Outside Atlanta: Romantic Retreats
Six Picture-Perfect Georgia Getaways
By Hope S. Philbrick
With your recent move to Atlanta, has it been a while since the two
With your recent move to Atlanta, has it been a while since the twoof you had some quality “couple time?” (pizza and binge-watching “Shameless” doesn’t count). Time to pack the kids off to Grandma’s and get away for a memorable escape. From mountains to beaches, gardens to historic buildings, Georgia is full of destinations where sparks are sure to fly.
Whether you stay for one night or a week, it’s easy to ignite romance at this 3,000-acre resort in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Canoodle in front of a fire in your private cottage. Go horseback riding along scenic trails. Play golf. Tour the history museum. Meander through 160-year-old gardens. Kayak on the lake. Savor a couples’ massage at the spa. Or enlist the help of the onsite concierge to help set the stage for romance: whether you’d like to return from a delicious dinner at the Rice House to find rose petals strewn across the bed, a picnic basket stocked with fixings for s’mores, or your claw foot tub decorated like a tiki hut. 877-773-2447, barnsleyresort.com.
Nestled on 503 acres in the North Georgia Mountains, Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa is only a two-hour drive from Atlanta and was named one of the top 50 Romantic Weekend Getaways in the U.S. by Redbook magazine in 2016. It offers a variety of activities, including golf, horseback riding, hiking and fishing. The Equani Spa offers body treatments, facials, massages and unique rituals indigenous to the Cherokee people, “designed to stimulate and refresh the mind, body and soul,” according to the resort’s website. The property includes 102 guest rooms and eight private cottages. Brasstown Valley offers meals at two restaurants: The Dining Room, a formal spot perfect for an intimate dinner of steak or seafood, and Brassies Grill, a casual eatery featuring sandwiches and burgers. Located above Brassies is the Fireside Lounge, a bar with a huge fireplace to keep warm. 800-201-3205 or brasstownvalley.com.
Love blooms at this 6,500-acre resort and preserve nestled in the southernmost foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Explore the peaceful gardens and woodlands by car, foot or bike. Play tennis and golf or rent a boat and go fish. For a jolt of adrenaline, try the TreeTop Adventure course, with 10 zip-lines and 20 obstacles. If the weather looks frightful, explore the Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel and the enclosed butterfly conservatory. Feast at any of the resort’s seven restaurants, all dedicated to serving sustainably grown and regionally produced food whenever possible. Choose accommodations that are just right for you: the Mountain Creek Inn, Southern Pine Cottages, Mountain Creek Villas & Vacation Homes or The Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens (which is part of the Marriott Autograph Collection). 844-875-6499, callawaygardens.com.
The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort
Feeling like royalty comes naturally here, starting with the spectacular oceanfront setting. Guests have been lured to this St. Simons Island location since it first opened in 1935 as a private dance club. After transitioning into a resort before World War II, the King and Prince has built a reputation for elegance and Southern hospitality while serving as a haven for dignitaries, celebrities and discerning travelers. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and a member of Historic Hotels of America, the resort offers multiple dining options and several different types of guestrooms, including suites and villas. The hotel’s buildings and pool complex were renovated from 2010-13, and the golf course, which occupies dramatic low-country acreage, underwent an extensive restoration in 2009 and a second makeover in 2013. A relaxed vibe reverberates from the tee box to the tri-pool recreation area: from the stunning beach to the pampering spa to the breakfast buffet and each cozy bed. 800-342- 0212, kingandprince.com.
The Lodge at Smithgall Woods
If you like the idea of seclusion, try this former private estate. A wilderness retreat in Helen, the Lodge at Smithgall Woods is tucked into a protected 5,664-acre Heritage Preserve managed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Six mountain cottages with a total of 17 bedrooms offer private baths and incredible views of nature. Some cottages feature porches along the stream, while others boast private hot tubs. Elegant amenities await—this isn’t roughing it! The Smithgall Cottage has a touch of rustic elegance with large decks overlooking creeks and woodland vistas. Once tucked into your comfortable bed, listen to the creek babble a lullaby. A one-mile trail leads to Dukes Creek Falls, and hikers and bikers adore the five miles of trails and 18 miles of roads. Anglers may prefer catch-and-release fly fishing in one of north Georgia’s premier trout streams, but reservations are required. 706-878-3087, gastateparks.org/smithgallwoods
The Ritz-Carlton Lodge at Reynolds Lake Oconee
At this haven on the shores of Lake Oconee (Georgia’s second largest lake), lavish yourself with the royal treatment you deserve but too rarely experience. The luxurious AAA Five Diamond resort boasts stunning décor, rich amenities, exceptional service and impressive attention to detail. Situated on 35 acres in Reynolds Lake Oconee, a 12,000-acre golf and lakefront community, the resort rests under towering pines and is surrounded by water on three sides. Each of the 251 guestrooms offers a private terrace, feather bed and dozens more scrumptious treats. While cuddling may be priority No. 1, you can also play golf on 99 championship-caliber holes, hike for miles or just get pampered with a variety of spa treatments. Indulge at the Linger Longer Steakhouse and keep the kids entertained and having fun with the Ritz Kids program. 706-467-0600, ritzcarltonlodge.com.
More Romantic Destinations
Greyfield Inn: This elegant mansion on Cumberland Island off the Georgia Coast is the ultimate getaway. The island is accessible only by ferry, and occupancy is limited. Turn-of-the-century décor and modern amenities make for a timeless escape. 904-261-6408, greyfieldinn.com.
Eagle Island: This private, 10-acre island is hard to beat for romance. The rustic, luxurious lodge features a wraparound screen porch, hot tub and roaring fireplace. privateislandsofgeorgia.com/eagle-island, 912-222-0801.
Burnham House: Make this stylish 19th-century cabin your home base as you explore the hiking and horse trails and other idyllic environs of General Coffee State Park. 800-864-7275, gastateparks.org/generalcoffee.