LATTA, SC (WMBF) – When those of us who live in the Grand Strand and Pee Dee think of the small town of Latta, grandeur, opulence and luxury are not usually the first words that come to mind. For hundreds of out of state travelers, however, Latta's reputation is quite different. WMBF News Anchor David Klugh is in your community of Dillon County at the Abingdon Manor Bed and Breakfast... little Latta's big surprise.
When weary travelers are making their way from New York to Miami or back are looking for a place to lay their head, one place that will pop up in their search is the Abingdon Manor in Latta. It is the former home of a South Carolina Senator, and it may be the most popular draw to this sleepy little town.
Once in the lobby, it quickly becomes clear, this is not your typical small-town B&B. There is very little about the Abingdon Manor Bed and Breakfast that says you're in a "one-square-mile" town of just 1,400 people.
Owners Michael and Patty Griffey talked about opening an inn like this for decades, and then they found this jewel.
"We were halfway between New York and Palm Beach," says Michael Griffey. "We were five miles from I-95. We knew there was nothing of this type in the whole region, and we wanted to build a luxury property."
The 1909 Greek Revival-style manor was built by former South Carolina state Senator, James Manning. His daughter lived in the home until 1973, and then it became the area's premier bridal shop. Twelve years later, the Griffeys took over, and for Latta, reputations have never been the same.
Ken and Carol Keller are regular guests here. "Probably more people in Palm Beach and Vero Beach know about Latta than people in Myrtle Beach," say the Kellers. "It's like something out of the old south.."
The Kellers are hooked. The Abingdon Manor is a must-stop, twice a year for this New York couple as they make their way between homes in the north and south.
"I can't say any more. Very comfortable, like home," says Carol. And of course with Patty's food, the dinners at night, what is it, 4 or 5 courses? Just amazing."
Oh yes, there is the food. As the Keller's said, the breakfast end of this B&B is worth the trip. But this inn is actually a B&B&D, specializing in equally elaborate dinners. The second half of this ownership duo is also the chef.
"We do a one-seating prefixed dinner," says Patty Griffey. "And the menu changes everyday. So the entree will rotate between like yesterday we prepared individual beef wellingtons. Tonight it's lobster thermador."
Thanks in large part to Patty's food, the Abingdon Manor has kept its AAA 4-Diamond rating for more than a decade. And this year, BedandBreakfast.com put the inn in the top ten dining destinations in the country. Also, Trip Advisor has given the inn its certificate of excellence.
"It's kinda that gentile country living kinda feeling," adds Patty. You arrive and you get settled in your room and you come down, have a cocktail, a glass of wine if you'd like. And then you just move into the dinner service. And since you don't have to order anything, it just becomes a seamless event."
Michael and Patty have connected this town no bigger than a postage stamp, drawing in a worldwide clientele.
"We do a lot of corporate business," says Michael. "We just had a group from California here doing production. We had a whole group from Switzerland that were here working with the local companies."
"I think all of our friends know Latta is a destination," says guest, Carol Keller. "Which they had never heard of before."
So the big question left for Abingdon Manor is this, how does a luxury in stay in business and prosper in a community like little old Latta? The answer is simple. There isn't a thing like it for miles in all directions. A great strategy for this community.
Those 6-course dinners at Abingdon Manor are open to the public, provided there is space and you make a reservation. The price is $52.50 per person. Patty Griffey also has a cooking show on a local cable channel. She also offers cooking classes perfect for couples… either with or without a stay at the inn. Rooms at the Inn range in price from $185 to $215 per night.