Nearly a decade has passed since the Lake Lanier Islands Resort underwent its top-to-bottom renovation.
But there is no mistaking the $60 million transformation. From the moment you drive onto the 1,500-acre property, there’s this sense that you are a world away from the hustle of daily life.
Wrought iron and stacked stone accents have been added to the entrances and landscape and a suspension to the once nondescript bridge. Every roadway and roundabout was redone. The 216 guestrooms at the lodge, its 30 guest houses and six villas, once rustic, are now elegant with marble countertops, rich wood accents and 400-thread count sheets atop new mattresses.
And so it is little wonder the resort was added recently to the Southern Living Hotel Collection, joining an elite list of Southern hotel resorts the magazine believes exemplify the best of Southern hospitality.
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Southern Living began branding independent Southern resorts as its “signature” collection in July 2013, and that group has since grown to more than 30. Lake Lanier Islands Resort, with its Legacy Lodge, is one of about a half dozen Georgia hotels that has made the list. Others include the Barnsley Resort in Adairsville, the Inn at Serenbe in Chattahoochee Hills, and the Georgian Terrace in Atlanta.
“There is not a better affiliation than Southern Living,” said Stephanie Orr, vice president of sales and marketing at the lodge. “We’re very excited.”
All collection members, Orr said, share a commitment to excellence as defined within the four pillars of Southern Living: food, travel, home and garden and social entertaining.
“What they’re creating is a travel experience, romantic escapes and family trips, for the loyal readers of their magazine,” Orr said. “We fit well in the family genre and this is a good option to have in their portfolio.”
Almost from its inception, Orr said the Lanier Islands lodge has focused on being a family destination, offering a variety of accommodations and activities for people of all age groups and interests.
Each year, the resort plays host to over a million visitors to its lodge, water park, entertainment district, holiday festivities, social events, business meetings and other amenities. In addition, some 200 couples choose its picturesque Lakeside Venues as the place for their wedding day each year.
“This property has something for everyone and for every age group from small children to teens to the elderly,” said Rosaura Khremko, director of revenue.
Orr said Lanier Islands’ chief operating officer, Bradley Anderholm, who was familiar with the collection, invited Southern Living out to look them over last spring.
“They came out on a bright sunny day when boats were on either side of the island and we took them on a tour,” she said.
They showed them the facilities, sleeping rooms, high-end villas, and some of the nearly 20 different wedding facilities along the water, including the Venetian pier.
They liked what they saw, most notably the lake surroundings, the hotel customer service, and new villas.
Southern Living vets hotels in the collection according to the same criteria editors use to determine editorial coverage, said Misty Chandler, Southern Living’s marketing manager.
She said they each must provide a memorable experience through impeccable service, delicious cuisine and high-quality facilities and amenities.
After the initial visit, a second “secret” group from the magazine returned to make sure everything was as they had said.
“At that point, you hold your breath and wait for the call,” Orr said.
In July, they called.
“Our chief operating officer sent out an email that was all caps and exclamation points announcing our acceptance,” Orr said. “It was exciting, very exciting.”
OTHER GEORGIA RESORTS IN SOUTHERN LIVING COLLECTION
Barnsley Resort, 597 Barnsley Gardens Road, Adairsville
The Georgian Terrace, 659 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta
Hamilton-Turner Inn, 330 Abercorn St., Savannah
The Inn at Serenbe, 10950 Hutcheson Ferry Road, Chattahoochee Hills