A Georgia Classic: The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation

Luxury retreat seekers in landlocked Atlanta can thank the Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation for dramatically minimizing their travel distances. While one could trek hundreds of miles to reach the Georgia and South Carolina coast for a smattering of five-star escapes, the Greensboro-based resort is Georgia's only AAA Five Diamond waterfront resort within a 90-minute drive from the capital city. The Ritz-Carlton Lodge resides in the prestigious Reynolds Plantation development, a renowned golf and residential community along Lake Oconee's gorgeous, wildlife-rich coastline, and it recently completed an overhaul of the renowned spa and infinity pool deck. Find out what else is new and what to expect in this prime short-haul Atlanta getaway.


With numerous sports and leisure activities on offer, the Reynolds Plantation lodge is a decidedly casual experience compared with the Ritz-Carlton's usual lineup. Here, it's recreational comfort over opulence; unless visiting for a wedding or special event, guests can keep the suits and fancy dresses at home. The service is standard Southern hospitality, with many of the seasonal staff plucked from Greensboro's surrounding towns. The cavernous interior features dark woods, deep tones, and a vaulted lobby ceiling not unlike a ski lodge, with the exterior a pleasant palette of white and creamy browns alongside a well-manicured lawn.  


The expansive main lodge consists of 251 guest rooms and suites with garden or lake-facing views. The guest rooms and suites have private balconies, plush feather beds lined with Frette linens, and a classic Southern lodge design. Accommodation options also include two- and three-bedroom lakeside cottages and the grand Presidential House, which includes a private pool and sleeps up to 8 guests.


The resort's trio of restaurants offers a balanced variety for different tastes. Casual al fresco favorite Gaby's by the Lake serves American dishes with a Southern kick, such as Southern hummus with black eyed peas and boiled peanuts and the smoked pork quesadilla with sweet peppers and lime sour cream. The modern Georgia Bistro opens for breakfast and dinner in the main lodge, while Linger Longer Steakhouse is the resort's most upscale choice; a menu of prized 1855 Black Angus cuts, seared foie gras, and premium wines command a big-ticket budget. Overnight guests can convene after dinner for a complimentary S'mores by the Lake celebration over a lakeside bonfire while lounging on reclined Adirondack chairs.


Situated on the sprawling, golf course-rich Reynolds Plantation community along Lake Oconee, the Ritz-Carlton Lodge is the ultimate playground for outdoor types. Guests can check out bicycles or walk to explore the gently-sloped eight-mile trail and paddle along the coastline in kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards at their leisure, all included with the Resort Activity package. À la carte options range from jet-ski rentals and guided fishing excursions to golfing along the Ritz-Carlton's world-class 99-hole courses and swimming in the newly renovated infinity pool overlooking Lake Oconee. 


The lodge's top-rated spa underwent a spectacular multi-million dollar facelift in 2015. The 27,600 square-foot complex offers new spa treatments, a 24-hour fitness center, hot tubs alongside icy plunge pools, steam rooms, and saunas. The most impressive spa makeover, however, is the indoor pool, a cathedral-like space featuring an oversized lap pool and Jacuzzi underneath vaulted ceilings.

When to Go

While a fitting choice for any season, one Ritz-Carlton insider suggests October and early-to-mid spring are the best times to visit; the lush Lake Oconee coastline bursts with fall foliage in October, while the March and April months give way to pastel-colored blooms around the resort.  Couples who love contemporary gospel music ought to book soon for the inaugural Lake Cultural Series Weekend from October 23-25, where guests can enjoy exclusive experiences and special meals with Grammy-winning singer Amy Grant and other industry favorites.