Rest, relax and rekindle romance at this elegant retreat.
By Hope S. Philbrick
Set aside preconceived notions about what it takes to roast marshmallows for s’mores.
Forget the raging bonfire, sitting around on log stumps and using sticks plucked from the ground. At Barnsley Gardens Resort, a 1,400-acre resort in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains just an hour north of Atlanta, roasting s’mores is an elegant affair.
Midway through our delicious dinner at the Rice House, the fine dining option among the three on-site restaurants, our server asked my husband and me if we’d like dessert. Does anyone really say no to dessert while on vacation? As we were reviewing our options, our server suggested another not printed on the menu. “If you’d like to roast s’mores in The Ruins, one of our butlers can light a fire in the fireplace there for you,” he suggested. “And we’ll have a driver take you there in a golf cart.” Dessert plus a chauffeur and a butler? How grand!
We’d visited the picturesque ruins earlier, while touring the property. The evening of our visit a wedding had taken place earlier in the day, so pine boughs and other natural décor lingered along with, for the holiday season, strings of white lights and candles, all of which gave the space an even more romantic ambiance than usual. Originally known as Woodlands, the red brick ruins are all that remains of the Italianate mansion built in the late 1840s by Godfrey Barnsley, of Liverpool, England, for his Savannah bride, Julia. Sadly, she died of lung disease in 1845 before construction was complete. After a year of mourning, Barnsley spent two years completing the building. The estate was occupied by the Union during the Civil War, hit by a tornado in 1906 and fell into disrepair until 1988 when German Prince Hubertus Fugger purchased it and had it restored as a luxury resort.
After a friendly driver delivered us to the front, we strolled into The Ruins and found a wrought iron bistro table and chairs had been placed in front of the fireplace where a fire crackled. Long clean bamboo skewers and a bag of s’more fixings waited our arrival. The fire butler lingered in a room nearby, ready to attend to our needs. The evening air was mildly brisk, stars sparkled overhead, the brick walls danced with shadowy flames and each bite of marshmallow, chocolate and graham cracker tasted better than the one before.
S’mores kits are available upon request to all resort guests, who might opt to roast their marshmallows at The Ruins, or seated in front of any of the numerous campfires lit around the property each evening, or in front of a warm fireplace in their private cottage.
Whether you stay for one night or a week at this resort, 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 cozy sitting area in front of the fireplace all provide an invitation to linger indoors. So if rain dampens all your plans to explore the grounds and engage in a range of activities, don’t worry: You’ll still have a thoroughly relaxing and enjoyable stay.
During the downtime, you could simply request a free s’mores kit, light your own fire in the fireplace in your cottage and roast marshmallows at your leisure. But why do it yourself when you can enlist the help of Denise Webb, the resort’s fairy godmother, to cast a “Love Spell”? Leave all the details to her and she’ll make it extra special. Book the “Love Me S’More” package (priced at $175) and you can return after an activity or a relaxing dinner to find a big fluffy comforter, mounds of pillows, flickering candles and a glowing fireplace along with a goodie basket filled with hot chocolate for two, s’mores fixings including bamboo skewers, a bottle of Bailey’s and a bucket of ice. It’s a fun and tasty way to surprise your special someone and then spend an unforgettable evening sipping, roasting and snuggling.
One thing is certain. After visiting Barnsley Gardens, you’ll never look at roasting marshmallows quite the same way.
- Internet access is complimentary.
- All accommodations are non-smoking.
- Coffee makers and a selection of coffees and teas are available in each guest accommodation.
- There are 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.
- Parking is complimentary.
- The resort is pet-friendly. If you plan to bring a pet, please request pet-ready accommodations when making a reservation since some rooms and cottages do not allow pets.
- All but five guest accommodations have clawfoot bathtubs.
- The fairy godmother, Denise Webb, is eager to help set the stage for romance, whether it’s strewing rose petals across the bed, preparing a picnic basket, decorating your clawfoot tub to look like a tiki hut or more. She’s got a list of ideas, and will also help design custom packages to create a special memory for events big and small.
- Possible amusements 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. Kayak on the lake. Savor a couples’ massage or other pampering treatment at The Spa. Shoot sporting clays. And much more.
- For a limited time, Barnsley Gardens is offering a special ‘Fairy Godmother’s Blend’ of Woodford Reserve bourbon. Available while supplies last.
***Odds of Encountering Children: Higher in summer months and on weekends than on weekdays during the school year, 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.
Barnsley Gardens Resort
597 Barnsley Gardens Rd.
Adairsville, Georgia 30103
770-773-7480 or 877-773-2447
-Photos © HSP Media LLC
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