|The Smiths enjoying Gingerbread House decorating.|
If you’re looking to get out of the city with your kids, the Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation is a fantastic option. This resort is located only 75 miles south of Atlanta in Greensboro, GA, and has a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere you don’t usually find at a luxury resort. Like the name of the road visitors turn off of, it is a “Linger Longer” type of place. It is a world-class resort with deluxe accommodations but its relaxed atmosphere puts guests at ease. I know my family and I loved it!
Known mainly for its summer activities, including 99 holes of championship golf, spectacular beach and lake activities on Lake Oconee, and lots of green space to walk or bike, one may not think of it as a winter destination. But that would be dead wrong. The Ritz-Carlton Lodge is warm and inviting and honest to goodness family-friendly. It has all the appointments of a luxury hotel, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The resort fosters a laid-back, communal air without losing its upscale edge.
Here is a review of the resort from this mom’s perspective:
|There were lots of fun activities for even my young kids.|
The Ritz-Carlton Lodge seems to focus, particularly at this time of the year, on making families feel welcome. From the holiday activities including Breakfast with Santa, Mrs. Claus’s Storytime, Gingerbread House workshops, and the Linger Longer train to simply acknowledging children as they pass through the lobby, little ones feel as special as their parents. Pack a coat in the winter to spend some time at the playground, check out some lawn games, or rent a bicycle. (They even have tricycles!) And don’t miss the nightly campfire (7-10pm) with complimentary s’mores. Rest assured, there is PLENTY to do here in the winter!
The friendliness extends to the guests as well. People seem to genuinely want to get to know each other and are very patient with sometimes rather noisy children. And, as in other Ritz-Carltons, the staff is more than happy to provide families with high chairs, cribs, and baby-proofing amenities. When mom and dad have had enough family time, they can turn to the Ritz Kids program offering supervised physical and creative activities for kids 5-12 during the day ($65 to $85/child) as well as on Friday and Saturday nights ($75 for 3 hours including dinner). They also offer a nanny service ($30/hour for up to 5 children). These programs must be reserved 24 hours in advance.
AccommodationsThis hotel has everything that one would expect in a Ritz-Carlton. The 251 rooms are stylish, fresh and clean with luxurious appointments but they remain unfussy. There aren’t knickknacks for kids to knock over and the flat screen TVs get both Disney channel and Nickelodian. For families, the resort offers connecting rooms (make sure to reserve well in advance) as well as oversized executive suites. The walls can be a bit thin, so some white noise (a music playing bear perhaps?) can be helpful for eagle-eared children. The rooms are not as expensive as one might think, often under $300/night. They are offering a New Year’s Eve package for $365/night which includes breakfast, parking, champagne and a great view of the midnight fireworks. Their Holiday Lights Bed & Breakfast package includes breakfast and parking and starts at $229/night.
For a worthwhile splurge, consider staying on the Club Level floor. With access to the Club Lounge, offering food and drink presentations throughout the day, families can save on food expenses as well as have an additional place to hang out and relax. And once the kids go to bed, mom and dad can grab a glass of the Ritz-Carlton Chardonnay and some delectable desserts for a delightful end to the day. My husband and I took turns visiting the Club Lounge while the kids were sleeping. No babysitter needed!
|Even the baby had fun at the playground!|
Families feel comfortable throughout the Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynold’s Plantation, and the dining options are no different. Gaby’s by the Lake offers the best choice for those with infants and small children. They have casual American fare and the staff are adept at dealing with both well and poorly behaving children. Georgia’s Bistro is the white table cloth restaurant at the resort with more contemporary cuisine. It is more casual during the day, but still a fine-dining establishment. I didn’t really feel comfortable taking my 3 kids (under 4 years old) to this restaurant but I think older kids would be fine. Room service is offered 24 hours a day. The Lodge also offers a children’s menu and an inclusive kid’s meal plan for $25 per day per child.
Tip: Gaby’s offers carry-out, so skip the room service fees, order off of the entire menu, and pick up the food to enjoy back in the room.
|The playground is a great place for kids to burn off some energy.|
As outlined above, there are a myriad of activities for guests to do at the Lodge. For those who want to enjoy the brisk air, they can take a walk, ride a bike, hunt for pinecones, or skip stones in the tranquil lake. If guests want to avoid the winter chill, they can curl up in the Lobby Lounge by the fireplace with hot chocolate or apple cider (or perhaps something harder.) They can also forget about winter altogether at the Ritz-Carlton Spa. The Spa has a co-ed relaxing indoor pool and whirlpool area along with a full fitness center. Their treatments are professional and the spa facilities are well-appointed with thoughtful touches like tea, juice, and a granola mix in the waiting room. The Spa offers family swim in the indoor spa pool each day from 5 to 8pm. And for moms-to-be, the Spa has a whole maternity menu just for them.
Overall, this is a great resort for families…both in the heat of summer and the dead of winter. It is a quick getaway and with one of their packages, can be quite affordable.
Author’s note: My family and I were guests at the Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation for a weekend stay during December 2010. Though parts of the visit were provided gratis, the opinions, beliefs and experiences expressed are entirely my own.