The iconic 125-room Mansion on Forsyth Park, part of the Kessler Collection, sits opposite Savannah’s landmark public space in the heart of the historic district.
The boutique hotel oozes Victorian Romanesque style with Versace furniture in the lounge and more than 400 original artworks throughout the property. It’s all very eclectic, or as Jeannie Green, director of sales and catering at the hotel says, “There is nothing vanilla about Kessler.”
Our time at the Mansion began with a cocktail-making class in Casimir’s Lounge, where we learned to make the signature drinks Mansion Mule and GA Peach Mojito, among others. We then joined Executive Chef Peter Russo at the hotel’s 700 Kitchen Cooking School for a hands-on culinary class that gave expert instruction on preparing (and later enjoying) saffron risotto, pan-seared duck breast and mozzarella salad.
Green has noticed a growing meetings trend of concessions and low rates across the industry, but at the Mansion, and Kessler properties overall, she says the focus remains on “experiences and enrichment through art and music.”
Our first full day in Savannah began with a sightseeing tour with Old Savannah Tours amid the city’s colonial buildings, picturesque gardens and live oaks dripping with Spanish moss. Then we took a trip out to the coastal waters for lunch at The Crab Shack. Famous for some of the best seafood in Savannah, we sampled their Low Country Boil as alligators splashed around nearby. After lunch we joined Captain Mike’s Dolphin Tours for a little dolphin spotting.
Kessler’s other Savannah property, The Bohemian Hotel Savannah Riverfront, has a rooftop bar made for cocktails. We tried some here, and a locally inspired tasting menu with wine pairings followed at the hotel’s Rocks on the River restaurant. The evening came to a ghoulish close with a late-night journey into the darker side of Savannah’s history, courtesy of Blue Orb Ghost Tours, where we learned the chilling stories of sites such as the Sorrel Weed House and Colonial Park Cemetery.
From Meetings to Mead
Our next day began with appointments at the Mansion’s Poseidon Spa, followed by mimosas in the Grand Bohemian Gallery while artist-in-residence Daniel Velasco painted watercolor portraits of our group. We were then given an exclusive tour of the Plant Riverside District development, the latest project from Kessler that will transform the historic riverfront. The district is expected to be a destination in and of itself, Green explains, offering various meeting facilities, multiple ballrooms and private dining experiences.
Our afternoon was spent exploring the boutique shops of Broughton Street and City Market, followed by a mead tasting at the Savannah Bee Company. Here we sampled five varieties of the honey-based fermented beverage. We also visited the Service Brewing Company, a craft brewery that is owned and operated by veterans, for a tour and tasting of their popular local beers.