If it’s dusk in Alabama, then a lone bagpiper is making his rounds at the Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa playing tunes that likely stir feelings of joy, tranquility, romance.
I discovered this recently after a relaxing afternoon being massaged with oils and creams at the resort’s spa. Still in a bit of an altered state of consciousness that comes from getting a much-needed and exceptional spa treatment, I initially wasn’t sure if the distant musical strains were real or imagined.
It was real, all right. The bagpiper is a Ross Bridge tradition and one of the unique touches that makes an overnight stay at this resort an extraordinary experience.
Opened in 2005, Ross Bridge—located 20 miles from of the heart of downtown Birmingham in Hoover, Ala., resembles a Scottish estate or castle with soaring turrets and stonework exterior. Inside there are 259 rooms and 11 suites, but before getting there one has to pass through the expansive and elegantly appointed two-story lobby with its limestone floors, cherry wood finishes, dramatic archways and hammered copper accents. It makes quite an impression. Guest rooms are a treat with balconies (mine looked out on a fairway), plush bedding, granite bathroom vanities, flat screen televisions and a warm and bright color scheme.
While it was too cool to enjoy the expansive outdoor pool with stunning waterfall a backdrop, I did enjoy drinks in the sunshine of the wrap-around veranda of the Clubhouse Restaurant. From there one has an inspiring view of the inviting pool, part of the golf course and the hills beyond.
But it was time spent at the spa that really made my stay. While I have spent time at many spas much larger than the 12,000-square-foot Spa at Ross Bridge, I fell in love with the cozy and well designed space. In addition to an intimate relaxation lounge area where one can read, sip tea and snack on berries and nuts, there’s the eucalyptus steam room as well as a quiet room–where lighting is subdued and one can lounge among greenery or submerge oneself in the warm, churning whirlpool waters. I enjoyed all before and after my 80-minute Lavender Heaven treatment that was a combination of a back scrub and aromatherapy massage.
Golfers should plan to spend some time at the on site 18-hole, par 72 golf course. It reported to be the longest golf course in the world at 8,181 yards. This course is of part of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail—468 holes of championship-caliber golf at 11 sites in Alabama. Three others (a short course, ridge course and valley course) are located within three miles of Ross Bridge.
Ross Bridge also offers:
Two restaurants, Brock’s, an upscale dining experience which offers Mediterranean dishes, and The Clubhouse, a relaxed eatery with a great view of the fairway and pool area and which serves up sandwiches, salads and cocktails
• Lobby bar and coffee shop
• Indoor and outdoor pools
• Fitness room
The resort offers a” Wake up in Alabama and Stay” package which includes an overnight and breakfast, starting at $189. It runs through Dec. 10. Visit www.rossbridgeresort.com for more information.
The Ross Bridge Resort is located approximately 150 miles from DeKalb County, just far enough to feel like one has truly gotten away from home and yet close enough to make it a convenient trip.
Take time to explore Birmingham
While in Birmingham, there’s plenty to do. One should certainly consider checking out the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church (site of the 1963 bombing that killed four girls) and Kelly Ingram Park, where many of the city’s civil rights activities played out. Other attractions in Birmingham worth some sightseeing time are the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame; Vulcan Park, home of the largest cast iron statue in the world; and Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Leeds, Ala., with its more than 850 motorcycles and 45 cars.
For more information on Birmingham tourism, visit www.birminghamal.org or call (205) 458-8000.