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Hotel Check: Barnsley Resort

Adairsville, GA

August 18, 2020

WHERE IS IT? Adairsville is about one hour northwest of Atlanta and an hour south of Chattanooga along Interstate 75. The North Georgia resort is set on 3,000 acres at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

WHAT’S IT LIKE? This southern estate, built by Englishman Godfrey Barnsley as a gift for his wife, is actually designed as an English-inspired village. The center of the property is its long promenade ringed by accommodations that look like individual homes; it serves as a town square of sorts. It links everything from the main inn and function space to the fishing pond, pool, spa and golf course. The retreat is the ideal way to connect with friends and family over delicious food, sporting activities and entertainment, and the great outdoors. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the hotel has made some adjustments to its facilities to promote social distancing. Face masks and enhanced cleaning protocols are part of the changes, but with so much outdoor space, there is ample opportunity to enjoy yourself.

ROOM FACILITIES The main inn, where reception formalities take place, houses oversized accommodations in a more traditional hotel setup. The rest of the rooms and suites are in individual houses spread around the resort grounds. Many feature distinctive amenities including furnished front porches, clawfoot tubs and fireplaces that add to the experience. They are also great for those who want to travel with another family (some of the cottages can sleep as many as 18 people with their own pantry-style kitchens and living areas). All come with pillowtop mattresses and thick duvets, bedside power outlets and beautifully covered armchairs. Bathrooms are simply massive with marble surfaces, large shower stalls or soaking tubs stocked with products from the resort’s spa, and separate water closets. Turndown service is normally offered, although it has been temporarily suspended. Refrigerators and bottled water come standard. Keurig coffeemakers are a nice touch although the inn serves complimentary coffee and tea each morning in the lobby (another appreciated perk).

RESTAURANTS AND BARS Woodlands Grill is the main restaurant, which was open during my visit with tables spaced apart and advance reservations, serves three meals a day. Outdoor dining facing the golf course and fishing pond is especially popular as is the sports bar. The menu is simply out of this world with a nice balance of healthy fare and decadent Southern favorites. I really enjoyed the mix of salads they had, and the fried Brussels sprouts with pistachio, rosemary salt and apple cider reduction were absolutely delicious. Apparently that recipe is one of several that the chef has prepared on live television. Another favorite dining spot is the casual beer garden with picnic tables centered around a crackling fire. On weekends, it serves three meals a day, and live music is a fun way to sample some local beers. A 19thcentury farmhouse holds Rice House, an upscale farm-to-table restaurant with plans to reopen this fall. Its menu changes daily based upon what the chef has in the garden or can get from local markets. If you want to try regional cuisine, this resort is the place to do it.

LEISURE FACILITIES The food is exceptional, but the lengthy list of activities is where this resort truly shines. You can do as much or as little as you wish. A seasonal outdoor swimming pool (open by reservation due to current safety protocols) has its own bar, and the day spa next door offers an impressive range of treatments. Locker rooms feature relaxation areas including steam room and sauna. Most of the activities on the property are complimentary including catch-and-release fishing, hiking and biking trails, canoes and paddle boards. The Outpost Experience Center loans free equipment for many of these activities. Of course, guests often just choose to relax in the gardens or enjoy the free wireless Internet that works throughout the resort. The Fazio-designed golf course is a favorite and draws golfers regularly to enjoy a round while their families enjoy the rest of the resort’s amenities. There’s also an 18-hole disc golf course, and an onsite farm where guests can pet animals like miniature horses, donkeys and goats. Equestrian lovers can ride horses through the resort’s forest trails. Each evening, the inn puts out a gorgeous basket of pre-bundled s’mores kits. Tied with a ribbon, they come with marshmallows, full chocolate bars, graham crackers, and long sticks for roasting in the many fire pits around the resort. It’s a wonderful touch and extremely popular with guests as they play lawn games like bocce ball, beanbags or cornhole with friends and family.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES While the recreational amenities are the main draw, group functions will be attracted to the high-tech facilities in the resort’s meeting space. Corporate retreats, wedding and social functions, and small conference groups will find the layout and diverse activities ideal for attracting participants, especially during a period of social distancing. The resort did not need to make many adjustments given so much outdoor space. Among the unique meeting venues are an incredible ballroom with tall, wood-burning fireplace (count this among the most creative conference room amenities I have ever seen), the former Manor House and Pavilion (what remains of a century-old villa and now a rustic, yet elegant, space for outdoor functions), a meditation and bamboo garden, and the town hall (in a church-style building making it great for weddings). Parking is included as part of the $40 nightly resort fee. Unlike other hotels or resorts, the resort’s design as a small town keeps groups engaged and interacting outdoors.

VERDICT This pet-friendly resort takes advantage of its expansive grounds and outdoor beauty in a way that will please families, couples and groups. If you like the great outdoors, but don’t want to give up on the luxurious touches of a resort, Barnsley Resort is for you.

HOW MANY ROOMS? 150 rooms, suites, and cottages

PROPERTY HIGHLIGHTS Secluded in the Georgia countryside, the design of this resort offers plenty of outdoor space for relaxation. Tasty Southern fare, endless recreational activities, and friendly service make this a popular destination for families, weddings and business groups, and couples looking for a laid-back getaway.

PRICE Internet, room-only rates for a traditional room start at $219.

CONTACT 597 Barnsley Gardens Road Adairsville, GA 30103, Phone 770-773-7480.