Travel Thursday: Savannah Embraces Southern Charm, Luxury, & The LGBT


If you’re like us at Instinct, you’ve been itching and scratching to get back to safe and sane travel for some time now.  We want to be responsible and safe when making our first trip post vaccination. We’ve mentioned already this year about Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Birmingham, Alabama and shared Ravi Roth’s favorite trips. So to help us all think about where to go first, we are excited to inject some more vibrance into our Travel Thursday series with coverage of Savannah, Georgia, one of the most iconic southern cities that we love to visit any time we can.

When to Visit –

I am not sure there is any bad time to visit Savannah.  With so much going on all year round, and it having one of the more enjoyable climates in the south with a little touch of the 4 seasons without being shocking.  For an ever growing list of events as 2021 proceeds, check out the visitsavannah.com/events page. The big event that will be presented is the city’s love of St. Patrick’s Day, known to be the biggest celebration in the nation, yes, bigger than Bean Town’s and larger than coloring a river in some midwest city.  I just received my first Moderna shot yesterday so I will not be attending this year’s events, but it is on my list of must do’s for next year.

But like with any southern coastal city, the summer can be filled with hot days with wishes of cool breezes from the river and ocean.  Not on the calendar this year is PRIDE.  I think most cities are looking forward to celebrating, but many are on hold.  But Savannah is in a good spot to dazzle us all this year with their pride.  We attended their 2019 pride and it could not have been better. Savannah knows it’s a hot city and plans accordingly.  Southern cities cannot do a summer pride so just stop, all of you that try, just stop.  Savannah’s Pride is celebrated during the last weekend of October, the same time that Halloween is observed in the city.  Ummm, hello,  Pride and Halloween, the gay’s two favorite holidays in one?  Yes, it was a great time.  When we attended pride in 2019, it was the city’s 10th year, yes, major southern cities started a little later than their northern counterparts, but they are still great celebrations.  The 10th Annual Savannah Pride was the first year the celebration included a parade, and not only was it well attended and organized, it was very thoughtfully planned regarding the southern heat, still present in October, as it was a night Pride Parade.

Smiles and 10’s across the board.  I really want to thank Savanna for returning this gay to a place where pride was simple yet multilayered, but never lost the reason to why we have PRIDE.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the big prides of NYC, Boston, San Diego, Tel Aviv, but I am looking forward to being back in Savannah again for their LGBTQ+ celebration. 

Where to Stay – 

Choose what you may for a hotel brand to gather points with, but I must say, the Marriott offerings in Savannah are ones that provide location, quality, excitement, and overall pleasure. You can search the Marriott website for all of the Savannah options. I’ve stayed at several of the Bohemian Marriott Autograph Collection hotels in other cities, but not at the Bohemian Savannah Riverfront yet.  We did eat at its restaurant Rocks on the River after having drinks at their rooftop bar Rocks on the Roof and will do so again as the whole experience was truly rewarding, visually and gustatorily. 

The JW Marriott Plant Riverside District is a luxurious entertainment & hospitality compound. (Image from JW Marriott website)

But this last trip to Savannah, I wanted to experience Marriott’s newest offering, not just a hotel, but an experience. JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside District utilizes its massive location and presence to draw people into the once overly industrial part of the riverfront to now what can be deemed as a luxury complex.  And what is great is , you do not have to be a guest of the hotel to enjoy the amenities as they are open to the whole city.  Remember St Patty’s Day? Check out the PRD’s entertainment schedule for the holiday weekend here.

JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside District is the pinnacle of luxury in the Hostess City. Located within Plant Riverside District, Savannah’s iconic entertainment destination, our numerous walkable attractions and amenities include dynamic restaurants and lounges, upscale retail and live entertainment. Once a power plant on the Savannah riverfront, Plant Riverside District represents the beauty of progress. Whether seeking a romantic getaway or a work hard/play hard business trip, our hotel provides a setting suited to your needs with timeless sophistication blended with eye-catching details. Choose from three unique buildings for the atmosphere to match your style: historic chic architecture in the Power Plant, romantic and elegant styling in the Three Muses and, opening in 2021, bold and contemporary maritime details in the Atlantic. Complete your experience with numerous culinary experiences, music venues, art galleries, riverfront parks and even natural science exhibits to spark your imagination. – Marriott

Every part of Savannah has its own feel and presence while still being a great piece of the entire puzzle.  This new Marriott offering, opening just in July 2020, has already become an integral part of the cities offerings as well as a known destination for travelers and locals to enjoy. 

My room overlooking the river at the Plant Riverside District (luggage by ROAM)

Not only is this a Marriott offering, but it is also an Autograph Collection and a part of the Kessler Collection.  what does this mean? The hotel has the well-known quality of the Marriott brand while being escalated to luxury under the Autograph Collection, but then dipped in the artistic, creative, colorful, historical creative juices that only Richard Kessler can do.  Yes, I’m a fan of his design esthetic and attention to detail.  You can check out the Plant Riverside District’s Facebook Page for more information and some beautiful videos like the one below. 

Yes, they have a dinosaur and other great historical artifacts right there in the lobby, gift shop, and museum area.  

So the Plant River District is more than a hotel, it is a destination. When we visited in late September 2020, there were still some things being constructed and added as COVID did require the company to follow safety protocols which delayed some of the more than dozen restaurants, rooftop bars, and gallery spaces along the riverfront from opening in June or July. But now the hotel is in full swing with live concerts full venues, rooftop excitement for tourists and locals.  Marriott has brought in live once again to this 1912 power plant and has given Savannah an additional area of town to be proud of. 

What to Eat – 

Collins Quarter – It was a hot night, but with a slight breeze so we dined outside.

Yes, I’ve mentioned the Marriott offering quite a bit for it was new and a great experience. One could definitely partake in the great offerings at the JW Marriott and stay there the whole vacation, but I was showing a friend around town and we needed to explore for there is so much to see in Savannah. Even though there are 12 dining options under one roof, getting out and about, eating some great food, and then walking it off was in order. 

One evening we made reservations for The Collins Quarter as we had walked by it the previous afternoon. Outdoor seating was provided.  The setting reminded us summer dining in the Quartier Latin of Montreal as the city had allowed restaurants to take over some of the street parking areas for dining. The food and ambiance was just as nice as horse drawn carriage tours would pass by.  It was a great September night and the food, wine, and service were great. So romantical!

Another venue we enjoyed was Savoy Society.  Hip fun, young, accepting of all, this venue with old slanted storefront windows and eclectic seating had a variety of small plates and other food offerings that were all too good to choose from. The libations were spot on, too. It was a little loud and lively, but that was part of the feel and experience that made us happy with our selection. 

Eggs, has, grits, chocolate milk – thanks Two cracked Eggs!

Two Cracked Eggs was one of the breakfast venues we ate at.  Just next to the Plant River District, this offering got me the grits and hash I was craving. Service was at a good southern pace and the food as comfort and soothing, something great after a night of enjoyment. 

Where to Drink – 

The beauty of staying at the Plant Riverside District is that when you need to stumble home after a night of responsible drinking, you are already there. It might have been too convenient to have the ability to charge bevvies to your room, which can even be done from any other Marriott location in town. Within the District, you have the Savannah Tequila Company, Riverside Biergarten, Baobab Lounge, Myrtle & Rose Rooftop Garden, Electric Moon Skytop Lounge, as more bar oriented spaces, and then there are all the restaurants that also have great libations, too. 

But I enjoy beer as much as I enjoy the spirits. We explored local breweries and found a couple great ones within walking distance. Moon River Brewing Company has a great location downtown, Southbound Brewing Company is a little bit of a walk upriver, but our favorite has to be Service Brewing Company which often has live music but always has great flavors on tap while supporting minority vets. 

Service Brewing Company

We of course need to mention the Club One multi-level complex as it is the one offering the town has.  Yes, other bars are accepting and may list themselves as a gay bar in town, but Club One is the official stop and spot in town to see drag, go-go boys and all of your gay pals. it was fun exploring the downstairs bar, the dance levels, and the showroom on the top floor. It’s a great offering for a southern city that is still new in its celebrating PRIDE and diversity out in the open. It was once home of the late Lady Chablis who left us in September 2016. 

Club One float at the 2019 Pride Parade

Why Savannah – 

The Hospitality City is just that.  When you enter the city, you drop down off the highway and enter into a rustic, yet developing city that feels more like a town. There are no large or tall buildings that rival Boston, Atlanta, or even Fort Lauderdale.  The city is one of the more walkable cities out there and it is highly recommended that you take to your feet and enjoy from down town to the Historic District South and the Forsyth Park area. 

The food, beverage, and lodging options found in Savannah can be from the basic to the middle of the road to the luxurious and more.

We will return to Savannah and we know we will once again have a wonderful time exploring new corners of this great southern city.


As usual, here are some of the extra pictures from our explorations of Savannah.

Night view of the Plant Riverside District Entrance
Not my JW Marriott Plant Riverside District room for this trip, but I think it will be my room next time!
Lobby of the JW Marriott Plant Riverside District with shops, check-in and dinosaurs!
Electric Moon Rooftop Bar at JW Marriott Plant Riverside District
Rocks on the Roof – rooftop deck bar at the Bohemian Savannah
View from Rocks on the Roof
Men with their shirts off. Worthy of a pic.
Entrance to the Pride festivities

Service Brewing Company
Moon River Brewing Company
Moon River Brewing Company
Slide at the Electric Moon Skytop Lounge – Part of the Plant
The Baobab Lounge at The Plant

Savoy Society

And some other random pictures from around town.

 

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