As published in The Florida Villager
Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains is a 3,000-acre resort called Barnsley Resort. It is on the site of an 1840’s Southern estate and the place to go for weddings, girl’s weekend away, outdoor adventures and good ole Southern comfort but for me, I had signed up for “Camp Grown-Up.”
I knew the minute I drove through the gates, down the tree lined road and into full view of the English-style village, I was someplace very special. To my left was the impeccably maintained Fazio golf course, spa and swimming pool. To my right was the village green with evenly spaced fire pits and Adirondack chairs surrounded by houses right out of your favorite storybook. I could hear music coming from down the road so I just started walking till I ended up at the Beer Garden where I sat and unwound with a cold beer and then headed to the stables.
After acquainting myself with the barnyard animals, I saddled up and took a relaxing ride through the woods with my fellow campers. Ready to get the dust of traveling and riding off of me, I made my way to my house and stepped into the most well appointed accommodations I have seen. The attention to detail, not just in the variety of homes that Barnsley has, but in everything they do is unsurpassed. The Southern details just blew me away!
Our next stop was to the manor ruins for cocktails and dinner under the stars. The gardens leading up to the manor were breathtaking and one could envision the gatherings of days gone by. Dinner was my first introduction to the exceptional cooking of Chef Joseph Elliott. My entire stay was filled with unbelievable food like Pimento cheese cornbread, spring vegetables quinoa, trout and blue crab, Porcini dusted pork chops, buttermilk pie and the list goes on. That night, I slipped under my silky soft sheets and comforter and drifted into a deep sleep.
Coffee in the morning and my spa treatment was the perfect start to a perfect day. Deciding on which treatment was the difficult part but I was thrilled with my hydrating facial. Next stop on my camp itinerary was lunch in the Beer Garden. Southern cuisine and craft beer was on the menu and Chef even had the pig on the grill. Once again, the attention to detail on the catering set up made the whole affair spectacular.
Over to the golf course to get frustrated with my lesson (tennis is my game) but sharing the course with some deer made it all worthwhile. My fly-fishing lesson proved more productive and even when it started to rain we had a blast! Some afternoon free time lent itself to a walk around the resort to explore the Indian cabin, cemetery and all the little side trails. The day was capped off with lawn games and bubbly before another fabulous dinner at a 19th century farmhouse called the Rice House.
Our final day at “camp” exceeded all expectations. After a hearty breakfast at The Woodlands Grill we departed for SpringBank Sporting Club where we took aim at some sporting clays. From there we went on a “safari” through SpringBank Plantation, a wing shooting preserve. Riding along in an open safari Jeep was exhilarating but when we rounded a bend and looked down the dirt road, what lie in front of us made me feel like I was in a movie. There was a big table with a basket of fried chicken and every conceivable side dish surrounded by green director chairs and wait staff in safari outfits. Once again, let me reiterate the attention to detail. Wine was poured and lunch was served.
Our last night was filled with a bourbon and cocktail tasting out on the green and dinner at The Woodlands Grill. Walking back to our house we were all talking about our “camping” experience when we walked up on a bon fire complete with Adirondack chairs, a lighted moon and fixings for s’mores. Unbelieveable! Everyone changed and settled into the chairs enjoying the silence of the night and the newfound friends we had made during this amazing experience called Grown-up Summer Camp.