The Cloister on Sea Island, Georgia. Photo by Lindsay Stewart Photography/The Southern C
This genteel Southern city is also an incubator for creativity, and the Perry Lane Hotel reflects Savannah’s sophistication and free-spiritedness in equal measure. The jewel box of a hotel — complete with a stylish rooftop bar and pool — boasts an impressive collection of original works by some of the city’s best young artists, and its hip, Mad Men-esque vibe makes it a hotspot for visitors and locals alike. Even the elevators, all decked out in funky wallpapers, are posh.
Head outside to stroll beneath a canopy of Spanish moss and pop into some of Savannah’s upscale shops, like Satchel, featuring custom-made bags and chic leather goods, or 24E, which was founded by a third-generation Savannahian and sells an eclectic array of high-end home furnishings and objets d’art. Oysters and fried squash blossoms await at Common Thread, a new restaurant serving refined dishes built around just-picked produce and fresh-from-the-Atlantic seafood.
After opening in 1928, The Cloister quickly became a favorite escape for the era’s VIPs, including the Rockefellers and President Calvin Coolidge. Over the decades, world leaders, celebrities, and royalty flocked to the secluded, Mediterranean-style hideaway on the southeastern coast of Georgia, and nearly a century later it stands as the world’s only resort to receive four Forbes Five-Star Awards for 13 straight years.
Inside, you’ll find room after room of inviting opulence, from the burnished wood-paneled bar to the palatial spa to the sunstruck solarium. Play away by the pools and at the Sea Island Beach Club, which features private cabanas, a ’50s-style sweet shop, even a six-lane bowling alley. Beyond the sumptuous comforts of the hotel, guests can take falconry lessons, gallop horseback along the sand, tee off amid towering longleaf pines and centuries-old live oaks, or feast on short ribs and crème brûlée at the award-winning Georgian Room restaurant.
On the banks of Georgia’s second-largest lake, located midway between Atlanta and Augusta, The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee offers five-star amenities and activities devised for the whole family, from the delightful infinity pool overlooking the lake to nightly s’mores roasts by the beach. (Need some adults-only time? Send the youngsters to the Ritz Kids Clubhouse for arcade games and scavenger hunts while you retreat to the lavish, 30,000-square-foot spa for a massage.)
Much of the action revolves around the water: An array of watercraft, including stand-up paddleboards, wake boats, and Jet Skis, are available to rent, and guided fishing excursions are offered year-round. Or you can take in the sparkling lake views from one of the resort’s five championship golf courses, each designed by a celebrated architect. Back at the resort, admire the richly decorated interiors, replete with carved wooden railings and trim, while relishing a cocktail by the bar.
Atlanta’s tony Buckhead neighborhood is known for world-class shopping and dining, and it’s also where you’ll find some of the city’s best hotels. Check into the St. Regis — located just up the street from Buckhead Village District, home to posh boutiques like Hermès, Dior, and Christian Louboutin — and make the most of amenities like the sparkling pool, serene spa, and high tea. You’ll even get your own butler. Ask them to make a reservation for the hotel’s on-site restaurant, Atlas, where you’ll find black truffles and milk-fed lamb on the menu and priceless paintings by Picasso, Van Gogh, and Matisse on the walls.
For travelers who prefer the bustle of the city’s center, the Four Seasons in Midtown — located just a block from the city’s premier arts district — offers glittering skyscraper views and a buzzy atmosphere. (Some rooms even have large, private balconies.)
Head just south of the city to get your adrenaline pumping at the Porsche Experience Center, where you can get one-on-one driving instruction before going full-throttle on a 1.6-mile circuit track.
Leave Atlanta on a high note with a meal at Bacchanalia, which has defined the city’s food scene for more than 25 years. True to its name, every meal here is pure decadence, with a four-course tasting menu (don’t miss the divine crab fritters) and pitch-perfect wine pairings.