THE RITZ-CARLTON LODGE, REYNOLDS PLANTATION
One Lake Oconee Trail, Greensboro; 706-467-0600, ritzcarlton.com. Rooms: $225-$475. Suites: $500-$575. Cottages: $325-$1,475.
One thing about a Ritz-Carlton: If you sit in one place long enough, someone will do something nice for you. Ensconced with a book on a couch in the massive yet comfy lobby, you decline a drink from the waiter; a minute later a glass of water with lemon and a tray of nuts and olives appear on the light stand next to you. Elsewhere, the 26,000-square-foot spa is the only one in the world based on principles of the native Creek Indians (and offers "Biological Terrain Assessment," which involves the "monitoring of your saliva and urine for pH, redox and resistivity"). The Dave Pelz Scoring Game School is, well, based on the principles of the noted Dave Pelz. The infinity-edge pool overlooking Lake Oconee is beautiful, and you'll want to end afternoons at the adjacent Gaby's by the Lake, watching the blue sky fade to black over the placid Oconee.
THE CLOISTER MAIN DINING ROOM
(Continental) Sea Island (at the Cloister); 800-732-4752. $$$$
Under the direction of Sea Island's executive chef, Todd Rogers (who has prepared dinner for Queen Elizabeth II, among other dignitaries), this formal restaurant offers a combination of classic and new cuisines in a romantic setting, with a vast wine list and by-the-glass pairings to the night's menu.
COLT & ALISON'S
(Steak) 100 Retreat Avenue, St. Simons Island (at the Lodge at Sea Island); 800-732-4752. $$$$
Jackets are required, but the superb dry-aged beef along with the excellent wine list produce a joviality that keeps stuffiness well at arm's length despite the elegant atmosphere.
(Southern) One Lake Oconee Trail, Greensboro (at the Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation); 706-467-7135. $$$
The quality and variety to be found merely in the bread basket is a giveaway; the fois-gras crème brûlée with peppercorn-poached peaches and Georgia figs with cinnamon pain perdu (whew!) demands nearly as many superlatives as words in its name. The restaurant's taste in warm, welcoming staff is equally good.
(Barbecue) 229 Jackson Street, Newnan; 770-253-4421. $
After—not before—a round at Orchard Hills Golf Club, this no-nonsense joint is a must-stop for authentic finger-licking-good Georgia BBQ, which is more tart than its Texas cousin; we passed on the Lewis Grizzard Special (believing, incorrectly, that he died of heart disease) in favor of the combination platter but later felt a twinge of regret.
(Continental) 100 Retreat Avenue, St. Simons Island (at the Lodge at Sea Island); 800-732-4752. $$$
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the Terrace menu offers Continental cuisine with a Southern flair. The fried lobster tail, for example, is truly a revelation, managing to maintain its luscious lobsterness while being something else entirely. We can't get our claws around exactly what that thing is, but we highly recommend it.
THE WATERSIDE RESTAURANT
(Southern) 126 Cuscowilla Drive, Eatonton (at the Golf Club at Cuscowilla); 706-484-2044. $$$
Overlooking Lake Oconee, the Waterside offers fine dining minus the formality; Southern Living recently called this its favorite area restaurant. One intriguing dish is the Creole pie, a zesty main course involving andouille sausage, not, as might be expected, a Cajun dessert. Also note that Cuscowilla offers vacationers lake-villa and golf-cottage accommodations.