New Design

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Discover Business Unusual and Rich Charleston History Through New Hotel Design

CHARLESTON, S.C., June 20, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Located in the historic heart of Charleston at the corner of Wentworth Street and King Street, the newly reimagined Renaissance Charleston Historic District Hotelis something to behold. Designed by P3 Design Collective, the hotel boasts 162 home-inspired guest rooms, 4 luxurious suites, 5 creative meeting and event spaces, an energizing fitness center and outdoor saltwater pool and a quintessentially Southern lobby.

“The ideas behind the redesign were very much based on the characteristics of Charleston and the South, mixed with charm and lure, so that guests might unwind during a business trip or socialize as a local,” said Paula Benesch of P3 Design Collective. “The comfortably cool atmosphere of the Renaissance Charleston Historic District Hotel speaks to the independent and adventure-seeking guests.”

The newly transformed boutique hotel incorporates classic Charleston elements, with its antique brass lion head doorknockers, Haint Blue porch ceilings and gardens that bloom with fragrant magnolias. A revolving gallery wall features works from local artists.

The updated guest rooms evoke a familiar nostalgia that complements that of the city of Charleston, even for first time visitors. More than just a place to lay your head, each room is decorated with a mix of modern and vintage pieces collected over time as well as local finds one might discover on famous King Street.

“We are thrilled to invite guests into the redesigned Renaissance Charleston Historic District Hotel to have them experience our fresh new look and feel,” said General Manager Brian Wander. “The new features, local art, and overall design speak so highly of our hotel’s emphasis on Southern hospitality and tradition while also fitting in to the charming city around us. While we’ve updated a lot of the hotel through this redesign, this hotel is still rooted in history.”

Owned and operated by Chris Adams and Thaddeus Keefe, of international hospitality firm Ellis Adams Group, 1KEPT, the hotel’s new restaurant and bar concept, features a dining room and a full lounge and bar, plus a beer garden and front patio. The menu features New Southern flavors while incorporating sustainable seafood and hyper-locally sourced ingredients. 1KEPT opened in June 2017.

Outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment, the fitness center is designed to inspire and energize hotel guests. Beyond the fitness center is the outdoor saltwater pool, where visitors can extend their workout routine or relax poolside under the Charleston sun.

For groups and special events, the Renaissance Charleston Historic District Hotel is one of the city’s most renowned small event destinations. The locally-inspired event spaces are the perfect setting for weddings and meetings.

For more information on the Renaissance Charleston Historic District Hotel or to book your next stay, visit the website and follow along on social on Instagram and Facebook.

About Renaissance Hotels: At Renaissance Hotels, It’s Business Unusual. Each of our 170 hotels, located in nearly 35 countries around the world, is unique and every stay offers unconventional programs that help business travelers discover rich, local experiences. We promise to feed the curiosity, fuel the imagination and excite the senses of our guests, who see their business trip as an exciting opportunity for new, interesting and sharable moments. We offer signature events in our lobbies, bars and lounges designed to showcase emerging talent in music, the arts, mixology, gastronomy and more. Renaissance Navigators are neighborhood experts who are ready to assist guests in discovering true local flavors and activities. R.E.N. Meetings offers groups an experience beyond a traditional meeting, rooted in creative sensory meeting design and custom-curated local Navigator excursions and networking events. At Renaissance Hotels, we strive to ensure that every trip is transformed into an eye-opening, unforgettable journey. Renaissance Hotels is proud to participate in the industry’s award-winning loyalty program, Marriott Rewards?, in which members can link accounts with Starwood Preferred Guest? and?The Ritz-Carlton Rewards??for instant elite status matching and unlimited points transfer. To discover more visit For upcoming events visit

CONTACT: Renaissance Charleston Historic District Hotel
68 Wentworth Street Charleston South Carolina 29401 

What Not to Do In Charleston

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By Minta Pavliscsak

It seems everywhere you look these days there are blogs popping up about what to do in Charleston. Having information about what to do and where to go is great, but sometimes it is good to know what not to do. Fear not! We have you covered. So enjoy your time in Charleston, but please keep in mind the following things not to do in Charleston, South Carolina:

– Do not stop in the middle of the road to take pictures of the big, beautiful houses. Again, that goes for cars and pedestrians, although we see it happen mostly with cars. Simply pull over and park, get out and walk around. You will get much better photographs and see so much more!

– Do not block the sidewalks. We all have places to go and people to see. While this is the south and time does seem to run a little slower here, we are still in a rush to get to where we need to be. Please be considerate of those behind you when walking down the sidewalk and make sure they have plenty of room to get around you.

– Do not let the door slam on the person walking in behind you. We are taught at a very early age to “hold the door” for others, especially southern gentlemen. When you don’t, it is nothing personal, but we take it as such. And it’s simply rude.

– Do not stop in the middle of the intersection. This goes for cars and pedestrians. The light stays green for only so long, and trust me it’s not very long. If you are unsure of where you are going, just get out of the way and then figure it out.

– Do not eat at Hymans. With so many other amazing options, try not to fall prey to the hype. But you definitely don’t have to take our word for it.

– Do not walk in the bike lane when walking across the Ravenel Bridge. The bikers will warn you that they are coming up behind you, but they will also come pretty dern close to running you over if you are in their lane.

– Do not pay for a taxi when getting around downtown. You have a couple of free options. The city has the DASH, a free downtown shuttle that has different routes that will get you all over the peninsula. There is also Scoop Charleston, a free electric taxi service that will get you anywhere you want to go in downtown Charleston.? The Rickshaw is just a fine Southern tradition and cozy way to get around town.

– Do not get to the bar late if you do not want to pay a cover charge. Going out at night? Try upper King Street or hit up the Market and East Bay area. However, be warned that there will be lines and cover charges.

– Do not bring alcohol on the beach. Folly Beach was the last beach in the area that allowed drinking on the beach. They banned alcohol on their beach in 2012 following a last straw Fourth of July incident. Some say just be smart about it; we say why risk it?

– Do not forget that everyone has their bad days. Sure, Charleston has been named one of the friendliest cities but whether you are a local or a tourist, things like what are listed above can -and will- bug anyone from time to time. Just be patient, smile, and remember the golden rule for in the end we all want our Charleston experience to be a great one.

Why Charleston Isn’t Always “Paradise”

By Mark A. Leon

If you spend any time on social media and frankly, you may have to be living in a bubble or underground not to, the phrase “paradise” is often thrown around when describing Charleston.? As an avid supporter of the beauty, culture, community and charm, it is often easy to do.? We also need to look at the big picture of a geographic region and understand, that reaching the plateau of paradise is often challenging or impossible.? Setting those expectations, can also set others to fail, by painting a false picture of “paradise”.

This article is meant as a tool of awareness that Charleston has its own set of challenges and daily wears.? Like any other city, we have our flaws and many we deal with regularly, while others are growing to potentially explosive proportions.

Here are some of the reasons, Charleston is not always “paradise”

  • Postal System Challenges:? If you are a local, the news that we have a poor postal system in Charleston County should come as no surprise.? From the long lines and slow service to the delayed delivery times, even for local postal items, there is tremendous room for improvement in our postal system.? Often, the daily home deliveries are inconsistent and not uniform.
  • Limited Nature Preserve Outdoor Options:? If you are an avid runner, hiker, biker or adventurer, the term Lowcountry has never had a more defined meaning.? If you are looking for mountains or waterfalls, the closest destinations are four hours plus away from Charleston.
  • Heavy Taxation:? Charleston County just approved in 2016 a 0.5% tax increase bringing sales tax to 9.0% (Higher than New York City).? Our restaurant food tax is 10.5% / restaurant alcohol is 15%.? In a 2016 study, South Carolina was rated the third worst driving state and this has resulted in increases in automobile insurance rates.? This author saw a 22% annual increase in insurance rates without any incident.? In 2018, the annual vehicle renewal fee has added 5 additional taxes to support county programs adding a 310% increase in annual vehicle fees.
  • Housing Costs:? If you are in the real estate market, you are capitalizing on a golden opportunity.? If you are looking to buy a home or rent, you need to do a bit of research, because it may be very costly.? We are in a housing bubble.? One that could grow or explode very quickly.? Recently, a house was sold on The Battery for a record $6.2 Million and houses throughout the county are seeing sharp rises.? This is also affecting rental costs on the peninsula.? In the Elliotborough Section, we found a 3 bedroom, 2 ? bath for $3600 a month.? In 2010, a two-bedroom ranged from $900 – $1300 a month.? Today, that same option is averaging $1600 – $2000.? With the added costs of utilities and internet, it is becoming a struggle to support downtown living.
  • Traffic: The only explanation this needs is experiencing this on a daily basis.? Whether you drive Savannah Highway, Bees Ferry, Highway 17, Interstate 526, Interstate 26, Folly Road or Calhoun Street, maneuvering through the Charleston area is nothing short of a driving nightmare.? If you have the unfortunate distinction of driving during rush hour or tidal flooding, the situation only gets worse.
Spring Street
Spring Street
  • Flooding:? Charleston is coastal living.? There is no denying the unquestionable beauty of the harbors and beaches, but there is also a sustainable issue about flooding on city streets and residential areas.? As an attendee of the recent mayoral debate, flooding was a critical topic throughout the discussion and remains today.? One consistent element the audience took away from the seven candidates, is that no one has a sustained answer on how to address and correct the issue.
  • Unspoken Racism: We are one of the friendliest cities in the country, if not the world.? We don’t protest or riot and we keep to ourselves except for the friendly smile or ‘hello’.? That doesn’t mean we opening believe in equality for all.? Charleston has a clear separation of black and white.? In economics, housing, lifestyle and treatment.? Southern racial tensions are high in Charleston and those that choose to ignore it, are making a clear statement as well.
  • Construction:? You would be hard pressed to remember a time in the last three plus years when there weren’t cranes, construction vehicles, cones or detours destroying the esthetics of The Holy City.? Drive down Lockwood, President Street, Spring Street, King Street, Calhoun or Meeting.? Watch out for potholes and construction workers.? It has been a long time since we didn’t have to walk through a construction tunnel or see a crane blocking one of our beautiful church steeples.
  • Affordability: We have a Mayor that campaigned on “livability”, yet failed to look at affordability as Charleston continues to grow to a “high end” residential and hospitality community.? With the new community taking over Sergeant Jasper, boutique shopping on Upper Meeting, Northern expansion of Upper King, high end hotel development and retail, Charleston is becoming less about appealing to locals and more about tourism.? That position was made very clear when in 2016 when Hughes Lumber, Bob Ellis Shoes and Morris Sokol Furniture closed (All local foundations that stayed in business from 60 to 100 plus years).
  • Identity Crisis: For those that don’t know, James Island resides under two jurisdictions, James Island and Charleston.? There are even two different garbage pick-ups in the same neighborhoods.? Is James Island part of Charleston or its own municipality?? West Ashley has fought for its own namesake for years, but it is still part of Charleston.? This identity crisis needs to be addressed.
  • Corporate Name Tags:? I moved to Charleston partly because of Jestine’s Kitchen and a local record store.? It was the small-town appeal that won me over.? Today, there are 9 Starbucks downtown, Five Guys Burgers, Chipotle, Panera, Subway, Moe’s, West Elm, Williams-Sonoma, Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, Godiva, Victoria’s Secret, American Apparel and an Apple Store. ?We expect those corporate name tags to continue to grow.
  • Lack of Ethnic Food: Food is king in Charleston.? Hello, ‘Top Chef’ just filmed here.? You can search the peninsula far and wide (Campus Food excluded) and you will find a large void in ethnic food options.? Traditional Southern cuisine owns downtown.? There are derivatives of that theme, but still one-sided.? If you want true ethnic options, North Charleston offers the best selection.
Radcliffe Street
Radcliffe Street
  • Cooper River Bridge and Ice – I will be the first to say, the Cooper River Bridge is one of the most beautiful bridges I have ever seen.? It is part of who we are and folks around the world identify us by its majestic span.? Many years ago, when the architectural designers laid plans and built this bridge, it came with a flaw, falling deadly icicles.? We don’t often get freezing level temperatures, but when we do, it can and has shut down the bridge that connects Mount Pleasant to Charleston over the harbor.? This shutdown forces traffic to detour to 526 and 26.? If you have lived through it, you have stories, but we don’t recommend it.
  • Rise in tourism and drop in local commerce is driving generational local businesses to sell or go under – The local Charleston community has witnessed dozens of local businesses, annually, closing due to lack of customer traffic and forced increases in rent opening the doors to large corporate retails outlets with deeper pockets.? Yet, the city pushes “buy local”.? Unfortunately, that message is not reaching the masses of tourists coming by boat, car and plane.

Debate and expressionism is healthy.? It breeds creativity and ignites change.? We hope this article opens your minds and reminds you that Charleston is a remarkable place to live, but we have areas that are not perfect.

We welcome your thoughts, comments or stories.