©2015 By Kathy M. Newbern and J.S. Fletcher
First in a Series
Travel is all about discovery. That’s especially nice when it’s driveable, which we discovered on our first outing ever to Greensboro, GA, to sample the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee. What a beautiful discovery. The lake is large at 19,000 acres with 374 miles of shoreline offering plenty of water activities from boating and fishing and skiing and swimming. The property, as you’d expect, is a distinctive retreat with lovely but never stuffy décor. Our suite accommodations were perfect.
Among our experiences were a small train ride, a segway tour, a sunset cocktail cruise, pool time, spa time and a round of golf (Kathy’s first ever), all performed at a perfect getaway pace. Nothing was every rushed.
Of course there were dining opportunities, among them sampling the then-just-opened, new National Tavern at The National golf course offering “unique twists on the traditional pub menu,” according to Executive Chef Derin Moore. Signature menu items include hand-crafted artisan pizzas, wood roasted wings and fennel-glazed salmon.
While time didn’t allow us to try al fresco dining, we’d definitely return for the romantic, lakeside, Chiminea Dining experience where a personal chiminea fire greets you as you slip into Adirondack chairs by the water for a private dinner ($125 per person plus tax and gratuity).
Our segway guide, the effervescent Segway Dave, actually works for the Segway company and has led tours in spots like Paris. He confided that the Reynolds Lake Oconee terrain is among the most difficult due to rising hills and the occasional steep grade, but he even had novices comfortable in a short 20 minutes. As with our previous Segway outings, we’d encourage everyone to give it a try because it’s not only loads of fun but also a great way to see a lot of the sprawling Reynolds Lake Oconee property, which offers personal homes, too. (See the video.) Reservations are required; the one and a-half hour outing costs $135.
Our sunset cruise was enhanced with a conversation with boat Captain Walt of the Spirit of Oconee, who explained that Lake Oconee is the second largest lake in the boundaries of Georgia. “We love it here,” he confided. “People who come to visit usually return.” His vessel, available for private parties or corporate events, carries 46 passengers, two crew and two servers. Another interesting fact he shared: Tide change is less than 18 inches a day, is 20 miles long and less than a mile wide.
Among the destination’s five golf courses is Great Waters, which, as the name suggests, has some amazing water views and idyllic greens – among the best manicured we’ve ever seen. The spectacular, 18-hole, par-72 course was designed by Jack Nicklaus. Fletcher, a very infrequent golfer, had a decent round, and novice Kathy did by her standards “OK for someone not knowing what she’s doing.” More importantly, it was a perfect, blue-sky, bright-sunny-day memory.
Staff were very patient including Reynolds Golf Academy’s Charlie King rated one of the country’s Best 50 golf instructors and author of “You’re NOT Lifting Your Head,” “Golf’s Red Zone Challenge” and the e-book, “The New Rules of Golf Instruction.” His colleague Rob Bowser, offered Kathy a quick, pulled-aside lesson on swing, stance and hand placement that yielded an immediate connection with the ball and her huge grin. Frequent golfers on this press trip assure us the other courses, too, are worth checking out, making Reynolds Lake Oconee a great, year-round golf destination, especially since there’s so much else to do for the entire family.
- The National with 27 holes designed by Tom Fazio;
- The newly renovated Landing designed by Bob Cupp;
- The Rees Jones-designed Oconee;
- The Plantation reopening Spring 2016 and also designed by Cupp;
- Plus the Nicklaus-designed Great Waters.
Avid golfers frequent the Kingdom at Reynolds, one of only two TaylorMade club fitting experiences in the nation and the only East Coast location. This state-of-the-art club fitting facility is any golfer’s dream, from the latest proven technology for analyzing your swing and your game to an on-site TaylorMade tour trailer where a set of clubs or a single driver or anything in between are custom made for same or next-day delivery. The trailer traveled the PGA Tour from 2003-2007 and is now housed here permanently. Full fitting at three hours is $350; a one-hour driver, wedge or putter fitting is $100.
Holidays at Lake Oconee
Now’s the perfect time for your own Reynolds Lake Oconee introduction as special holiday events are on tap including:
- Ice Skating on a 6,000-square-foot ice rink,
- Gingerbread House in the hotel’s main lobby made with 180 pounds of candy and 480 pounds of icing,
- Ritz Kids Night Out “Elves in Training” that includes includes dinner,
- Gingerbread Workshop with Mrs. Claus and her elves building a gingerbread house,
- Breakfast with Santa,
- Elf tuck-ins with special treats, and
- Story Time with Mrs. Claus and special guests.
IF YOU’RE GOING: You can also plan now for spring getaways including the Lake Oconee Food and Wine Festival, March 18-19, a Spa Retreat through March 31 and the Escape to the Lake packages through March 31 available Sunday-Thursday nights. Visit online or call (706) 467-0600. The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee is located at1 Lake Oconee Trail, Greensboro, GA, 75 miles from Atlanta.
If you enjoyed this story, you might also enjoy:
• Other stories by Newbern and Fletcher
• Other Stories by JS Fletcher,
• Stories by Kathy M. Newbern, Luxury Travel Examiner
Luxury Travel Examiners J.S. Fletcher and spouse, Kathy M. Newbern, report on luxury destinations, spas and cruising around the globe. They are award-winning members of the Society of American Travel Writers and created YourSpaReport.com and YourNovel.com, their personalized romance novel business.