Lake Lanier Islands
Lake Lanier Islands are a small group of islands located on Lake Lanier, the largest lake in Georgia, located north of Atlanta, Georgia, USA. The islands were previously large hills that became the largest land chain remaining after the flooding of the Chattahoochee river valley located near Gainesville by the Buford dam, creating the popular lake.
Lake Lanier Islands were originally owned by the State of Georgia, but was sold to private ownership in the early 1990s. It has now become a vacation resort.
The islands are a primary recreational destination for the Atlanta area, with one mile of shore line and a Beach and Waterpark which includes 13 water slides, the state's largest wave pool and a Fun Dunker.
Lake Lanier Islands contains a luxury hotel and full service Conference Center, [Legacy Lodge], a golf course, Equestrian Center, Lake Lanier Canopy Tours, A zip line and two full service Day Spas. Lake Lanier Islands operates the largest harbor on Lake Lanier, Harbor Landing, with boat rentals from small pontoons, to luxury houseboats to group yachts for up to 150 people. A previous hotel, Pine Isle Resort, was closed after nearly 30 years of operation. It was demolished and replaced with a 5-Star property in 2009.
Popular events at the resort include the Annual Independence Day fireworks on the lake, full moon parties, and "Magical Nights of Lights", the largest animated light show in the world.
In August 2005, it was announced that local businessman Virgil Williams had bought the Islands from the KSL corporation. He officially took control on August 26. The purchase was for 14.5 million, a seemingly low sum for such prime real estate, but it doesn't include the actual land, which still stays under government control.
History of Lake Lanier Islands
Nestled at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Northeast Georgia, Lake Sidney Lanier is rich with both beauty and history. Perhaps the South’s most popular man-made lake, Lake Lanier was born from very humble beginnings. Shortly following World War II, Congress sanctioned the construction of Buford Dam in Northeast Georgia as part of the overall plan to develop the nation’s waterways for power production, flood control, and water supplies. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on March 1, 1950 and the Dam was completed six long years later. It would take another three years for the new Chattahoochee River-fed reservoir to reach full capacity. This reservoir – eventually comprising 38,000 surface acres of open water and tranquil coves – was named in honor of the highly esteemed Georgia musician and poet, Sidney Lanier. In 1957, The US Army Corps of Engineers leased Lake Lanier Islands to the Georgia Department of State Parks, who partnered with the newly created Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority (LLIDA) in 1962 to manage and develop a recreational venue for the citizens of Georgia to enjoy. By 1974, Lake Lanier Islands celebrated its first year of operation with the debut of the Harbor Landing boat docks, as well as the campgrounds, stables, beaches, golf course, and Pine Isle Hotel.
In 1987, the addition of water slides and an enormous wave pool gave birth to what would later become the wildly popular Chattahoochee Rapids Beach & WaterPark. The following years would see the additions of another lakeside golf course, a second hotel named Emerald Point, quaint New-England-inspired LakeHouses, a more fully expanded WaterPark, and the debut of the Magical Nights of Lights – an animated islandwide holiday light extravaganza that continues to draw thousands of guests annually from all over the Southeast. It was during this time that the State of Georgia contracted with KSL Corporation to take over the day-to-day management and operations of Lake Lanier Islands. In 2005, an Atlanta businessman and true visionary– Virgil R. Williams – purchased lease rights to thehotels and businesses on the Islands from KSL Corporation through his venture, Lake Lanier Islands Management Company. With his family at his side, he began making plans to transform the Islands in entirely new ways.
Since assuming control, LLI Management Company has stayed very busy making dramatic improvements to the Islands’ offerings, building the Lake Lanier Islands brand, and securing the Resort’s foothold as a premier lakeside destination in the Southeast. The earliest years involved partnering with the State of Georgia and LLIDA to completely renovate the Islands infrastructure, including streetscapes, bridges and pedestrian walkways. In 2006, LLI Management Company turned its focus to a fan-favorite amenity by completing a $1 million renovation to the Chattahoochee Beach & WaterPark, with a new children’s activity area. An extraordinary shortage of rain throughout the following year gave birth to one of the worst droughts in Georgia history, leaving Lake Lanier water levels at an all-time low of more than 20 feet below full pool. The Williams Family was undeterred as they continued to build an unsurpassed staff of hospitality professionals, while planning and implementing the Islands’ transformation with a major renovation of the Emerald Pointe Hotel and Emerald Pointe Golf Course. In 2008, Phase 1 of a multi-million dollar 10-year plan is completed with the unveiling of the NEW Legacy Lodge and Conference Center (formerly Emerald Pointe Hotel) and six 4,500 square foot six-room executive lodgings in the NEW lakeside Legacy Villas at the heart of the Resort. The year also marked the exciting launch of “Legacy on Lanier Magazine”, an award-winning custom publication about Lake Lanier Islands Resort and all of their offerings. 2009 celebrated the opening of Legacy on Lanier Golf Club to rave reviews among some of the South’s most avid golfers, the debut of original Georgia-themed roundabouts in the newly completed roadway system throughout the Islands, the construction of a High Ropes Course for adventurous families and team building challenges, and the unveiling of an expanded version of the Magical Nights of Lights & Holiday Village to the delight of children of all ages.
Lake Lanier Islands Management Company really hit their stride in 2010 as they took a bold step down the wedding aisle with the expansion of their ceremony and reception venues to an unbelievable total of 20. The Resort also premiered the Haunted Nights of Lights, a Halloween-themed light show and carnival and debuted one of Atlanta’s hottest new eateries – a beachside open-air restaurant and nightclub aptly dubbed The Sunset Cove Beach Café & Club. The Islands added two zip line canopy tours to its ever-expanding list of fun things to see and do. Legacy Lodge & Conference Center became the site of the new indoor activity center – including Wii Station, pool table, foosball table, and more. With a growing reputation as a corporate retreat and conference destination, Lake Lanier Islands Resort was honored to be voted “Best of South” by meeting planners in Meeting South Magazine. With no signs of slowing, 2011 began with the debut of a third zip line canopy tour of the Islands, providing some of the most awe-inspiring views of lake and Northeast Georgia countryside imaginable. By Spring, Lake Lanier Islands Resort proudly announced the launch of the Legacy Wellness Program for employees and guests alike – introducing a three-pronged approach of education, fitness and nutrition through expert speaker series, health-focused seminars, healthy menu offerings, exciting classes, interactive cooking demonstrations, mile-after-mile of walking trails, and more. Summer marked the much-anticipated unveiling of LanierWorld – a boardwalk-themed entertainment district comprising more than a dozen water attractions, over half a mile of white sandy beach, family-friendly carnival, new restaurants, miniature golf course, live entertainment, and regularly scheduled events.
Since Lake Lanier Islands Management Company first arrived on the sunny shores of Lake Sidney Lanier, it has been a jam-packed and eventful first few years, and there are even more exciting changes in store. The Virgil Williams Family thanks you for being a valued part of Lake Lanier Islands Management Company as together we make our mark on Lake Lanier Islands’ history! Copy provided to Stephanie Orr of Lake Lanier Islands Resort By Kasie Bolling of Out of Her Mind – Fresh Ideas & Freelance Copywriting July 18, 2011
Lake Lanier Islands is owned by the U.S. Government and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It is leased to the Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources and managed by the Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority. Members of the authority are appointed by the governor. Virgil Williams purchased the rights to operate the resort for the State in 2006.