Melt away holiday stress at luxurious retreats

Despite all the food, fun and festivities, the holidays can be simply exhausting. All that hectic shopping, elaborate cooking and family pleasing leaves many people longing for a little relaxation.

Go ahead and pamper yourself; you deserve it. Head to a resort, where the off season offers great deals and minimal crowds. Here's a look at three places where you can unwind from all that holiday stress.

Reconnect at Lake Oconee's own getaway

Even though Reynolds Plantation is fairly close to the metro area, I always feel like I'm visiting somewhere hundreds of miles from home.

Located on Lake Oconee, this resort features the lush, comfortable Ritz-Carlton Lodge, an amazing, spacious spa and 99 holes of golf.

Now through March 16, Reynolds Plantation is featuring its Winter Reconnect program, a package that provides guests with special room rates, resort view accommodations for one evening, breakfast for two and s'mores toasting over a lakeside bonfire, from $225.

The resort is also offering a Day of Refinement package that nourishes the body, mind and spirit. It features physical activity, meals, a massage and more, starting at $485.

Go Greenbrier

The Greenbrier in Sulphur Springs, W.Va., is a little farther away than the Reynolds Plantation, but the drive or flight up there is well worth the effort.

The resort, a National Historic Landmark, boasts 803 rooms, more than 50 activities and a 38,000 square foot spa. And January is the perfect time to take in all the resort has to offer.

"December is festive to the max. January, by contrast, is very calm, relaxing and laid back," said Tom Adkinson, spokesman for Bohan, a public relations firm that represents the Greenbrier. "The quiet of the Allegheny Mountains unites with the Five Diamond amenities of the resort to create a classic winter retreat."

Adkinson said the resort's indoor activities, including tennis, bowling and swimming, are particularly popular during the winter, as is the spa.

"The Greenbrier Spa seems especially enjoyable," Adkinson said. "Women enjoy the facials and skin treatments to ward off winter."

Outdoors, guests can enjoy Greenbrier's falconry academy, off-road driving school, horseback riding, hiking and shooting sports. The resort has a variety of packages for patrons throughout the year.

Sweet Hibernations in Virginia

Another classy resort is Keswick Hall at Monticello in Charlottesville, Va. Tucked away in the gorgeous mountains of the Old Dominion State, Keswick Hall has 48 charming guest rooms, each with its own theme.

Many rooms are appointed with four-poster beds, armoires, overstuffed ottomans and antique club chairs. Indulge in the cozy atmosphere, and you'll realize why dignitaries and Hollywood stars alike find Keswick Hall a favorite retreat.

Fossett's Restaurant at Keswick Hall, operated under the direction of Chef John Brand, serves guests exceptional meals against the backdrop of Virginia's breathtaking views. Named after Edith Fossett, Thomas Jefferson's chief cook at Monticello, the restaurant serves up dishes such as Grilled Carolina Quail, Rhode Island Monkfish and Artisan Foie Gras. Fossett's also has a lengthy wine list to accompany the menu.

Now through March 30, Keswick Hall is offering its Sweet Hibernations package. The offer includes special rates, afternoon tea, dinner for two and, in some cases, breakfast served with awesome views of the Virginia Piedmont area, from $295.

Web sites

• Reynolds Plantation:


• The Greenbrier:


• Keswick Hall: