Gay honeymoons: Georgia
How the sweet south saves money and soothes the soul
The roads in Georgia wind through peaceful beauty and serene scenes. With all of its lush greenery, open fields and forests, the state is a welcome respite after the hustle and bustle of getting married—and it’s a lot cheaper than flying out of the country.
If you’ve never been to Georgia, you might be thinking what a red state it is. But it’s home to many liberal folks who welcome gays and lesbians with open arms. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite spots to celebrate your new union, and they’re all within a couple hours of driving distance from Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Lake Rabun Hotel
Photo by Michael Andre Adams
Lake Rabun Hotel
Tucked up and away from the main highway in a well-wooded forest where old money has long since carved out fabulous lake front homes that utilize the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains towering as a backdrop is a dream come true for those who seek the ultimate in rustic charm, intimacy and epicurean excellence. It’s called Lake Rabun Hotel.
In 1915, Georgia Power created Lake Rabun to hold water in reserve so hydroelectric plants could generate electricity for homes and businesses from Atlanta to north Georgia. Then in 1922, Augustus Andreae, developer of the Lake Rabun community, built the Lake Rabun Hotel.
Since then, much of the hotel’s original charm has been restored including the original woodwork. Additional enhancements include antique rhododendron furniture, a cedar tree bar, decks and balconies overlooking the lake, flowing waterfalls and more.
Whether you choose one of the eight rooms in the main house, or the two-bedroom Inn Keeper’s Cottage, a breakfast—that will leave you wanting seconds if your stomach can hold it—is served in the dining room from 8 to 9:30 a.m. daily. I’m talking chicken and waffles and frittatas and more, all farm fresh, locally and/or organically grown or raised on a farm. Chef Jamie Allred cooks to impress. Never would I have ever believed I would have come across such gourmet southern cuisine in such a beautiful, rural, country setting.
With a very diverse staff on hand, Lake Rabun Hotel is extremely LGBT-friendly. Its packages range from adventure (think canopy tours and white water rafting) and romance at the onsite spa. While in the area, don’t you dare skip the opportunity to experience a hike through nearby Chattahoochee National Forest. You’ll be blown away by waterfall after waterfall at nearly every turn. Other area options include a walk around the lake after dinner, or wine tasting at nearby Tiger Mountain Vineyards, where during the summer season you can also pick fresh, organically grown blueberries for $10 a gallon. Just remember to bring you own bag storage bag. Lake Rabun’s hotel manager, or anyone there for that matter, will be happy to steer you in the right direction.
Whichever option you choose, you’ll be writing back real soon to thank me for revealing this great hidden gem.
|Lake Rabun Hotel
35 Andrea Lane
Sunrise from a balcony suite at Ritz-Carlton Reynolds Plantation
Photo by Michael Andre Adams
Ritz-Carlton Lodge Reynolds Plantation
Constantly hearing the words “It’s my pleasure” can’t help but leave you feeling good all throughout the day and night. And a mere 90 minutes east of Atlanta, Ritz-Carlton Lodge Reynolds Plantation consistently delivers a guest experience perfectly suited for the wind down.
Situated in view of a significant portion of Lake Oconee, the resort offers Four Diamond lodge luxury in a cultured country environment.
Overnight accommodations in the main lodge can range from single rooms to suites. As with most, if not all Ritz-Carlton properties, this one offers Club Level service. With it comes various food presentations through each day, beginning with breakfast, then lunch, culminating with cordials and desserts at the end of the evening. So for a few dollars more your experience becomes pretty close to all-inclusive—and we think it’s worth every penny.
If you’d like an extra dose of privacy (it is your honeymoon, after all), the resort offers a selection of lakefront or golf course facing villas that are the pick of the litter in terms of the modern-day lodge-esque decor.
Get a good night’s rest to catch the sun rising from the seat of a kayak on the lake while bluebirds sing. Then consider a hike along one of several winding trails through lining the lake, roaming through the wilderness and along the edge of the golf course in partial view of a collection of million dollar estates. Conclude the journey with a yoga class to stretch out the body, or a visit to the spa where in a Thai yoga class your therapist will stretch it for you.
In mid 2011, Linger Longer Steakhouse made its debut after being rebuilt from the ground due to a devastating fire. Chef David White and his culinary team has mastered the magic to char beautifully marbleized rib-eye steak to perfection on the exterior, while moist and full of flavor on the inside. Whether you choose a rib-eye, filet or other, the Chef David will (at your request) top your steak with such decadent temptations as a chive beurre blanc (chives, butter and wine sauce) or his favorite—Oscar, with rich crab fondue, asparagus and béarnaise. Speaking of richness, a bowl of his velvety luscious Main lobster bisque accompanied by the crusty sour dough house loaf might cause your natural reflexes to haul off and slap somebody’s momma. If such is the case you and momma will want a divine and forgiving concoction from mix-master extraordinaire Frank, at the restaurant bar. Whether you choose from his custom designed selection of have him create something unique for you, you will leave feeling deservedly pampered.
|Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation
One Lake Oconee Trail
www.ritzcarlton.com (Listed under “Georgia”)
Chateau Elan Winery and Resort
Photo courtesy of Chateau Elan
Chateau Elan Inn and Winery
Practically every celebrity on the Atlanta scene will gladly share his or her experience at Chateau Elan. To get away and be amongst field upon fields of grape vineyards in the foreground, a regal chateau in the center, with a wooded backdrop is definitely to tango with elitism—charm-laden, to be sure.
Late last year, the resort unveiled its new spa suites. Located right in the secluded spa building, the suites are tastefully appointed by contemporary décor. Color schemes in shades of blue and silver accented by wood evoke crisp feelings of joy within while gazing out at the wooded environment through huge windows. Some of the units include multi-level lofts that are beyond fabulousness. Whichever spa suite you choose, it’s definitely about the glam.
Recreational options beyond a rejuvenating spa experience include self-guided hiking and mountain biking trails throughout the property’s 3,500 acres (bicycles rent at $20 per day); If you’ve always wanted to learn to play golf or just want to sharpen your game, an amazing team of pro trainers on one of the four courses can get you the desired results while having fun along the way. A sublime and tres romantic evening awaits with Chef Marc Suennemann at Le Clos, the resort’s elegant fine-dinin venue.
A native of Hamburg, Germany, Chef Marc has cooked in the kitchens of Five Star hotels and resorts around the world. His talent however, comes natural. Just ask him to make his grandmother’s sauerkraut and you’ll see. And since no meal is complete without dessert, the star-studded team includes England’s Chef Dhilmin Silva in the pastry department. Silva’s work abroad includes a commission by the Royal Family to remake the cake of King George XI, for the wedding of Prince William. Accompany the meal with wines produced from muscadine grapes grown on the property under the direction of California winemaker Karen VanderVort. And if it all sounds so good that you want to do it yourself, you can, via The Culinary Studio, where you can spend a day or evening learning how to cook like Chef Marc. Or maybe you just want to enjoy one of the daily wine tasting tours. Either way, it’s all yours for the asking.
|Chateau Elan Inn
100 Rue Charlemagne
—Michael Andre Adams