By Jan Schroder
We’ll probably never sleep in that tent. My husband keeps promising (threatening?) me that he’s going to take me camping somewhere in North Georgia for a fun weekend getaway. But as I keep discovering new locations nearby that suit my more refined tastes (indoor plumbing), the possibility of that night on the cold, hard ground is becoming more remote than the odds of me dragging him to a day of shopping followed by a Chick Flick Film Fest.
My latest discover is the gorgeous and little-known Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens. I had no idea that such a luxury property existed inside the 13,000 acres of these beautiful gardens. I’d visited Callaway Gardens several times, for the magnificent Fantasy in Lights during the holidays and for trips to enjoy biking along the wooded bike trails, with stops at Mr. Cason’s Vegetable Garden, Robin Lake Beach, the lovely Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel and my favorite, the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center.
After an easy drive south of Atlanta about 80 miles, we turned into the beautifully landscaped and wooded drive up to the Lodge, where the only indication of it being a Marriott property were two small signs on posts that read Autograph Collection, which is Marriott’s exclusive group of independent hotels and resorts.
The huge fireplace in the expansive lobby drew me in like a magnet and I pulled myself away only to go check out my room. Each of the 150 rooms in the Lodge has its own balcony, and mine overlooked the rock fountain directly below and further away, the beautifully landscaped saltwater pool where steam was gently rising off its heated surface. The swirling whirlpool and outdoor fireplace looked inviting and would be the perfect setting for a day of relaxation and romance.
The heated saltwater pool is open year round. I so wish my backyard looked like this. Hey I’d settle for just the whirlpool.
After a brief sigh of appreciation for my beautiful room, view, and free easy wireless connection, it was off to Spa Prunifolia (yes, we wondered about the name too. Seems it is named for the resort’s signature flower, the plum leaf azalea.) After relaxing in the quiet relaxation room, with another lit fireplace, I had a really soothing and much needed Swedish massage in one of the 13 treatment rooms.
The evening began with a dirty gin martini served by our friendly and accommodating waiter Travis in the Ironwood Lounge. Then we moved into the Lodge’s main dining room, the “Farm to Fork” Piedmont Room, where we enjoyed a magnificent dinner prepared by Executive Chef Daniel Walters with locally produced ingredients, starting with duck confit flatbread and ending with salted caramel apple tart. Glenda was our charming and gracious server.
It was a short getaway and after a wonderful night’s rest in the super-comfy bed, we were off. But I’m already planning a return visit. As long as there are rooms that pretty, pillows that soft and food that good, my husband doesn’t have a prayer of getting me into a tent. But somehow I think he’ll be happy with a long weekend getaway to the Lodge.
For more on The Lodge and Spa at Callaway, click here.