Georgia Wonder

By Joe O’ Donnell

It doesn’t seem possible to pack all of these amenities inside one community. But Reynolds Plantation, a 12,000-acre golf and lakefront community, off of Interstate 20 about halfway between Atlanta and Augusta, pulls it off.

From the recently renovated Ritz Carlton Lodge, to the thriving residential community serving over 3700 property owners with charm that is steeped in beauty and tradition, Reynolds Plantation is nothing short of world class. And so is the team behind Reynolds.  Institutional stalwart Metropolitan Life purchased the property this past fall and has engaged Birmingham-based Daniel Corporation to manage and develop this award-winning community into the future.

The numbers alone are staggering. Six golf courses complement a range of outdoor activities along more than 374 miles of shoreline. And four marinas, five clubhouses, six world-class restaurants serving casual to elegant fare, 16 tennis courts, miles of walking trails and beautiful natural scenery combine to make Reynolds Plantation the perfect place for a second home or exceptional primary residence. With the Ritz Carlton Lodge tucked in by the lake, it is also the perfect place for tourists who want to get a taste of the good life in the Georgia Lake Region.

The Lodge offers 251 guest rooms, plus a 26,000-square-foot spa. The Lodge also provides a gracious introduction to the Reynolds Plantation lifestyle and Reynolds Plantation Properties offers “Discovery Packages” at The Ritz to help prospective community members experience the Reynolds lifestyle first-hand.

Luxury merges with quintessential Southern hospitality at this stunning 251-room resort overlooking a vast 19,000-acre lake. Nestled in the woods, the resort is surrounded by water on three sides, offering commanding lake views. Draped in beds of ivy and edged by towering pines, blooming crepe myrtles and colorful caladiums, the five-story main building fronts the glistening lake, while six separate lakeside cottages and a presidential house with four master suites overlooks the Oconee Golf Course. Lodge guests have full access to a complete gamut of activities and amenities, including a state-of-the-art spa, tennis, two swimming pools, four full-service marinas, hiking trails and 99 holes of championship-caliber golf designed by the greatest architects of the game.

The design character of the lodge echoes the turn-of-the-century Craftsman and Adirondack movements, and the attention to detail, texture and scale prevalent in these classic American styles has been 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, lodge-like architectural style. Interiors are done in an American traditional style, with slate floors, open beam ceilings, stone fireplaces, and antler chandeliers accentuated by handsome wood furnishings crafted of deep mahogany and rich cherry, as well as softer shades of pine and oak. Anchoring the resort is the lobby lounge, with panoramas of Lake Oconee, vaulted wood timber ceilings, polished wood floors and two imposing stacked stone fireplaces.

The resort has six venues for dining and cocktails on-site. Georgia’s Bistro: recently renovated with many new contemporary changes, the layout offers guests various dining experiences and uncomplicated contemporary cuisine with a distinctive Southern twist. Linger Longer Steakhouse: Adjacent to The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, this newly renovated restaurant offers a contemporary menu of American steakhouse classics. An extensive wine list emphasizes reds from around the world, as well as varietals from Georgia’s own Persimmon Creek Vineyards, with more than 40 wines by the glass. Open Wednesday through Sunday for lunch, dinner and cocktails. Lobby Lounge: With comfy, overstuffed furnishings in an inviting atmosphere, this spacious spot is the heart of the hotel, with cocktails, drinks and light fare daily. Live entertainment on Friday and Saturday evenings. Gaby’s by the Lake: This newly renovated outdoor venue offers sweeping views of Lake Oconee, as well as a full menu of casual favorites and cocktails throughout the day. Chiminea Dining: Guests enjoy an unforgettable lakefront dinner while relaxing in Adirondack chairs in front of a  warm chiminea. All dishes are served lakeside and designed for two to share. A new coffee shop offers a snack selection of pastries, ice cream, candy and cold beverages along with a full assortment of Starbucks signature coffee beverages. The Pool Bar: Adjacent to the outdoor pool, this lively spot offers light fare and specialty beverages seasonally.

An expansive 26,000 square feet, The Ritz-Carlton Spa is adjacent to the hotel and features 19 private treatment rooms, one couples spa suite, four wet treatment rooms–including one hydrotherapy room– male and female relaxation areas with lockers and changing facilities, an indoor lap pool, saunas, steam rooms, whirlpools, a relaxation terrace, a full-service salon and a spa boutique. 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 utilizing ingredients indigenous to the area.

The fully equipped 1,700-square-foot fitness center features a variety of cardiovascular and strength training equipment, as well as a 700-square-foot movement studio, with a roster of regular classes such as Pilates and yoga.

With five signature world-class courses, The Ritz-Carlton Lodge is a top golf destination—with 99 holes of golf designed by the game’s best known architects:  Rees Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio and Bob Cupp.  Courses include The Landing, 18 holes designed by Bob Cupp The Plantation, 18 holes designed by Bob Cupp The National, 27 holes designed by Tom Fazio The Oconee, 18 holes designed by Rees Jones Great Waters, 18 holes designed by Jack Nicklaus. Guests can also hone their skills at The Reynolds Golf Academy, under the skilled guidance of academy director Charlie King. Ranked as one of Golf Magazine’s “Top 100 Teachers,” King has many years of instructional experience and authored two golf instruction books.

Eight tennis courts are located nearby at Reynolds Plantation. Court rentals, tennis lessons and ball machine rentals are all available. In addition to spa, fitness, golf and access to tennis facilities, the resort has a heated infinity waterfront pool and an indoor lap pool, open daily.

With over 300 miles of shoreline, Lake Oconee is a fishing enthusiasts’ dream– brimming with large mouth bass, bream, catfish, crappie and striped bass hybrids– boasting more fish per square acre than any lake in Georgia. There are also four full-service marinas offering dry dock storage, marina stores with fishing and boating supplies and dockside fueling. Rounding out the activity mix: swimming, picnicking, canoeing, kayaking, waterskiing, wakeboarding, kneeboarding, paddleboarding, pontoon rentals, jet ski rentals, s’mores by the lake campfire, nature hikes, bike riding, Segway tours, horseback riding and the gun club with skeet, trap and clay shooting.

Lakeside concerts and fireworks are held every Sunday, June to August, in a great summer tradition at Reynolds. Performances are held at 7:30 p.m., followed by fireworks over Lake Oconee at 9:30 p.m. For the winter season, The Lodge now offers ice skating by the lake. Located in the Pavilion, the 5,500-square-foot ice skating rink is open from late November through mid-February.

Beyond the visitor amenities at the Lodge, the community at Reynolds Plantation is brimming with things to do and amenities to offer residents.

The Lake Club Wellness Center has become the nexus of social activity. This member-only club offers an indoor and two outdoor pools, an award-winning tennis center, fitness center and more, along with a beautiful location overlooking Lake Oconee.

World-class dining in a range of culinary styles greets members and guests at The Plantation Grille, Great Waters, The Landing, Kathy’s Café at The Lake Club, and The Creek Club.  Along with spectacular cuisine, members enjoy a selection of wines that helped Reynolds Plantation receive the “Award of Excellence” from WINE Spectator Magazine for four consecutive years. The Landing, Great Waters and The Plantation Grille are open to the public, while Kathy’s Café, Infinity Pool Bar, and the Creek Club are member-only.

Reynolds Plantation has a commitment to the cultural and performing arts. The Linger Longer Living Cultural Lifestyle Series presents a constantly evolving program of exhibitions, music, lectures, performances and more in a monthly series of varying scope. In the greater community, the Oconee Performing Arts Society has come together to bring the best and the brightest stars to the Lake Oconee region.

Reynolds Plantation is bringing tennis on par with its world-class golf thanks to 16 award-winning tennis courts managed by internationally-renowned tennis management company, Peter Burwash International, under the direction of 2000 PBI Tennis Professional of the Year Dave Neuhart. A full-service pro shop, computerized ball machine, tennis packages, clinics, private lessons and impeccable, professional service round out The Lake Club tennis experience that helped Reynolds Plantation garner 2006 PBI “Tennis Site of the Year,” and the Tennis Industry Association’s 2007 “Top 50 Tennis Welcome Centers” recognitions. The tennis center was also awarded the 2009 USTA Facility of the Year Award winner as well as 2009 RSI Magazine Private Facility of the Year.

The Heritage & Nature Center is a replica of an original 1930s rock house built on Richland Creek. It was completed and opened in July 2006, not only as a reminder of the original style of the times, but also as an education center focused on sharing the local history, culture, and wildlife of the Lake Oconee area. The Heritage & Nature Center hosts many exhibits and displays and is home to live local animals such as fish, frogs, turtles and snakes. The Heritage & Nature Center also leads and sponsors a variety of events and excursions for the Reynolds Plantation community, both young and old alike.

A dedication to preserving the natural habitats that surround Reynolds Plantation is integral to our lifestyle. World-class amenities complement—not compete with—the serene natural setting, from walking trails to rustic homes and buildings. The 12,000 acres of rolling woodlands, the banks and waters of Lake Oconee and 20 freshwater ponds at Reynolds Plantation—of which five are fully-stocked for catch-and-release fishing—provide a carefully-monitored habitat for wildlife, from blue herons to bass. Eagles, ospreys, owls, wild turkeys, foxes, deer, possum, armadillos, and a host of other wildlife add to an ever-changing natural landscape.

Reynolds Plantation is also home to the Trillium Trails, a .43-mile trail winding away from the Plantation Commons. Mulch paths, boardwalk bridges, and footbridges pave the way through forests teeming with more than 20 trees of deciduous and evergreen varieties.

Reynolds Plantation also maintains a yearly certification from the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program.

A range of exciting adventures awaits children at Reynolds Plantation, from biking, hiking, fishing and boating to sports and family fun. Reynolds Plantation offers organized children’s programs, too, from summer and winter Kids’ Vacation Camps and Junior Golf Camps to the Reynolds Rapids Swim Team, and other seasonal specialty programming.

Outside of the gates, members will find a range of conveniences less than a mile away. At Lake Oconee Village, an upscale Publix grocery store and the eight screen Spotlight Theatres complement a variety of restaurants, shops, clinics, banks, pharmacies, salons, boutiques, gift and antique shops, and services like attorneys, dentists, financial planners. Charming, historic small towns like Greensboro, Madison and Washington also provide unique shopping, dining and entertainment opportunities.

Excellent healthcare is nearby with a medical campus operated by The Medical College of Georgia. Anchored by full-time physicians, a comprehensive array of medical specialties is also offered by board-certified faculty members of the school of medicine of the Medical College of Georgia. The specialties include gynecology, cardiology, gastroenterology, dermatology, urology, otolaryngology, ophthalmology, orthopedics, sports medicine, plastic surgery, neurology, psychiatry, pain management, general/GI surgery and allergy.

Also nearby opened the Cowles Clinic is now the largest medical group in the area, with over 50 physicians in 26 specialties providing advanced, comprehensive care for all ages. Cowles Clinic also features a full-service lab and imaging center, an executive health program and has the area’s only cancer center.

St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Hospital is a 25-bed, acute care, critical access hospital serving greater Greene County and the Lake Oconee communities of Georgia. St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Hospital is accredited and provides 24/7 emergency care, inpatient care, surgical services, swing bed program for extended recovery, and numerous outpatient services including CT scanning, mammography, radiography, ultrasound, sleep disorders center, and rehabilitative services. A new replacement hospital is currently under construction and is expected to open in early 2014.

Education has also remained a focus for residential families.Founded in 2007 as a public charter school in Greensboro, Ga., Lake Oconee Academy (LOA) will eventually serve students from Pre-K4 through 12th grade. LOA promotes an atmosphere of high expectations and high achievement for all children. So whether you are searching for a long weekend in luxurious surroundings or a second-home or retirement lifestyle, Reynolds Plantation has created an extraordinary place to call home.

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