My kids are three and five. Because they are three and five, we do not frequent Ritz-Carlton hotels. My kids are professional spillers. They don’t cry; they wail. They run in halls, they forget their manners. They are kids.
But there’s a Ritz-Carlton property in Greensboro, Georgia, that my husband and I will visit with our children. It has a playground and a beach. There are tree swings and nightly s’more roasts. And everywhere you look, there are children—which means mine can’t possibly be the only ones wiping their noses with their shirts.
I understand why families flock here: The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation seems designed for us. Set on the banks of gorgeous Lake Oconee, it has a small beach, floating hammocks, and a dock with stand-up paddleboards and kayaks. An infinity pool faces the action on the lake, and beyond that, there’s wide-open lawn rolling all the way to the main lodge.
This area has been all about family since the 1920s, when wealthy businessman Mercer Reynolds Sr.—the inventor of solidified cottonseed oil—bought thousands of acres here in the lake country of middle Georgia, turning them into a family-owned hunting and fishing retreat. Generations of Reynoldses grew up roaming the grounds, and in the mid-eighties, Mercer’s grandchildren began to allow development on portions of the 17,000-acre property. In 2002, the Ritz-Carlton Lodge opened on thirty of those acres.
The resort has earned AAA’s Five Diamond Award every year since 2006, and I understand why. For starters, it’s home to five world-class golf courses and a sanctuary-like spa. Then there’s the main lodge, which has 251 rooms that open onto outdoor seating areas. The mahogany beds have Egyptian cotton linens and goose-down pillows. The large bathrooms feature marble and granite. Dark-wood paneling and animal-print throw pillows nod at the area’s hunting-plantation past. And for parents like me—more concerned with sockets than sconces—there’s a special Ritz Kids bag with outlet covers and nightlights for the rooms.
It’s the sort of thing that makes me feel my family is welcome here; it lets me relax. One of my favorite ways to do that is dinner on the terrace at Georgia’s Bistro, one of the hotel’s three full-service restaurants. Tables face the fire pit and a small garden; in the distance, a creek trickles down to the lake. My husband and I order the bison rib-eye and striped bass while the kids choose from the lengthy kids menu, with options ranging from a veggie crudite plate to spaghetti.
As always, we try to persuade our kids to stay in their seats and behave, but eventually, we give up. They run into the night and begin a game of tag. We sit and watch them, glasses of wine in hand, the snaps from the fire in our ears. And when our kids return, dirty and shoeless, we just smile.
1 Lake Oconee Trail, Greensboro, Georgia, 706-467-0600, ritzcarlton.com