The Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens: Relax and Reconnect with Nature
A Review by Laura Erickson, editor, LaGrange Moms
© 2012 – Muscogee Moms LLC, muscogeemoms.com
Just days before Christmas 2011, Charlotte Bowman, owner of Muscogee Moms, and I were invited to visit the luxurious Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens. Were we excited? Yes! Were we disappointed? Absolutely not.
Located just 30 minutes north of Columbus, Georgia, in a wooded, natural setting, the Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens is a member of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, an exclusive collection of upscale, luxury properties with distinctive personalities.
The Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens combines modern luxuries with rustic charm, inviting you to relax, unwind and reconnect with nature. From plant choices to building materials, every detail was considered in how to create an extraordinary resort with little impact on the surroundings.
From the moment I drove up the winding, wooded path to the secluded property, I could see that it was distinctly Callaway: rustic yet refined, with well-appointed surroundings that are simply beautiful.
As a frequent visitor to Callaway Gardens, I know what a fantastic destination it is for family outings – whether strolling through gardens and enjoying the myriad of outdoor attractions, or attending special events like Fantasy In Lights and the Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival. But living 25 minutes away, we have rarely had occasion to stay overnight. Thus, I didn’t know much about the Lodge and Spa.
Upon arrival, I noticed a gorgeous Christmas tree in the lobby and was greeted by some very friendly staff. As I walked down the hall leading to my room, a passing handyman said, “Merry Christmas, and welcome! We’re glad you’re here.” I just love Southern hospitality!
Charlotte arrived shortly afterwards. She really liked the lobby with its high-vaulted ceiling and roaring fireplace. The cozy seating arrangements were an inviting retreat after a cold day.
My fourth floor room was lovely, with artistic details like rustic wood furniture, carved wood décor, and a spacious bath with granite countertops, glass and tile shower, separate soaking tub, and other little luxuries.
French doors opened to reveal a balcony with wicker furniture that overlooks the interior of the property, including a water feature, flagstone walking path and the pool. As I sat enjoying the view, a family walked by below with two teens who were laughing at something their parents said. Teens having fun with their family? How inspiring!
A Heavenly Retreat
Having checked my e-mail, thanks to the free Wi-Fi, I set out to meet Charlotte at Spa Prunifolia, located on the ground floor. With all of the chaos that is mid-December, I was truly looking forward to my spa visit. From the cozy robes in the spacious dressing area, to the peaceful, comfortable lounge with fireplace and hot tea, it was quite an inviting sanctuary (all 13,000 square feet).
The skill and professionalism of the employees was notable, and words can’t describe how much I enjoyed the 50-minute Irish Moss Massage and Skin Treatment, one of the many specialty spa treatments available. Charlotte chose (and thoroughly enjoyed) the 50-minute Evergreen Hot Towel Massage and Skin Treatment.
After our treatments, we met in the spa lounge to “lounge” by the fireplace in big, comfy chairs. We perused the menu of fresh fruits and cheeses, salads and beverages, but decided to sip on hot tea and eat at dinner. Water with fresh citrus fruit is always available, as are showers with Spa Prunifolia products; dressing areas are complete with hair dryers and styling products.
An hour slipped by so quickly! We weren’t ready to leave the serenity of this place, so we headed down to the sauna and steam rooms where we cold-natured girls were perfectly content. We could have stayed until they closed…wait a minute, we did!
Dinner in the Piedmont Grille was next on our agenda. The Piedmont specializes in farm-to-table foods. They offer several market-fresh fish, steak and chicken meals. The bright, airy dining room is only a few steps from the lobby and adjacent to the Ironwood Lounge, a cozy little bar area with seating next to a big fireplace.
After a detour through the lounge for a quick cocktail, we settled in for dinner. Our server was professional and very knowledgeable about the menu. She answered all of our questions and kept our beverages topped off at all times. We munched on warm, fresh bread while we studied the menu and wine list.
My selection was perfect: a fresh Caesar salad, followed by a filet mignon topped with herbs and cheese and served over Southern grits, along with roasted asparagus and onion straws. I am quite particular about my steak, and this thick, perfectly-cooked filet was superb. The wine list provided an extensive collection of choices to pair with our meals. I selected a glass of red Argentinean Pinot Noir, while Charlotte paired her prime rib with a French Bordeaux Blanc. Dessert was decadent. I opted for a rich chocolate brownie layered with fresh whipped cream and chocolate/caramel sauces; it’s a generous amount that can easily be shared.
Needless to say, following the afternoon spent in the spa and a wonderful dinner, I enjoyed a good night’s sleep.
Determined to get in some exercise, I found my way to the fitness room in the spa early the next morning. There were plenty of choices, such as treadmills, an elliptical machine, bikes and weights. The equipment was fairly new, and each machine was equipped with its own TV; however, a few of the televisions weren’t working. Still, I had the main TV as well as my iPod and complimentary earbuds and, because of the hour, I had the room to myself. If not for the rain falling softly but steadily outside, I would have enjoyed a brisk walk around the grounds, but the fitness room was a suitable substitute.
Breakfast was back in the Piedmont Grille with Charlotte, although room service is an option. Along with a full buffet, complete with omelet station, there is a menu for those who prefer to order a la carte. The server graciously offered to make substitutions on the menu options to suit our tastes.
Charlotte chose Eggs Benedict from the menu, while I opted for the buffet and enjoyed the chef’s specialty eggs with mushrooms, buttery grits, fresh fruit, smoked Gouda cheese and a yogurt/fruit/granola parfait. We both agreed it was a satisfying ending to a fabulous mini-vacation.
For More Information
The Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens is located at 4500 Southern Pine Drive in Pine Mountain, Georgia. Though not a direct part of Callaway Gardens, the Lodge and Spa offers discounted entry rates to Callaway Gardens. For reservations, call 888.312.8002 or visit www.callawaylodgeandspa.com. Nightly rates start at $171. Call 706.489.3305 to schedule your spa appointment.
Note: A gift certificate (which covered all expenses) was provided to Muscogee Moms for the sole purpose of reviewing The Lodge and Spa property and amenities. This review has not been compensated in any other way and is based on the views and opinions of Laura Erickson and Charlotte Bowman. Please note that the opinions reflected in this post have not been influenced by the sponsor in any way.