The country roads that wind up to the Dahlonega Spa Resort at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains take you over gentle rolling hills, across the oak, hemlock, and pine, and through the calm stillness of the beautiful blue hue that gives the area its name.
At least, that’s what usually happens, until it’s a night where it’s below-freezing, spitting sleet, and dark by 4 p.m. (the day that also just so happens to be the shortest day of the year…and your birthday).
But don’t let that fool you–battling the weather, wind, and darkness actually made our trip up to this gorgeous spa retreat all that much more restful and rejuvenating, and here’s why: imagine private cabins scattered across a hillside in a forest, snow on the roof, a cold night, evening candelight yoga, and, in the newness of the morning light, fresh Costa Rican coffee and a warm breakfast. There is no television, no radio, no phones (internet only if you really need it), and no real distractions other than whatever noise and rustling the animals in the forest. There’s time for conversation, for connection, for contemplation, and, in our case, for staying warm by the heater inside the cabin. The trees are bare, the sky clear and white, and there’s a sense of stillness in the air that summertime in the North Georgia mountains just doesn’t have.
I had planned our trip to Dahlonega to coincide with my husband’s and my Christmas visit to Atlanta to visit my family and with my upcoming birthday, so there were good spirits in the air as we drove from the city up into the countryside. Because Dahlonega is only 70 miles from Georgia’s capital city, we easily arrived before lunchtime and stopped in to the local visitor’s bureau to get a sense of our surroundings and figure out exactly what we wanted to do. Since it was only a few days before Christmas and Dahlonega’s main square was exquisitely decorated for the holidays, we spent the morning visiting the local shops in downtown Dahlonega, enjoying artisan-style hamburgers at Main Street Burger, and tasting some of the new wines from the area’s budding vineyards. In the late afternoon, just as the wind was picking up and the shops were closing, we left downtown to drive the few miles up to the resort, a gorgeous property resembling an old farm house that sits on a little hill overlooking a lake.
Though we hadn’t made any particular plans for our overnight stay, the candlelight yoga class was just getting set up as we arrived, so I threw on my sweats and joined the group. Our instructor, Gordon, who has been practicing the teaching of yoga for the past seven years, led us through an incredibly restorative practice and through it, I was able to clear my head from the busyness of the Christmas season.
That’s what is so special about this place: it isn’t just a farm-style getaway in a North Georgia mountainside town. The Dahlonega Spa Resort–as their other two properties in Mexico and Costa Rica–specifically aim to promote wellness and inner peace through healthy eating and quiet reflection as well as through spa treatments, easy walking trails through the forest, and daily meditation and yoga practice. Though I didn’t realize this until we arrived and took a small tour of the property, they even have a walking meditation space designed after a design inside the Notre Dame cathedral, and if it hadn’t been so cold outside, I definitely would have taken a lap or two around the spiral path.
The next morning, Sandy, one of the other yoga practitioners, served us a beautiful breakfast in the Pura Vida Restaurant (which is in the main house). We had fresh Costa Rican coffee, homemade yogurt and berries, and omelettes made with local eggs.
It may have been a cold winter’s night in the mountains, but, as I soon realized, sometimes that’s exactly what you need to fully appreciate a quiet stay in a cabin in the woods.
Dahlonega Spa Resort
400 Blueberry Hill
Dahlonega, Georgia 30533
Article by Kristin Winet and photographs provided by the Dahlonega Spa Resort. Special thanks to the resort for hosting me for the evening!