Callaway Gardens: Georgia’s Original Green Resort

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Callaway Gardens, tucked away in—no, make that dominating much of Pine Mountain, Georgia—is as much a destination as it is a resort. Picture 13,000 acres of gorgeous mountain scenery fed by 13 lakes, where cars are abandoned for hiking and biking trails, where the hardest part of the day is soaking up the unbelievably luxurious serenity in this richly rewarding, get-away-from-it-all place, where “green” refers to a 55-year-old emphasis on environmental preservation and land stewardship, not dollars.

It truly is the ultimate green resort with a variety of elegant accommodations and dining options. Making it an even more valuable vacation experience, is the enormous offering of outdoor recreational opportunities that run the gamut from tennis and golf, to boating and fishing, 17 miles of trails for hiking and biking, a ropes course for family fun or corporate team building, wakeboarding, waterskiing and banana boat rides—there’s even an Iceberg Island Water Playground in the lake where kids and parents alike can climb on to cool off.

It’s also unique in the sense that Callaway Gardens opened in 1952 as the Ida Cason Gardens and since then, has evolved from a 5-mile, scenic drive, to the premier Georgia golf and spa resort that it is today—a public, educational, horticultural and charitable organization owned and operated by the non-profit Ida Cason Callaway Foundation. The ICCF promotes conservation, restoration methods, and research on plants and wildlife by providing educational experiences to teach people about our living world and, in fact, also operates The Preserve, located on thousands of acres west of the Callaway Gardens and Resort and a model for ecosystem restoration, sustainable forestry, watershed protection, and habitat improvement for wildlife.

Make no mistake, there’s a big emphasis on family fun here with numerous cottages and villas, and spacious rooms and suites in two lodge buildings, with plenty of room for family get-togethers. There’s also 100,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and the resort has become a highly popular meetings venue thanks to its unique blend of business and resort offerings. The point is, the property is so vast, its accommodation and dining options so diverse, it truly can accommodate all of the demands of the varied market segments without compromising those varied market segment needs. In short, it’s all here.

accommodation options The Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens is the newest addition to the resort, providing 150 deluxe guestrooms and suites surrounded by the lush foliage of the gardens. Indeed, the exterior balcony of each room offers incredible views of the surrounding forest and landscape. Not surprisingly for a chalet-styled mountain lodge, the emphasis is on warm, earthy tones, set off by an eclectic mix of furnishings—from arts and crafts to Southern country.

Here, too, is the Spa Prunifolia where, in keeping with the overall focus of the resort itself, treatments are designed to utilize the natural health benefits of the herbs and plants grown in the Gardens and on Pine Mountain Ridge. The spa menu is too long to list here but it includes an array of massages, facials and even treatments designed specifically for men and teens.

The Mountain Creek Inn, meanwhile, has 323 guestrooms and suites, as well as the Fitness Center at the Inn, and it’s the central hub for the Callaway Gardens restaurants, shops, and attractions. The Gardens View rooms overlook the pool or the Great Lawn, while the large Roof Garden suites offer one or two bedrooms, a parlor and other amenities. Some rooms also feature king-size beds.

As was mentioned earlier, the Cottage at Callaway Gardens is perfect for a Georgia family vacation or small group getaway, offering 155 two-bedroom spacious cottages that are private yet convenient to The Lodge Conference Center. Designed as old style Southern cottages with a very contemporary flair, they offer spacious living and dining areas, fireplaces, screened porches and decks.

For an even more secluded and luxurious getaway, The Villas at Callaway Gardens provide beautifully appointed, spacious villas that have one to four bedrooms, large living rooms, dining rooms, laundry rooms, and other deluxe features. Here, the focus is on privacy.

the gardens While the spa services at Spa Prunifolia will certainly add to the serenity of a client’s stay here, there are plenty of other can’t-miss features on the resort—all focused on that environmental emphasis. There are the Gardens themselves, of course, starting with the Callaway Brothers Azalela Bowl, a 40-acre garden with more than 3,400 hybrid azaleas that erupt in a dazzling display of pinks, reds and whites each spring. Additional plantings, including 2,000 trees and shrubs, provide an array of foliage and blooms throughout the year. This garden features a number of unique designs including a pavilion, gazebo, stream, wide walking path and arched bridge so guests can relax and enjoy the setting. There’s also the Overlook Garden, the original one planted under the direction of founders Cason J. and Virginia Hand Callaway, with more than 700 varieties of cultivated azaleas.

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