Six Picture-Perfect Georgia Getaways
by Hope S. Philbrick
Valentine’s Day is an annual reminder that the flames of romanceburn brighter with periodic rekindling. Pack the kids off to Grandma’s and ride off into the sunset with your sweetheart 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 1,400-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 fairy godmother, Denise Webb, to cast a “love spell.” Webb is eager 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.
Love blooms at this 13,000-acre resort and preserve nestled in the southernmost foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Explore the peaceful gardens and woodlands by car, foot or bike. Or you can play tennis or golf, or rent a boat and go fish. For a jolt of adrenaline, try the TreeTop Adventure course, with five zip lines and 19 suspended surfaces. If the weather looks frightful, explore one of the most advanced garden greenhouse complexes in the world and the enclosed butterfly conservatory. Feast at any of the resort’s 10 restaurants, all dedicated to serving sustainably grown and regionally produced food whenever possible. Choose accommodations that are just right for you: Mountain Creek Inn, Southern Pine Cottages, Mountain Creek Villas or The Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens (which is part of the Marriott Autograph Collection).
Dresser Palmer House
Find your bliss at this historic bed and breakfast in Savannah, located one block from famed Forsyth Park. Built in 1876, this Italianate townhouse is now a spacious, upscale hideaway. Retreat into your private, individually decorated room and sink into a claw foot tub or a king canopy bed. Opt for plush chairs in front of a fireplace in the main room or stroll along the charming Historic District, where entertainment options abound. Guests can also take a horse-drawn carriage tour of Georgia’s oldest cities, hop in unique boutiques, visit museums and dine at a restaurant, pub or bakery. Need help planning? Choose the Custom Concierge package for an itinerary specifically tailored to your interests. If you want champagne and chocolates delivered upon arrival, that can be arranged, too.
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 the Historic Hotels of America, the resort offers multiple dining options and several different types of guestrooms, including suites and villas. The golf course occupies dramatic low country acreage and was recently treated to a $3.6 million transformation. The King’s Tavern provides splendid ocean views. A relaxed vibe reverberates from the tee box to the tri-pool recreation area, from the stunning beach to the pampering spa, from the breakfast buffet to each cozy bed.
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 5,555-acre Heritage Preserve managed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Five mountain cottages with a total of 14 bedrooms offer private baths; some cottages feature porches along the stream, while others boast private hot tubs. Full capacity is 28 guests, which averages out to nearly 200 acres per person. Elegant amenities await—this isn’t roughing it. Once tucked into a comfortable bed, listen as the creek babbles a lullaby. A one-mile trail leads to Dukes Creek Falls. Hikers and bikers adore the five miles of trails and 18 miles of roads. Anglers can enjoy catch-and-release fly fishing in Dukes Creek, one of the state’s premier trout streams, which runs through the property.
The Ritz-Carlton Lodge at Reynolds Plantation
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 Plantation, a 10,000-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 golf 99 championship-caliber holes, hike for miles, get pampered with any of 90 spa treatments, indulge at the Linger Longer Steakhouse or take a few spins on the new ice skating rink.
MORE ROMANTIC DESTINATIONS
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.
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.
Make this stylish 19th-century cottage your home base as you explore the hiking and horse trails and other idyllic environs of General Coffee State Park.
Jekyll Island Club Hotel
This National Historic Landmark, the only four-star resort on Jekyll Island, offers a blissful retreat. Explore nine miles of sandy beaches, 63 holes of golf, horseback riding, bicycling, tennis, historic tours and more.