If Country Clubs Were Cool, They’d Look More Like Hotel Bardo

This new members club and hotel in Savannah is throwing "the old model of stuffiness" out the window.

Hotel Bardo Savannah members club
Private, members-only bar at Club Bardo | Photo by Andrew Frazier
Private, members-only bar at Club Bardo | Photo by Andrew Frazier

Country clubs follow a familiar formula. Bring rich people in all-white resort wear to luxurious pools and lounge areas where they’ll drink mediocre cocktails and try to one-up each other all night long, and voila, you’ve got your average suburban country club of yesteryear.

But what if country clubs were designed with young, progressive, artsy people in mind? And what if they were set in urban areas where people actually need an extra space to mix and mingle? Those are exactly the questions Jon Kully, the managing partner of LEFT LANE Hospitality, and his team are hoping to answer with the brand new Hotel Bardo in Savannah, Georgia.

Hotel Bardo is set in a historic red-brick mansion that sits on the city’s famed Forsyth Park and does look a lot like a new-age country club. There’s a pool with chic seating options, a top-of-the-line fitness center with Peloton bikes and classes, a holistic spa that leans into charkas and wellness trends, and other programming like fitness and cooking classes—and locals can also get in on all those amenities thanks to the property’s exclusive private membership club.

“[We want to] throw the old model of stuffiness and gray hair out the window and reinterpret it with the same set of amenities," Kully says.

Hotel Bardo Savannah room
Room at Hotel Bardo | Photo by Andrew Frazier

Leaving the pretension and listless decor synonymous with other luxury clubs at the door, the hotel sprawls over two acres with 149 guest rooms. Each room contains a mix of laid-back elements alongside pure luxury, with rattan furniture and minimalist art meeting lime-washed walls, velvet seating, and bold tiling in the bathroom.

The design fuses traditional Savannah Victorian-Romanesque architecture with contemporary details as an ode to neighboring Savannah College of Art and Design and the rest of the surrounding artsy city. Many of the school’s alumni and other members of the community were tapped to contribute the art on-site, from scene-setting murals and bird sculptures placed throughout the courtyard to smaller pieces throughout the property. A personal favorite piece by SCAD professor Kelly Boehmer stretches along the stairwell leading up to the private members club and depicts the Patron Saint of Hangover’s quest to cure revelers after a rowdy evening.

Hotel Bardo Savannah pool
Courtyard pool at Hotel Bardo | Photo by Andrew Frazier

Many of the rooms offer outdoor space like a patio or balcony facing the courtyard pool area, which feels like a playful Palm Springs-like oasis transported to the South. Loungers paired with pink-and-white striped umbrellas and cabanas line the 82-foot pool. Bar Bibi, the poolside sister concept to the hotel’s marquee restaurant, offers elevated frozen cocktails, a spritz program, and a menu of small plates to fuel a day in the sunshine.

Saint Bibiana
Dinner at Saint Bibiana, the hotel's on-site coastal Italian restaurant | Photo courtesy of Hotel Bardo Savannah

Next door, Saint Bibiana has quickly become one of the city’s hottest restaurants—and that’s not without steep competition. The menu is made up of coastal Italian fare by executive chef Derek Simcik, with focaccia served from a constantly roving tray and a slew of excellent desserts by pastry chef Kate Sigel creating a convivial atmosphere.

In the next five years, LEFT LANE plans to expand the concept, bringing Hotel Bardo properties to other mid-sized cities like Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Providence, Rhode Island; and more. “What we’re doing is very data driven,” says Kully. “We’ve explored, in great depth, these markets that are often overlooked and found the opportunity.”

Club Bardo
The private members clubhouse, Club Bardo | Photo by Andrew Frazier

The hospitality group is also banking on locals making a home out of the Hotel Bardo property by becoming members, a perk the group plans to replicate at future properties. As a member of Club Bardo, locals will get access to the pool and fitness center, plus personal training and special fitness classes, many of which take place right in Forsyth Park across the street.

Members also receive priority room rates and reservations, access to a kids club, and a seat in the private members clubhouse above Saint Bibiana, where oversized drinks designed for sharing, caviar service, and lounge-style seating around a baby grand piano encourage a party.

How to Book:

Reserve a room at Hotel Bardo, book a spa session at Saltgrass Spa, or inquire about the membership club via the hotel’s website. Reservations for Saint Bibibana can be made via Resy.

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Liz Provencher is an editor at Thrillist based in New York City. Follow her on Instagram.