Lake Norman Magazine

Romantic Retreats

Keswick Hotel

Keswick Hall

Just minutes from where Thomas Jefferson first settled in Monticello, Va., more than 300 years ago, Keswick Hall is a grand English mansion nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The estate, parts of which were built more than a century ago, was converted to a boutique hotel in the 1990s, undergoing a loving renovation and restoration, complete with luxury upgrades and features.

Conde Nast Traveler

named Keswick Hall the top small resort in the U.S. in both 2010 and 2011. It’s an ideal getaway for active couples who are looking for both history and sporting options to complement their romantic escape.

The 48 rooms and suites are appointed with fine linens and exquisite furnishings, with charming touches such as antique porcelain bathroom sets, claw-footed soaking tubs, and heated towel racks. Select rooms provide sweeping views of the hotel’s grand gardens and golf course, which legendary golf course architect Pete Dye renovated recently.

In addition to the beautiful golf course, guests here have access to the hotel’s Tennis and Aquatics Centre, which boasts three beautiful pools; there’s also a fully equipped fitness center, nature trails, winery, and fun games like archery and croquet. Also be sure to visit the grand hotel’s library, sitting rooms, and parlors, which are perfect for cozying up with your sweetheart.

Keswick’s spa is also sure to help set a nice romantic mood for your getaway. Indulge in rejuvenating facials, massages—including raindrop therapy and hot stone massage—along with the spa’s newest treatment option, the Keswick Reserve, which is a vineyard-inspired treatment complete with a vinotherapy regimen. Pinot Noir Facial, Red Wine Body Mask and Shiraz Body Smoother are all part of the package that infuses your entire body with antioxidants and anti-aging ingredients.

Dining options include Villa Crawford, perfect for lunch or afternoon tea, while Fossett’s is an award-wining, fine-dining restaurant—specialties include speckled trout and butternut squash linguini—with floor-to-ceiling windows that offer panoramic views of the mountainous estate.

Keswick Hall can also help you plan and organize off-site activities, such as hot air balloon rides, carriage rides, horseback riding, fishing, clay shooting, shopping excursions to the popular Charlottesville Historic Downtown Mall, or even a tour of Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s Estate.

Keswick Hall

701 Club Drive, Keswick, Va.

Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort

Only about a six-hour drive from Lake Norman, Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort in Florida recently underwent an $85 million renovation. Situated on 1,350 acres of natural lowlands teeming with wildlife, it’s a wonderful destination for active couples.

The resort radiates a low-key luxury. All 404 guest rooms have private balconies with ocean views. The resort also boasts the largest pool deck in northeast Florida, including tiered lounge seating, an adults-only infinity edge pool, and a roaring fire. It’s the ideal place to kick back with your sweetheart while the friendly staff serves you snacks and cocktails.

Sun-seeking couples can soak in some rays along the resort’s 3 1/2-miles of wide, un-crowded beach. There are plenty of secluded cabanas and hide-a-ways where couples can enjoy some intimate privacy and relax to the soothing sounds of ocean waves.

While it may tempting to simply relax by the beach or pool during your stay, you’d miss out on all the resort’s fun activities, including some of he most scenic and challenging golf courses in the country. The resort also has an expansive tennis complex, with 23 courts, along with lessons and clinics. Or, explore the resort’s seven miles of lush canopied trails with a Segway or bicycle rental, or paddle a kayak through the area’s salty marshes and outlying nature reserve.

After a day of play, head to the spa, which has a full menu of treatments, including Himalayan salt, Swedish, and hot stone massages, along with facials, herbal wraps, steam showers, manicures, pedicures, hair and beauty treatments, along with a state-of-the-art fitness center.

Dining options run from romantic breakfast in bed through the resorts 24-hour room service or one of nine onsite restaurants that span from casual to fine dining, including Verandah, which specializes in fresh and innovative seafood dishes.

Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort

39 Beach Lagoon, Amelia Island, FL

The Hermitage Hotel

Located in fun and funky Nashville, the Hermitage Hotel is a great home base for exploring Tennessee’s capital, noted for its superb barbecue, bountiful whiskey distilleries, and diverse assortment of entertainment and cultural attractions.

The Hermitage Hotel opened in 1910, and is a cherished part of the city’s history. It's also the only Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond hotel in Tennessee, and is consistently listed on Travel + Leisure World's Best list as well as Travel + Leisure's Top 500 list.

The Hermitage offers 123 recently renovated, plush rooms. With down-filled duvets and silky 1,000-thread-count sheets, the hotel offers couples special romantic packages that include truffles and champagne, breakfast in bed, and fine dining with Executive Chef Tyler Brown’s award winning farm-to-table cuisine at the Capitol Grille restaurant. Want to bring your four-legged friend along? The Hermitage is also pet friendly. The spa has a wide variety of decadent treatments, including an extensive selection of therapeutic bath salts and foaming bath oils.

The Hermitage is conveniently located near many of the city’s vibrant entertainment districts, which run the gamut from honky-tonk bars to Music Row, which is packed with rock, country, and gospel clubs. And of course there’s the venerable Grand Ole Opry, which has hosted many of country music’s biggest starts.

Other entertainment options include the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, home to the Nashville Opera, Nashville Ballet, and Nashville Symphony. Finally, Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art is perfect for an afternoon outing and picnic. Stroll through the gardens (which span 55 acres) and get lost in the 30,000-square-foot art museum.

The Hermitage Hotel

231 Sixth Avenue North, Nashville, TN