Rekindle romance at this elegant retreat in Adairsville, Georgia.
One His + Hers itinerary includes shooting lessons and a couples spa treatment, plus upscale dining and accommodations.
By Hope S. Philbrick
If it were possible to bend the space/time continuum and travel back to a simpler, happier time, now seems like the perfect time to do it.
Fortunately, there’s a place about an hour north of Atlanta, Ga., in Adairsville that is easy to get to—you won’t need a time-traveling DeLorean or elevator or hot tub!—yet feels a world and eons away from present day: Barnsley Resort.
Barnsley Resort has long been one of my personal favorite retreats. When I heard some changes are planned for the place, I had to go to soak up the best of what I most adore before it potentially vanishes. I can now safely say that my fears may well be unfounded: I’m hopeful additions—like the new boutique Inn set to open on the property early 2018—will add to not detract from the many things there are to love about Barnsley Resort.
The origins of Barnsley Resort trace back to the Barnsley family home established in the 1840s. The original estate owners’ (Godfrey and Julia) love story lingers over the place with its romantic gardens, cozy accommodations, breathtaking beauty that tugs at your heart, and top-notch level of service that can sweep you off your feet. Today the 3,000-acre world-class resort in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains is a romantic retreat with a relaxed setting inspired by an English village.
For a truly romantic overnight guest experience, rent a guestroom in one of the 36 cottages. At many places “cottage” is a euphemism for “rustic,” but not so here. Each cottage is unique, but all feel like storybook settings. Whether you stay for one night or a week, your cottage will start to feel like home—it’s hard to resist imagining where your prized possessions will fit in best and how the move will impact your commute to work. The comfortable mattress dressed in soft linens, clawfoot tub large enough for two, and the plush sitting area in front of the fireplace all provide an invitation to linger indoors. I adore the cottages and am relieved that they’ll still be available when the new Inn opens.
When it’s time to eat, head to any one of the on-site dining options: Rice House is located in a historic house and offers gourmet preparations of American cuisine in a romantic setting—it’s my personal favorite dining option at Barnsley Resort and it’s not going anywhere!; Woodlands Grill offers upscale Southern and American fare; The Beer Garden offers sausages, pretzels and beer in a very casual setting; picnic baskets and room service are also available.
If your idea of romance is less about gazing into each other’s eyes and more about sharing an experience, don’t worry: options abound! Go horseback riding along scenic trails. Play golf on a Jim Fazio-designed championship course. Tour the history museum. Swim in the pool. Meander through 160-year-old gardens or along the miles of hiking trails. Kayak or fish on the 10-acre lake. Or take your pick among the myriad of other tempting options.
My husband and I settled upon a duo of activities that fit a traditional “his” and “hers” interpretation (though we both enjoyed both): shooting lessons plus a couple’s massage.
SpringBank Sporting Club at Barnsley Resort
SpringBank Sporting Club is home to one of the Southeast’s premier sporting clays facilities, with a 26-station clays course and a five-stand for shooting in all weather. It’s also home to the nation’s only Caesar Guerini Wings & Clays School. (In case, like me, you didn’t already know, Caesar Guerini is the leading manufacturer of Italian-made over and under shotguns.)
After selecting guns for us based on our physical size and level of shooting experience, our instructor drove my husband and me to the five-stand. Friendly and helpful, he started the lesson with gun safety then pulled a clay target so I could see how it would arc through the air before taking aim. He loaded a shell into the gun, offered some basic instructions about stance, pulled another target and told me to shoot. Whenever I hit the target he’d point out what I’d done right; whenever I missed he’d offer helpful tips.
I’ve had a few shotgun lessons in my life as a travel writer, but little practice outside that. My husband, on the other hand, has hunted for years but never had a lesson. With a few tips from the instructor, the number of targets he hit seemed to quickly skyrocket.
The instructor had a genuine knack for figuring out what we each needed to do to differently in order to increase our success rate. The lesson was fun, informative and genuinely helpful. As we proved, lessons can be tailored to suit shooters of any experience level, from first-timers to experienced hunters.
If you really want to put your skills to the test, SpringBank Plantation hosts bird hunting. The 1,800-acre preserve offers quail and pheasant hunting (October-March) plus turkey hunting (March-May) with professional guides and trained dogs available.
Lavender Relaxation Couples Massage
The Spa offers a range of treatments, including massages, facials, body treatments, and manicures/pedicures.
Eager to share a relaxing experience, we opted for a couple’s massage. The specific one that I first selected from the menu of treatment options turned out not to be available, so it was recommended that we instead try the Lavender Relaxation massage. The description reads, “This treatment begins with a gentle exfoliating dry brush followed by a deeply relaxing massage featuring lavender blossom oil, used to ground the mind and soothe overstressed nervous systems.”
I wasn’t too keen on the ‘gentle exfoliating dry brush’ idea, and suspected my husband would agree. But we decided to go for it. And good thing—we both were won over by the whole experience.
The exfoliation process was gentle, as promised, and brief—just enough to wake up the skin and offer a contrast to the soft, warm massaging hands that follow. Long strokes released tension and relaxed muscles. In short order we both felt like puddles of jelly. When the massage was complete and both therapists left the room with instructions to get up from the massage tables slowly, both my husband and I were reluctant to stand up and leave, so it was good to be together so we could motivate each other with a quick “but we have to” speech.
The Spa has a relaxed vibe, as any spa should, and does offer a whirlpool and sauna/steam room to enjoy before or after the treatment. There’s also a lovely outdoor pool. The Spa is nice but not over-the-top decadent. It feels like the sort of spa real people can visit, which invites genuine relaxation.
New in 2018: The Inn at Barnsley Resort
Scheduled to open early 2018, the Inn at Barnsley Resort will add 55 new rooms and suites to the resort’s available accommodations (bringing the total guestroom count to 150). Inspired by the works of British architect Edwin Lutyens, the Inn will feature stained and hand-scraped hardwood floors, exposed beams, and scattered area rugs. A grand staircase and fireplace will be focus points. The Inn’s third floor will offer features like dormer windows, sloped ceilings and window seats. The Living Room in the Inn will serve as a relaxed gathering area. Spacious bedrooms will range from 378 to 528 square feet, with a mix of king and queen beds.
- Complimentary Internet access
- Complimentary parking
- Coffee makers and a selection of coffees and teas are available in each guestroom
- Four on-site dining options: Rice House is located in a historic house and offers gourmet preparations of American cuisine in a romantic setting; Woodlands Grill offers upscale Southern and American fare; The Beer Garden offers sausages, pretzels and beer in a very casual setting; picnic baskets are also available
- The resort is dog-friendly; if you plan to bring a dog, please request pet-ready accommodations when making a reservation because not all rooms allow dogs
- All but five guest cottage accommodations have clawfoot bathtubs
- Guests age 18 and older are welcome to use the whirlpool and steam/sauna facilities at The Spa
- Private shooting instruction is $135/hour per person; sporting clays are $60 for 100 targets
- The Lavender Relaxation massage is priced at $160/50 minutes and $210/80 minutes (for an individual); and $300/50 minutes or $400/80 minutes (for a couple)
- Odds of Encountering Children: High. Highest during summer months and on weekends, but always a possibility. Children are guaranteed to be present at certain special events that are family-oriented, so be sure to check the resort itinerary before choosing dates for your grownup getaway.
597 Barnsley Gardens Rd.
Adairsville, Georgia 30103
770-773-7480 or 877-773-2447
– Photos courtesy Barnsley Resort
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.