The South's Best Resorts 2020

The Inn at Biltmore Estate Exterior
Photo: Robbie Caponetto

There's something particularly magical about a beautiful resort with so much to offer that you don't need anything else to have a great vacation. No driving, no traffic, no parking. Just check in, receive a welcoming embrace of hospitality, let a kind soul take your luggage from your hand, and breathe. No need to hurry to your room once you're all checked in. This is a civilized place that realizes you need time to unwind with a glass of wine by the pool or the lobby fireplace—maybe while listening to soothing music being played on a grand piano somewhere nearby. Ahhhhh. Southerners being Southerners, our favorite resorts offer more than comfort, style, and service. They're beautiful. They have a sense of place and history. They have personality. They speak the unique language of their corner of the South. From the number-one Inn on Biltmore Estate to the Cloister and The Greenbrier, see what our readers voted as some of the South's most memorable stays.

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10. Montage Palmetto Bluff (Bluffton, South Carolina)

Montage Palmetto Bluff Resort in Bluffton, SC
Pura Soul Photo/Montage Palmetto Bluff

Part of a 20,000-acre community, this resort on the May River in Bluffton, South Carolina, looks and feels more like a grand estate. Choose from rooms and suites at the elegant inn or book a cottage or larger residence. Restaurants here offer an abundance of the Lowcountry cuisine South Carolina is famous for. Head to the Octagon Bar for barrel-aged Artillery Punch, the resort's take on the famous Chatham Artillery Punch, reportedly boozy enough to take down a regiment., 843-706-6500, 477 Mount Pelia Road, Bluffton, South Carolina 29910

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9. The Henderson (Destin, Florida)

The Henderson
Courtesy of The Henderson

Despite the modern interiors and luxe spa, there's something nostalgic about The Henderson and its prime location adjacent to Henderson State Park on the Gulf of Mexico. The combination of unspoiled beaches and classic coastal architecture that harkens back to old Florida give this beautiful hotel a you-can-relax-now atmosphere. Explore its collection of 465 works by local artists, displayed throughout the property—if you can tear yourself away from the beach, pools, spa, and rooftop terrace., 855-741-2777, 200 Henderson Resort Way, Destin, Florida 32541

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8. The Omni Homestead Resort (Hot Springs, Virginia)

42. Celebrating Milestones: The Omni Homestead Resort Turns 250

You'd be hard-pressed to find a grander space than the Homestead's Great Hall, home of a daily Southern Social Hour. The original incarnation of "America's First Resort" opened in 1766. The Homestead has evolved and expanded over the years while holding onto one of its original attractions—the "healing waters" of hot springs in the Allegheny Mountains., 540-839-1766, 7696 Sam Snead Highway, Hot Springs, Virginia, 24445

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7. Hilton Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort (Miramar Beach, Florida)

Hilton Sandestin Beach, Golf Resort & Spa
Hilton Sandestin Beach, Golf Resort & Spa

Two pools flanking a beach bar overlooking the Gulf of Mexico—you have to admit, that's tough to beat. With views of the Gulf and Choctawhatchee Bay, not to mention golf, spa treatments, and an array of dining and lodging options, Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa has something for everybody. The new Effie Hotel Sandestin, featuring a Hugh Acheson restaurant and a rooftop pool, is scheduled for a 2021 opening., 850-267-9500, 4000 Sandestin Boulevard South, Miramar Beach, Florida 32550

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6. Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa (Point Clear, Alabama)

The Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa
Courtesy The Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa

This is the kind of place that makes you feel like you're visiting genteel relations for the weekend. Now part of Marriott's Autograph Collection, The Grand underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation that brought in new restaurants and updated the historic 550-acre property, known for its old school Southern charm and sunset views over Mobile Bay., 251-928-9201, 1 Grand Boulevard, Point Clear, Alabama 36564

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Check Out The South's Best Resorts

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5. Blackberry Farm (Walland, Tennessee)

Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee
Helen Norman

The Beall family have been welcoming guests to their idyllic Smoky Mountain farm since the late seventies. Even with the passing of visionary Sam Beall, his dream of creating a special place where land and people are nurtured, and the food and culture of Appalachia are celebrated, continues. The new Blackberry Mountain property opened in 2018, with over half of its 5,200 acres set aside for conservation., 800-557-8864, 1471 West Millers Cove Road, Walland, Tennessee 37886

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4. The Greenbrier (White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia)

The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, WV
Bill and Albanese

In 1946, "America's Resort," open since 1778, got a makeover from pioneering interior designer Dorothy Draper, who also designed its famously palatial indoor pool. Draper's love of color and bold prints—including an enthusiastic embrace of stripes and chintz—is evident at The Greenbrier to this day. Outdoors, take advantage of the mountain scenery for biking, hiking, and horseback riding., 855-453-4858, 101 Main Street West, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia 24986

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3. The Cloister (Sea Island, Georgia)

The Cloister (Sea Island, GA)
Peter Frank Edwards

What other resort can claim a 50+-year tradition of Bingo night—complete with cocktail attire for the ladies and jackets for men and boys over eight? Dinner at The Cloister's Georgian Room has always been an event, but there's plenty besides fine dining to draw you to this venerable resort, which anchors a private link in Georgia's chain of Golden Isles. Tip: Sister property The Lodge on St. Simon's Island offers more affordable lodging and access to The Cloister's amenities., 877-431-5695, 100 Cloister Drive, Sea Island, Georgia 31561

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2. The Omni Grove Park Inn (Asheville, North Carolina)

Asheville Omni Grove Park Inn Sunset View
Cameron Reynolds

The brainchild of a pharmacist and self-made millionaire, the historic Grove Park opened in 1913 and has been pampering guests with top-flight service and even better views of the Blue Ridge Mountains ever since. Book a historic room in the main inn or more modern accommodations in the Sammons and Vanderbilt wings. Don't miss the spa, with its underground pool, or The Great Hall Bar, which has 26-foot fireplaces., 828-252-2711, 290 Macon Avenue, Asheville, North Carolina 28804

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1. The Inn on Biltmore Estate (Asheville, North Carolina)

Capturing the spirit of the famous Vanderbilt home, the Inn on Biltmore Estate has some of the loveliest, most elegant public spaces you could hope for. Soaring windows offer glorious views of the Blue Ridge Mountains—which you can enjoy, wine glass in hand, from a richly upholstered armchair, perhaps cozied up to a fireplace. Always intended to be a working, sustainable estate, Biltmore continues that tradition with a farm-to-table philosophy guiding its culinary program., 800-411-3812, 1 Lodge Street, Asheville, North Carolina 28803

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