By Robyn Spizman Gerson

Relax! You’ve just arrived at the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, which is a mere 75 miles east of Atlanta on the shores of Georgia’s second-largest lake. With over 300 miles of shoreline, Lake Oconee is an outdoor lover’s dream, and anyone looking for some rest and relaxation will feel right at home.

This charming Southern retreat (www.RitzCarlton.com/Reynolds) is part of a 17,000-acre golf and lakefront community with two full-service marinas and sits a hop, skip and jump from Atlanta.

Luxury greets you as you pull up to this 251-room resort overlooking the 19,000-acre lake. Blooming crepe myrtles and colorful caladiums highlight the well-manicured grounds by a handsome, five-story main building alongside the lake.

Photo by JoAnne Kim, Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee The upscale fire pit is the scene for evening s’mores.

Photo by JoAnne Kim, Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee
The upscale fire pit is the scene for evening s’mores.

The resort is surrounded by water on three sides, offering commanding views, plus hammocks for lounging, sweeping grounds and walking trails.

Golfers can choose among 99 holes and five signature courses designed by architects Rees Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio and Bob Cupp. Guests can hone their skills at the Reynolds Golf Academy under the guidance of academy director Charlie King, who is ranked as one of Golf Magazine’s top 100 teachers and has written two golf instruction books.

For tennis lovers, eight courts are nearby at Reynolds, and lessons and ball machines are available if you want some practice between matches.

Whether you want to kick off your shoes or explore, you’ll find swimming in a lakeside infinity pool, picnicking, canoeing, kayaking, waterskiing, wakeboarding, kneeboarding, paddleboarding, pontoon rentals, motorized personal watercraft rentals, nature hikes, bike riding, Segway tours, horseback riding and more.

After an active or relaxing day, the famous evening s’mores await you around a staff-attended, Ritz-style campfire.

It’s no wonder that U.S. News & World Report named the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds one of the best hotels in Georgia. It received five diamonds from AAA from 2007 to 2015 and four stars from Forbes Travel Guide (accommodations and spa) from 2010 to 2015, as well as readers choice awards from Condé Nast Traveler and others throughout the years.

Photo by Courtney Hayden, Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee The Reynolds Plantation Lodge features an infinity pool right on the lake.

Photo by Courtney Hayden, Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee
The Reynolds Plantation Lodge features an infinity pool right on the lake.

The resort’s guestrooms are beautifully appointed, and it has become a wedding destination. You also have the option of cottages, ranging from 1,800 to 2,400 square feet, with stone verandas and wraparound porches, as well as the 5,400-square-foot Lake House.

One of the favorites is the Ritz-Carlton Spa, which is adjacent to the hotel. It has been named one of America’s top resort spas by Condé Nast Traveler. This state-of-the-art sanctuary offers more than 90 health and wellness treatments, many of them using ingredients indigenous to the area.

The resort’s design character echoes the turn-of-the-century Craftsman and Adirondack movements, and the attention to detail radiates through the classic American style incorporated throughout the property. The exterior features a combination of stacked fieldstone walls and chimneys, stained-wood cedar shingle siding, and painted wood trim and windows, creating a rustic, lodgelike feel.

For the kids, Ritz Kids Camp is a fun, supervised program offered for ages 5 to 12. Youngsters spend the day with camp counselors, enjoying indoor and outdoor activities such as nature hikes, scavenger hunts, canoeing and crafts. The themed Kids Night Out program gives young visitors something to look forward to on Friday and Saturday evenings.

The Protect Our Little Ones Program is a special service in which guests traveling with children under age 5 are escorted to their room by a specially trained bellman who explains and installs safety features such as nightlights and electrical outlet plugs.

The resort will customize teens’ itineraries with golf, tennis, movies, makeovers or trendy shopping options.

Last but not least, the sure-fire favorite part of the Ritz Carlton experience is the dining. Georgia’s Bistro specializes in uncomplicated contemporary cuisine with a distinctive Southern twist, or try the Linger Longer Steakhouse or the casual Gaby’s by the Lake.

The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee is just around the corner with its laid-back luxury. You’ll want to go back time and time again.

 

Robyn Spizman Gerson (www.robynspizman.com) is a New York Times best-selling author, a communications expert and a well-known media personality, having appeared often on NBC’s “Today” and WXIA-TV 11Alive’s “Atlanta and Company.”