Coastal South Carolina USA


Charleston, South Carolina, Named Top City in U.S.



Destination Launches Charlestonly™ Campaign to Promote
Experiences Exclusive to Charleston, S.C.

CHARLESTON, S.C., October 10, 2011 — Condé Nast Traveler named Charleston, South Carolina, Top U.S. City at the magazine’s 2011 Readers’ Choice Awards gala held in New York earlier tonight. The historic coastal destination that welcomes four million annual visitors previously held the No. 2 ranking.

At the ceremony, Emmy Award-winning comedy writer and Charlestonian Stephen Colbert humorously recalled how he “earned pocket change helpfully pointing out the house where Rhett Butler grew up” during his childhood. “I've been all over the world and Charleston is the most beautiful city I've ever seen,” Colbert said as he presented the 2011 Readers’ Choice Top City Award to Helen Hill, Executive Director of the Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. Roger Warren, President of Kiawah Island Golf Resort, which was named No. 3 - Top U.S. Islands and No. 3 - Top Mainland U.S. Resorts, joined Hill onstage to accept the award on behalf of the destination.

“It is so pleasing for me to say thank you because it's nice to see that what comes naturally to the people of Charleston is recognized,” Warren said.

Other Charleston area Readers’ Choice Award-winning properties include French Quarter Inn (No. 15 - Top U.S. Hotels), Charleston Place (No. 30 - Top U.S. Hotels), Planters Inn (No. 52 - Top U.S. Hotels), Market Pavilion (No. 62 - Top U.S. Hotels), John Rutledge House Inn (No. 16 - Top U.S. Small Hotels), Wentworth Mansion (No. 17 - Top U.S. Small Hotels) and Wild Dunes Resort (No. 121 - Top Mainland U.S. Resorts).

The awards appear in the November issue (on newsstands October 25) and are derived from the Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Choice survey. This year, more than 27,000 readers voted on more than 11,000 properties and destinations.

Charleston made its debut on the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards list of Top U.S. Destinations in 1993 with a sixth place ranking and went on to earn a top five ranking for 14 consecutive years (1997 – 2010), holding its own alongside major metropolitan cities like San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Boston.

“The people of Charleston are honored by their selection as Condé Nast Traveler's Readers Choice No. 1 Top U. S. Destination,” said Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. “We love to share our extensive heritage and tradition of hospitality. It is thrilling to see that the visitors who come here not only enjoy what they see and experience, they also find an open welcome from the city. Great food and lovely hotels add much to the enjoyment of our guests who come either for a day or a week! We look forward to the opportunity to show visitors what makes Charleston a great place to visit.”

Voters annually evaluate cities based on six categories: Atmosphere/Ambience, Culture/Sites, Friendliness, Lodging, Restaurants and Shopping with the Readers’ Choice Top City Award bestowed upon the destination with the highest composite appeal.

To bring the six categories to life from a distinctively Lowcountry point of view, the Charleston Area CVB launched, a nod to the term coined to describe the one-of-a-kind characteristics that define the Charleston experience. The Charlestonly™ website includes highlights of recent national media coverage, a video featuring local personalities saying thank you and a listing of special packages offered by the Charleston area’s eight 2011 Readers’ Choice Award winning resorts and hotels.

A sampling of the packages on

Grill Gourmet at Charleston Place, No. 30 - Top U.S. Hotels: This Orient Express property located in the heart of downtown Charleston offers a package geared to gourmands with champagne upon arrival, breakfast at Palmetto Café and dinner at the Mobil Four-Star Charleston Grill, where the musical styling of renowned jazz percussionist Quentin Baxter is as sophisticated as Chef Michelle Weaver’s cuisine.

Celebrate Charleston at the John Rutledge House Inn, No. 16 - Top U.S. Small Hotels: Perfect for first-time visitors, this package introduces guests to the area’s rich history with a horse drawn carriage tour through beautifully preserved neighborhoods, a docent-led tour of an antebellum mansion and a tour of a bucolic centuries-old plantation.

Just the Two of Us at the French Quarter Inn, No. 15 - Top U.S. Hotels: Tuck into a romantic getaway at the hotel named for its charming neighborhood, where scores of art galleries and restaurants are located a short stroll from the front door. This package includes a private carriage tour through downtown, breakfast in bed and a gift certificate for dinner at Tristan restaurant, where Chef Nate Whiting is known for surprising twists with traditional ingredients.

Divalicious Getaway at Planters Inn, No. 52 - Top U.S. Hotels: Located in the heart of the historic district, this 64-room Relais & Châteaux property exudes southern hospitality and offers a package designed to pamper girlfriends with chauffeured transportation from the airport, manicure and pedicure spa treatments and a three-course tasting menu at the Mobil Four-Star and AAA Four-Diamond Peninsula Grill.

The Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Top City Award joins other recent accolades including No. 2 Top City in the U.S. and Canada by Travel + Leisure 2011 World’s Best Awards, Best New Restaurant in America 2011 nod (Husk restaurant) by Bon Appétit, No. 6 Best Town Ever by Outsideand Best Tennis Town in the U.S. according to the United States Tennis Association.

Condé Nast Traveler 2011 Readers’ Choice Awards Top U.S. Cities:
1. Charleston, South Carolina

2. San Francisco, California

3. Santa Fe, New Mexico

4. Chicago, Illinois

5. Honolulu, Hawaii

6. New York, New York

7. Savannah, Georgia

8. Carmel, California

9. Seattle, Washington

10. Boston, Massachusetts

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