Brasstown Valley Resort’s rustic lobby.
Brasstown Valley Resort’s rustic lobby.

By Jemille Williams

Just two hours away from Atlanta and named after Georgia’s highest peak, Brasstown Valley Resort and Spa has something for all ages – from toddlers to dodderers.

A scan of license plates in the parking lot shows a good mix of faraway counties and neighboring states have made their way to the resort, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

If you’re a heat-hater and a sun-shirker like me, it doesn’t get any better than Brasstown Valley in the summer. I love to do water aerobics in the luxuriously shady pool, set in a tropical conservatory. There’s a hot tub inside that’s great for loosening up tight muscles, but the indoor-outdoor pool also has a twin hot tub outside if you’d prefer the sun.

But worry not – there’s still plenty o’ fun in the sun. The championship golf links are ranked as one of the top courses in Georgia, and there is even a sandy beach in nearby Lake Chatuge if you yearn to loll in the sand and bob in the limpid lake water.

As if the on-site horseback trail-riding, golf, tennis, hiking and fishing weren’t enough, they offer a wide range of turnkey excursions like tubing and white water rafting in kitschy Alpine Helen. You can make your own arrangements and drive yourself, or the concierge has comprehensive activity packages all wrapped up and waiting for you.

There is a full menu of outings with hiking, biking, picnicking and waterfall gazing in the Chattahoochee National Forest, with close to a million acres of woodsy recreation. Brasstown Bald (the highest point in Georgia at an altitude of 4784 feet) is close-by and is especially fascinating in the fall, when you can look north and see golden leaves, and south to see summer green.

Nearby Lake Chatuge is the largest lake in the state at 9,000 acres, and you can rent watercraft with people power or powerful motors. There are kayaks, canoes and SUPs for quietly poking around in secluded coves for wildlife-spotting, or pontoons and ski boats for maximum excitement.
Our favorite is Boundary Waters Resort & Marina in neighboring Hiawassee. You can rent a kayak for $10 an hour or a powerful wakeboard boat for $400 a day, with a wide range of intermediate craft that can handle from one to ten passengers.

If relaxation is your goal, a wine tasting at one of the proliferating vineyards nearby is a great way to educate yourself and support Georgia agritourism.

After a busy day, the cherry on top is a spa treatment in the acclaimed Equani Spa, a Cherokee-themed haven that provides restorative massage and other body treatments with state-of-the-art facial technology. Their salon will have you looking as completely restored as you feel.

With such a range of accommodations from lodge rooms and suites to cozy cottages imbedded in the trees, the resort is perfect for family reunions. As much of a nature girl as I am, I have a sister who is afraid of the woods, so this is a perfect compromise. It’s the ideal balance of seclusion without isolation.

If you have grandparents who can’t take the heat and aren’t up for a stroll on the resort’s eight forested miles of trails, there is a lovely glass corridor that overlooks the man-made waterfall feature. Downstairs there is a gallery of local art for sale or just to enjoy, and an interpretive display that tells about the mountains in general and Brasstown Valley in particular.

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