The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation

   Exciting Growth and New Renovations as MetLife Takes Ownership


Story by: Ed & Fran Stone
Photos by: Ed & Fran Stone, Reid Callaway & The Ritz-Carlton Lodge

MetLife's new property on Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Georgia is The Ritz-Carlton Lodge and Reynolds Plantation.

In August of 2012, MetLife, the company that uses “Snoopy” and other “Peanuts” characters to present its brand, became the proud owner of The Ritz-Carlton Lodge and Reynolds Plantation on Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Georgia, located some 75 miles southeast of Atlanta and 80 miles northwest of Augusta. The corporate profile of the new owner reads: “MetLife, Inc. is a leading global provider of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs, serving 90 million customers. Through its subsidiaries and affiliates, MetLife holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.”

Ralph Vick
General Manager
The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation

Ralph Vick is General Manager at The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation and has been since 2010. When MetLife purchased the property, Vick continued as General Manager. He is the perfect fit for this property and this position. A native of Virginia, Vick has worked for The Ritz-Carlton brand since 1987. He possesses the knowledge, background, demeanor, style and looks for this position. Educated at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, he spent fifteen years with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company LLC rising to general manager at their assets in Phoenix, Amelia Island and now in Reynolds Plantation on Lake Oconee. Prior to Reynolds Plantation’s Ritz-Carlton Lodge, he was managing director of the historic La Quinta Resort & Club and PGA WEST near Palm Springs, California. From 2003 to 2006 Vick oversaw the redevelopment and rebuilding of The Cloister as Vice-President/Managing Director for Sea Island Company in southeast Georgia

In a recent interview, Ralph Vick shared some of this thoughts and ideas about MetLife’s new acquisition.

MetLife’s major changes have included updating/renovations of the 251 guestrooms/suites, corridors, club level lounge and Georgia’s Bistro restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton Lodge and The Landing Golf Course.

The interior-decorating firm of Duncan Miller Ullmann created some updating touches to the lobby, guestrooms and corridors.

The interior-decorating firm of Duncan Miller Ullmann of Dallas, Texas was selected to put some updating touches to the lobby, guestrooms and corridors. A remarkable job has been accomplished in creating comfortable living space for this classy resort in all these areas.

Duncan Miller Ullmann chose some complimenting carpets, wall coverings, furniture, bed linens, window treatments, artwork and accoutrements for upgrading the guestroom bathrooms. The new carpeting, wall coverings and light sconces in all corridors leading to guestrooms are most inviting. Usually, many guestroom corridors are pretty much non-descript, but these are very inviting. Both the Club Level Lounge and cottages received an all-new refurbishment.

Upon checking in to The Ritz-Carlton Lodge with our miniature Dachshund “Snazzy,” we were greeted by “Dooley,” a beautiful chocolate lab who holds court in the lobby next to the concierge’s desk. Now, “Snoopy” would certainly approve of this pet friendly place. I might add that we did receive a personal welcome message in our room from “Dooley.” That is classy!

Georgia’s Bistro diners enjoy: homemade cornbread and Southern desserts. You must try the Signature Buttermilk Pie; along with Georgia’s Onion Rings; Fried Green Tomatoes; Low Country Crab, Mussels, Shrimp & Crayfish Boil with Andouille Sausage; Pam’s Gumbo; Shrimp & Grits; Pecan-Crusted Georgia Coast Flounder.
Cocktails have a distinct Southern flavor: Midnight Train to Georgia; Peach Melba; Southern Sparkler and Plantation Punch.

Georgia’s Bistro may not be called the “signature restaurant” for this property, but it certainly is. The menu is outstanding and the prices are certainly in line with a destination of this level. The updating of this facility carries out the theme of the resort with most tables providing a view of the lake or a beautiful fireplace. Accentuating the theme are new comfortable leather covered chairs, lighting, floor coverings, artwork and over-sized menu chalkboards. The restaurant chef, Aaron Baxendale does an outstanding job with menu planning and food preparation. Service is flawless and the entire dining experience is most memorable.

Bob Cupp designed Lake Oconee’s first golf course opening in 1987. Reynolds Plantation acquired the property in 2005 calling it The Landing. MetLife selected this course to undergo extensive renovation and refurbishment in 2012. It reopened April 6, 2013 after a renovation including hole redesign, new bunkering, expansion of tee boxes and a new set of forward tees, as well as work on cart paths and buildings. Of all the five and a half golf courses open to the public at Reynolds Plantation, this is one of the most challenging. The Landing is a Scottish-style championship course built on rolling, hilly terrain where water features come into play on eight holes.

Reynolds Golf Academy, under the direction of Charlie King, has been relocated and expanded. King is ranked as one of Golf Magazine’s “Top 100 Teachers” and he oversees and presents one of the best golf teaching facilities and curriculums in the Nation. He and his team use a new video analysis studio adjacent to the Oconee golf shop and a dedicated area on the main practice tee.

Available to resort guests is the TaylorMade-adidas Golf Kingdom facility that is one of only two in the U.S. This venue provides golfing students the use of the full swing and short-game practice areas. A new high-performance putting studio allows recreational golfers to be fitted for golf clubs in the same environment used by PGA Tour professionals. This is an impressive state-of-the-art teaching and club fitting facility.

Lake Oconee is a 19,050-acre recreational lake with a shoreline of some 376 miles. The Ritz-Carlton Lodge has a spectacular view of the lake. A warm welcome always awaits you at The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation.


So why would a worldwide company like MetLife invest in this part of America? Let’s look at a brief history and amenities this destination resort offers. I think we’ll see why this is such a great opportunity.

In 1979, the Georgia Power Company completed the construction of the Wallace Dam on the Oconee River. This created a 19,050-acre recreational lake with a shoreline of some 376 miles. Lake Oconee is ideally located less than one hour and a half from downtown Atlanta. As fate would have it, the Reynolds Family owned hundreds of acres that became the shoreline of this beautiful lake with its gently rolling terrain. Georgia Power controls the shoreline and has restrictions keeping undesirable construction and development from encroaching.

Between 1987 and 2002, Reynolds Plantation constructed five outstanding golf courses along with rental cottages and many upscale second and retirement homes.
Photos by: Reid Callaway

Between 1987 and 2002, Reynolds Plantation constructed five outstanding golf courses along with rental cottages and many upscale second and retirement homes. These courses carry the architectural and design signatures identified with the likes of Bob Cupp, Hubert Green, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio and Rees Jones. The golfing audience from Atlanta, Augusta (75 miles away), Macon and Athens began to take notice…and, so did the Midwest.

The Ritz-Carlton Lodge opened at Reynolds Plantation in 2002 with some 251 rooms and more than 18,000 square foot of indoor meeting and banquet space, including a 7,200-square-foot Grand Ballroom, a junior ballroom, several breakout rooms and a 26,000 square-foot, full-service spa and fitness center. Mercer Reynolds III was one of the family members involved with the development and also the national finance chair of U.S. President George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign. As The Lodge was built, a Presidential cottage was also constructed near The Ritz-Carlton Lodge. President Bush spent many restful days and nights in this cottage. It is now available for guests to rent.

Situated on a hill overlooking Lake Oconee and nestled among the tall pines and oaks, The Ritz-Carlton Lodge is the perfect architectural design for this location. The Lodge blends perfectly into the natural setting of the total resort. It combines southern colonial plantation style with clapboard siding. The interiors are accentuated with furnishings that blend with the exterior and elegance.

COMPLETE LIST OF
AWARDS AND ACCOLADES

 
The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation, Greensboro, GA
  • AAA Five Diamond Award; 2007-2013
  • Forbes Four-Star Award; 2010-2013
  • Travel + Leisure, 500 Best Hotels in the World; 2009, 2011-2013
  • Travel + Leisure, America’s Best Lake Hotels; 2012
  • GOLF Magazine, Premiere Golf Resorts: Gold Award; 2012
  • Condé Nast Traveler, Top 100 Golf Resorts; 2011-2012
  • Tennis Resorts Online, Top 75 Tennis Resorts; 2012
  • Condé Nast Traveler, Gold List, World's Best Places to Stay; 2005-2007, 2010-2011
  • Golf Digest, 75 Best Golf Resorts in North America; 2009 & 2011
  • J.D. Power and Associates, North America Guest Satisfaction Study, Luxury Segment (#1); 2010
  • Condé Nast Traveler, Readers’ Choice Awards, Best in the World; 2009
  • Away.com, Top Ten Golf Resorts in the World; 2009
  • Zagat Survey, Top Resorts in U.S./Top Facilities in the U.S.; 2009
  • American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) Stars of the Lodging Industry Awards, 2009
The Spa at The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation
  • Forbes Four-Star Award; 2010-2013
  • Condé Nast Traveler, Readers’ Poll Top Spas; 2011-2013
  • Condé Nast Traveler, Top 100 Mainland Spas (#10); 2012
  • Lake Oconee Living, Best of Lake Oconee Readers’ Poll, Best Spa, 2011
Georgia’s Bistro & Terrace
  • AAA Four Diamond Award; 2007-2013
  • Wine Spectator, Award of Excellence; 2009
  • Linger Longer Steakhouse
  • Wine Spectator, Award of Excellence; 2012
Reynolds Plantation Golf Courses
  • GOLF Magazine, Top 100 Courses You Can Play, Oconee and Great Waters; 2010 & 2012
  • Golf Week, Best Courses in Georgia; Great Waters, Oconee, National, and The Landing; 2012
  • Golf Week, Best Resort Courses, Great Waters; 2011
  • LINKS Magazine, Top 20 Golf Courses, Nicklaus Courses, Great Waters; 2011
  • Golf Digest, Readers’ Choice Awards, Best 50 Resort Courses; 2010

The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation has accumulated more prestigious awards than one can imagine. Just a few of the most recent ones include (See sidebar on right for complete listing from 2007-2013):

AWARDS AND ACCOLADES

The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation
AAA Five Diamond Award; 2007-2013
Forbes Four-Star Award; 2010-2013
Travel + Leisure, 500 Best Hotels in the World; 2009, 2011-2013
Travel + Leisure, America’s Best Lake Hotels; 2012
GOLF Magazine, Premiere Golf Resorts: Gold Award; 2012
Condé Nast Traveler, Top 100 Golf Resorts; 2011-2012

The Spa at The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation
Forbes Four-Star Award; 2010-2013
Condé Nast Traveler, Readers’ Poll Top Spas; 2011-2013

Georgia’s Bistro & Terrace
AAA Four Diamond Award; 2007-2013
Wine Spectator, Award of Excellence; 2009

Linger Longer Steakhouse
Wine Spectator, Award of Excellence; 2012

Reynolds Plantation Golf Courses
GOLF Magazine, Top 100 Courses You Can Play, Oconee and Great Waters; 2010 & 2012
Golf Week, Best Courses in Georgia; Great Waters, Oconee, National, and The Landing; 2012
Golf Week, Best Resort Courses, Great Waters; 2011
LINKS Magazine, Top 20 Golf Courses, Nicklaus Courses, Great Waters; 2011
Golf Digest, Readers’ Choice Awards, Best 50 Resort Courses; 2010

Golf is the big draw to this destination resort. There are five and one-half golf courses (99 holes) available to guests. These courses are as beautiful and challenging as they design and build in the world of golfing. An additional course is available exclusively for the pleasure of Reynolds Plantation Members. The Reynolds development team spared no expense in selecting the best of the best in golf course architects. They had lots of land and deep pockets, so to do anything less than first-class was not in their plan.

A brief description of all courses:

The Landing – This was the first golf course to be built and opened on Lake Oconee in 1987. It was originally a feature of Port Armor and became part of the Reynolds Plantation in 2005. Bob Cupp designed the course using every favorable aspect of the natural environment and terrain of the rolling landscape. When it originally opened, it was referred to as “one of Georgia's best golf courses, second only to Augusta National.” There are three holes wrapping along the shoreline of Lake Oconee that will certainly test every shot in your game.

Plantation Course – Designed by Bob Cupp with assistance from Hubert Green and opened in 1988. At the time, this was the first for Reynolds Plantation. It established the level of golf course excellence that has not only been maintained but has steadily improved over the ensuring years. The course also set the stage for Reynolds Plantation to become the golfer's Mecca it is today. GOLF Magazine and Zagat’s named it to the top of America’s golf courses in 2007.


Great Waters Course – Created by Jack Nicklaus as one of his signature courses and opened to the public in 1992. This layout played host to the 2008 PGA Professional National Championship and site of the Andersen Consulting World Championship of Golf from 1995 to 1997. Great Waters has been ranked among the "Ten Best New Courses" by GOLF Magazine.






The National Course – A Tom Fazio creation opened in 1997. He certainly took maximum advantage of the site by designing and creating holes with drama as unique as the setting. So popular, in 2000 an additional nine holes were added, bringing the total to 27 holes at National…allowing three different course options.

The Oconee Course – One of the stalwarts in golf course design, Rees Jones was hired for this course, which opened in 2002. Located next to The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, it has hosted such highly visible tournaments as the 2007 PGA Cup and the Chick-Fil-A Bowl Alma Mater. Truly the one course you “must play” at Reynolds Plantation.

 


The Creek Club – Reynolds Plantation's first-ever private golf course opened for member play on June 1, 2007 and was designed by Jim Engh. Engh truly created a contemporary golf masterpiece complete with rolling bunkers, Zoysia grass fairways and striking water features. In 2003, Golf Digest named Jim Engh "Architect of the Year."

The Ritz-Carlton Lodge presents an outstanding year-round children’s program called Ritz Kids Camp for ages 5 to 12.

During the summer, The Ritz-Carlton Lodge presents an outstanding year-round children’s program called Ritz Kids Camp for ages 5 to 12. In addition, there are other family recreational adventures offered at this outstanding destination resort. The following is a list of those experiences:
  ►Jet skiing, fishing, Segway tours, swimming, boating (pontoon, canoe & kayak)
  ►Stand-up paddle boarding and wakeboarding – classes and packages available
  ►For the kids: Ritz Kids Camp, Ritz Nights Out, Children’s Menus & Kid’s Meal Plan
  ►Tennis at the Peter Burwash International Tennis Center and 99 holes of golf at championship, celebrity-designed courses
  ►Swinging Sunday Concert Series features live music ranging from country blues to R&B to timeless classics – each concert followed by a fireworks extravaganza
  ►Nightly roaring campfires featuring complimentary gooey S’mores
  ►The BBQ Butler program – grilling gurus come equipped to dispense grilling secrets

For special winter activities, a large tented area is located next to The Ritz-Carlton Lodge for ice-skating. This popular sport attracts lots of visitors wanting to indulge between Thanksgiving and mid-February.

The editor/publisher of this website was born and raised in Greene County, Georgia. It is always great to hear good reports from home and knowing MetLife purchased the development was terrific news. The Reynolds family for the most part also grew up in the area and must be credited as instrumental in conceiving and developing this first-class resort and retirement community. Reynolds Plantation has been a mega stimulant and positive influence not only on Greene County, but the counties of Morgan, Putman and Hancock.
A special thanks to Reid Callaway for photos used in this story.  His images can be seen in Greensboro at the Greensboro Antique Mall or online at: www.hisworksphotography.us

We believe MetLife and “Snoopy” have made a wise decision to invest in The Ritz-Carlton Lodge and Reynolds Plantation. The quality development will continue to appeal to upscale families and retirees promoting this destination community to grow in a positive direction. Being located halfway between Atlanta and August and blessed with good weather is a natural-plus for continued success. And, with the management of Ralph Vick and his wonderful staff along with “Dooley,” it can only get better.  The renovations to The Landing Golf Course and the updating of the accommodations, lobby and cottages are just the beginning to what guests can expect to see upon arrival at this beautiful destination resort.

Fortunately, retirees and second home buyers are discovering the area and in particular this well planned development of Reynolds Plantation.  Whether you are an avid or occasional golfer, fisherman or just enjoy the outdoors.  Reynolds Plantation has become a major employer for the surrounding counties and a place for relaxing.



 


Click on the YouTube above to view a short video of The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds
Plantation
1 Lake Oconee Trail
Greensboro, GA 30642 USA
Phone: 706-467-0600
Fax: 706-467-7124

Website: www.ritzcarltonlodge.com