The twisting road that leads to The Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia, just 80 miles south of Atlanta, passes through a huge meadow before being engulfed by trees. It’s there that the worldly cares are left, unable to penetrate the magic of the forest. The stress of modern motherhood begins to ease.
The Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens
After parking in the free lot right outside the lodge doors and checking into my room, I unpacked my workout clothes for a quick run around Robin Lake before it got too dark. Normally if I don’t run in the morning, my window of opportunity closes, but since this was a solo trip to check out Callaway Gardens famous Fantasy in Lights holiday display, time was on my side. Around Robin Lake is the festival atmosphere of Fantasy in Lights. The lake is a short two minute walk from the hotel, but hidden behind a bank of trees. The trail is a flat paved 1.9 miles, an easy afternoon jaunt. It’s like walking through the closet to Narnia – if Narnia were a beachside boardwalk.
As I walked back into the room, I grabbed a complimentary water and headed out to the balcony to cool down and peruse the treetops, still showing off their painted fall colors. It occurred to me to feel a little bad about escaping just before the holidays when I should be shopping, decorating, cooking, baking or doing for others, not myself. But I just sat in the stillness a little longer and decided that a hot bath in the huge soaking tub would make me feel better about it all.
Fantasy in Lights
National Geographic Traveller named Callaway Gardens as one of the Top 10 Places to see Holiday Lights and I can’t disagree. Guests can drive through the display or take the Jolly Trolley. I recommend the Jolly Trolley. It’s more festive to be with the group and easier to see the lights. Plus, hotel guests use a fast pass line, so there is virtually no wait. If you don’t visit during the holidays, there is still plenty to do at Callaway Gardens and your hotel stay includes Garden admission. My family loves the bike paths, and the Cecil B. Day Butterfly exhibit is a hit with all ages.
When I got back to the hotel, I settled into bed with my computer, jumping on the free wifi to do a little work, but got sidetracked by Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Watching TV in bed is one of my guilty pleasures when I stay in hotels.
Dining at the Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens
There are two restaurants at the Lodge and Spa, as well as additional dining establishments within Callaway Gardens and the nearby town of Pine Mountain. Since I was alone, I opted for dinner at the Ironwood Lounge bar where I met two very nice couples. I sampled some of the drink specials, then ordered a glass of wine and Georgia shrimp and baby spinach salad, which was one of the best salad’s I’ve ever had. You can’t go wrong with yummy Georgia shrimp atop fresh spinach with feta cheese, bacon, candied pecans and dried cranberries. The next morning I pursued the tasty breakfast buffet, doing my best to bypass the made fresh omelets, pancakes and pastries and picking out a granola yogurt and a hot tea to go.
My indulging could only last so long and I didn’t feel comfortable stretching out this trip for a day at Spa Prunifolia. Plus, when I called that morning, the massages were booked until late afternoon and I didn’t really want to do a different treatment just for the sake of doing it. Lesson learned, book early if you want a specific spa treatment. I did take a quick tour of the spa and learned a bit from the attendant. I did not realize that cold clothes could help you breath in the steam room (they offer iced clothes just outside) or that lemon in water helps with weight control (really, or is that just a old spa tale?) I couldn’t imagine indulging in the hot tub, which is outside along with the pool, but the attendant assured me that even when Georgia’s mild weather turns colder, folks still enjoy the hot tub, even outdoors. I may need to go back with a friend for the spa. Too bad I don’t have girls, it would be fun to bring them along for one of the young adult treatments. By then the yoga classes available in the yoga room just outside the fitness center should be in full swing too.