If you’ve always thought about going to Savannah, GA, but just haven’t quite made it to this dreamy southern city, go now. All that you’ve seen in the photos— the massive oak trees draped in Spanish moss showering dappled sunlight over sleepy streets, the elegant historic homes surrounding the 22 green squares dotted throughout the city—is even more charming in real life and there’s plenty to do besides.
We stayed at the Mansion on Forsyth Park, crafted by Richard Kessler, who has a knack for opening hotels in southern cities that immediately become the buzzing social center grand dame (think the Casa Monica in St. Augustine, FL).
|Casimir’s Lounge at the Mansion on Forsyth Park is a sophisticated meeting place.|
When you step into the lobby of the Mansion on Forsyth Park you’ll find upscale guests coming and going, scooting out to the historic district of the town—which begins at the hotel and extends for blocks and blocks down to the Savannah River—or arriving for a wedding or one of the many special events the city holds throughout the year. (For more information, see http://savannahvisit.com).
We were there for the Savannah Jazz Festival (savannahjazzfestival.org), a free, week-long event that takes place in September in Forsyth Park, just steps outside the hotel. Best part? When it got to be a bit late, we returned to the hotel, went upstairs to Casimir’s Lounge and found a very busy social scene there as well. On Thursdays through Fridays there is live music from good local bands and the bartenders are extremely professional, constantly polishing the glasses and the beautiful, long bar when they’re not mixing amazing blackberry mojitos or other specialty drinks they’re known for. Casimir’s also has a great outdoor patio that overlooks the park, enabling you to enjoy the music from the festival from a great, comfortable perch.
|The Mercer-Will iams House is the home of the lead figure in Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil.|
The Mansion is weddings central once the weather cools down from September onward. This is “the” place to be married in Savannah; it provides a very upscale Southern ambiance. Intimate weddings can be organized in the courtyard and management takes pride in completely customizing each one. Joey Caldwell ([email protected]; 912-721-5012) the hotel’s sales coordinator, can take the request for your nuptials and will see to it that your event is lovingly overseen by the two wedding coordinators on staff.
The Mansion on Forsyth Park is rated four stars and is a member of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. The top room categories here are Executive Turret Suites and Deluxe Forsyth Park View Rooms. Our deluxe room was spacious, with cozy, fresh bedding and a large bathroom with a great soaking tub. Note: Artwork is unique throughout the hotel, which has its own gallery as well, providing a neat cultural ambiance to the entire setting.
700 Drayton at the hotel is considered one of the top places to dine in Savannah. It has a chic, eclectic feel to it and locals come here to celebrate special occasions, so be sure to reserve a table two to three weeks out (we hear that the Billiard Room has the best seats but from what we saw, all options are great). If you have a special dining request, go through the restaurant manager, Pete Peterson ([email protected]; 912-721-5038).
If you’ve got time to visit the hotel’s intimate spa when you’re not touring around Savannah (there are multiple options for excursions. We enjoyed Old Town Trolley Tours, which gives a great city overview), be sure to consider the 80-minute Swedish massage. There’s also a couples room and a Vichy hydro-therapy room. Consider as well a spa takeover if you’ve got a wedding party or a girlfriend getaway brewing. Spa Supervisor Amanda Baldwin ([email protected]; 912-721-5004) can be reached out to for bookings. She’s also the most-requested massage therapist.
The head concierge at the hotel, Shanna Copeland ([email protected]; 912-721-5006), is very professional. She can customize private tours to the city’s top sites or arrange for a town car pick-up at Savannah Hilton Head International Airport, which is just 12 miles away. (Note: Helicopters can land there as well in case your client wants a quick ride from Charleston, SC, to the north or Jacksonville, FL, to the south). Sheltair (912-965-0095) can assist with private jet needs. Copeland can also set up a golf outing at nearby Savannah Harbour, on Hutchinson Island, which can be reached by the bridge or ferry.
Shopping in Savannah is a great treat since there are many specialty shops throughout the historic district, especially along Broughton Street and in the Downtown Design District. We hear that one favored locale is the Savannah Bee Company at 104 West Broughton Street (912-233-7873), which sells unique honey-based products.
What to wear to the Mansion on Forsyth Park for a stay? Casual or resort wear is fine, but if you’re going for a night out, don’t hesitate to dress to the nines in your own distinctive fashion; this is Savannah, after all.
The hotel, which is pet friendly, is run by General Manager Joseph Kelley ([email protected]; 912-721-5010).
|Rooms at the Mansion on Forsyth have a stylish, crisp vibe.|
Hint: Busiest times for the city are St.Patrick’s Day, March 17; in fact, Savannah has the second-largest parade in the country after New York. It’s also buzzing during the Tour of Homes & Gardens in March, during the Savannah College of Art & Design graduation in June and the Savannah Film Festival at the end of October.
If you’re going, be sure to read the now classic Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt and to rent the film as well. It will get you even more excited about visiting this gem of a southern city. And the Mansion is just a few blocks away from the notorious Mercer-Williams House where the major incident in the story takes place.
The Mansion has a beautiful sister hotel on Savannah’s historic riverfront, The Bohemian Hotel. We insist you pay it a visit and check out the rooftop bar for tapas and a cocktail or two. The riverfront is filled with shops and restaurants and provides another view to the city.
Good to know: If you can’t get a direct flight into Savannah Hilton Head International Airport, consider a nonstop to Jacksonville, FL, which is a two-hour drive away on I-95. There are plenty of great places to stop along the way, including the stunning Golden Isles area, which comprises the city of Brunswick and four barrier islands: St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Little St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island.