History of Reynolds Plantation and Lodge:
Reynolds Plantation overlooks Lake Oconee, a placid, shimmering and fairly new body of water. Georgia has no natural large lakes. It was created in 1979 when Georgia Power flooded the area surrounding the Oconee River to create a reservoir for the Wallace power plant. The process submerged small towns, homes, a plantation and the beloved hunting and fishing lodge of the Reynolds family. As sad as it was to lose the old lodge, the family was richly compensated by the sudden inheritance of miles of brand-new lakefront property. It is on this property that the Reynolds Plantation was developed.
The ambience at The Ritz-Carlton Lodge at Reynolds Plantation is that of a comfortable and elegant retreat. A stone fireplace and heavy timbers supporting the vaulted ceiling dominate the design of the lobby lounge. Warm colors, deep chairs and golden lighting insure that guest feel easily at home. The exterior charms with rows of crisp white columns, shingle clad walls and rustic stonework. Guests lean back on the long rope swing and slowly swoop over the lush, expansive lawn that extends from the lodge to the pools and shoreline. By the time you’ve made it down to the infinity pool overlooking the lake you find yourself planning your next visit.
Combining Ritz-Carlton service expectations with the natural graciousness of the staff results in a kind of warmth and ease that is truly unique. Perhaps it is the famous Southern Charm that enables them to express a relaxed and genuine friendliness in every interaction.
Golf is definitely the game at Reynolds Plantation. With 5 world-class courses, designed by architects Rees Jones, Tom Fazio, Bob Cupp and Jack Nicklaus, it is a fantasy for the golf lover. If your skills are in need of a bit of polish, the Reynolds Golf Academy can buff you up with lessons ranging from one hour clinics to three day schools.
There are plenty of ways to get out on the water: canoes, kayaks, yolo boards, paddle boats – as well as jet skis, pontoon boats and tubing. Rent a fishing pole, tackle and bait and head to one of the quiet docks.
8 miles of paved walking paths explore surrounding wooded areas as well as threading along and through the pristine, manicured golf courses. They are perfect for a morning run or even the daily Segway tours offered by the resort.
Now, let’s talk about the culinary experiences. First is the newly launched Georgia’s Bistro, with Head Chef Aaron Baxendale. The design is contemporary, fresh and charming, which matches the culinary spirit. The bistro offers a pig roast every Sunday. Cooked in a unique roasting box that seals in the heat and moisture, the whole local pig is transformed. Paired with cold Georgia beers, the meal is an event of mouthwatering, unadulterated delight. The farm-to-table ethos that the kitchen is driven by extends right out to the patio landscaping. A dainty kitchen garden skirts the outdoor seating area, providing herbs, greens and olives for the menu.
A short path from the lodge leads to the Linger Longer Steakhouse. The restaurant is named for the land’s earlier owner’s desire to always “linger-longer” at their family retreat. To call it a steak house is almost a slight — this is one of the best culinary destinations in Georgia. Under the direction of Chef Fabio Capparelli, Linger Longer is a welcoming and satisfying haven for resort guests and locals alike.
Seafood and fine wines complement the steak and local pork offerings. But whatever you order for dinner, do yourself a favor and leave a little room for the dessert souffles.
The spa environment is tranquil and luxurious, as you would expect, with premium products and an elegant plantation design. But the experience is burnished by the warmth and graciousness of the staff. It is truly an environment perfected for the relaxation of body and spirit. A stone fireplace overlooks the indoor pool and the fitness center provides you with everything you need to work off those souffles.
Or, if you’re planning to let the exercising wait until you get home, head down to Gaby’s by the Lake, the 3rd restaurant on property. Order Gaby’s Potato Chips, served with Bourbon BBQ, Blue Cheese and Vidalia Onion Dip, and hang out by the pool. Overlook Lake Oconee and sip a luscious Bourbon Apricot Sour (recipe below).
Rooms and Cottages:
Just in case the hotel’s cozy rooms and comfortable suites don’t provide you with enough room to seriously stretch out and relax, the cottages might be the choice for you. One 3-bedroom and five 2-bedroom cottages settle themselves into the trees edging Lake Oconee. With wood burning fireplaces and private porches overlooking the lake, you should find yourself slipping into a gentle Southern state of mind in no time. Or perhaps you’re expecting guests of a distinguished sort? Better spring for the Presidential House. With a private pool, 16 person dining room, 4 master suites, chef’s kitchen and Greatroom – the stately retreat has hosted World Leaders and world-class relaxers alike.
If you find yourself feeling romantic, you’re not alone. The relaxed, but elegant, grounds and gracious resort atmosphere make the Reynolds Plantation a popular and dreamy destination wedding choice. The resort hosted the 2010 wedding of country music star Carrie Underwood and Ottawa Senators hockey player Mike Fisher. The pair reserved the entire property for their private event and tight security insured that it was a strictly invite-only affair.
But don’t wait for your invitation to the next celebrity nuptials. Make your own getaway plans to this gracious retreat. You may very well find yourself yearning to “linger longer.”
Bourbon Apricot Sour:
Thanks to Gabriel of Gaby’s By the Lake
1.5 oz. Maker’s Mark (or your favorite bourbon)
.75 oz. Rothman and Winter Apricot Liqueur
3 oz. house made sweet and sour (recipe follows)
splash of Sprite
House Made Sweet and Sour:
Fresh squeezed Lime juice
Fresh squeezed Lemon juice
⅓ parts simple syrup
Serve it over ice and feel yourself get more charming.